When you think of Doraemon, you’d never think of anything even related to farming. Yet somehow, Bandai Namco has given us two farming based Doraemon games, with the latest of course being Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom.
I’ve reviewed the first one when it came out years ago and found it a decent, if rather generic farming game. With the sequel, I’m expecting great things as Marvellous has had sufficient feedback to learn from the first game (at least I hope so) and make a killer sequel.
What is Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom?
Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom is a single player (with some multiplayer aspects) farming RPG. It’s developed by Marvelous and published by Bandai Namco.
It’s available right now on the PC, Playstation 5 and Nintendo Switch.
Our review copy, as always, was graciously given to us by the great folks over at Bandai Namco!
Like all great Doraemon adventures, Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom starts with Nobita getting chewed out by his parents at home. Bummed, he goes to the empty lot to sulk and it’s there where he encounters the gang, all with similar stories.
Instead of trying to do better, the kids decide to run away to another planet.
Doraemon, of course, aids them by providing them with a rocket capsule. As the kids jet away, the capsule malfunctions and they all crash land on an alien world called Illuma.
The kids are stranded and need to go back to Earth.
Nobita and gang encounters Lumis, the prince of the kingdom they landed in. Lumis basically offers the gang a trade; live and help him out on his farm, and he’ll help them repair the ship.
It doesn’t really work out as they plan, but that’s the gist of the story.
Honestly, it’s a pretty flimsy plot…but then again, this is Doraemon. You know what you were getting into. Expectations aside, the game’s filled with lovable characters that inhabit the kingdom. Each comes with their own backstory, which you’ll find out as you get to know them.
It’s honestly one of the best things about the game.
Building rapport with the villagers by talking to them, helping them out with jobs or just giving them gifts might simplistic, but it fits in real well with the game. The people all have interesting (and some very touching) backstories, and I found myself intrigued multiple times with their histories.
It also helps that unlike other games of its ilk, building reputation with villagers is easy and it doesn’t take much effort to raise their affection meter. The meter is essential, as it tells you how much each villager (or animal) loves you and is pretty much tied to advancing their individual stories.
Basically, for every heart in the meter you fill out, you get a new cutscene involving that villager.
Like it or not, pretty soon you’ll be as invested in befriending the villagers as I was. It certainly helps that each person stands out and the writing is good enough to make you care for them. Also, it’s really easy to build up the meter because NOBODY in the game hates anything you give them.
The game handily tracks your relationships and even gives you random odd jobs you can do for the villagers to build up rapport. The focus on relationship building and heavy usage of cutscenes is honestly refreshing.
There’s no other farming game like this.
Sure you can get villagers to like you (and even get married) in other farming games but none incentives you to raise relationships like Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom.
The more you do for the people and the more they like you, the more of the game you unlock. I’m talking new characters, new events…even new pets.
Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom goes the extra mile to make things easy for you.
The world map shows you where a character is at any point of time and it even has information on when shops are open.
Hell, you even get a gadget early on that’ll lead you to any in-game character you choose!
It’s these simple quality of life additions that make you wonder why most other games in the genre aren’t as intuitive!
Of course, the game isn’t a relationship builder. Well…not completely.
You’ll still have to run a farm to make money.
As usual, you can farm crops and raise animals. This time around alpacas join the usual suspects of chicken, sheep and cow. Crops are the usual fare (potatoes and the like) despite being on an alien world.
Awesomely, you can also raise giant versions of certain crops, though you’ll need special seeds and planters for them to grow.
Farming requires energy and you can refill that by eating or napping…which honestly is very characteristic of Nobita. Napping restores energy, but it also moves the time forward, so it’s only a last resort…or for cheapskates (like me) who don’t want to spend money to buy (or cook) food to restore stamina.
You can also fish, or venture into the mine for minerals you’ll need to upgrade your tools. There’s no crafting of equipment (unlike Stardew Valley), so you’ll have to hit up the smithy to upgrade your tools. You can also hire the carpenters to upgrade your house, create furniture and expand your farm buildings.
Raising animals is a bit tedious. You need to manually move animals outside, and then back in at the end of the day. It’s a chore to be honest and something to automate the process (like a bell you can ring to release the animals and then recall them) would’ve made things much better.
All this is typical Harvest Moon fare, and should be familiar to anybody who plays this genre.
What’s not typical is that you can use your friends as AI helpers! You can even get forest sprites (a staple of the genre) to help even further on.
Once you’re past a certain point in the plot, the game allows you to rope in any of the kids (and the other characters who live on the farm) to help Nobita out with his work. If they see you planting, your helper will water the seeds. If they see you chopping a tree, they’ll chip in. If they see you fish, they’ll fish too! Same with mining.
There are certain things helpers won’t do (such as pick crops and sell them) but they’ll do most stuff.
It makes farming and resource gathering that much easier and is something I hope more farming games take note of and implement.
You also get a horse to ride around (once you build a stable that is), which is a godsend as there’s no quick travel until some major hours in, when you get the Dimension Door that allows you to warp around.
In fact, moving around the town is one of the issues I have with the game. Nobita is simply too damn slow on foot. The huge map doesn’t help matters either! Thankfully, on the PS5, everything moves at a steady clip and loading is non-existent.
Whether it’s going into buildings or into different areas of the map, loads are over in an instant. The game’s not visually intensive (everything’s pretty much 2D save for the characters and some objects) so it’s not like there’s a ton of data to juggle, but it’s still great the loads are as fast as they are.
Yes, the game’s mostly static screens with a watercolor visual style that’s similar to the first game. Do I wish the art was better? Definitely. Would I trade better environmental art for longer loads? Hell no. I’ll make do with the art style and you should too.
One final highlight of the game has got to be the music.
The score’s upbeat and cheerful and definitely fits the game. I especially love the melancholic theme that plays in the evening. It truly gives you the feeling that the day’s over and it’s time to wind things down and get ready for a new start.
The Bottom Line.
Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom is a great sequel to the first game and is an improvement in a ton of ways.
Marvelous has got the genre down pat and it shows with the quality of life improvements they made. There’s now an incentive to build rapport with the villagers, new stuff is constantly being unlocked as you play and the addition of AI helpers is a tremendous feature!
It’s a shame then that some issues remain.
Managing animals is a pain and I’ve found no way to gather them back to the entrance of the barn/coop at the end of the day. I need to manually move them.
Another issue I have is with Nobita’s slow ass default speed. You’ll unlock a lot of things over the course of the game but nothing that makes Nobita move faster by default.
Thankfully, those niggles are just a minor annoyance in the grand scheme of things and don’t really detract from the game.
One of the best farming games you can play!
- AI helpers.
- The music.
- Making friends is easy.
- The farming.
- Taking care of animals is a chore.
- No quick travel until lots of hours in.