It’s been decades since I last watched a Doraemon cartoon. I used to watch them all the time, back in the 90s when RTM1 (a Malaysian TV Channel) used to have the show on air. It was in Malay and the voice acting was horrendous…but it was pretty enjoyable. I honestly can say that I was really looking forward to Doraemon Story of Seasons for a number of reasons.
One, it’s a Doraemon game! Do you know how rare that is? Two, it’s also a Harvest Moon game! Oh wait…they renamed the series to Story of Seasons, didn’t they? That doesn’t matter…it’ll always be Harvest Moon to me.
So yeah, I was HYPED!
In fact, I was playing Stardew Valley just to get my fix while waiting for Bandai Namco to pass us a code for the PS4 version!
I digress…Now that the game’s finally in my hands and been given a serious amount of game time, how does it fare?
Read on and I’ll tell you.
What is Doraemon Story of Seasons?
Doraemon Story of Seasons is a farming simulation/ RPG game starring the cast of Doraemon.
It’s part of the Story of Seasons series but is unrelated to other titles in the line. Developed by Brownies and Marvelous (developer of other games in the line), the publishing duties are handled by the kind folk at Bandai Namco, who also provided us with a review code for the game!
The plot for the game has Doraemon and the gang being swept up and transported to a place called Shizen Town. Unable to return home because Doraemon’s lost his gadgets, the gang settle in to live life there by each getting work at various places in town. You, as Nobita (or Noby), get the dubious honor being the caretaker of a farm, which is where the Story of the Seasons gameplay kicks in.
Fun Times Ahead?
The game’s been out for the Nintendo Switch and PC for ages but it’s only been recently that it’s been ported to the PS4. The move to the PS4’s a long time coming but at least it does come with a major upgrade; the whole game’s completely running at 60FPS now, when it was only 30FPS in the other versions.
The higher framerate makes the game feel even more fluid, though there are still issues with interacting with your crops. The grid system isn’t as flexible as I’d like, requiring me to move a certain way or stand at a certain place to be able to interact with the crops I want.
It’s stilted and I honestly wished that Marvelous had implemented a better control system, like the one found in Ooblets, which makes use of the analog stick to place seeds and the like.
Of course, the lack of an on-screen energy meter is also a big irk of mine, but since you’ll learn to tell how Noby is feeling by what he says (and checking the Status menu), I quickly got over this.
Not Really That Bad.
Despite my complaints, I’d like to say that it’s not really that big of an issue, especially if you’ve been playing the Story of Seasons games (or Harvest Moon or even the Rune Factory series). Even newcomers will adapt to it quick, with pretty much only minor teething issues.
Besides, there’s just something inherently satisfying about harvesting what you’ve sowed and then seeing the profits come blasting in. While farming is how you’ll get your feet wet, you could always ignore it later on once you’ve established yourself. Mining or rearing animals is also a lucrative way to make big bucks.
Of course, Doraemon Story of Seasons is a game of repetition, so you’re going to be doing a ton of the same things over and over again as the days pass in-game…which might get old if you’re looking for an experience that offers something new every time.
What makes Doraemon stand out a bit more from other games in the series is its random events that happen everywhere. Some are plot related, but most just give you insights into the characters inhabiting the town. A few even lead you to Doraemon’s missing gadgets, which you’ll be able to use once you complete the quest.
The gadgets radically change the game too. For example, once you get the famous Dimension Door, travelling around the huge map isn’t an issue no more! You can just warp to any point of it! It cuts down on a ton of travelling time.
The rest of the game will be intensely familiar for anybody who’s ever played a farming simulation game. Once the farm’s established, it’s time to slowly build it up by hoarding resources while splitting time to go make friends with the in-game villagers so that you can get leads on how to get home. It’s sad that romance and marriage options are missing in the game, but I guess it does make sense that Nobita wouldn’t be chasing after ladies other than Shizuka.
It’s all been done before, but this time it’s wrapped with an awesome Doraemon coating.
To me, that makes all the difference. I don’t mind playing a Story of Seasons game but add in Doraemon and gang and that just makes it a hundred times better!
Nostalgia aside, it is a bit strange referring to the characters with their Western names. The Malaysian dub used their Japanese names (which was awesome), so referring to Nobita as Noby and Shizuka as Sue really makes my skin crawl. It just doesn’t fit but I worked my way through it simply due to the game being so much fun.
It’s definitely aimed towards a niche audience, but for that audience, the game scratches the itch perfectly.
How Does It Look and Sound?
Visually, Doraemon Story of Seasons uses a neat handrawn aesthetic to make the look like its been hand drawn. It’s not Cel shading though as the background’s in 2D and the characters don’t have the characteristic black outlines.
I can’t really say I like the look that much but it does cut down on loading times, which is always a plus in my book. You’ll be going back and forth through a ton of areas that require loading daily, so the loads being quick and relatively painless is something I’d definitely keep over nifty visuals that take ages to appear on-screen.
Voices are all in Japanese but I don’t mind. Doraemon’s voice does grate in the beginning, but it grew on me the more I played. The rest of the voices aren’t too bad either so you’re not going to want to go deaf from playing.
It’s also a great thing the music’s so relaxing.
I love the calming tunes from the game’s soundtrack so much that I’m currently writing this review while the game’s paused so the music can keep on playing. It’s damn soothing and is really a highlight, especially if you’re playing the game to unwind. Play the game for a bit, and you’ll feel your worries and stress just melt away.
The Bottom Line.
Doraemon Story of Seasons isn’t a game that’s for everybody.
Like I said earlier, you’d have to like the Story of Seasons gameplay style AND Doraemon to full appreciate it. It’s a very small niche, but if you (like me) fall into that category then you’ll have a great time with the game, barring some minor issues.
It’s a safe entry for the Story of Seasons line that’s definitely not out to try and win over new fans but rather, keep the hardcore stalwarts content.
For everybody else, the game’s a bit of a slog to be honest. There’s a ton of repetition that you’ll have to do just to make it through the day and the laid-back nature of the game might not be everybody’s cup of tea.
Great game for fans of Doraemon and the Story of Seasons games but might be a bit boring for everybody else.
- It’s a Doraemon game!
- Classic Story of Seasons/ Harvest Moon gameplay.
- Gadgets spice up gameplay.
- Fast loads!
- Great music.
- Very repetitive.
- Visuals could be better.