Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Season Fairytale is another 3DS game with a name that is far too long. It is also a mix between A Story of Seasons (basicaly Harvest Moon) and a standard JRPG. And while I’m glad that the game exists, the execution is a bit boring.
The main problem with Return to PopoloCrois is preamble. The first 3-4 hours of the game are story, story and some mediocre combat. Firstly, I know that this is a JRPG so I should expect it to lay the groundwork for the rest of the game. However, Return to PopoloCrois it is also a farming game and all I wanted to do from the moment I downloaded it, was farm. I didn’t need the story shoved down my throat and, frankly, it’s a bit of a generic tedious setup. Without the Story of Seasons side of the game it would be an utterly average.
Before I go any further in this review, I need to talk about the script and voice acting. I think it is widely understood and accepted that JRPGs generally have chonky, cheesey and cringey writing and voice acting. Well, Return to PopoloCrois adds confusing that list of C words. A standard conversation will almost always go like this:
Person A – Voice Acted Dialogue
Person B – Non-Voice Acted Dialogue
Person A – Non-Voice Acted Dialogue
Person B – Voice Acted Dialogue
And I cannot for the life of me figure out the reason why. There isn’t always that pattern, but every single story conversation splits the voice acting up between characters. It feel like somebody forgot to give the voice actors half the script. This creates a frustrating disconnect with the game. Should I read this dialogue or is it going to be voice acted? Your guess is as good as mine. To add insult to injury there are two Japanese audio tracks. So they didn’t voice act the entire game, but instead have two audio tracks saying the exact same things in two different voices? It baffles me as to why this has happened.
Weird voice acting aside; for a game with random battles the combat sure is boring and uneventful. Return to PopoloCrois’ battles are a lighter version of a strategy RPG like Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics. Battles take place on a grid and each character is given their own turn with turn order dictated by stats. Each encounter will follow this same pattern: move, attack, get hit, recover if needed or attack again. There is very little thought required. Again, if this was all Return to PopoloCrois had to offer then it would be very substandard.
Farming. Farming, foraging, harvesting and breeding, basically the Story of Seasons or Harvest Moon side of the game, is great. Much like the rest of the game though this takes forever to get going and unless you stick at it then Return to PopoloCrois might lose you before you really get a taste for the farming. Crops though are used to acquire new items that have an impact on the rest of the game and they never reach the level of micromanagement that the true Story of Seasons game does. And this is great. It works wonderfully and compliments the story side of the game brilliantly.
Return to PopoloCrois has a beautiful art style with the occasional anime cutscene. And despite the baffling decisions around voice acting the soundtrack is decent. The scores sooth you into the farming elements and get you excited in the battles. While neither are groundbreaking they are enjoyable.
And that is pretty much Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale. A standard fantasy quest that runs parallel to a just deep enough farming simulator. It takes it’s sweet time to get going, but both elements work in unison to make a reasonable game. If you are looking for a JRPG with a different they this will go down quite well. However, if you just want an interesting JRPG or a decent farming game then you might be better off finding an alternative.
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