It may be virtually unknown outside if Japan, but PopoloCrois is a much-loved fairy tale series created by Yohsuke Tamori. Originating as a comic, this series has expanded to include mangas, anime series and several video games. The US has received only one localized game, which was released on Playstation Portable in 2005. This game, simply titled PopoloCrois, spawned a small but dedicated fanbase who have made some adorable fan art, which you should totally check out. A turn based strategy RPG, PopoloCrois focused on storytelling and character development, and the game helped to ignite an ever-growing desire for the slower-paced, story-focused video games of an earlier era, commonly known as "90's nostalgia games."
Return to PopoloCrois features a cast of unique characters which fans of the series will be familiar with, and newcomers are sure to fall in love with. The game has partnered with the Story of Seasons (formerly known as Harvest Moon) games, potentially bringing in an entirely new audience to the PopoloCrois series.
We do not know all of the features Return to PopoloCrois has to offer, as the development blog has said that there is at least one exciting element that has not been discussed publicly. We do know that the game focuses heavily on building and maintaining relationships. We also know that there is only one potential romantic pairing in this game: Prince Pietro and the forest witch Narcia. While this is a departure from the Story of Seasons tradition, this romance is well established within the PopoloCrois canon, and this sweet, mutually dedicated pair are much loved by fans. We have been assured that the romance, and indeed the game as a whole, is very innocent, focusing more on heartwarming character relationships and overcoming seemingly impossible odds, rather than gory graphics or sexual innuendo.
With a main plot of 20 to 25 hours of gameplay, Return to PopoloCrois is a little short for a traditional RPG. Game makers have compensated for this by adding a large amount of side and sub quests which, can reportedly double if not quadruple the length of game. It also boasts a Street Pass feature, though we are unsure how this impacts gameplay, and includes collectibles souvenirs, insects, plenty of crops to grow, animals to care for, and the ability for players to decorate their farm.
While we have seen the fusion of the Story of Season/Harvest Moon games with the action RPG genre in the Rune Factory series, it is still somewhat difficult to imagine how a turn-based, strategic style RPG can be married with the farming world of Story of Seasons. It appears that, unlike in the Rune Factory series, Return to PopoloCrois will not set players up to begin farming at the start of the game. Instead, a thirteen year old Prince Pietro Pakapuka will begin his journey in a new land, where his title and heritage mean very little. Farming will eventually be unlocked as part of the story, and will, the development blog assures, feel like a natural and logical part of the story's progression.
Those who have been following my blog know that I'm something of a Story of Seasons fan, though I am not above being critical of the series. While slow gameplay and, generally speaking, a lack of driving plot are part of the appeal of the SoS series, they can also be a deterrent for both new and returning players. Return to PopoloCrois boasts a rich, emotional, character-focused plot, which may be too much of a departure for old school Harvest Moon players, but could be just the thing to bring new players into the series.
|Return to PopoloCrois features gorgeous animated sequences|