Giving Harvest Moon Another Shot

It’s time to clear the cobwebs off the ol’ watering can.

Natsume Inc. has announced a new Harvest Moon game coming to PS4, Switch, and Steam this June, as the franchise celebrates its 20th anniversary. It’s good timing for me because my Stardew Valley game is nearing completion.

A release date for Harvest Moon: Light of Hope hasn’t been set yet but Natsume says E3 attendees will be able to play PC and Switch versions of the game at their booth in June.

The new game is meant to encompass the spirit of the entire franchise. It’ll have all the familiar farming fun of previous Harvest Moons, but Natsume president and CEO Hiro Maekawa says it will set itself apart “with its depth, including a robust story and clear-cut goals.”

Players begin the game on a ship, seeking out new surroundings. A monsoon strikes the ship and the player drifts into a small harbour town. Ravaged by the storm, it’s up to the player to rebuild the town and save the lighthouse.

“We set out to create a SNES-style nostalgic game with deep and meaningful characters and events,” says Maekawa.

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For me, this upcoming release catches my eye because I feel like I owe Harvest Moon another chance. You see, when I was a much younger man, I owned a Game Boy Advance. Other than Advance Wars, I really didn’t have much to play, so one day, when I had the money, I went out looking for a new title. I brought along my dear friend, Eli, and asked him what I should buy. He suggested Harvest Moon.

“What’s Harvest Moon?” I asked.

He almost immediately took back his suggestion.

“What if you don’t like it?” he asked. It was $70.

No chance, I said. I like everything.

I did not like it.

But I’m convinced I just didn’t understand how to play it, and didn’t give it enough time. I have a clear memory of exiting my character’s house, walking to some hot springs, then finding it was time for bed. The game doesn’t give you enough time to actually do the things you’re supposed to do, I thought. That’s obviously wrong.

Now that I’ve played Stardew Valley (and love it!), I understand the genre. I can go into the new Harvest Moon with all the tools I need to succeed. If I’m still terrible, well it’s clearly the game’s fault! Clearly!

I’m interested to see where Stardew and Harvest stray from each other. In that sense, I’m most interested to see which one does a better job of keeping the endgame fun. Stardew seems to be winding down a bit now that I’ve unlocked so much — and that’s not really a criticism. It shouldn’t be, anyway. I’ve had countless hours of fun getting to where I am, but, like, I want to keep playing. I want a reason to go back.

Anyhoo, Stardew will inevitably lose its lustre for me. Hopefully, that’s where this new Harvest Moon comes in.

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During this 20th anniversary, Natsume has also unveiled a re-release of Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life Special Edition and Harvest Moon: Save the Homeland for PS4, and Harvest Moon 64 for the Nintendo Wii U. They’ve also announced an app called Harvest Moon Lil’ Farmers, done in cooperation with Rising Star Games (who are also involved with Light of Hope).

Harvest Moon first released in North America in 1997. You can get in on the celebration through social media using the hashtag #HarvestMoon20.

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