To celebrate the release of Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns on the Nintendo DS and 3DS this Friday (29th – mark your calendars!), we'll take an in-depth look at the history of the Harvest Moon franchise to remind you why it's one of RSG's most beloved series, which also led to the creation of the fantastic fantasy spin-off series, Rune Factory.
In 1996 a farm-based role playing game was created for the Super Famicom console in Japan, which based its gameplay on the traditional themes of tranquillity and hard work. Yasuhiro Wada, the lead game designer, was originally from Kyushu, the south-western island of Japan, which is known for its slow pace and countryside vibe. When he came to the mainland island of Honshu and began work in Tokyo, Wada wanted to design a game based on the farming lifestyle of Kyushu and so began work on Bokujyou Monogatari, which literally means 'Farm Story'.
When the time came for the developer Victor Interactive Software (now known as Marvelous Entertainment) to decide whether to bring the game to Western audiences, there was a slight hesitation. Would a farming game do well in the age of platformers and more violent games? Nevertheless, Bokujyou Monogatari (newly dubbed Harvest Moon) reached North America and Australia in 1997 and a year later in Europe.
The franchise has been unstoppable since then, with Harvest Moon GB released in Japan in 1997 for the GameBoy and a year later in North America, then Harvest Moon 64 in 1999, which introduced the Heart System display which we are all well-acquainted with today. As hardware evolved, so did the Harvest Moon series, as the introduction of PlayStation and Nintendo 64 brought with it a move away from 2D sprites and a new step into 3D polygon designs.
Subsequently the franchise has boomed, demonstrated by our announcement late last year that the Harvest Moon titles we brought to PAL territories had by then accumulated over 1 million sales - so a big thank you from us to Harvest Moon fans!
Take a look at all of the Harvest Moon games published by Rising Star Games in the list below:
Phew. There’s no questioning that, with over 30 titles in the back catalogue, the Harvest Moon series has come a long way to where it is now, with new features, animals, tools, buildings, characters and stories added to every instalment. For example, 1997's Harvest Moon GB was the first game in the series to allow you to play as a girl, a feature that soon became standard in every game – hurrah! Harvest Moon: Back to Nature for Girl became the first game with 3D graphics which contained a female main character - sadly this was only released in Japan.
In 2006, in order to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Harvest Moon franchise, developer Neverland Co. decided to play with the formula and produced Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon, which immersed the player in a beautiful fantasy world where farming and dungeon-crawling went hand-in-hand. The amazing hand-drawn art style of the town’s backdrops and new sword-wielding elements made Rune Factory a must-own for any Harvest Moon fan and confirmed its everlasting place in the franchise.
If you want to know what you can expect from the new Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns games for Nintendo DS and 3DS, check out my blog from last week, ‘Our June Releases’, which also details our upcoming To-Fu: Collection, which will be released on the same day as Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns.
What has been your favourite Harvest Moon or Rune Factory game and why? Personally I loved Harvest Moon DS, the first Harvest Moon game published by Rising Star Games, however Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town (2003/2004) was the first game in the series that I played, and so will always be important to me.
Are you excited for Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns? Let us know by leaving a comment down below.