Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom (Switch) Review

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Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom
Developer: Marvelous
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment
Played On: Nintendo Switch
Genre: Simulation
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
MSRP: 74.99
Release Date: 02/11/2022
CGM Editors Choice

Believe it or not, I never really knew anything about Doraemon. I was vaguely familiar with the character, given his status as a pop-culture icon—being compared by some critics to Mickey Mouse or Snoopy in terms of notability. But well into the age I currently am, I had never really experienced him or the characters in any form of media.  

What better way to bridge that gap than with one of my favourite game franchises of all time. I initially missed out on the first Doraemon Story of Seasons back in 2019, probably because I was on my 3rd playthrough of Stardew Valley, or occupied with weird offerings like My Friend Pedro. Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom might be one of the more digestible ways to experience the franchise—offering a solid Story of Seasons game paired with the style and charm that has made Doraemon such an enduring series.  

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Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom begins when Noby Nobita—the series’ lazy but kind-hearted protagonist—is getting yelled at by his mom for neglecting his homework during summer break. After running from his house, he is met by his friends who all share similar grievances with their parents. The lovable Doraemon shows up and pulls a rocket from his 4th dimensional pouch and they all fly off for an adventure on a new planet.  

However, during their trip, they crash-land on the planet of Illuma, where they meet Prince Lumis who enlists their help in restoring his father’s farm. To make matters more complicated, the Prince’s mother confiscates Doraemon’s ship because she does not trust the new off-worlders. Noby and his friends must work as hard as they can to contribute to the town, and restore Lumis’ farm to win the Queen’s trust, and return home. 

Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom might be one of the more digestible ways to experience the franchise…”

It’s a sweet story that follows most Story of Seasons plots of “restore farm for reasons,” but adds a whimsical, childlike sense of imagination to the whole affair—which is due in large part to the Doraemon influence. Although, I will say there is a bit of a narrative dissonance in the kids being so eager to pitch in around the town, with Noby especially being so excited to work on a farm, when the whole story began with his refusal to do any work during summer break. However, I’d say this is a nitpick at best, and the story has as good a reason as any to begin the Story of Seasons gameplay. 

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Speaking of gameplay, it’s about what you have come to expect from the Story of Seasons franchise, and might even be the best, most polished version I’ve played. Players will take life day-by-day—growing crops, catching bugs and fish, interacting with locals, and bringing the land closer together. By this point, Marvelous has gotten the formula down to a perfect science, as each in-game day progresses at a solid pace—with roughly every real-life second, progressing one in game minute—giving players lots of time to complete their daily chores, and explore the land.  

Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom also provides a copious amount of exploration, which was a bit tedious for an experienced player of Story of Seasons, such as myself, as the early moments of the game are a bit tutorial heavy with a lot of explanatory cutscenes. Although I can see how this would be useful for newcomers, especially younger players that the game is targeted to, who may need a bit more assistance understanding the game’s many mechanics. To the game’s credit, the characters are all so lovable that having the game explained through their interactions is pretty endearing to watch, even if I was itching for it to just let me play.  

“Despite some minor hiccups, there is a lot to like about Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom.”

On top of the standard farming, there is a plethora of things to do—something I’m always on the lookout for in Story of Seasons games. Players will be able to compete in several competitions throughout each month, invest in house upgrades which will open up cooking and other features, and utilize Doraemon’s many gadgets to provide helpful shortcuts to farm life.  

Visually, Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom looks amazing, utilizing a beautiful, painted aesthetic that suits the laid-back, natural feel of the game and compliments the Doraemon franchise’s visuals wonderfully. Furthermore, the visuals are enhanced by a wealth of little details, like how the trees sway gently in the breeze, how Noby’s reflection is present in rivers and puddles, or how the time of day changes the colour pallet. All of this is backed by a stellar soundtrack that provides a gentle, but whimsical feel to the whole game.  

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Although it’s not without some minor flaws. Some animations will play out without certain in-between frames—so characters will start getting out of bed, or off a chain, and then just instant-transmission to a standing position—and there’s familiar narrative problems I’ve been noticing a lot with Story of Seasons games, where certain cutscenes will reintroduce characters or details that were already explained in other cutscenes or dialogue. This happens most egregiously when Lumis is referred to as Prince Lumis when the gang arrives on the plane, but in a cutscene where they finally meet the Queen, his being revealed as a Prince is suddenly some huge revelation.  

This also happens in a smaller degree in relation to tutorials, where gameplay mechanics are explained through a cutscene, but then the game feels the need to re-explain the information in a dialogue box. It may seem like a minor complaint, but it just feels like a lack of faith in the intelligence of the audience when game’s need to explain themselves twice. 

Despite some minor hiccups, there is a lot to like about Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom. I would definitely rank it among the better Story of Seasons games, and it was a solid introduction to the Doraemon series. I think if you have kids, this would definitely be a great game to play with them—as it does support local co-op—and they would certainly enjoy this wholesome story and lovable characters.  

A retail version of the game reviewed was provided by the publisher. You can read more about CGMagazine reivew policies here.

Final Thoughts

REVIEW SCORE

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