Harvest Moon: Light of Hope was just released for PC and already people are crying fowl (pun intended) about the game’s graphics. It is not exactly horrible, at least for me, in fact, it is a little reminiscent of the first Harvest Moon game that I played, Friends of Mineral Town.
Sure it is a flat and modern adaptation of the retro art style, fans seem to be more critical than what it should have been, at least to Natsume Vice President of Operations, Graham Markay. In an interview with PC Gamer, Markay told gamers to basically, live with it, some people are going to like it, some people won’t.
On paper, that sounds great, but again Natsume’s attempts at making their own internally-developed Harvest Moon are haunted by negative impressions from players. Easily the largest of these early criticisms has to do with Light of Hope’s art style. Producer Taka Maekawa tells me Light of Hope’s “retro-plus” aesthetic was meant to be a middle ground between the 16-bit charms of older Harvest Moons and the 3D “triple-A” look of its newer console versions. But fans, myself included, find its flat, cartoonish style evokes the look of a mobile game instead of the nostalgic charms of Harvest Moon’s past. Also worth mentioning is the abrasively upbeat music that has, so far, accompanied its trailers—a far cry from the rustic melodies of its older games.
“To each their own,” Markay responds when I ask about his feelings towards Light of Hope’s early reception. “But for us, it’s the feeling. Harvest Moon has never been about graphics. Fundamentally, it’s never been about a function, feature, character, or artstyle. It’s always been about that simplistic message that hard work gets rewarded.”
Still, that isn’t to say Natsume is not open to fan feedback, in fact, they have always been out and listening to the fans, improving on the series whenever possible.
That said, Markay is quick to add that fan feedback has always been a crucial part of their development. It’s why features like The Lost Valley’s terraforming are gone while others like the improved rucksack remain. We listen to everyone’s feedback because that’s the reason why the genre has grown. You take what’s popular in the series, and you try and evolve it at the same time.”
Harvest Moon has come a long way. While Natsume took reign on the Harvest Moon name in recent times, it still struggles against “Bokujou Monogatari’s” actual successor, Story of Seasons. Hopefully when the game finally releases on the Switch next year, fans would be more receptive to the new game. You can read the full article from PC Gamer here.