Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town was developed by Marvelous Interactive for the Game Boy Advance console, and in many ways forms an enhanced version of the PlayStation title Harvest Moon: Back to Nature.
As a boy your parents brought you on vacation to Mineral Town, a small farming village. There you met an old man who owned one of the farms in the village, and spent many happy days playing with the animals on the farm. Once the vacation was over you kept in contact with the old man by writing letters. Eventually the letters ceased, and so you journeyed back to the village in order to see what was going on.
Your arrival back at the village signals the start of the game, where you are informed by the Mayor that the old farmer unfortunately passed away, but left you his farm in his will. Since his passing the farm has become dilapidated and overgrown. You decide to honor your old friend's memory by taking over the farm and returning it to its former glory. In the process you'll befriend the community of Mineral Town and even start a family of your own.
The gameplay is similar to other titles in the series. Key tasks include farming, fishing and raising livestock. Each day you have a limited amount of time and stamina to complete all of the necessary tasks.
As is to be expected, much of your time in the game will be spent farming. You take over a farm with one large field and spend the majority of your time clearing the field of debris, as well as planting, watering, and harvesting crops. Each season brings with it different crops that can be planted and each crop will earn a specific profit upon reaching full growth. This is how the majority of your income will be earned. In the early stages of the game you will spend most of your availble time tending to crops and clearing the field. As the game progresses, you will acquire better tools and more stamina which will allow you to devote less time to farming giving you more time for the games many other activities.
On top of growing plants on your farm, you also have the ability to raise a few different breeds of livestock who serve various purposes within the game. You can have up to eight chickens and a combination of up to sixteen cows and sheep. Each type of livestock provides an item that you can sell or use to make more profitable items. Also, over time you build a relationship with the livestock through proper care and attention which will allow you to take part in some of the towns festivals on certain holidays.
On top of the livestock you also get the chance to raise your own horse and dog. They don't provide any profitable items, just friendship and the ability to participate in more of the town's festivals.
There are two mines in Mineral Town that you can enter, one of them only available during the Winter season. The mines provide a place to find the various ore in the game which provide a source of income during the winter when you're unable to raise crops, and are also used to upgrade your various tools and certain farm machinery.
If you decide you need a break from the rigors of working the field, you can head to one of the local bodies of water to do some fishing. Fishing provides another source of income and it also plays a part in one of HM: FoMTs collection quests of obtaining all the 51 different varieties of fish. On top of all of those, there are also six Legendary King Fish that you can go after providing a sort of side quest to pursue at your leisure.
As you progress in the game you'll acquire the ability to cook over 100 different recipes. The foods can help restore stamina and be given as gifts to the locals. Finding all the recipes is also another goal for the completist amongst you. Foods are cooked by selecting various ingredients and the different utensils to use in preparation and seeing what results. Though you can also discover recipes in ways other than just expirementing.
There are all kinds of items throughout Mineral Town that you can gather for all kinds of purposes. From collecting wood to upgrade various buildings on your farm to picking flowers to give to the ladies, the world is filled with collectible things.
One of the biggest aspects of any HM title is socializing with the locals. In HM: FoMT there are plenty of people to get to know, each with an interesting personality and depth to them. As you become better friends with each of them you'll learn a little bit more about them and their backstory, which is another nice objective to shoot for.
Of course, the main purpose of the social aspect of the game is landing yourself a wife who can bear your children and provide a lineage to your farming legacy. There are six potential brides to choose from and wooing them brings another fun detail to the game. However, competing for their hand in marriage are six potential suitors that you have to worry about. This adds a little bit of intrigue into the entire situation, though in reality there isn't much actual pressure created from it. Once you do marry, your wife will fullfill her obligation and eventually produce a child and heir to your farming throne.
Festivals and Holidays
A few times a month special holidays or festivals will occur which you can take part in. Doing so increases your relationship with the locals and also provides interesting diversions from your regular chores. Not to mention you can earn some nice goodies and potential side effects from participating in the different festivals.