I have more thoughts, but they boil down to that RF4 is the perfect Harvest Moon type game for me. The combination of RPG elements and story with the farming elements scratches an itch that Harvest Moon titles and Stardew Valley couldn't, and kept me consistently coming back to the original 3DS version for years, keeping it at my most played game on that console for all those years too, haha.
I think the way each "side" plays into each other in almost, though not entirely, inseparable ways but you can still mostly focus on whatever side is most fun to you is great. I find both very fun, and they both keep me pursuing each other. They just play together very nicely. The gameplay in all respects just feels nice, and the writing is surprisingly touching at points, although nothing groundbreaking overall. Still, it's very lovable, carried by its charming cast, and with a few striking and clever moments.
I do wish the graphics had been upgraded for Special, though, instead of what just seems like the original low-res textures having been put through an AI upscaler..? Legit it looks like someone just slapped everything through Waifu2x and it's not very good. Easily ignorable, but not good. The original low-poly character models look great in HD, though.
And yeah, the only things different between Special and the original 3DS version are 1. MANY more save files, which is great, 2. Newlywed mode, 3. certain story triggers are no longer random, which is INCREDIBLY welcome. Which means if you already have the 3DS version, Special isn't a huge step-up. Decide for yourself if it's worth it in that case, but if you haven't tried the game yet, I'd absolutely recommend it.

Reviewed on Feb 03, 2022