Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale – 3DS Game review

This game had been on my radar long before it released, as I’m a huge fan of the Harvest Moon and Story of Season franchise. It is a crossover game between PopoloCrois and Story of Seasons, which I found intriguing. I’ve never played PopoloCrois, but based on the synopsis and screenshots, Return to PopoloCrois reminded me of Rune Factory, but with a stronger focus on the plot and characters. I think the game taps into two fanbases without alienating either. This is going to be a review from a person who has no knowledge of PopoloCrois, or attachment to the characters (I’m on Team HM and SoS). Also, I will try my darnest not to include spoilers. Story and Battling: Return to Popolocrois is a casual RPG with a farming sim option. You play as Pietro, the prince of PopoloCrois, and will travel and battle in a team of 4 for most of the game. It’s turn-based fighting is reminiscent of Final Fantasy Tactics, in that you move on a grid and have a range of movement and attack. I say it’s casual, not because of how light-hearted the plot or characters are, but because the monsters and bosses are so EASY. You can choose to play on 3 modes, and you can also choose the monster encounter frequency. I played on Prince (normal) the entire time, and had the frequency set to Low. Normally, I would worry that by doing this, I wouldn’t level enough to beat bosses, but that was never an issue. I never felt like I needed a strategy or to re-equipt my characters to play against a boss’s weakness. Another thing to note is that you can put your characters on Auto during battles (but from what I saw, the characters on auto pilot didn’t really make smart choices).

Farming: The farming in this game is also low-maintenance/key. Unlike in Harvest moon or Story of Seasons, doing any farm-related activity doesn’t lower health or energy. At first I wondered what the point of it was! There’s no accountability for wasting energy, time, or inefficiency! Similar to HM and SoS, your initial farming equipment sucks (a single plot at a time), but through questing and continual farming, you are offered upgrades (always nice). Farming is optional in this game, as it doesn’t have any effect on the progression of the game. Farming comes into play for completion of subquests and getting certain achievements. The HM/SoS fan in me gets a sense of satisfaction from upgrading my farm tools, getting the achievements, and completing my “notebook” of completed quests and discovered recipes, materials, and bugs.

Characters: As a HM/SOS fan, I was disappointed that the game didn’t carry over the character personalization and the potential bachelor/bachelorettes. As Pietro, you get to “cultivate” “friendships” (/air quotes) with girls blessed by the realm’s goddess. Honestly, to me it looked like Pietro was collecting a harem of swooning young women. I get that canonically Pietro has a love interest, but then why make the NPCs you can give gifts to ALL GIRLS? Regardless of this, most of the characters are pretty endearing. I chose to play the game with Japanese voice acting, because I prefer Japanese voice overs to the English (Always). The Japanese voice acting in the game is pretty good too! Post-game Playability: I completed the game at level 50, logging 30 hours. I consider this a short amount of time. There’s no real objectives post-game, and the player is meant to Take in the sights, enjoy the crowds, and bask in all the subtle joys of farm life”. I guess, at this point in the game, you would want to complete your note book of subquests, recipes, crops, ores, and bugs, explore the optional dungeons, collect souvenirs, befriend all of the ladies, and upgrade your tools to max level. Pros

  • Turn-based fighting, similar in style to the Final Fantasy Tactics games.
  • Encounter frequency and game difficulty can be adjusted.
  • Characters and graphics are charming. The characters are likeable, and the towns are fun to explore.
  • The optional aspects of the game (farming, subquests, collecting) are also fun and a great way to take a break from storyline progression. The subquests give NPCs more depth, and these activities often trigger achievements in the form of snail mail.

Cons

  • Low character customizability.
  • Missing key elements of Story of Seasons, such as the romance and farming as the primary source of story progression and money-making.
  • It’s a pretty short game. Also, there’s a lot of repetition in the main quests.

Despite how critical I sound in my review, I really enjoyed this game. I liked that I was able to play at my own pace, without feeling like the game was forcibly directing me toward story progression. The game is low-key, and I didn’t at any point have an “oops” moment (ex. In Final Fantasy VIII, I forgot to pick up a magazine in a flashback sequence, and so in the end of the game, I didn’t have one of my character’s best weapon available.). If you have a completionist/collector’s personality, you will definitely enjoy this game. The game kept me entertained, and I even played it outside of my commute and lunch times (my normal playing hours).

Also, I have to say, if this sounds like a game you’d like, I think you’d also like Recettear and Adventure Bar story.

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My Thoughts on 3DS Final Fantasy Explorers

IMG_6871.JPGTo be honest, I’m pretty let down by this game. It’s hard to describe exactly why I’m feeling this way, because there are so many elements I love to it. I purchased Final Fantasy Explorers for the 3DS a day after it released (January 27), and I beat the main story line on March 9th, logging a total of 45 hours and 25 minutes. I think… it might just be easier for me to list out what I liked and what I didn’t.

Things I loved

  • All of those nostalgic elements! In the game, your “limit break” allows you to “summon” (transform) into a character from older Final Fantasy games and use their signature move. The game has the more traditional summon, called Eidolons (includes Shiva and Ifrit), and nontraditional ones like Squall from FFVIII and Tifa from FFVII.
  • Your character is super customizable – this is a huge selling point for me. The look and options given remind me of character creation for Ragnarok Online. You can even dress your character in special set outfits from older Final Fantasy characters. My character was dressed like Rikku for most of the game.

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Things I liked

  • Collecting an be a focus of the game. Like a lot of other Final Fantasy games, you have a completion percentage of how many of the monsters, items, or equipment you’ve faced or gathered. I’m not particularly huge on this, but if I wanted to continue playing the game I could focus on getting 100% of all the items and monsters.
  • You can change the difficulty of your mission by giving yourself handicaps, which will make the payout of completing the mission bigger.
  • I didn’t have to focus too much on leveling or job advancement. There’s no penalty for switching jobs, so I was able to switch between jobs whenever I felt like it without worrying that it would make me weaker for upcoming boss battles. The leveling kind of happened accordingly while I was exploring the map to collect monsters or earn money.

Things I didn’t like (oh boy, here we go)

  • The plot is weak. I’m not even sure if there was a real plot.
  • The NPCs are kind of unlovable.
  • There’s only one town area in which all of the unlovable NPCs reside.
  • The only character I could directly affect in any substantial way was my own character. There was no team of characters, no team building or balancing really, and no real interactions or character development.

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To be fair, it’s probably my fault for buying this game. There is a multiplayer function I didn’t use at all, where you can team up with other players via wifi in order to complete quests. I’m sure that doing this would have made my gameplay more dynamic (or annoying… I’ve never known MMORPG players to be that friendly). But the thing is, this game is supposed to be a 3DS game with a multiplayer option! The quality of the game shouldn’t hinge on whether I decide to turn that function on. Also, I’m giving the game the benefit of the doubt that it would definitely be better if I played with other 3ds owners.

I’ll be reselling this to gamestop tomorrow :-/.

Today’s Highlights and Some Thoughts on Games

Today’s Blythe meet was a lot of fun ^^. The turnout was pretty good for both the people and the dolls. I brought out Reese and Finley today in their best Valentine’s Day duds.

From left to right: The entire doll spread, and two Tiina customs.

From left to right: A Stable House custom, a Tole Tole Custom, and two Happibug Customs.

I really enjoyed being able to see all of these pretty custom girls – I especially love custom girls with natural fiber reroots! I even got to see a Skinny Scalp on a girl. Alpaca and mohair are SO soft! I also heard the cute pips of two Kenners. The Blythe meet was a great way to cap my week and a half long break from work (back to reality tomorrow 😦 ).

I also really want to recommend the 3DS game I’ve been playing – Final Fantasy Explorers. I’ve been playing it since January 28th, and since then I’ve only been playing Story of Seasons on and off (though I did hit a big milestone recently – my character got married 😀 . Insert wedding below).FullSizeRender.jpgSome things I really like about Final Fantasy Explorers is the player’s ability to mix things up by choosing between an array of jobs, skills, and summons. I also really like how much the game allows me to customize my character. The one thing I’m on the fence about is the fact that changing jobs doesn’t set the player back in power – there isn’t a need to level a job to gain skills. On one hand, this decreases the amount of time I would need to farm job level experience, but on the other hand I don’t feel the same sense of accomplishment or sense that the decisions I make in raising my character really matter. I’m also not sure if I’m taking too much time on subquests or leveling, but the story progression is quite slow.IMG_6663.JPG

All in all, I’m quite happy with my game purchase ^^. It’s pretty nostalgic for me to play a final fantasy game and a JRPG, as it’s been a while. I don’t even like hack and slash type games (not a fan of the fighting in Kingdom Hearts), but I don’t mind it in this game! I’m a fan of turn-based fighting.

UGH. Tomorrow is technically Tuesday, but in my head it will be a Monday at work.

Edit: I also want to include links to other WordPress bloggers who attended the meet ^^: Heidi of HCB Dolls and Julie of Knitting with Dolls

Shiny new things :3

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😀 I got Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer in the mail! I haven’t played it yet, but I plan to on my commute tomorrow… which means farm life (Story of Seasons) may take a back seat for a week or so… along with all the other things I’m supposed to do but keep putting off (oops).

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Also, check out my new hooks! One can never have too many hooks. ^^ I haven’t tried them out yet, but I hope they’re comfortable to use. I’m contemplating looking into crochet hooks with cushions, or more ergonomic hooks because the WIP i’m trying to complete is killing my wrists. I’m currently making this bag to carry my dollies in for Blythe Con:

😀 I could potentially carry a girl in each pocket! My bag is going to be only 2 colors (pastel minty green for the body and cream as an accent. I’m hoping it doesn’t end up looking like a baby bag), and I’m using acrylic yarn and not cotton because it was more cost effective that way. The whole bag is done in single crochet stitches, doubling up the yarn, and using a 4mm hook. Ugh. Single crochet at this scale is the WORST because it takes forever to crochet something as big as a bag. So far, I have 3 out of the 4 sides of the bag done… I still have the one large side to finish, as well as the base of the bag, the handles, and the pockets. I WILL finish this thing by Blythe Con Chicago!

Side note for anyone interested in making this bag:

  • I think, if I were to make this bag again, I would just go for the yarn it specifies in the pattern (Lily’s Sugar and Cream cotton yarn). I do find acrylic easier to work with, but I think I would have preferred a cotton bag over a slightly fuzzy acrylic yarn one. Also, even though the weight of the yarn I bought is the same as the one specified in the pattern, I’m not dealing with the same issues I’ve read about in other people’s comments on Ravelry. Unlike a lot of other crocheters, I’m not finding the double yarn strands difficult to crochet with a 4mm hook. Additionally, I’m also worried that the bag will stretch out too much since it’s made out of acrylic.
  • The next time I make this bag, I might use the half double crochet stitch instead of a single crochet stitch. 😀 And I’ll pick wilder colors!

When it starts looking more like a bag, I’ll update the blog with some progress photos ^^.

Current Obsession: Nintendo 3DS Story of Seasons

I recently purchased the Nintendo 3DS game Story of Seasons. It’s made by the same company that makes the Harvest Moon games (repping Harvest Moon since SNES yo), and I would even put this game in the same universe as the Harvest Moon series. So far, I’ve logged about 40 hours into the game, and I’m at the tail end of the Fall season of the First year. I know… it’s exactly how it sounds… I spent 40 real life hours playing a game where I’m a farmer on a farm in a quiet little town. I actually named my character after my cat, and my character’s hairy brown cat after me. 😀 So technically, my cat is living the farm life, and I’m living the life of the cat.

Harvest Competition - Serious business

Harvest Competition – Serious business

The objective of the game is to run a successful and competitive farm, boost the town’s economy by opening trade with other countries and increasing tourism. As a new member of the town, you’ll also want to make friends with the townspeople and even marry one of the eligible bachelors or bachelorettes of the town.

My character's waifu.

My character’s waifu. Check out those pink flowers. 

It’s insanely addicting.

There are a few subtle differences between Story of Seasons and the typical harvest moon games, some I like and some I don’t.

Things I like:

  • You can choose from two difficulty levels (easy and normal). I’m playing on easy mode, because apparently I like to farm to relax.
  • There is so much character customization! This aspect is a bit lacking in the Harvest Moon series. In Story of Seasons, you can change your clothes and your physical attributes (hair color and style, face type, skin tone).
  • There’s also a world building aspect. You can change the appearance of your farm, your home, and the town.
  • I’m not sure if this is entirely a new function (>_< I actually haven’t played the last one or two releases. I think the last HM game I played was The Tale of Two Towns.), but I like that you can see your friendship levels with the townspeople by pressing the upper left button when near the npc. Very handy.
  • Similar to the HM games, there’s a lot to do. Farm life is not idle life.
  • There are reverse confessions! And reverse marriage proposals. That’s got to be a first.

Things I’m not too keen on:

  • There aren’t any love rivals. In some of the other HMs, you can trigger cutscenes between one of the potential marriage candidates and your respective rival in love. These cute romantic cutscenes enrich the game, and I like to see that the NPC’s  lives don’t revolve around my character. Without this aspect, I feel like the lives of half of the characters remain stagnant after my own character chooses her path.  I guess it’s just as well. I always found it both hilarious and sad that there was always one female NPC without someone to marry, all because my character decided to uproot her life and come waltzing into town, making the total number of young people uneven. LOL.
  • There’s no mining cave… just a single sad little vein to “mine” from that’s like a cornucopia of gems and stones.
  • There may even be too much going on – I’ve noticed an influx of new animals you can own, you can rent crop fields, there’s a safari (kind of like the safari in pokemon, except way smaller, and mostly used for scavenging), you can own your own trading stall, you can edit the appearance of your home, your farm, and the town, and that’s all I can think of off the top of my head. I mean, I’m not even through year one and I’ve already logged a ton of hours.

Here are the games I’ve played in the series: /humblebrag

  • SNES Harvest Moon
  • GB Harvest Moon GB
  • GBC Harvest Moon 2 GBC
  • Play Station Harvest Moon: Back to Nature
  • GBC Harvest Moon 3 GBC
  • GBA Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town
  • GBA Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town
  • NDS Harvest Moon DS
  • NDS Harvest Moon DS: Island of Happiness
  • NDS Harvest Moon DS: Grand Bazaar
  • NDS Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns

/end humblebrag

My next 3DS game purchase will most likely be the new Animal Crossing game, which if it’s anything like it’s predecessors, is a game about paying off the mortgage to your house :D.