Harvest Moon games will always have a special place in my heart.
I’ve played many of the games over the years, but the one I talk about the most is Sunshine Islands. The thing is, though, it isn’t the one I play the most.
The one I’ve played the most is actually Tale of Two Towns, which I haven’t really talked about a whole lot around here. Don’t worry, its time will come!
Tale of Two Towns had a very special appeal to me, and there’s a darn good reason I spend the most time on it. It was the first game to feature alpacas—and if you spend any time on my Instagram page, you know how much I love those little floofs.
I was absolutely obsessed with getting my farm to a point where I could just have 16 alpacas bouncing around with little musical notes over their heads, but obviously, the game wants you to rely on milk and wool from other animals too, and won’t let you buy those items anywhere.
As the crazy completionist that I am, I managed to finish literally everything you can do in Tale of Two Towns (only took me 10 years in game). It lost its appeal after that for a while, which is why I moved back to Sunshine Islands—I’ve never actually completed that game.
Then, I heard about Story of Seasons, and I was a tad confused by its similarity to Harvest Moon without being the same.
Lost in translation
I had to research this, but technically, Story of Seasons is exactly the same as Harvest Moon. The Harvest Moon series is actually the Americanization of a Japanese game called Bokujō Monogatari, or Story of Seasons.
When Natsume became Marvelous Inc. in 2014, the company decided that instead of keeping two names for the series, it was going to release international versions as Story of Seasons.
I guess I was a little late to that parade, huh?
Once I figured out the difference (or lack thereof), though, I couldn’t wait to try the game. It seemed close enough in basics, with a few extra fun features like having buffalo and rabbits. I figured it was worth a shot, and I was absolutely right.
Fun fact: Did you know? Harvest Moon is only a few months younger than Pokémon. The first Pokémon games were released in February 1996; Harvest Moon followed in August the same year.
What I like about you
Trio of Towns ended up being a little more different from Tale of Two Towns than simply having one extra town.
Here are a few of the things I love about it so far:
- The customization.
One of the things that you’ve never really been able to do in Harvest Moon games is any kind of customization, which was a gap that only the Sims could fill.
This game has it in spades; you can pick your outfits, you can customize the layout of your farm to be exactly what you need, and you can even pick what you want your house to look like. I’m not entirely sure how to handle this, and can’t decide what I want!
- The variety.
Although it has been expanding slowly from version to version, the selection of crops and animals hasn’t really allowed for much wiggle room.
This version expands it greatly; for example, instead of the eight different types of animals you can have in Tale of Two Towns, including the colour variations, you can have 16 different types in Trio of Towns. And so far, you don’t seem to need all of them to progress in the game.
You can also pick from 27 different types of pets, all of which are different breeds. Compare that to the paltry three types you can have in Tale of Two Towns. I’m not counting colour variations here because that’s not even an option with the pets in Trio of Towns.
- The story.
Harvest Moon’s signature story style is that it doesn’t really have one; although there is nominally a story to spur on your shipping habits and motivate you to go to festivals, it’s not anything to write home about.
If there’s one thing the half-hour intro to Story of Seasons tells you, though, it’s that there’s more of a story. I actually find myself intrigued by the interactions between the towns and the townsfolk themselves.
It’s also the only game in the series I’ve played where you actually have a family and an identifiable goal for even showing up at that farm in the first place, which helps the player contextualize and not just go through the motions.
However, this sudden appearance of a story might mean you trigger a few repetitive cutscenes, especially in festivals. Trio of Towns has a super-handy feature that lets you switch text to auto mode, which means you don’t have to push a button to finish the text bubble and another button to acknowledge that you’ve read it.
- The Easter eggs.
I love a good surprise reference, and honestly, it’s not something Harvest Moon games are known for. Because they don’t rely overly on story, they tend to stand all on their own as far as references go, relying on their popularity and new animals to keep the interest.
I went in expecting exactly the same thing of Trio of Towns, so can you imagine my surprise when I finished my first mystery job and got a Mario outfit?
Luigi, Peach, and Toad followed pretty quickly, and now I can’t wait to see what else the game has in store for me—including unlocking the original Harvest Moon cow later on!