Trio of Towns has been my first foray into the Bokujo Monogatari series, so I went into this without knowing just what to expect or having any nostalgic bias that might cloud my judgment. A clean slate, if you will.
As far as handheld games go, it is very visually appealing and easy for an experienced gamer to jump right into. Though the game features a bevy of tutorials that make it simple for absolutely anyone to play. It’s kid friendly, but really entertaining for just about any age. All in all, a very nice and easy going RPG.
Much like most RPG/Sim hybrids these days: you have several ways to customize your character. It’s not as broad as some games, but there are still enough options to give it a unique feel. There are five skin tones, ten facial types, sixteen eye colors, and twenty-two hair colors to choose from. You can pick your character’s birthday from four different seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter), choose a name up to six characters long (which is a little on the short side), and also set your personality type (Animal lover, Fisher, Sports Enthusiast, Tycoon, Charmer). These options don’t really affect much, but they are still nice options to have.
To begin with though you have no control over clothing, but that does become available once you unlock the tailor. Many aspects of the game must be unlocked over time, so it’s not something you’re going to burn through too quickly. Especially not if you want the full experience.
Plus if you start getting lonely, the ability to connect with friends unlocks fairly early on.
Story of Season: Trio of Towns was developed by Marvelous and is available for the 3DS.
As you would expect, the story begins on a farm. Though it is in the form of a trip down memory lane: one that explains your characters interest in the profession. It’s a cute introduction that isn’t overly long and rolls right into meeting Uncle Frank, who is the one that helps you set up your own bit of farmland and introduces you to the locals.
From there things continue to unlock and the story unfolds over time as you meet new characters and the other two towns become available. For the first week or so (in game) you only have the main town as the gateways to the others are under repair.
Your first potential romantic interests are available as soon as you enter the first town and you can begin giving them gifts to earn their good favor right away. More options become available as you progress to the other towns.
My initial impression was something like a cross between Farmville and Frontierville with a hint of Pokémon, and a delightful mix of dating sims that comes into play through out the story. It’s slow moving at first, much like the Facebook games, but once more things become available you will find yourself with a fairly long list of daily activities to plow through before time runs out. You have a limited window each day as stores and people are only available for shopping and daily tasks at certain points. Hence, if you do not make it to a specified storeowner before they close up shop, you will not be able to complete that chore.
At first this will not pose any problems and you'll find yourself sometimes heading to bed early in the day as you've run out of things to do. However, once everything is unlocked, timing your daily activities can get a little hectic if you don’t pace yourself properly. This mostly becomes an issue when more of the cities open and you have more running around to do. Though, there does seem to be a sort of taxi service that opens up in which you ride elephants between locations.
It also helps to learn which NPCs will let you pick up or deliver packages at what times. While you can obtain the jobs right away, you can not pick up or deliver parcels from shop owners before their shops open or after they have closed.
To start with you will have six plots of land beside your house and twelve plots in the field near the barn and chicken coop. Eventually you will be able to move them to different locations, create more plots, and build more places for your farm animals and pets.
The crops that you can grow will be few and basic at first; but more and more will open up as the story unfolds. Some plants, such as grass (which creates a type of animal feed) will continue to thrive and take absolutely no care to maintain. It regrows for a season or so. Other plants can be a little more demanding. Most crops will need to be watered daily and can take more than a week before they can be harvested. They will also only be harvested once before they vanish. Your crops, including those harvested in the wild, are rated on a star system, making them more valuable as they rank up; but this is also important for judged competitions that come into play later on.
In addition to crops, other things can grow wild on your farm: so it’s a good idea to do a daily run around the land to see what’s popped up. You can get lumber from trees, stones and gems from rocks, wild flowers, and insects.
The first thing to unlock after you obtain your farm are part-time jobs. These are a consistent way of making money each day and will be the main way you do so until your farm really kicks off. There are three types of jobs you can undertake (and you will want to do as many of them as you can): chores, deliveries, and shipping.
The jobs generally take very little time or effort to complete. Chores are the fastest as they teleport you to the job site once accepted. This is handy because it can teleport you to other towns, but that is also why it is a good idea to pick up one last. As soon as it is accepted you are teleported to the job.
Deliveries can require a good bit of running around, especially once the other towns open up, and doubly so if you don’t have the elephants unlocked yet.
Shipping jobs, on the other hand, just require putting a certain number of items into your shipping box back on the farm. You will have to run there yourself, so you have to time it to be before pick up that day.
Once you start juggling a lot of jobs at once between multiple cities it can get slightly hectic; but I found that once I got my rhythm down I blew right through them.
One problem that I did find however was with the shipping jobs. Even getting the correct number of specified items in before the collection time, I would still have jobs not counting as ‘completed’. It feels like it could be a glitch, but I am not entirely sure. It didn’t happen every time and it didn’t specify which quests weren’t counting.
Town Link Rank
This determines your rank with the towns in which you do business. Ideally you’d want to max this out as soon as possible. There are six different levels from E to S rank.
You can raise your rank by doing part-time jobs, shipping products there, and going to their local festivals. Though there are other ways to raise your rank that will become available over time.
Raising your rank can cause shops to carry more products, which makes it a good thing to keep on. It also increases your earnings from people in that town and may affect the cost of items their shops carry. Once your rank is about to increase though it may become locked until you complete certain tasks. These tasks are generally things you are already doing: shipping items, harvesting, etc. However, you may have to pay more attention to certain tasks when it comes time to unlock your rank. While your rank is locked you can not progress at all: so any work you do will not boost your ranking in that particular town until it is unlocked again.
Aside from part-time jobs and tending to your farm, there are other activities to pass the time with. Fishing unlocks fairly early and is a very laid back option that can net you some extra cash or materials. Mining becomes available after upgrading your house when you are given the hammer, though you’ll need to bolster its strength through tool upgrading to get a lot of use out of it. You can also raise both farm animals and pets once you have built places for them on your farm—you begin with a barn for a cow and a hen house for a chicken. Running around exploring is also a very good way to find supplies and catching insects and frogs can earn you some interesting rewards from a certain character that shows up early on.
New items can spawn fairly quickly, so it’s a good habit to keep checking places. Wild plants usually take a couple of days to become harvestable again though and trees take even longer.
Once a day you can give gifts to characters in the game to increase your relationship with them. This is good practice for any romantic interests especially, as it will bring them around to you sooner. Most of the gifts seem to be either tied to their profession or something they will bring up in conversation.
For example: Wayne is a postman, but his ideal gifts are flowers. He mentions loving the smell of them when you speak with him.
While this is a game about raising crops, that doesn’t mean you can’t also raise a family. Characters with a flower (white to begin with) above their chat box seem to be the ones open to relationships. The color of the flower changes as your relationship progresses. Oddly enough, the aloof doctor that everyone seems to think is blind to love was the one that progressed the quickest for me.
I’m not sure if this has to do with personality types or if he just comes around to the gift giving more swiftly.
At a certain point a cutscene will be triggered where you get an option to either remain passive in what is going on or side with character you are interested in. What you do may or may not affect the relationship and how it progresses.
On top of all the other things you will eventually be able to do in the game, there are also events that pop up from time to time. The first one you hear about is the ‘Harvest Festival’ held on the 30th of each month. It’s basically exactly what it sounds like: it’s a farming event where crops are brought in to be judged on a variety of categories. You will start off in the beginner’s division and work your way up. Higher divisions are judged on things like quality, color, sweetness/aroma, juiciness, and size. What they focus on changes based on the season and your division.
The second is the ‘Goddess Festival’ which is held on the 27th of spring. Which is described as a tribute to the goddess where they “make a giant pizza and dance around all day”. As with everything else there is a limited time window on participation.
It’s good practice to keep an eye on your calendar so you don’t forget any upcoming events. Plus there will also be various birthdays to keep tabs on (which may affect character relationships), including your own.
Once you reach a certain point in the game you will be able to start upgrading the buildings on your farm and also your tools.
This is where materials start coming into play. Upgrades can take a lot of wood, stone, gems, and so on. You can become very hard up for lumber once the option to build things becomes available as trees do not regrow very quickly on your farm. Plus if you make the mistake of selling them early on (like I did) it can be a recipe for disaster as lumber gets very expensive and you need a lot of it.
While you may start off the game looking like a generic farmer, you will get the option to create new clothes later on. They are going to get fairly expensive between the materials and the commission costs if you have to buy everything; but at least you will have a use for your closet (once you finally get one)!
Plus there are small hints that the way you dress may or may not affect your relationships. Not entirely sure on this one, but some characters do make something of a fuss about being ‘presentable’. Ergo it is something to keep in mind.
Graphics and Audio
Handheld games can be hit or miss with their graphics and this one definitely hit it's mark. It’s exceptionally vivid, the colors pop, and it looks wonderful at any level of 3D setting. It also has this sort of cutesy anime style that is highly reminiscent of games like Pokémon and the RPG 'Tales' series. At least, that was my impression of it.
The music is simple and there are no vocals, but the melodies are nice, upbeat, and fit the locations. Gamers accustomed to handheld games like this or old-school RPGs will likely feel a little nostalgic listening to it. I know I did.
An altogether entertaining game with very few detrimental drawbacks. It’s cute, well put together, and the characters are very likable. It’s a simple game that has more depth than you might expect and becomes very hard to put down once you get going good.
There are a few things I’d like to change about it, but nothing that actually affects my ability to enjoy it.
|+ Well polished.||– Slow starter.|
|+ Multiple options for romance.||– What appears to be an occasional glitch with shipping jobs.|
|+ Randomized job opportunities.||– Shops are only open at certain times and NPCs become non-responsive for quests outside shop hours.|
|+ Easy to learn and has extensive tutorials.||– There is no easy way to track relationship progress.|
|+ Plenty of things to keep you busy after awhile.|