Stardew Valley is an indie farming simulation RPG that was released on PC in February 2016 and then ported for everything but Nintendo…until today. As of October 5, 2017, you can now download it off the Nintendo Switch eShop, and for just $14.99. In Stardew Valley “Switch” (it’s the same game), you just inherited your grandpa’s huge yet messy farm plot in a place called – you guessed it – Stardew Valley, as well as his dirty, worn-out tools and some pocket change (thanks a lot, Gramps). So you leave your cushy office job to live the life of a farmer, but there’s way, way more than just tending to your farm and making bank; you find yourself mining and crafting, flirting with the locals to get married, even fighting monsters such as mummies and things called “Shadow Shamans.” It’s totally up to you and the possibilities are near endless.
This game is a great entry into the world of farming sims and Stardew Valley may just leave you wanting to till other fertile fields on your Nintendo consoles; here are a list of the top 5 not-to-be-missed series for beginning farmhands!
The original farming simulator by Natsume! Stardew Valley’s creators were actually inspired by the Harvest Moon series. It all started in 1997 with Harvest Moon for the SNES but the series took an unfortunate downward spiral after Magical Melody dropped for the GameCube in 2006. Have no fear though, I’m here to point you in the right direction when it comes to which Harvest Moon titles to give a shot:
Harvest Moon 64 (1999, Nintendo 64)
Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town (2003, Game Boy Advance, 2015, Wii U)
These games offer you a great combination of farming, customization and role-playing. And if you’re looking for an updated version, check out Harvest Moon 3D: A New Beginning on the Nintendo 3DS (2012). It’s pretty decent for a modern Harvest Moon. But whatever you do, do NOT bother with Harvest Moon: Light of Hope which came out this past summer (2017) for the Nintendo Switch. It’s dreadful.
Story of Seasons
The Story of Seasons series is the continuation of the Harvest Moon series under a different name due to getting acquired by Marvelous Inc. (formerly Natsume) and then localized by their American publishing brand XSEED Games. It’s a good thing the games are still being brought to the West, because both existing titles, Story of Seasons (2015) and Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns (2017), for the Nintendo 3DS are a joy to play. This series is basically a prettier-looking, smoother (though less traditional) Harvest Moon experience, which is similar to Stardew Valley, with the ultimate goal of working with your fellow farmers to make your town famous.
And if you like Story of Seasons, get hyped because XSEED Games announced they are big fans of the Nintendo Switch and will be developing their upcoming games for it.
Now, if you’ve taken a liking to the combat side of Stardew Valley more than the farming side, then do I have a game for you: Fantasy Life (2014) by Level-5 on the Nintendo 3DS. You choose from one of twelve “Lifes” (classes): Alchemist, Angler, Blacksmith, Carpenter, Cook, Hunter, Magician, Mercenary, Miner, Paladin, Tailor or Woodcutter, and then set out on a quest to either save the kingdom or just build a successful life for yourself, or both. The combat, crafting, exploring, customization, building, etc. are all simple and fun. Similarly to Stardew Valley, the choice is yours every step of the way and don’t worry, you can change your Life whenever (as long as you’re not in the middle of a quest!)
P.S. Fantasy Life Online, the sequel, is coming soon.
Marvelous, Natsume and XSEED Games are behind the Rune Factory series, described by one of the producers as the “Harvest Moon where you wield a sword.” It all started with Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon (yes, it’s actually called that) in 2007 on the Nintendo 3DS. You farm it up, craft it up and build up relationships with the other villagers as you do in Stardew Valley but the game mainly focuses on the action part – delving through dungeons and fighting anything that looks at you the wrong way. And instead of purchasing livestock you befriend monsters in dungeons. Cool, right?
If you’re intrigued, all the titles are good but Rune Factory 4 (2013) on the Nintendo 3DS is the newest and is a total banger. Unfortunately it is currently unknown whether the series will ever see additional development.
Last but not least, Terraria. This 2D sandbox developed by Re-Logic came out of nowhere in 2011 on PC and made serious waves before hitting the Nintendo 3DS in 2015, then the Wii U in 2016. It’s like the lovechild of Minecraft and Metroid. You start off in a freshly generated world with basic tools and then go crazy. There’s caves with minerals to extract, materials to build an empire out of, vendors to attract and fill your empire with, different biomes to explore and awesome equipment and insane weapons to craft or find and then use to demolish loads of monsters (including bosses) coming your way. It takes the endless possibilities of Stardew Valley and kind of multiplies it by infinity for countless hours of fun.
And if you’re too busy with Stardew Valley Switch or the other great games in this list, there’s no harm in waiting it out because 505 Games (the publisher) announced in February 2017 that Terraria is coming to the Nintendo Switch real soon.
So, back to playing some more Stardew Valley Switch? Or, will you be taking a swing (with your sickle, because farming) at one of the great titles on this list?