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Harvest Moon: Skytree Village

Platform(s): Nintendo 3DS
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Natsume
Release Date: Fall 2016

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


3DS Preview - 'Harvest Moon: Skytree Village'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on June 27, 2016 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Times have changed in the land known as the Oasis of the Harvest Goddess. Many people used to live in Skytree Village, and the land was lush and green. However, the power of the Harvest Goddess gradually began to wane, and the land became parched and dry.

In a genre that is now much more popular than it used to be, Harvest Moon still carries a lot of clout. The last game introduced a new engine and new gameplay elements such as terraforming, but they weren't necessarily well received. Skytree Village has been developed with a lot of this player feedback in mind, and it looks to address many of those concerns. During E3 2016, I also learned more about the new bachelors and bachelorettes that will be in the game.

One criticism of the previous game was that it took too long to do things, such as terraforming or harvesting plants. In Skytree Village, your terraforming tools are no faster at first and can only work one tile at a time. However, the tools can be upgraded to level five, at which point you can get the tool to cover a significantly larger area. Even a midrange tool is a 3x3 grid, perfect for chunking out land as you need.

Another criticism was the art style, and the new game adapts an anime style that also has a much more proportioned head-to-body ratio. Apparently a lot of people took issue with this aspect of the previous title, and the new art style does look quite nice. Finally, you can now harvest nine crop tiles at a time, so picking the fruits of your labor is a breeze when it comes to the required time and monotony.

Another new change is the different camera angles available by toggling the Start button. In the default view, you have free control over the camera movement. However, after tapping Start, the camera switches to a fixed top-down perspective that's great for working with crops or terraforming. Pressing Start again makes your movement change to strafe around (such as in the SNES version of the game). Finally, pressing it a third time brings you back to the default view.

The new bachelors include Gene, who works in the flower shop and is a manly man who shatters the associated stereotypes. Gabriel is shy but loves animals, and he warms to those who also love them. Finally, Cyril is an aristocrat who is traveling the world to learn how the common man lives, and he's sheltered to the point of being gullible. On the bachelorette side is Melanie, the tsundere tailor who also can help decorate your home. Geanne is the town doctor who also happens to be socially awkward. Finally, Elise is the daughter of a fantastically skilled chef, and she brings her French flair to the village.

Finally, before I left the booth, I had to ask about their thoughts on the sudden popularity of Stardew Valley. It seems as though they see the game as friendly competition, but mostly, they are happy that it brings even more eyes toward a genre that has been on the fringes for years. When asked about whether Harvest Moon would ever see a PC release for future games, I was told that it's under consideration, but with how good Stardew Valley was, they would definitely need to make sure that they brought their best effort to the table. It's exciting (and still very odd) that there is an increasing number of entries into the "adorable farming game" genre.

Harvest Moon remains the giant round cow in the pasture though, and Skytree Village looks good and shows that Natsume really cares about the feedback it gets on its games. It addresses many issues that fans had with the previous title, and it continues to expand upon it in new ways. The game will reach the 3DS this fall, and it'll certainly bring other new additions to the series as well.

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