It’s been a while since I went cold turkey on Animal Crossing, so I thought I’d inject a bit of something similar when this came up on sale on the Switch eShop. Apparently it’s the first Doraemon game to be officially localised for the West, but it’s also a Story of Seasons (née Harvest Moon) crossover title.
How that robot cat/farming game amalgamation works is like this: The plot is about Noby, Doraemon and chums being magically sent back in time and Doraemon losing all his gadgets. In the manga and anime these gadgets are future tech from the time Doraemon comes from, and do all sorts of things like duplicate items, allow teleportation and invent other gadgets. The gameplay, however, is pure Story of Seasons – make friends, grow crops, keep farm animals, and things change with the passing of seasons. The crossover happens when you recover Doraemon’s gadgets and use them to progress both the story (which is mostly about getting home) and improve your farm. For two very disparate things, the game does a decent job of melding them.
The thing that caught my eye with this originally was the art style. It has this lovely watercolour-like look to the graphics. Some areas look better than others, but there’s a lot of pretty detail. The music is relaxing if a little forgettable, but the voices – especially Noby’s interjections and non-verbal vocalisations – grate somewhat. For example, when mining, Noby shouts “HAI!” with every swing of the pickaxe.
Of which there are many swings because another downer in the game is the grinding. In the early game, it’s mostly grinding for money which means a lot of fishing and foraging, but soon you need ore and gems, and you can only realistically get them from the mine. Problem is, each swing of the pickaxe drains one point of stamina and you only have 100 to begin with. If you’re like me, by the time you’ve watered your crops first thing in the morning, you’re already exhausted so need to go back to bed for a few hours at 8am in order to regain the energy to go off and mine for a bit, and then have another nap (or two, or three) in the afternoon to refill it again.
Eventually, that grind winds down a bit as you get items that increase your maximum stamina and improved tools that drain it less quickly, and then you (or rather, I, in case you play it differently) have to grind for likes. You see, in order to progress the story, you have to make events trigger. In order to do that, specific people need to like you a certain amount, although who and certainly how much isn’t always clear. You become more chummy with them by giving them stuff (items, crops, food, fish, etc.) they like, and in standard Farm/Life Sim fashion, everyone likes different stuff different amounts. Just getting them to like you isn’t always enough to trigger the events – you also need to be in the right place (there’s no way of finding out where this might be) and the right time (you’re rarely given any clues on this either). It’s a bit frustrating and after spending many in-game days wandering every location at all times of day and night in the hope I’d be lucky, I resorted to a guide. Which turned out to be wrong. Sigh.
But these are frustrations with trying to complete the damn game. If you just want that to happen naturally and you don’t care how long it takes, then you can relax into it and just tend your farm, animals and chat with people without time limits, death or negative consequences. For me, though, I wanted to get on and play something else (I’ve played little else for a month!) so I hit the grind. If you like Stardew Valley or previous Seasons games, you’ll like this, and if you’ve no idea who Doraemon and his friends are, then that doesn’t matter as it’s still enjoyable.