PoPoLoCrois and Bokujou Monogatari are series that have both been around for nearly twenty years. Now, Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale is set to give RPGamers in North America a taste of both series in one as XSEED Games plans release it for Nintendo 3DS this winter. Zack Webster got to spend a bit of time with the game and reported back on what to expect.
Return to PoPoLoCrois: A Story of Seasons is a crossover between the the long-running PoPoLoCrois RPG and the Bokujou Monogatari farming-sim series. The two come together to provide a fun and fanciful RPG that also allows for all your farming desires.
The game follows Prince Pietro, who has been brought to a fantastical world in which the only way to return to his own is to appease a goddess by removing the blight from the land. While he attempts to do so, he must still maintain his own livelihood, which is where the farm simulation aspects come into play. Pietro can run his own farm, which allows him to gather goods that can be used to sell, craft, or cook into other items that can help out in other aspects of the game, such as quests or combat. While the farming elements are quite heavy, they seem to be optional. Other elements from Story of Seasons, like building relationships and getting married, also had to be altered slightly due to the more narrative-heavy focus and set characters. Pietro has a romantic interest in purpose of the story, so the other prospects that can usually be wooed will instead merely provide help for running the farm.
Combat is a simple affair, especially for anyone who has played a turn-based RPG before. Battles take place on a large grid, with which each character taking turns to move or act on the grid. Each of the party of four has a range of influence in which they can target enemies or allies. Special attacks hit different patterns on the grid. The battles, even the miniboss, weren't difficult, so the game is aiming for a more relaxed feel, befitting its lighthearted nature and aesthetic.
The main story can be completed in twenty to twenty-five hours, but the side quests and farm simulating add a considerable amount of time to that. Even if you complete the story, the Story of Seasons aspects all remain open for play. PoPoLoCrois ends up trading some of its openness for a bit more structure in the narrative department, but its heart seems to be in line with both parent series, so fans of those — or anyone looking for lighter fare — should feel right at home. The game should be available this winter, either late this year or early in the next.