What is Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale?
Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale is a light-hearted tale of the young prince Pietro, who gets stranded in a world far from home, and must try and find his way back. This new world he finds himself in is suffering from a blight of 'black beasts', dark beings who taint the once fertile ground and make it so nothing will grow again, much to the kingdom's chagrin. By taking on these black beasts, returning the soil to it's original state and reclaiming the long lost four Farms of Light, Pietro can hopefully return home. Along the way he meets all kinds of characters, from a pumpkin-headed amnesiac to a friendly blue fox to a helpful fairy sprite (and many more), explores dungeons, forests and caves - and even tries his hand at a spot of farming too.
How do you play Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale?
Most of your time with Return to Popolocrois will be spent travelling from place to place, searching for the ground tainted by the black beasts. When you come across a black beast - or one of the game's other many enemies - you'll find yourself locked with them in a turn-based battle. With friend and foe taking it in turns to attack, use magic spells or heal, with the aim of reducing your opponent(s) health to zero, they're quite easy to pick up and play. There is some element of strategy involved, however, as your characters' placement on the battlefield does have some bearing on how the battle could turn out - crowd everyone around the same enemy, and you run the risk of being wiped out by a single large-area-of-effect fireball, and it's probably best to keep your weaker healing units out of the fray, if possible. Once you reclaim the patches of land, you can then use the soil to grow crops, which can in turn be sold for cash, or given as gifts to eligible ladies (although any relationships are purely platonic).
Between dungeon raids, Prince Pietro can kick back and relax on his little farm, growing a number of fruits and vegetables and caring for animals. Much like Harvest Moon, Rune Factory and other similar games, you simply need to plant a seed and water it from time to time, and it will grow in a few in-game days. However, given the fact Pietro disappears for days at a time into dungeons, you'll often get messages telling you your turnips need watering or a chicken has laid an egg - although, despite what these messages suggest, it's not hugely urgent to head back. Most will wait until you naturally return home from your dungeon-crawling adventures.
How easy is Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale to pick up and play?
There's only really two things in PopoloCrois that may cause any problems for less able players - first and foremost, it's a very text heavy game, and there's not really any rhyme nor reason as to what sections are voiced and what aren't, making a solid reading ability a must here. The other issue is one of navigation, as Popolocrois map and 'where to go' hints are a little bit lacking, so players will need to be self-starting, and ready for a game with plenty of exploration. For example, throughout the story you'll need to find and purge various tainted plots of land - but as there's no hints to tell you whereabouts you need to look for them, you're mostly left to just going over the areas in question with a fine tooth comb until you find the right plot. You can also buy a number of farm animals, and sell their produce (so things like eggs and milk - you can't sell their meat!).
One particularly nice touch about Popolocrois though is that its difficulty is fairly customisable - not only are there three different difficulties to pick from, but you can also fine-tune the rate at which you encounter enemies, from low to medium to high, and these can be altered at any time during the game via the Data - Game Config menu. If the going gets too tough, you can always turn the encounter rate down, and enjoy more of a story-based experience!
- "I've come a great distance to be here, all in the name of deepening our friendship with your beautiful kingdom of PopoloCrois."
- "Hmm? Wazzat?… Well, if it ain't Prince Pietro himself, in the flesh!"
- "Friend o' mine got attacked by one not too long ago. Got cut up real bad, and his farm was dang near ruined by the critter."
On the whole, Return to PopoloCrois is pretty family friendly - there's no blood, gore, or sex scenes whatsoever. Violence is generally pretty tame too, with characters attacking using swords, fists and magical attacks to hit enemies, who simply fade away when defeated. Bad language is pretty much none existent too, although the word 'b*gger' does crop up in the dialogue very occasionally. Likewise a couple of references to voluptuous women creep in, while one scene has a woman declaring that "Black Baron, I want you to look over aaaaall of me!", but there's not really anything more risquee involved.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo 3DS