Innocent Life - A Futuristic Harvest Moon

Innocent Life: A Futuristic Harvest Moon

Let's not procrastinate here. Your time is valuable, and I'm not going to make you wade through four paragraphs of concept nonsense this morning before actually telling you anything about this little mystery of a game - due to its numerous name-changes and constantly shifting release date, it's already gotten everybody confused enough. So, the facts: Innocent Life is the first Harvest Moon game not to be developed by Marvelous Interactive, and it bears no relation to the previous games in the series. It's a diversion, if you will. As you'll know if you read our Harvest Moon interview the other week, its development was handed over to a tiny, completely unknown development studio called ArtePiazza in an effort to create more innovation and variety within the series.

And in that, it has certainly succeeded - Innocent Life is a completely different Harvest Moon (and if you're already into the series there is a fair chance that you won't like it at all - but we'll get to that later). You play a child robot, tending a forgotten farm on an island whose inhabitants have long relied on technology for their living. Your rural existence is juxtaposed with a shiny, hi-tech town five minutes down the road and as the game progresses, you accumulate a selection of futuristic gadgetry to help with your agricultural endeavours. The result is that the farming, over time, becomes more and more secondary to exploration of the island and progression of the story; it's a bit like Harvest Moon mixed with Lost in Blue. There are no expansions to buy, no potential wives to woo - hell, after you get a robot helper, there aren't even any plants to water. The farming is more a part of the setting and context as opposed to the sole focus of the gameplay, as it always was before.

The question is, of course, if you aren't spending all of your time farming in a Harvest Moon game, then what the devil are you doing? And the unfortunate answer, for the entirety of the early stages of the game and often thereafter, is: nothing much. Innocent Life gifts you with an inordinate amount of time. You could fill your entire starting plot of land with plants and it would still only take about two hours to do your daily chores - and as you unlock more and more farmland, you gain access to robotic helpers and automatic crop harvesting systems to compensate. The result is that you very rarely have anything much to do on the farm, which theoretically gives you the time to explore the surprisingly large island and find caves to loot for tools and jewels to expand your all-but-redundant farming capabilities.

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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 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...