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E3 2014: Hands-On with Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley


Marcus Estrada

Harvest Moon has been through some really interesting events lately. First, there was the news that XSEED Games had gained publishing rights to a new Harvest Moon game. However, without the rights to the actual name “Harvest Moon,” they had to name it Story of Seasons instead. A week later, Natsume shocked fans with news that they also had a Harvest Moon project in the works - Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley.

 

Natsume had a build of The Lost Valley available for play on the E3 show floor and it showed just a snippet of a very new brand of Harvest Moon. First off, the company stated how this was the “first 3D Harvest Moon” but what did that mean? It actually relates to a very interesting new feature of the series, wherein players can plant their crops at various heights by digging down or building up land. Controlling the height of land plots may change how plants grow. For example, pumpkin seeds may become normal pumpkins but become jack-o-lanterns when built above ground level.

 

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Interestingly, this intense attention to planting detail has created another big change for the series. Now, any land you can plant on—as well as many other locations—are comprised of cubes. It honestly looks a lot like Minecraft. Everything needs to be blocky to utilize land raising/lowering features effectively as each block can hold one planted crop. With that said, it is still kind of difficult to look at The Lost Valley and not feel like the game is a cousin of Harvest Moon rather than a new Harvest Moon.

 

There are a host of quality of life improvements to the latest game as well. Players won“t need to collect their various goodies off the ground after farming activities. For example, if there are ten pieces of wood that can be collected, they will be immediately deposited to your items. Similarly, the player can carry up to 99 of every item in their backpack at a time. Finally, tools are all context sensitive. This means that you won“t have to equip a shovel, hoe, or axe to perform their respective activities. They“ll simply activate as you would expect when walking up to a task.

 

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Despite changes, there“s still a Harvest Moon game at the core of the experience. It still begins with your girl or boy character discovering a fairy and being assigned a task. However, you don“t simply reside in a farm next to a town (as most games begin). Now you“re in a more open environment which invites exploration. That“s about all we know about the game thus far but more information should be available in the following months.

 

Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley is coming to 3DS this Fall.

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