It's been almost 15 years since the first Harvest Moon was released in Japan, and there has been a new game for the series released almost every year. The formula hasn't evolved much over time, but its addictive formula and attractive visuals make it a pleasure to wander the world and build up a farm. At the Electronic Entertainment Expo, we were able to take a quick look at what Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns looks like on the Nintendo 3DS.
The story is about two villages--the Asian-themed Kokohana and the European-styled Bluebell--that were once on good terms. But due to a disagreement over who has the best food, they are now bitter rivals. You play as a male or female farmer whose goal is to unite the two villages with your charm and farming skills, as well as perhaps get married and start a family along the way. Depending on which town you decide to move into, you'll either get a bigger field for your crops to begin with or a bigger barn with a fully grown cow and chicken. Kokohana specializes in crops so you'll begin with some seeds, whereas Bluebell's specialty is in the livestock (now comes with alpaca and honeybees). Once a month, you'll have a chance to move towns, but you can always visit between the two if you wish.
Each town has a message board where you can take on miniquests, which yield rewards that make it worth your time. Instead of selling your crops, you can see if there are any villagers that want your cucumbers and give them to them. This boosts your relationship with them as well, so that one day they might reopen the tunnel that connects both towns.
Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns will come out on the DS, but the 3DS version comes with an animal-petting minigame and uses the StreetPass feature. You can select what kind of crops you want to give people, and when you StreetPass someone else with the game, you'll swap items. The 3D effect in the game is subtle and works extremely well. You don't get a sense of eye fatigue because only certain items pop out, like trees and some UI, and they're flat so it looks like paper cutouts are raised (think of a pop-up book).
Fans of the series will have another game to look forward to that could easily eat up 40 to 60 hours of their time. Look for Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns when it is released this fall.