Game Info:

Return to Popolocrois: Story of Seasons Fairytale
Developed by: Marvelous Inc.
Published by: XSEED games
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Available on: 3DS
Genre: RPG
Number of Players: Single-player
ESRB Rating: E 10+ for fantasy violence, mild language, suggestive themes, alcohol references
Price: $39.99
(Amazon Affiliate Link)

Thank you XSEED Games for sending us this game to review!

The PoPoLoCRoIS series has been around since 1996 and has always started off in Japan before reaching western shores.  While those familiar with the series will recognize the main characters, former knowledge with the series is not required to enjoy Return to Popolocrois: Story of Seasons Fairytale.  The background of the characters is revealed in the beginning of the game to bring everyone up to speed.  After playing this title, I was able to locate a PSP copy of the game for less than $3 and I look forward to checking it out.

In this game Prince Pietro is turning thirteen and the kingdom of Popolocrois is hosting a banquet in his honor.  The chancellor is in a panic since the prince is nowhere to be found.  Pietro is actually looking for a gift to give his best friend, Narcia, who happens to be a witch.  Among other guests awaiting Pietro’s arrival is Marmela the diplomat from Galariland.  She is willing to share her knowledge in fighting the mysterious black creatures that are invading the land.  After convincing the king to allow Pietro to travel to Galariland, it finally happens, but not as anyone expected.   

Return to Popolocrois: Story of Seasons Fairytale

Strong Points: Cute story with likable characters; simplified farming mechanics
Weak Points: Short game that can be completed in less than fifteen hours
Moral Warnings: Cartoon violence; mild language; sexual innuendo; magic use; alcohol references

When Pietro first arrives in Galariland he’s by himself, but is quickly accompanied by a loyal blue wolf and they meet some helpful locals named Nino and Rue.  Nino and Rue don’t know much about their past, but they do love and rely on each other to survive these nearly barren lands.  Many farms are being ravaged by a darkness.  A desperate fairy named Connie convinces Pietro to help her restore Galariland to its former glory by reviving their fairy over-keeper.  Wanting to save this world and his own, Pietro agrees to help revive their goddess.   

In order to revive her, Pietro must illuminate four flambeaus and to do so he has to cleanse numerous plots of land that have been corrupted by darkness.  With Connie’s special powers, Pietro and his party are shrunken down to explore the garden themed dungeons to locate and defeat the dark creature causing the corruption.  The dark creatures and bosses are the only enemies that you can see coming; the rest of the turn-based battles are random.  In the game’s options you can change the encounter rate to be low, medium, or high.  The more enemy encounters, the more your party can level up and become stronger.

Each party member has various stats like HP, MP, speed, magic attack/defense, attack power, and defense.  These attributes can be further enhanced depending on the type of weapons, accessories, and clothing equipped.  There are several towns and they each have shops where you can buy better armor and weapons.  There are also inns to stay at to recover health and magic points.  Last but not least, there are eligible females in each town that Pietro can win over with frequent visits and giving of gifts.  When a girl’s heart is won over, they will ask if they can live on Pietro’s farm with him.  That’s pretty much the extent of it since Pietro is not chasing girls and is fond of Narcia. Even though Pietro’s love life is pretty innocent, there are some other characters in the game that are popular with the ladies and some females offer to have him fully examine them. 

Return to Popolocrois: Story of Seasons Fairytale
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 82%
Gameplay - 15/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 76%
Violence - 7/10
Language - 7/10
Sexual Content - 7/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

With the colorful graphics and cute characters, my kids were drawn to this game and often watched me play it.  While it is “mostly” kid safe, my biggest complaint is the language.  The words d*mn and d*mmit appear a few times, but they are not spoken by Pietro or Narcia.  It’s still a shame since had it not been for the language, I would whole heartedly recommend this game come Christmas time. 

Anyone who is a fan of the farming in the Harvest Moon games will feel at home in this title.  The farming is simplified without having the crops die from lack of water, though the game will let you know when they’re thirsty.  Many different types of fruits, vegetables, and animals can be raised by Pietro.  Items can be synthesized with the items raised at the farm and the minerals mined at the quarries scattered across the land.  I was able to synthesize weapons more powerful than the ones sold in stores so it’s definitely worth experimenting with different item combinations.  I like how the game will tell you ahead of time if a combination will be unsuccessful.  

Though I spent a fair amount of time farming, synthesizing, and doing side-quests, there was certainly plenty more to do if I wanted.  Since I’m not a completionist, I was able to finish the main story line in less than fifteen hours.   Because of the short campaign, I would wait until a sale before picking up this title.

In the end, Return to Popolocrois: Story of Seasons Fairytale tells a heartwarming story with likable characters and good voice acting.  The battle system is fun and the farming is not as tedious as other Harvest Moon titles.  While the game is simple enough for children to grasp, as a parent I’d think twice before letting my kids play this game due to the language in it.