My obsession with the Stardew Valley 1.6 update changelog is making me nostalgic for physical game manuals

A screenshot of a farmer admiring their crops in Stardew Valley.
(Image credit: ConcernedApe)

One of my fondest childhood memories was in the summer of 2003. My family was just about to go on a vacation, and while that was already exciting for my 11-year-old self, the beginning of our travels kicked off with a moment that I can still recall with crystal clear clarity. Just as my dad was starting up the car, he turned around and handed out a present to me and my sister. We both opened them with reckless abandon, instantly recognizing what the telltale shape of the gifts signaled: a new GameBoy Advance game. It turned out to be a copy of Pokemon Sapphire and Ruby, and as was tradition for us Wald siblings, we always had a different version from one another. I got Pokemon Sapphire, and as far as I was concerned, it was the greatest jewel I'd ever gotten. 

Over the course of the lengthy drive, I obsessively pored over a little trainer manual tucked inside the game's case. Each page made my sense of anticipation grow; every feature detailed and item listed built up a picture of what awaited me on the shiny blue cartridge. It would end up being the last holiday I went on with both my parents together before their divorce, and with so much change and uncertainty on the horizon, that little pocket of time I shared with that manual was like pure magic to me. 

Pokemon gave me a place I knew, a place I could get lost in, and that square booklet felt like it was welcoming me into a new adventure in a world I'd grown to love so much. I recently found myself unexpectedly being reminded of that old game manual thanks to the Stardew Valley 1.6 update of all things. As someone who has to wait for the console release, I've been reading and re-reading the changelog over the past few weeks, soaking in every detail and planning out what I'm going to do first in lieu of playing it on Switch. I've actually been having the time of my life doing it – I feel like I'm back to being that kid who consumed every word of the Pokemon Trainer's Guide. It's not quite the same thing, but it's the closest I've felt to that singular kind of excitement in a very long time. 

Patches, pages, and portals

Pokemon Sapphire

(Image credit: Nintendo)

There's no denying that the Stardew Valley 1.6 update is absolutely massive. Even though I've yet to experience all of the new features for myself, the patch notes present a veritable bounty of possibilities. With over 500 changes, including new content and features, quality of life improvements, and all manner of tweaks, I keep returning to the Stardew Valley 1.6 patch notes just to take it all in. Every time I do, I spot another addition or improvement I didn't initially soak up that adds to my sense of anticipation. It's like each line of the changelog is another tantalizing breadcrumb that promises to satiate my hunger for fresh experiences in Pelican Town. It feels akin to occasions where I'd get a new game I couldn't immediately play – be it on Christmas day or birthdays as a kid – and I'd study the box or manual to try and withstand the longing I felt.  

Few farming sims – with the exception of releases like Wylde Flowers – have come close to holding my attention or consuming my time quite like ConcernedApe's pixelated agricultural adventure. I adore Stardew Valley, and ever since I started up my first farm back in 2016, I've spent hundreds of hours playing it across various platforms over the years. With every update we've gotten since it first launched, I've returned time and time again, so naturally I'm stoked that we've gotten such a sizable update. We still don't know for certain when it will land on consoles, but I'm actually enjoying the whole build up to it thanks to the patch notes and the unexpected nostalgia trip it's been taking me on. 

Stardew Valley

(Image credit: ConcernedApe)

While it's live on PC, and I could easily go and watch other people enjoying the new content to see what's in store, nothing beats the simplicity of reading the patch notes and letting my imagination run wild. It really does make me miss the days of game manuals and how they became such a big part of the enjoyment and experience of getting a new game. They were like a welcome mat into a new experience, or a precursory portal to another world you couldn't wait to step into. Just as the Sapphire Pokemon Trainer's guide felt like my first glimpse into something I'd been dying to play, and held the promise of what was to come, the Stardew Valley changelog has been doing much the same thing. 

There's so much I can't wait to see and do when the Stardew Valley 1.6 update lands on Switch, but for now, I'm content to keep on poring over the patch notes and planning what I'll do first. 

A big fan of games like Stardew Valley? Be sure to check out our pick of the best farming games around right now. 

Heather Wald
Senior staff writer

I started out writing for the games section of a student-run website as an undergrad, and continued to write about games in my free time during retail and temp jobs for a number of years. Eventually, I earned an MA in magazine journalism at Cardiff University, and soon after got my first official role in the industry as a content editor for Stuff magazine. After writing about all things tech and games-related, I then did a brief stint as a freelancer before I landed my role as a staff writer here at GamesRadar+. Now I get to write features, previews, and reviews, and when I'm not doing that, you can usually find me lost in any one of the Dragon Age or Mass Effect games, tucking into another delightful indie, or drinking far too much tea for my own good.