Make more informed decisions about how to satisfy your farming needs.
Shortly before E3 2014 back in June, the so-called farming war began between Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons. Two farming simulator games of similar styles were set to come out around the same time and no one was quite such what was going on. So now with the recent release of Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley, and the impending release of Story of Seasons early next year, it’s about time to set some facts straight.
1. These games are being produced by two different companies: Natsume and Marvelous AQL.
If you have ever played a Harvest Moon game before, both of these names should look familiar. Natsume and Marvelous are responsible for Harvest Moon as we know it here in the west, with Marvelous being the series developer and Natsume being responsible its for western localization.
In an E3 2014 interview with Marvelous’ head of development, Yoshifumi Hashimoto, it was stated that both Marvelous and Natsume had different visions for the future of the series. For this reason the companies decided split from their collaborative work to each pursue their own path. Natsume went on to create Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley while Marvelous is responsible for Story of Seasons, which will be localized for western audiences by XSEED Games.
2. Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley is a new entry in the North American series, but not the original Japanese.
Every former entry in the Harvest Moon series has been a renamed and localized version of the Bokujō Monogatari series which was developed in Japan by Marvelous. However, since Natsume owns the Harvest Moon IP, it is impossible for Marvelous and XSEED to localize their new title under the same series name. So, while Story of Seasons is still a Bokujō Monogatari game in Japan, it is technically part of a separate series in the west, and conversely, Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley is a Harvest Moon game, but not a Bokujō title.
3. So long as Marvelous is making Bokujō Monogatari games, Story of Seasons will grow into its own series.
Over the next few years we may see not one, but two cutesy farming simulator games hitting western shelves. Hashimoto confirmed in his interview earlier this year that as long as Marvelous keeps making their Bokujō games and working with XSEED, Story of Seasons will become a series in its own right, a competitor in the west to Harvest Moon. Natsume has yet to confirm or deny if they will continue with the Harvest Moon series on their own, but judging by their move this year, it’s very likely.
4. While both games are still farming games at their core, they have two completely different approaches.
It’s easy to equate these two games with one another since the farming sim genre isn’t very widespread. However, when Hashimoto said Natsume and Marvelous saw their series going in completely different directions, he meant it.
Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley harkens back to its roots with a simple story. Players must find out why the seasons in their new home are messed up and save the valley by finding a way to fix it, all while maintaining their own farm. But The Lost Valley’s main focus and biggest new feature is world-building customization, ala Minecraft. Players can explore and modify terrain in this game to completely change the way they play it. Different terrains and elevations affect crops, and one’s farm can be altered to reflect the player’s priorities, like adding more water for lots more fishing instead of farming.
Story of Seasons chooses to take and run with the other element their series has always been known for: connections. In past games half of the battle was to make friends with townsfolk and Harvest Sprites to solve the mysteries of life, the universe, and farming. Getting married to the bachelor or bachelorette of your choice was integral to the game’s experience as a whole. Story of Seasons takes this whole concept a step further with their economic approach to farming. In this title, it’s all about trade and forming relationships with other countries around you to move your farm’s products and expand your world.
5. They both look pretty fun.
There is certainly controversy over which of these games to choose, with loyalty to the original series’ developer being at the core of the issue. But both games have something to offer and these features are pretty appealing. With these games now releasing several months apart (Story of Seasons has an initial release date for February 2015), there is a good opportunity for fans of Harvest Moon to give both a shot and make their own judgments. Twice the farming might just end up being twice the fun.