Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom review (Switch)

Captured on Nintendo Switch (handheld/undocked)

The first switch Doraemon: Story of the Seasons launched in 2019 and was praised for seamlessly combining the cast of the much-loved children’s anime with the relaxing gameplay of one of the most well-known farm simulation franchises, and while it might not be the most obvious combination, its beautiful art style and pleasant vibes were nevertheless generally well received. So it’s no surprise that its success led to the release of the sequel, Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom.

However, there are many more life and farm sims in the market these days, and while developer Marvelous wanted to retain the charm of the original game, they also had to present something exciting and new to keep things from feeling repetitive or outdated. The original Doraemon Story of Seasons left a few gaps – room for improvement – which the second is quick to fill, helping to create a similarly enchanting experience and preventing a mass of overly familiar content.

The story unfolds through a lengthy cutscene featuring Noby and Doraemon on their summer vacation, but after having a tense confrontation with his parents over incomplete homework, Noby decides to collect his things and fly off to a rocket to an unknown planet for a break – which seems like the logical thing to do. Upon landing on what the kids believe to be an uninhabited planet they can explore at their own pace, they find an injured boy. After healing wounds and a few more introductions, you meet Lumis, who offers to show you around the planet and ultimately lets you stay on the farm while you decide if you want to spend your summer working on the farm.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (docking station)

After a few days of getting your bearings and exploring the town outside the farm, the guards take you to the queen. Unfortunately, she is less than happy that a group of aliens have crash-landed on her planet and quickly removes the new gadgets and technology that Doraemon stuffed his pockets with, leaving Noby and his friends with no way to get home. them. Luckily, Lumis has royal connections and steps up to support Noby and his friends. With the promise of working hard to restore the farm to its former glory, it becomes your responsibility to earn the queen’s trust, collect Doraemon’s gadgets, and get home before school starts.

If you have experience with the farm sims of story of the seasons mark or further, you will get a good idea of ​​the gameplay here. There really are very few controls and mechanics to distinguish from the first game or any other farming simulator, but that familiar feeling makes the game incredibly easy to understand and play. Most of your time will be spent working the day on the farm, and the demands on the townspeople notice board and the to-do list Lumis gives you at the start of the game means you’re never short. things to do.

A valuable addition this time allows you to invite Noby’s friends to your errands to help you out. As you progress, your time on the farm can get more intense, and you’ll want to optimize and be as efficient as possible, so having an extra pair of hands to help you out can be a big help. Plus, the help of Noby’s friends with activities like fishing and mining, which become pretty stale after a few hours, adds a bit of extra flavor. The AI ​​works incredibly well and your companions will quickly pick up the activity they need to do. Head to the mines, and they’ll bring a pickaxe and some shavings, or they’ll grab a watering can to help cultivate the farmyard. If you don’t want to rely on the AI, the game also comes equipped with a two-player system, where your companion can take on the role of Doraemon and help take over around the farm.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (handheld/undocked)

But as charming as Noby and his friends are, there are plenty of endless conversations and cutscenes to wade through. No opportunity to insert a witty side or reiterate the relationships between the characters is passed over, and while at first it’s a fun way to bring the characters to life, anyone familiar with Doraemon will have it. feel like it’s a huge waste of valuables. time. Even when you try to skip the tutorial, Lumis has a lot to tell you, and Doraemon isn’t afraid to join the conversation. Just when you think you’ve slipped away from the chat, another cutscene will trigger and it’ll feel like a long movie has passed when you can regain control.

Another issue with the gameplay is the lack of events or items to collect during the journey. One thing that helps stave off boredom while moving from place to place in alternate farming sims (like the original Story of Seasons titles) is the variety of foragables to collect along the way, which Missing from Friends of the Great Kingdom. There are a few plants like sagebrush and fern to collect around Quivering Peak, but they are incredibly rare. So despite the undeniable beauty of the map and the constant activity in other areas, the travel time between them slowly becomes a hassle and feels pretty empty.

On top of that, the map is relatively difficult to navigate from the start, and you have to become a bit more reliant on your memory than the game’s navigation tools. screen, so as you explore Lluma, you’ll more than likely end up wandering around aimlessly, trying to find the right location. The more time you spend in the game, the more familiar you become with your surroundings, obviously, but for new players the endless wandering can be quite overwhelming and spoil the sense of wonder you should have while exploring.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (handheld/undocked)

The first game was highly praised for its charming watercolor-like landscapes and painterly appearance, which carried over into the sequel. The entire map, down to every grain of wheat, looks great, tying together to create a beautiful place where you can’t help but get lost, albeit sometimes more literally than we’d like. While it might not offer much to differentiate itself from the first game, there’s still something exciting and new about this adventure and it’s largely thanks to that lovely art style.

Aiding the art, the soundtrack is as relaxing as expected, never feeling repetitive or stagnant. On the contrary, the music is so peaceful that you can spend hours growing crops, mining and fishing without realizing how much time has passed. The game is desperate to capture your attention and ultimately it succeeds – and the soundtrack plays a huge role. One moment you’ll be watching the flowers fall in the spring, and the next the ground will be blanketed in snow, and you’ll be desperate for extra gold in the winter.

Much like the first game, there’s still room for improvement, then. But despite Friends of the Great Kingdom’s failings, there’s enough charm in its characters, presentation, and reliable, familiar gameplay to merit an investigation if you like Doraemon, farm sims, or Doraemon farm sims.

Conclusion

Even though Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom doesn’t offer much to separate itself from the first game, there’s no denying that it’s a wholesome bundle of farming fun that still manages to carve out its place. own identity in relation to other farming lives and sims. Apart from the cutscenes that go on and on and then some, it never feels too repetitive – a problem that a considerable number of farming sims face thanks to the crop-based tasks associated with the genre – and apart from the navigation issues with the map, it’s welcoming to both players new to the genre and still feels relatively fresh to those incredibly familiar with the Story of Seasons franchise. If you come into this game expecting a decent Doraemon farming sim, you won’t be disappointed.

About Jason Zeitler

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