Harvesting in 3D (E3 2012)
Before E3, I didn't know much about Harvest Moon: A New Beginning, so I was looking forward to finding out more on the showfloor. In Japanese, the series Harvest Moon is called Bokujou Monogatari, which translates to "The Farm Story". As you might know, your objective is to raise a farm, build a town, and simulate farmlife. Adam Fitch at Natsume was kind enough to give a brief demo of Harvest Moon: A New Beginning (Hajimari no Daichi) on the Nintendo 3DS. The first question he rhetorically asked was, as there’s already many titles in the series, how does A New Beginning distinguish itself? He began with the customization of the main avatar. You can make yourself male or female, have spiked hair and purple eyes, and adjust clothing. If you’re unhappy with your initial choices, you can later unlock a hair stylist and a tailor to make necessary adjustments.
Townbuilding in Harvest Moon: A New Beginning was hilarious and intuitive. Have a barn you want moved? Move the avatar to the barn, pick up the building, and carry it anywhere you want. Adam pointed out that there will be five bachelors and bachelorettes throughout the game. If you want to develop relationships with any of these characters, you can pick up their house and move them directly next door. Finding new blueprints unlocks additional buildings. Also, on top of edible crops, there will be additional textiles like cotton that can be grown, adding diversity to the farm products that can be harvested.
One of the ways developers addressed a frustrating aspect of previous Harvest Moon games was making watering spots more accessible. Not only can you pick them up and move them anywhere you want, but you can also dig additional watering spots. Fishing also has a trap item added, which allows you to easily gather resources from the lake. In our case, we found an old boot. You can also befriends animals over time by giving them food, as we did with a sparrow in the demo.
Small cutscenes involving locals give additional objectives in A New Beginning. In one we saw Mayor Dunhill provided additional information for fishing. To help with navigation, the camera can be zoomed in and out, and the 3D works nicely on the 3DS.
I realize this is a hard game to demo because there aren’t flashy moments or spectacular action sequences to show off. Still, I got a sense for the idyllic experience Harvest Moon: A New Beginning embodies. This is a perfect game for portable gaming, as you can play for thirty minute spans, farm, upgrade the town, then walk away until the next bit. If you’ve ever wanted to be a digital farmer or continue enjoying the series, look for this game in the last quarter of 2012.
He has been working in film and games for over a decade. On his off time, he likes to travel the world. His short story collection, Watering Heaven, was just published by Signal 8 Press.
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