Console/handheld gaming developers looking to make a move to mobile devices should take a close look at what Natsume has done with Harvest Moon: Seeds of Memories. This is not a dumbed-down mobile version of a previous game in the storied franchise. It’s also not just the Harvest Moon named tacked onto a match three game or an endless runner. This is a new Harvest Moon game built specifically for iOS, recreating the experience as much as the current technology allows.
Seeds of Memories starts you off as a wandering character (your choice of male or female) who settles down to an abandoned farm. As is common within the Harvest Moon series, task one is to get the farm up and running so you can make money, which means plenty of time planting and tilling and watering and such.
But Harvest Moon is much more than a farming sim, even if it doesn’t seem like it at first; although farming itself is simple, the strategies are more involved (knowing what crops grow better in what season, for example). Expect Seeds of Memories to start slowly as you get things moving along.
That’s a bit of a drawback, as it may put some players off before they’re seriously interacting with the townsfolk who provide direction to the game’s proceedings. Farming isn’t the end, after all, it’s the means to the end in which you have to restore the memories of the town’s residents. Seeds…memories, you get it now. The story is a bit wonky, but in a way that fits the game’s overall charm.
All of this is achieved, more or less, by exploring. Through farming, you can create new plant mutations that can earn you more money or be given away as gifts. Gifting raises your relationship with the various townsfolk, to the point where you can even get married and have kids. There are five potential marriage candidates for each sex, adding a dating sim aspect to the proceedings. Oddly, there are no character portraits or details to go off of when making your decision, just the dialog from your interactions with them. That could maybe be a good thing, but most of the characters are just the usual tropes. This one’s the shy but polite one, this one’s the loud but fun one. Take your pick.
And then there’s the time management portion, as you can only do so much in one day. Various activities require stamina, but not in an unbalanced way that requires in-app purchases to keep playing (you get the full game for the $9.99 asking price). You don’t buy more stamina or wait for it to refill to keep going, you simply go to bed and start fresh right away. Stamina is instead there to make sure you don’t do too much in one day, presenting a great challenge as it forces you to stick to a decent schedule. You can’t spend all day farming if you have to get into town, after all.
The only drawbacks to this mobile Harvest Moon experience are more likely to be issues with game veterans than with newcomers. If you already know how the game works and what strategies work best, you could finish Seeds of Memories in as little as 10 hours, I’d expect. I played through it with my 12-year-old daughter, and we at least doubled that as she learned the ropes (and spent more times on the minigames than she needed to). Also, the graphics are more rudimentary than what we’ve seen in recent Harvest Moon games.
This helps to keep things clear on the smaller iPhone screen (especially when tapping is involved), but I’ve come to expect better for iOS over the past year or so.
Still, Harvest Moon: Seeds of Memories works as both a great introduction to the series and as a way for fans to get their fill while waiting for the next handheld/console entry.
Seller: Natsume, Inc.
Requirements: iOS 6.0 or later
Compatibility: iPhone 5s or later, iPad Air or later, iPad mini 2 or later, iPod touch 6 or later
Availability: Now at the iTunes App Store