Natsume gave Harvest Moon fans a tasty surprise earlier this week by suddenly releasing Harvest Moon: Seeds of Memories for iOS.
It's the very first Harvest Moon game to hit mobile (excepting the 2009 puzzle game Harvest Moon: Frantic Farming), prompting us to ask "Man. What took so long?"
Granted, the Harvest Moon franchise is mixed up in some copyright drama that might be responsible for the niche farming series' slow-blooming presence on mobile. Harvest Moon's developers, Marvelous Entertainment, tasked XSEED with translating Bokuj? Monogatari in the west starting with 2015's Story of Seasons for the Nintendo 3DS. In response, Bokuj? Monogatari's former English publishers, Natsume, retained the rights to the name "Harvest Moon" and started making its own series of farming games.
Don't feel bad about being confused; following Harvest Moon's history is like trying to restore a prolapsed cow uterus. Nevertheless, when the original Harvest Moon hit the SNES in 1997, did anyone predict a quirky game about breeding cows would acquire such a dedicated fandom, never mind copyright drama? Video games are wonderful.
Harvest Moon has popped up across a wide range of consoles over the years, with a particularly strong presence in the portable market (2003's Friends of Mineral Town for the Game Boy Advance remains a fan favorite). Whatever the series' reason for taking so long to arrive on mobile, it feels way overdue.
It's far from too late, however. Mobile gaming is as hot as ever, and people seem eager enough to snap up Harvest Moon: Seeds of Memories. Fans of traditional games should be happy to know it's a paid title ($9.99 USD), and there are no in-app purchases to speak of.
There are some concerns, though. For one thing, the game is seemingly tailored for higher-end devices -- iPhone 5S and up, iPad Air 1 or later, and iPod Touch 6 or later. Too bad for Harvest Moon fans toting the iPhone 5, or, Harvest Goddess forbid, the iPhone 4. Luckily, the game is also coming to PC and Wii U.
Second, and more importantly, Natsume's first "independent" Harvest Moon game, 2014's Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley for Nintendo 3DS, received dismal reviews. Our own Bob Mackey didn't hate it, but he found it underwhelming.
Seeds of Memories is developed by Tabot, the same studio behind The Lost Valley. Has the studio taken past criticisms to heart, or is Harvest Moon's mobile debut as flat and joyless as The Last Valley?
From what can be gathered about Seeds of Memories at the dawn of its life, you can harvest crops, ride horses, make friends with cows, collect eggs, get married, and make babies. The Harvest Sprites are back, the townspeople are chatty, and the shipping guy is presumably a jerk who totes away your goods just as you're about to throw that last potato in the bin.
Seems like an authentic Harvest Moon experience through-and-through.