Review: Return to PopoloCrois: A STORY OF SEASONS Fairytale

Chances are that you have played games such as Harvest Moon and Story Of Seasons. And maybe you have heard of the manga/anime series called PopoloCrois. Now these two share a long game title and a (spoiler alert!) very fine game together. Just how fine? Keep on reading!

The game starts on Prince Pietro’s 13th birthday, which is visited by a special guest from the far Galariland. The king himself has invited Lady Marmela, since the kingdom suffers from black beasts who are making the land infertile. Galariland faced the same problem, and the lady is happy to share her knowledge on the situation. Since a person with a pure heart is required to learn the solution to the problem, our star Pietro volunteers to travel to Galariland. Unfortunately, Lady Marmela has a double agenda, and the Prince is transported to Galariland without a return option. Quickly however he befriends a number of locals such as the boys Rue and Nino, as well as a blue wolf and later on some of the familiar PopoloCrois cast. And from that point onwards it is quest time! Galariland is still infected and only with the help of Galariel, the goddess who blesses the land with fertility, can the once rich soils bear crops again.

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Traveling is done by walking around on a map, where random critters jump you. Random encounters are not always well balanced in games, so many people find them off-putting. Luckily, the game gives you three options for random encounters (from few to many) as well as three difficulty levels. So you can either breeze through the fields as easy as picking flowers, or you can turn(ip) up the encounter rate if you feel like grinding or collecting money and item drops.

The battles themselves are turn-based but with a slight twist. Your team starts out a small distance from the enemy, and you have some room for movement. Sometimes there are obstacles such as rocks between you and your foes. This gives some small tactical options, such as placing a weaker character in the background or stab a foe in the back. You can either attack with your weapon, use spells which strike a single or multiple targets, or engage in powerful combos called Pair Skills. And if you are tired of doing all the hard work, you can simply press Start to activate Auto-Battle and the game will take care of the rest. All these options make sure that the battles are not tedious, but are a welcome break from questing, talking and farming.

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Yes, farming plays a big role in this game. This is obviously not surprising, since the subtitle of the game is “A Story Of Seasons Fairytale”. Not only is the main storyline concerned with the farming conditions of both PopoloCrois and Galariland, but you will be able to water many a melon yourself. It isn’t long into the main game that you are given a farm of your own, and you can start growing your own produce. It is not really needed for the progress of the story, but you will be spending quite some time on the farm. Not in the last place because it is fun! Working the soil, seeding and watering your crops, nurturing your livestock and reaping what you sow is very satisfying. If you have played a game such as Harvest Moon or Story Of Seasons before, you know what to expect. However, it is more of a light version of those games, as it lacks in-depth functions such as seasons, day-night cycles or stamina/fatigue. This makes it a really easy-going, Animal Crossing-esque experience. I caught myself checking the farms just to see how they are doing. And if you are not on your farm, you will receive pop-ups on your screen when crops need water, or when your Sumoo (Galarilands equivalent of a cow) needs milking.

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You are not limited to one farm though. Throughout Galariland, a number of special farms named the Farms Of Light can be found. Powered by fairies and the goddess Galariel, they produce rare crops which can be sold for a high price. However, these farms are tainted by the black beasts, and in order to free them of their curse, Pietro and friends will be shrunk down to pea-size in order to clean a number of small farms tied to the Farm of Light. Once shrunk, you wander through a field maze and beat the crop out of the black beast inside. These dungeons are one of the lesser parts of the game though. They are very linear, and in order to compensate this they are riddled with dead ends and loops. You will be clearing quite a number of these, and this is a part of the game which feels more like a chore than a quest.

Luckily this is one of the few flaws, since the rest of the game is great. One particular nice element is the dialogue in the game. It is witty, funny, and well-written, and go well with the memorable characters from the PopoloCrois universe such as the awesome GamiGami Devil. Some of the dialogue is narrated (and even sung!), with some great voice acting. Not only that, the game gives three voice options, Japanese with the original PopoloCrois voices, an alternative Japanese voice set, and English. All sound great, and I found myself switching between Japanese 2 and English just to hear how every new character sounds. Not all dialogue is spoken however, and which parts are and which parts are not feels sort of random. The music itself is nice but not more than that. The farming and overworld themes are nice little tunes with some strings and banjo going on, and the battle tunes are electronic jams on a higher pace. Both tend to get a bit repetitive however.

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Graphic-wise the game looks good, especially in towns or on the overworld. The art style is fresh, and character animations are well done. You can toggle between a cell-shaded look and a softer, non-delineated style. I preferred the first, but that is just a matter of taste. In battle the magic spells look a little bit simple, especially when compared to games such as Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. But for the rest this game delivers, and it is safe to turn on the 3D as it makes the game sparkle even more. And we should not forget the beautiful cinematic intro this game has!

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The controls are pretty straightforward. Walking can be done by the D-Pad or the analogue stick. The latter feels best for most of the situations, but when farming the D-Pad has its advantages since you need to accurately select certain parts of land to tend to. The bottom screen shows a pretty hand-drawn minimap of the environment, which is in fact pretty useful. A larger map is available and gradually fills in the further you progress. There is an option for fast-travel, which lets you hop around the map like it’s nothing. This function is both useful and welcome, since you don’t need to backtrack through forests or fields in order to check out your farms and villages.

You will also be doing some sidequests if you want, which usually involve obtaining a certain amount of crops of slaying a number of beasts. Through StreetPass you can acquire treasure maps from Parallel Universe Pietros. And if you have a knowledge of the PopoloCrois universe, you might know that Pietro is in love with Narcia (although in this game the love is still fragile; their Facebook would say “ it’s complicated”). However, this does not hold Pietro back from flirting with a number of special girls in Galariland. By talking or giving presents to these girls you develop a stronger relationship with them, which in turn present you with blessings of Galariel. These are nice little sidesteps which keep you busy, if the farming alone is not enough.

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All in all this is a lovely game, due to the relaxed pace, the great character cast and the nice combination of RPG and farming. For diehard JRPG fans this game may feel too easy-going, with no need for grinding, a very doable difficulty level and a lot of convenience options such as fast-travel and the option to set your encounter rate. I myself however loved these options, since it makes you focus on the game itself, with all its charms and its lovely story. The farming is a very good addition, and it does not feel forced but complements the RPG part of the game, since it is woven into the story. This game truly feels like a fairytale to play, and if you are a fan of the PopoloCrois series, you can probably add one point to the final score.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Return to PopoloCrois: A STORY OF SEASONS Fairytale brings a fresh, easy-going RPG to the 3DS backlog. The combination of the two universes is done great and it is a breeze to play.

  • Gameplay3
  • Playability5
  • Visuals4
  • Audio3
  • Lifespan4
Final Score



Fresh mix of RPG and farming sim
Great voice acting and lovely art style
A lot of convenience options for novice players


Too easy for hardcore RPG players
Some tedious dungeons

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