Stardew Valley (Nintendo Switch): First Thoughts

When I first heard about the Nintendo NX — later announced and released as the Nintendo Switch — my curiosity was piqued. Although I don’t get time to play games as much as I used to the Zelda preview videos looking absolutely stunning, and the idea of an open-world version of this iconic game made the expense for this half-hearted hobby sound doable. For me to then find out that Stardew Valley, quite possibly my favourite PC game of all time, was getting a Switch release? Mind blown.

Despite a short month in September leaving me in my overdraft I did the sensible thing on yesterday’s release date and purchased it minutes after it became available in the eShop. A short download later and I’ve barely put the game down since: I’m not far off Summer in the first year, I’ve grown almost every Spring crop, I’ve done a bunch of Community Center tasks, explored over 20 levels in the mine and I’m on my way to wooing the lady I’d like to be my wife (Leah fans unite!)

Having spent so much time on the game already I’m pleasantly surprised at how intuitive it is on the console — particularly as I’ve tried it on the steam link previously and not enjoyed the controller experience — and how few bugs I’ve come across. There have been a few incidences of me pressing a button and it not doing anything in game, and one where I pressed the button once and hammered the crap out of everything with my pickaxe, but these are likely communication issues with the console (playing docked) rather than the game itself.

Aside from this, the only other glitch that I’ve encountered is a task set from Clint where, upon asking for Coals [sic] and indeed the task being completed with 10 coal (which spoilers! you can still fish out of a chest one by one to complete) you are thanked for ore, and the conversation is identical to the ore-themed quests on the PC. You can see an example of the wording mixup in the journal:

Nonetheless… the familiar music, the adorable graphics, the storylines and character arcs are all there and all exactly as I remember them from my last stint on the PC version. I am in love, and this was well worth waiting for.

ETA 15:43 GMT: Spotted another one…

Stardew Valley Hints & Tips

There are many ‘obvious’ elements to Stardew Valley that took me an incredibly long time to notice/learn. Hopefully by noting down some of the bits n bobs here, other players will catch on quicker (and other players can fill in gaps!)

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Stardew Valley, drawing inspiration from classics such as Harvest Moon, is an open-ended country life RPG. Starting on a farm you inherit from your grandpa, you can grow crops, raise animals, fish, forage and mine to build a dream life for you and your potential in-game partner.

The game was entirely developed by ConcernedApe and is available to buy on Steam.

Tools

The pickaxe can un-till soil.

You can use the pickaxe, axe or hoe to empty casks before they’ve finished maturing.

You can water / hoe multiple areas at once with upgraded tools by holding down the left mouse button.

Farming

All fruit and veg are worth more when turned to wine (in a keg) or jam/pickles (preserves jar)

When you find your first ancient seed, plant it rather than donating it. Ancient Fruit can then be turned into more ancient seeds.

Put a tapper on a giant shroom to generate mushrooms.

Corn and sunflowers (standard/silver quality) can be put into the oil maker to make oil, which is worth more than the origin products.

Animals

Always close barn/coop doors after the animals have gone to bed, to protect their happiness rating (happier animals give better quality products).

Animals left ‘trapped’ outside at night (with barn/coop door shut) are susceptible to wolf attacks.

The chance of a pig finding a truffle is greatly reduced at peak happiness (see explanation) – pet pigs every other day (or stop petting throughout winter) to keep pigs only mildly happy, increasing truffle profit.

Efficiency

Turn on the ‘Always Show Tool Hit Location’ option in Settings.

Holding right click whilst e.g. collecting veg or animal products, or distributing into kegs, barrels, etc speeds up the process.

Sprinklers make mass farming doable. Krobus sells iridium sprinklers on Fridays.

Best crop formation with normal and quality sprinklers (external)

Mayo machines, kegs, etc can be placed inside barns, coops and sheds to maximise space outside.

Fish

Several (non-rubbish) items caught by the crab pots are classed as fish and can be turned into sashimi and sold for a profit: Clam, regular and silver quality Cockle, Mussel, regular Shrimp, regular Snail, periwinkle, and Oyster.

The above also applies to smaller fish: Anchovy, Sardine, Bream, regular and silver quality Smallmouth Bass, regular Perch, Carp, Sunfish, Herring, regular and silver quality Red Snapper, Ghostfish, regular and silver Chub, and regular Shad.

Other

The Statue of Perfection spits out iridium ore every day when placed in your house (or shed). Don’t keep it in a chest for 2 years like I did…

Keep hold of one of every item that you find, farm, forage etc: you never know when they’ll come in handy for quests.

Give a loved gift on villager birthdays to gain a big heart (relationship) boost.

Once you reached 10 hearts (or 8 hearts for a non-marriage candidate) with a villager, you no longer need to give them gifts or attempt to maintain the friendship.

Hoe wiggly worms in the ground (easiest to spot in winter) to find artifacts, clay, coal etc

Go mining in the winter when farm and forage profit is lower.

You can get further in the mines with bombs than bashing every rock and enemy one by one.

You can stand next to a bomb as it explodes without coming to harm as long as you eat/drink something at the same time.

Optimal cellar cask layout (short of filling the entire cellar as you exit, which allows for over 200 casks, but is a PITA to undo/redo)

External Tools & Further Info

Stardew Valley imagery, names, info etc © ConcernedApe

Ohai August

You’d think having not blogged for over a month I’d have a huge array of exciting developments to fill you in on.

Unfortunately, however, my life is just chores, bum-wiping and work, and I’m too lazy to make anything exciting up so you’re not disappointed by my very existance. But in a nutshell (for those interested in the monotony and the mundane) I have:

  • Agreed to do the Macmillan ‘Brave the Shave’ to help raise money so that they can support those suffering from cancer. A charity close to my own heart after they supported my maternal grandmother in her final weeks. I’m not sure what bravery is involved in voluntarily removing one’s hair, but if I can make a few quid doing something fairly simple, it’s all good.
  • Wasted a LOT of hours (when I should have been cleaning, parenting and/or sleeping) playing Stardew Valley. It’s the only game to have held my attention for longer than an hour in well over a decade. Love it, and love that it’s 100% by a lone indie dev. You can see what my farm looks like if that’s your bag.
  • Drunk too much, eaten too much, and exercised too little. And have put on about 10lbs for the privilege. Currently holding myself accountable by posting daily(ish) sweaty selfies to instagram. Feel free to nag me if I skip a day.

In addition to that, my essure has been signed off (the mysterious pain and bleeding stopped) and Oliver has finally finished nursery and is due to start school in September. Scary to think of my baby boy being old enough for school, but it couldn’t come soon enough. Paying out hundreds of pounds a month for childcare is gut-wrenching and not in any way helpful for overpaying the mortgage.

I reinstalled my laptop recently in a desperate last-ditch attempt to speed it up before I give up and replace it (which I can ill afford to do). After clearing out a few years of accumulated shite, converting to free open source software to cover stuff I no longer have the license to (Photoshop), and using Chrome as my primary browser (from Firefox)… well, it seems to have done the trick. Touch wood.

I decided a while back to redevelop this blog and my professional site into one big site, but after getting to 99% completion I decided against it at the last minute. Pondering how commercial and personal identity fit together isn’t a new thing — I’ve waffled on about it on here for years — but merging still makes me feel censored when it comes to discussing things of a more personal nature, so it’s not yet a path I’m willing to go down. This does mean my pro site will get a mini makeover (as soon as I have time to do it) though, woo!

I guess that’s all folks. See you again next month.