Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town came out last month. Why does it look so strikingly similar to Harvest Moon?
I’ll come clean from the get-go and tell you that I haven’t played a single game in the long-running Harvest Moon series. So I have no first-hand experience to draw on here. As such, the following summary is the result of research and collating information from the internet.
Without further ado, then, let’s start with the beginning.
The first Harvest Moon was released in Japan in 1996 and then in 1997 in the United States. This entry garnered just enough success in order to span a successful and very prolific franchise. In turn, it has spun off into properties such as Rune Factory. It has also been an important influence on modern games, such as Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing. The most notable releases in the Harvest Moon series include Friends of Mineral Town, A Wonderful Life, and Harvest Moon DS.
However, things got sour when the two companies that collaborated on Harvest Moon, developer Marvelous and publisher Natsume, decided that their visions for what the future of the franchise should be diverged from one another. Their visions were so different that they decided they would be better off separating.
Story of Seasons
And so, when Marvelous announced, in 2014, that Xseed would handle everything Harvest Moon, Natsume – which are to this day the rightful owners of the name Harvest Moon as a trademark – decided that they would develop their own games under the famed name. This subsequently forced Marvelous to rebrand their entire series under the title Story of Seasons.
A fractured fanbase
Fast-forward to present day. Marvelous just released Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town, a remake to the 2003 Harvest Moon entry. Upon launch, Story of Seasons was received favorably. On July 23, Xseed announced that the game was the fastest-selling title published by them on a single platform in North America to top 100,000 sales. It did so in a week.
As for Marvelous and Story of Seasons’ direct competitor, Harvest Moon: One World is also set to debut on the Nintendo Switch sometime this fall. Natsume is developing that game.
It is not clear if fans of the farming game genre will continue to flock to Harvest Moon in the same way as they have with Story of Seasons. Some on the internet believe Marvelous is the ‘true’ Harvest Moon developer and that Natsume is only aligning itself with the name for marketing reasons.
Obviously, only time will tell if Harvest Moon: One World will reach the highs of Story of Seasons or previous entries in the franchise. As it stands, it does indeed seem to face an uphill battle.
However, if Harvest Moon does end up being a success, what would the response of people now singing the praises of Story of Seasons be? How will it impact both franchises this holiday season and in the years to come?