Sunday, October 11, 2020

Remembering Mineral Town

Harvest Moon is a JRPG series of farming simulators where the objective is to grow crops and tend to livestock instead of fighting monsters and exploring dungeons. Players also interact with the locals and build relationships with them, which usually concludes in a wedding. The franchise has had it's ups and downs over the years, but without a doubt the best Harvest Moon game was Friends of Mineral Town on the Game Boy Advance. 

I first played Friends of Mineral Town when my brother installed a GBA emulator and a hundred games on the family computer. Even though I had near limitless access to familiar franchises like dragon Ball, Yu-Gi-Oh!, not to mention Final Fantasy and Super Mario - Harvest Moon was still the game I played the most.

I played this game nonstop and if I wasn't playing it I was talking about it. And I didn't just talk about it here and there - I talked about it all the time at school and convinced my three best friends to buy it. Even though I’d already done everything that there was to do in the game via emulation, I bought a physical copy too.

Having already mastered Mineral Town, I was the go-to guy among my friends. This was probably the first game I was a real expert in. To this day I still know every single thing there is to know about this game, at least the stuff I had the patience to bother with.
The Harvest Moon franchise went to hell shortly after this one, so none of the other games in the series are even a shadow of what this masterpiece was.

When all of my friends decided that Harvest Moon was “just another Animal Crossing” they traded their copies in at Game Stop and used the store credit to buy the Pokemon remakes. Me? I started a new file and began a new adventure in Mineral Town. By that point it was my third playthrough and far from my last. 

Even just a few years ago I was replaying this humble little game. Over a decade later, Friends of Mineral Town was still one of my favorite video games of all time. As the franchise changed, I kept fighting for a proper sequel. With each new released I said to myself: "This isn't Mineral Town." I thought I would never stop loving Mineral Town.

That all changed when it became the main inspiration for an all-new farming game experience: Stardew Valley. Friends of Mineral Town wasn’t a perfect game. Not only did Stardew Valley take inspiration from it, this new game fixed every single issue I had with it. Out of nowhere it was like I had the sequel I always wanted. I had no reason to replay Mineral Town ever again.

But while Stardew Valley is better than Harvest Moon in every way, it still hasn't fully replaced Mineral Town for me. It was the place where some of the happiest times of my life, many of my greatest memories, took place.