For some, the title of this article may come across as the screeching joy of a person with impossibly niché interests…and if you’re under 30, you’d be justified in your confusion. For many like myself, these little pamphlets of highly specific wisdom hold a little bit of magic from the dark and old times. Back before the internet, when a rumor could run wild, free, and unchecked. There was a little bit more mystery involved in video games, as most secrets were only spread by
lying-ass Darren and his stupid Red Moogle rumour/falsehood word of mouth.
For whatever reason, these tiny tomes became rarer and rarer with every freshly opened new game. Oddly enough, booklets began disappearing from video game boxes around the time another widely practiced modern video game business model arose…
New booklet smell is a thing, okay? If the completely undefined “New Car Smell” can rise to amass an economic empire, then me smelling a tiny book isn’t that weird. Really, it isn’t. I used to do it all the time.
A lot of times as a kid, I’d get a game on my birthday because they cost money. They’d do that awkward thing where I open presents at the table in a restaurant. Until that birthday dinner was over…until we waddled our asses back to the car to head home, until I could run in the house and devise a nice way to say Happy Days was like watching your own lobotomy and Dad should let YOU have the TV, no hadokens were being yeeted at all.
You know what it’s like to have a single-digit age and the very thing you’ve wanted for eons RIGHT in your BBQ stained little paws while being miles away from any chance of enjoying it? In this silent frenzy, this…quiet, bottled storm of anxiety, excitement, and ADHD, my little manual was my life raft.
Lore! Backstories! Commands! Art! Explanations of exciting things to come! A note where they thank me for buying the game! Hey, parents! Nintendo said thanks!
“Great game! Booklet sucked, but the game is cool.” was a legit review back then. A hefty, thick manual chock full of art and info was a big feather in a game’s cap at the time.
I should mention that Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is possibly the best Harvest Moon/Farm Story of all time. I wanted to give one of my fellow TGoN writers a chance to review it, should they be so inclined to gush as I am, but it’s worth noting.
The art is good and looks like the proper evolution of the Farm Story franchise. The systems are a collection of some of the best ideas from the series. Customization is more in-depth. Everything has an impressive level of polish and it’s quite evident that much care and effort was put into refining the experience. They’ve even taken a few cues from the true 2020 GoTY, Animal Crossing, and in ways that only improve the formula.
But the massive cherry on top has got to be this little surprise. I totally didn’t imagine opening this game to find an old friend. Yes, I smelled it again when I wrote the part about the new game smell. I stand proud and unashamed, sniffing a tiny book. It smells like nostalgia and new plastic.