Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns
Story of Seasons may have only released in North America last year, but it’s far from a young franchise. This farming simulation series is known as Bokujo Monogatari in Japan, and was (until last year) Harvest Moon in North America. Regardless of what we call it, this series has always been about the intersection of peaceful living and hard work – and those themes continue in Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns.
As its title implies, the new entry lets players travel to three towns and interact with their citizens. But there are more additions and improvements than that; at this year’s E3, we had a chance to get some of our Trio of Towns questions answered by Yoshifumi Hashimoto, head of development at Marvelous Interactive.
With three towns to explore, does that mean the world is three times larger?
Yes, the world is larger in Trio of Towns. There are three distinct locations: The return of the classic Western theme, a tropically themed Little Coco Island, and the other is a traditional Asian-themed location.
How does the larger world impact the amount of time players spend traveling from place to place?
Personally, I’d prefer not take the time to go from one town to the next. So, in Trio of Towns, I made it so each location is right next to the other one so they are easily accessible.
In the last entry, the traditional shipping box was replaced by trading with neighboring lands. Is that being expanded on now? Or is the shipping box back?
While we did have a trading system in the last Story of Seasons, there was feedback from the community that it was too complicated. To address the issue for Trio of Towns we have brought the shipping box back, but have streamlined the process to make it more user-friendly.
The series has explored the idea of multiple towns before. What sets the concept apart here compared to A Tale of Two Towns?
The reason why I put three towns into one game was… well, for example, most Japanese players cannot experience farming as it’s done in North America or a place like Little Coco Island – and in the same sense most North American players can’t experience the day-to-day life in Japan.
They cannot do these things in real life so I thought it would be fun for them to be able to do this in the game. In video games you can make things possible that you can’t in real life
The addition of multiple towns seems to be the biggest new feature. What kind of smaller changes will devoted series fans notice?
First of all, there’s a new feature which in Japanese is called “Power Circle.” Whereas in previous Bokujō Monogatari titles you would plant and harvest in your farm, in Trio of Towns you can actually arrange your plots for better harvests. You can plant a succulent next to one that will make the product sweeter, or planting near a fountain will provide more water for that plot.
Another aspect fans I feel fans will appreciate is the pet system. There will be 28 total pets to choose from, and you can select five. Of those you can pick one “soul mate,” and it will always be with you.
In previous Story of Seasons titles you were essentially working the field alone with no one around. In Trio of Towns your soul mate pet experiences this with you.
How is the multiplayer/farm tour different from the last entry?
Via Local connection there’s an island everyone can go to... a small island that only exists for players to connect with each other. On that island you can go fishing or other things with other players. But you do need to reach a specific level to do this.
We discovered in the past that some players would try to destroy each other’s farms, so we focused on players collaborating instead in Trio of Towns to keep with the overall theme of the game.
What can you say about any familiar characters returning as citizens and/or romantic interests?
Trio of Towns has all-new characters, but if there is a standout character that is popular, we will consider including in the next game.
What kinds of changes have you made to the courtship system?
In the previous entries, it was about the courting before marriage. Because Trio of Towns has three locations with distinct cultures, there are three specific wedding styles for each one. So weddings will play a different and larger part in the game.
Yoshifumi Hashimoto at E3 2016
Earlier this year, the game Stardew Valley succeeded on PC in North America with gameplay very similar to Bokujō Monogatari. Do you see an audience for the series on PC or other platforms?
From the very beginning of developing the Bokujō Monogatari series we’ve always researched and tested the games on each platform from consoles to handheld to develop on the system that works best for the game style at that time. Now that we have developed and learned from almost two decades of Bokujō Monogatari games, we think developing for the PC may be possible and it might happen.
You actually went through trying out the game on each platform? Or were the decisions based on the nature of the game?
Both. Our focus was on what is the most accessible for kids and adults and for Trio of Towns the 3DS, it being handheld made sense.
Going back to developing for PC and other home consoles, we would have to consider many modifications to make the game enjoyable from a solely home experience as well. With the Bokujō Monogatari series, having the game with you anywhere has been part of succeeding.
Is cross play being considered? For example NX or Wii U to 3DS?
[Laughs] We can’t really answer that question right now but we’re always thinking of ways that we can make the experience better for our players.