Game Review: Return to Popolocrois

Well, I’ve never been to Popolocrois before, but this game Return to Popolocrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale has been impressing me from the minute I started playing!

This game was a little treat I bought for myself while holiday shopping. I bought it ‘used’ from GameFly using member coupons, so it only cost me $6! Not too shabby, not to mention that ‘used’ is a status that doesn’t really matter with 3DS cartridges, so it’s basically a brand new game for cheeeeap! Awesome.

Anyway, if you’ve been following my blog for a long time, you’ll know I’ve been a fan of Harvest Moon games for several years. It’s my kind of game, low key collection and simulation – great for “escapist” gamers like me! However, sometimes HM games (and the new Story of Seasons title, which is the newest iteration from XSEED games) can get a little… bland. The most action you normally can get in a farming game is the mining dungeon crawl. However, Return to Popolocrois fixes this with a new twist!

In Return to Popolocrois, you are a young prince who has been sent to a world that has been taken over by an evil Dark Lord, while the prince’s home kingdom is now at risk of being the Dark Lord’s latest victim. Prince Pietro must now save BOTH kingdoms because it is the right thing to do! And of course, what is deeply affected by the Dark Lord’s evil ways? Farmlands, of course! How can the people survive if their farmland is not able to grow crops? (And there we have our tie-in to the Story of Seasons background lol!) In order to save the farming lands, we must work with the local fairies, battle evil enemies, and explore dungeons to clear out the Dark Lord’s hold on the land. Then you can use this freshly cleared land to plant crops!

What’s great about this game is that the farming is much easier than in SoS or older HM titles. The crops won’t wilt, and the game will even give you notifications on when the crops need to be watered or harvested. Same goes for farm animals (available later in the game) who won’t die but simply get hungry if you forget about them. There aren’t any fancy ‘maker’ machines (so far) in RTP – yes I’m going w/that abbreviation lol – but you can Synthesize different crops and other items to create cooked dishes, new weapons, etc. The only thing I really miss is the seed maker. At least at the point I am in the game, the only way to get seeds for crops is to buy them, earn them, or receive them in an item drop after defeating enemies in the right region.

If farming isn’t really your thing, you can do the bare minimum to get by. But if you don’t like farming, what are you doing playing an XSEED game lol? Anyway, the battle system is pretty fun. You can move around the battle field, similar to “Fire Emblem” games. The battles look and feel very similar to the game “My Fantasy Life.” You can level up your characters, purchase or synthesize new armor and weapons, and each character has special skills. These skills have elemental powers, and if certain characters are playing in the same team, there are also Partner Skills that can be unlocked. If that wasn’t cool enough, in the game settings you can adjust the frequency of the random battles, so if you want to grind and level up you can change the number of enemy encounters to high! (Or if you want to just run through an area without being bombarded, change it to low and/or use a special item to ward off these enemies.)

Fans of the Story of Seasons/Harvest Moon franchise will also be happy to learn that you can also have a significant other (kinda) in this game. Prince Pietro is only 13 after all, and won’t be getting married anytime soon. But he does have little ‘girlfriends’ across all of the in-game regions, and you can visit them and give them gifts. The game even gives you a notification if one of them is missing you! Cute!

So far I’ve really been enjoying the game. The only thing that makes me nervous is that since this was a used game, the cartridge I received already had a completed save file. And that completed game save file only had 53 hours played in total. This tells me that the game is fairly quick to beat, and possibly doesn’t have much post game. I haven’t completed the game yet myself, so maybe this person wasn’t a hardcore farmer. (I can’t say for sure, because I refuse to play that game file and see spoilers lol!) Once I finish the game, maybe I’ll report back. But to play it safe, if you’re interested in trying out this game, I recommend buying it used like I did. I think the game is SERIOUSLY fun and if you like cute farming games with some fun action and battles, definitely give this game a try!

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3 Random Games I’m Playing Right Now

Hey guys! It’s been a while since I’ve posted about video games. My bad. It’s mostly because I’m playing three games right now that are taking up a lot of my time! I still check in with my regular games like ACNL and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, but there’s three games that are really taking over my life right now.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

I’m a noob to the Monster Hunter series. People have tried to get me into the earlier titles in the series, but I never took the time to try it out. I’d played demos and always thought the controls were too confusing. However, I happen to have the New 3DS XL system and it incorporates the new c-stick camera controls REALLY well. So I decided to pick up the game… I mean, everyone’s playing it! That means it must be good right??

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At first I felt kinda bad about hunting these monsters. Especially in the very beginning, they have you slaying these really docile and gentle monsters and I had guilty feelings about it. But once you really get into the action, it’s like, “HEY monster – you’re trying to kill me! Let me kill you first!” and I got over the hunter’s remorse. Now I’m really getting the swing of things, and I can’t believe I didn’t start playing this game sooner. I love games that are content heavy and have a strong multi-player aspect. MH4U incorporates both of these things with extensive quest lists that you can play online with friends, aside from the regular storyline missions. On top of that, you can forge new armor and weapons to upgrade your skills and take on bigger foes. And did I mention that you collect KITTIES?? There are these helpers that you can enlist called Palicoes, and they are all cat-like creatures that do amazing support work during battles. Some add more attack power, others replenish health, some can throw bombs, others focus on defense… you can customize your Palico team to suit your style. I love the Palicoes because they add this element of cuteness to an otherwise gory and somewhat violent game. It’s a LOT of fun and I am down to hunt with friends anytime! Evenings are best for me to get on WIFI. 🙂

Story of Seasons

Am I the only one who still wants to call this game Harvest Moon? I can’t get the new title to stick in my brain. Anyway, now that Natsume has parted ways with Marvelous and XSEED, I have to call this game Story of Seasons. Cuz Natsume owns the rights to “Harvest Moon” in America and that’s how it goes sometimes. (BTW, don’t try the new Harvest Moon: Lost Valley game unless you’re into Minecraft, because that’s basically what Natsume has done with the franchise here in the US. It’s not pretty.)

Story of Seasons brings us the familiar art style and gameplay features we have grown to know and love in the HM series. I think this is the best farming game available on 3DS, and that’s saying a lot because I really loved “Tale of Two Towns.” I had some issues with “A New Beginning” due to too much customization. I don’t want to worry about decorating the entire damn town, my homestead is enough thanks! Story of Seasons tones down the customizing to a more feasible amount. You can still craft new objects for your farm and place them wherever you want (the same applies to furniture in your house btw!) but you’re limited to your own fields. However, that doesn’t mean you are stuck with just one field area. A cool new feature of Story of Seasons allows you to compete with other farmers in town for some extra fields that are specifically set up for certain types of crops. For example, my character is renting the Root Crops field area in addition to my main farmland. This allows me to free up some space on my homestead for grains and tall crops, and plant all of my root crops in this satellite field instead. But it’s not that simple, you have to defend your rented fields every season by performing well in contests or shipping lots of goods. Yep that’s right, farming just got a lot more competitive!

I haven’t gotten too far in my game yet, only up to early Summer Year 1, but I’m raising cows, a horse and a chicken (with another chick on the way! lol) along with my crops. You get a lot of space on your farm, and you can build multiple barns, chicken coops and other facilities on the homestead. Basically, if you are unable to rent one of the special public fields, you can still grow all types of crops on your own farm, so no worries! Another great feature is the farming itself. Now you use your hoe to plow a plot that grows up to 9 crops at one time. No more watering each individual crop. Now you just water a plot and all of the crops are saturated. Just makes everything that much easier and less time consuming. Leaves you more time to socialize and find a sweetheart in town! I’m still working on that part… lol

Pokemon Rumble World

This game has only been out for a day and I’m already obsessed with it. This is the Pokemon Company’s latest “freemium” game, meaning you pay nothing to download it, but there are a lot of features and items that you can only get if you pay for premium in-game currency. Since the game just came out, there is a sale for the premium currency so I snagged that. It’s not very expensive either.

I’ve been playing the Rumble series since it first came out on the Wii. I love it! I enjoy the action/adventure gameplay, it’s a nice change from the RPG format of the regular Pokemon games. Plus you can take photos while you play. And its a simple enough game that you can pick it up easily and play a few rounds. As far as the actual gameplay goes, it’s basically the same as it always had been. You press A for one move and B for another (if you have two moves registered) and beat up other Toy Pokemon dungeon-crawl style. A lot of the music is the same too, I have to add.

But here’s what’s new in Pokemon Rumble World:

  • Mii’s! You import your Mii, who can be customized with new outfits. Other Mii’s will start showing up too via StreetPass and SpotPass, who will help you in the game! Some will let you visit areas for a discounted price, others will give you premium currency if you save them from Toy Pokemon, and more.
  • Hot Air Balloons. In previous games in this series, you had areas to navigate, and you selected the one that you wanted to battle. Now you have to ride Hot Air Balloons, which have to be “refilled” afterwards. This is the main time when the “freemium” aspect comes into play. If you want to challenge the same area twice, you’ll need to spend premium currency. Or wait for a set amount of time, which is indicated in the selection screen. This wait time can be over an hour. You also need to spend premium currency to purchase new Hot Air Balloons that will take you to other areas.
  • Premium Currency. Let me explain this a little bit more. I’m making it sound evil. You can actually EARN premium currency easily throughout the game. There are certain (once a day) areas where you can earn premium currency, and you get even more for free if you get a lot of StreetPasses and interact with friends. It seems to me that the game provides enough premium currency for free to get you through the main parts of the game without paying anything. But if you’re impatient or want to wear a specific premium shirt design, that may cost you out of pocket. It’s up to you if you want to spend money!

There are other new features too, but I won’t spoil everything. This game is FREE to download from the eShop right now, so definitely check it out and see for yourself! My only criticism of Rumble World is the lack of a mini map. The top screen gives you arrows that indicate where the Toy Pokemon are, but I preferred seeing them on a map instead. It’s not a huge deal, just one little thing that I miss about the older games in the series.

Well, as you can imagine, I’ve certainly got my hands full here! All three of these games are really fun and it’s always a struggle to decide which game to play. Rumble World is best for short spurts, since there’s that whole time limit aspect. Monster Hunter can be very intense and time consuming, so it’s ideal to play at home when I have free time. Story of Seasons is low key, so I enjoy playing it when I need to relax, or after an intense hunt in MH4U. They compliment each other nicely.

Soo…. what games have YOU been playing??