A new European publisher has emerged this week with an eclectic portfolio of niche titles including several Harvest Moon games from Natsume - and has stated that its goal is to reduce the period between Japanese and Western releases.
Rising Star, formed at the behest of Japanese publisher Marvelous Interactive and long-standing Japanese Nintendo distributor Bergsala, has already earned itself a place in our hearts by pledging to release four Harvest Moon titles this year as well as a new Evolution title for the PSP and Nintendo DS versions of classic Taito games.
Okay, so four new Harvest Moons would be a bit of an exaggeration. Judging by its release this morning, Rising Star aims to re-release Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town on the Game Boy Advance this June, followed by Harvest Moon: Oh! Wonderful Life on PS2 in September and GameCube in October.
"Oh! Wonderful Life" is basically a reworking of Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life (that's a link to the review, Takakura-san, now get out there and sell my eggs), which made it out in Europe last year as part of a distribution deal with Ubisoft. In this version, you can marry another of the gals from Forget-Me-Not Valley, have a daughter, collect different-coloured animals and generally do more of the same sort of things. We're itching for it already.
The fourth Harvest Moon, meanwhile, will be the Nintendo DS version featuring cow-scratching and sheep-shearing stylus games, which Rising Star will publish in November. There's currently no word on whether Rising Star plans to publish the PSP version of Harvest Moon, but it sounds like a shoe-in.
Besides the Harvest Moon titles, Rising Star has also pledged to release Bubble Bobble Revolution and Space Invaders Revolution for the Nintendo DS - versions of classic Taito titles rejigged to take advantage of both screens and the stylus - as well as an original hackandslash title called Sword of Destiny on PS2 and "a new Evolution series" for the PSP to be introduced later this year.
All in all it's a very promising line-up, and the publisher's mission statement is both refreshing and promising for the oodles of hardcore gamers who sit grave-faced on forums complaining about the massive gulf between East and West in terms of release dates and what even gets translated. Rising Star is certainly a glimmer of change - and hopefully will give us the opportunity to find something else to moan about...