After a quick transition to mobile gaming, Harvest Moon is once again back on the Nintendo 3DS. Natsume’s last Harvest Moon title on the 3DS, The Lost Valley, was a totally different direction compared to the traditional HM games, as it featured plenty of Minecraft-style terraforming gameplay. The Lost Valley was a game that really split the fanbase, with some loving the new direction of the franchise, while others were hoping for more of what they have been used to for the last 20 years. We had a chance to get some hands-on time with Harvest Moon: Skytree Village at E3, and had mixed feelings about our experience.
After the release of The Lost Valley, Natsume received a ton of feedback from fans that helped them when creating Skytree Village. The biggest criticism from fans (as well as us in our review) was the fact that the game didn’t feature a town. Natsume of course has remedied that issue with the addition of the Skytree Village, a small town that seemed to be an extension of the overall terrain from The Lost Valley. When exiting the town into the forest area, the terrain was laid out very similarly to the previous title, right down to the location of the Harvest Goddess’ fountain.
Another major change in Harvest Moon: Skytree Village is the character design. The short, bobbleheaded characters from The Lost Valley have now been replaced with character models similar to A New Beginning. When traveling throughout the village and surrounding area there was quite a mix of newcomers and returning characters. Natsume couldn’t tell us the exact number of available bachelors and bachelorettes that will be available in Skytree Village, but from the rough estimate based on how many villagers were encountered in the small demo there should be more than the small dating pool in the previous title.
The most intriguing feature mentioned throughout the demo session was the added benefits for manipulating the land. In The Lost Valley players had the ability to experiment with their crops and planting them on different elevations of terrain to get different produce, and this feature has now been expanded to the fishing aspect of the game. Players can now manipulate waterways to catch different species of rare fish, as well as fishing in a boat. There was also mention of new crops and flowers to discover and experiment with on different levels and terrains.
The biggest disappointment of the Harvest Moon: Skytree Village experience was the lack of new animals and pets. If raising livestock and hoarding a house full of pets is your style of play, you may be disappointed in the selection of animals to choose from, however there is one all-new animal that we encountered: a Poitou Donkey. The extremely hairy little donkey can be sheered like a sheep, and its hair can be used in a variety of ways.
Overall the thirty minutes spent exploring the demo left us with very mixed feelings on how Harvest Moon: Skytree Village will turn out as a finished product. While the expanding benefits of the terraforming gameplay sounded intriguing, there wasn’t a whole lot of added content to the game to get us excited about it. The good news is the game is still very much in development, so there is plenty of time for additional villagers, animals, and new gameplay mechanics to be added. For a better look at what to expect from Skytree Village, check out the E3 trailer below:
What are your thoughts on Harvest Moon: Skytree Village? What new features are you most excited for? Hit us up on our Facebook or Twitter page, or let us know in the comment section below! If you’re more of a Story of Seasons fan, check out our hands-on preview of Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns here.