I have written around thirteen different columns on Harvest Moon over my writing career, the first one was back in 2009 for a essay competition to go to a video game camp. It was a shining review with a few points about the frustrating travel times in Animal Parade and how it broke things.
I was eleven, and I didn’t win, however I did find a love of writing, and beyond that, I found just how hugely flawed the Harvest Moon games are. So much so that, even today, eight years and twelve columns later, I haven’t fucking shut up about it.
So, now we are going to talk about the underlying problem that branches out into all the little problems I have been talking about for years.
Each game is a glorified remastering of the game before it. The big evolutionary change of the last twenty years? When you could play either a boy of a girl without buying the mirror game.
Each game has arguably cuter graphics and they give you a kind of new story each time but each time a game comes out I end up imagining this conversation:
CEO: Quick! Our last game, you were given a task to save a village by a fairy in a tree! We need something new! Something fresh! Something never seen before!
Employee: We could have a fairy…in a meadow?
CEO: I…love it!
It feels like every time a game comes out they make the same exact mistakes as the game before only with nicer graphics and a revamped character or two and act as if it’s a brand new thing. The mining will always be a fun mechanic that they overlook and make unworthwhile, and the pacing will always be abysmal.
And people bought them anyway, therefore allowing them to never improve upon what they had.
It’s a vicious cycle, beginning and ending with the fact that no one else was making Harvest Moon like games at the time. People want to go after that big shooter money, rather than that little casual game stuff. So Nintendo never had to improve upon what it had. Leaving us with games no better than they were in 1997. While platformers and FPS’s learned how to be better games. Harvest Moon learned it could repeat its mistakes and get away with it.