Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life brings back a classic with a heartwarming twist, and I couldn't be happier
Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life is one upcoming game I wish I could tell my past self about. Back in the early 2000s, my childhood days were filled with hours upon hours of playtime on the family GameCube. When I wasn't playing Animal Crossing or The Urbz: Sims in the City, my attention was always consumed by one other: Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life. In fact, of all three of these classic GameCube gems, I spent most of my time with Harvest Moon, and, having first played at 12 years-old, I've long since credited it as the game that kick-started my lifelong love affair with farming sims.
I'm certain it's why I adore the likes of Stardew Valley and Wylde Flowers so much today. Harvest Moon: A Wonderful delivered a satisfying sense of progression that other games in the genre tap into, and it had a lot of heart and charm - with locals to get to know, potential spouses to woo, and discoveries to make around the delightful little Forgotten Valley as the seasons changed.
I can hardly wait to revisit a farming sim that dominated my childhood years, but the upcoming launch of Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life on June 27 isn't just personally significant because of my own sense of nostalgia. The remake promises to let us be "who you want to be and fall in love with your heart's desire", which means that instead of being locked into the male protagonist of the original with three set marriage candidates, we can choose to be male, female, or non-binary; customize our appearance, and marry any "bachelor or bachelorette" regardless of our choices.
Such openness to let us decide makes all the difference in the world, and I couldn't be happier to see a game I loved so much make a return in a way that's more inclusive. To the kid I was and the person I am now, I can't stress just how much this re-release means to me.
"Your story your way"
I beat Like a Dragon: Ishin but I can't stop playing its supremely chill in-game farming sim
The remake really just reiterates to me how important it is to have games out there that allow us to see ourselves reflected in them, especially at an early age. Happily, more recent games like Wylde Flowers have great representation and many farming adventures like Harvestella allow you to be who you want to be. So it feels only right that the return of a classic experience like A Wonderful Life doesn't stick to its past roots and grows for a new generation.
I always enjoyed my time with the original release, but my young self always wished to be a character of my own making. In the same way that Pokemon Crystal felt like a big deal because it allowed me to be a girl trainer for the first time, I so wanted to feel like I was actually in the game myself in Harvest Moon. I can still vividly recall when I found out there was another version of the game (Another Wonderful Life) that let you play as a female farmer.
Sadly, it was never released in my region in the UK, and it always felt like a parallel version of a world I loved so much was forever out of my reach. Even if I had gotten my hands on it, though, it still wouldn't have quite fulfilled "my heart's desire". I didn't quite appreciate why at the time, but I was in love with Celia (aka the best girl). If I had got to play Another Wonderful Life, I still wanted to marry her, but that wouldn't have been possible.
All these years later, the remake is set to let me finally realize that little hope of mine by letting me create my own character and marry whoever I wish. But even outside of my own experience, I couldn't be happier to see a classic game make a comeback for a new generation of players, in a way that looks set to be more inclusive and less restrictive in terms of character customization than it was before.
I keep thinking back to my kid self and just how much it would have meant to have the upcoming version of the game back then. To say I'm excited to see all of the new additions and changes when it launches next month is an understatement. I hope if future remakes come along, they'll follow suit and continue to build for a new generation of players, and returning ones like myself alike.
A fan of agricultural adventures? Here's our pick of the best farming games.