Harvest Moon: Cute

Coming Attractions: Strategy and Simulation

Part 1: Real-time highlights of 2008.

Last week, you may recall, we put on our robe and wizard hat for a look at this year's most promising RPGs. We've done shooters, racers, action adventure and sports games too, if you missed any of those.

Man on the Moon

Harvest Moon's Yasuhiro Wada on the series' past, present and future.

As Harvest Moon: Innocent Life on the PSP approached European release, we were gifted a rare opportunity to have a few words with Yasuhiro Wada, the man behind the series for over ten years now since its SNES debut in 1996. We gleaned some fascinating insights into the philosophy behind the series, the games' creation over the years, and his experience of game development - and given that his series has been captivating fans old and young on almost every platform released over the past ten years, he's definitely a man worth listening to. We also learn new details about Innocent Life and Marvelous Interactive's plans for the Wii.

Harvest Moon DS

Harvest Moon DS

On the wane.

For me, the Harvest Moon series reached its pinnacle with Magical Melody on the GameCube. Unbelievably, this still hasn't been released in Europe, possibly due to an over-estimation of demand that led to a sizeable unsold surplus of previous GameCube title, A Wonderful Life.

It managed to fix things about the series that I hadn't even realized were wrong; where previous Harvest Moons had been all about the satisfying grind to get the farm up to standard, this one put much more emphasis on becoming part of the town by making friends, encouraging new residents to move in, supporting the local businesses and sizing up the ten (ten!) potential spouses. Farming felt like your character's day job, and not like the entire purpose of their existence. I preferred it that way.

I am opposed, naturally, by two other schools of Harvest Moon fandom. The first, usually relatively new players, prefers A Wonderful Life, which, though shunned by many longer-term fans of the series, achieved enormous acclaim from others. AWL fans enjoyed its relaxed pace and contained, relatively small setting, populated by its comparatively tiny, oddball cast. The second, composed of Friends of Mineral Town advocates, rejects the calm of A Wonderful Life and the enormous breadth of Magical Melody in favour of a beautifully made, portable and pure Harvest Moon experience, which mixes its social aspects with the classic grinding of Harvest Moons past. Here, the emphasis was upon acquiring every single one of the buildings, recipes, upgrades, items and more through sheer, honest hard graft, and oh, was it rewarding.

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Harvest Moon DS in April

Unless they chicken out.

Prepare to moo-ve on down to the shops and horn in on Harvest Moon DS, because Nintendo has finally sown the seeds of release with the announcement that it's out here on 13th April.

Harvest Moon Wii details

Harvest Moon Wii details

DS sequel already planned.

New details have been revealed of how you'll play Harvest Moon using the Wii's remote controller - along with news that a second DS instalment in the series is on the way.

According to an article in Famitsu, partially translated by IGN, Harvest Moon Wii is set on an island this time. It was once home to the Harvest Goddess and a great tree, but one day she disappeared and the tree dried up.

With the help of the friendly Koropokuru sprites, it's your job to make the island all lush and beautiful and that, so that the Goddess will return and the tree will come back to life.

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Harvest Moon

Farming goes handheld.

It's been nearly 15 years since farming sim Harvest Moon first appeared on the SNES, and Marvelous Interactive president Yasuhiro Wada has been there right from the beginning. Now he's finishing up work on new HM games for the PSP and Nintendo DS, and we got the chance to sit down and have a chat about what we can expect from the latest instalment in the series that gives everyone the chance to pretend they're Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Only without the bit where he kills screaming pigs with rusty scythes, obviously...