HomeTown Story: Was this a failure for Natsume?
Natsume has been cranking out Harvest Moon games since the original for the GameBoy in 1998 to the newest installment HomeTown Story for the Nintendo 3DS in 2013. So they know what they are doing don't they? Harvest Moon games are a good introduction into 'Dating Sims' if you're new to the idea of trying to woo a NPC. Harvest Moon's game play has usually always been: Your character somehow inherits a farm and drops everything to take it over... even though you know NOTHING about farming and now have to listen to someone explain it to you for like a half hour. You start off the year in SPRING, you only get four seasons instead of twelve months. These seasons are spent by growing crops then raising chickens, cows, and other livestock. Foraging and fishing usually tend to be your main source of income throughout the game, more so in the beginning but it's still smart to continue to do so through the game.
While trying to make a successful farm you get the option, sometimes mandatory, to woo a bachelor or bachelorette. This leads to countless hours of stalking to learn what they like, where they live, and their schedule through the day and seasons. You little creep you... but it's all worth it because at the end of it they'll love you, even though you sometimes have to read their dairy (Like in Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life/ Harvest Moon: Another Wonderful Life [For the Game Cube]), they fall for you and you have a beautiful baby!
Now with all that being stated it is in my opinion, don't fight me on this internet, that Natsume has really limited the game play in HomeTown Story. Starting off you are taking over a shop instead of a farm, much like Harvest Moon: My Little Shop, but in this store owning game you do not have the option to farm, to fish, to cook, to just play like any other regular Harvest Moon game! You're forced to open shop and have costumers come browse your wares, but if you're not in the shop they can't pay for it and will sometimes leave angrily. Now I have only brushed the horizon of this game and while yes I can still forage there is no other source of income.
Standard interactions can be frustrating because sometimes a town person will request something from you and even if you have it in your pockets you can't hand it over. What is the point of town people asking for things when you can't do anything about it? So I have to say that while HomeTown Story is good fun in idea, it isn't as enjoyable to play. Perhaps with more playtime and exploring the features I'll dislike the game less? But honestly I don't think someone should have to invest hours into a game before it becomes fun.
Now some will argue that HomeTown Story doesn't actually say it's a Harvest Moon game. The Harvest Moon logo on the box art would have us think otherwise. It's quite clear that this game was heavily advertised as a Harvest Moon-esque game. Ask any true fan of Natsume, with our llama plushies, and any one of us will tell you that this game has all the makings of a Harvest Moon game. So it shall be compared to their long legacy! Oh and Rune Factory! Rune Factory is doing it right... but that is for a later article!
Nonetheless please comment and let us know what you think! Did Natsume release a doomed game that will be painfully compared to its long standing Harvest Moon and Rune Factory siblings? OR do you think the HomeTown Story should be considered its own video game, a very flawed one, that should be enjoyed (through gritted teeth)?
Thanks for reading and let us know something else you would possibly want reviewed!
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