Harvest Moon diving back into gentle gardening genre

Tending to crops and livestock in Harvest Moon: Light Of Hope. — AFP Relaxnews

Tending to crops and livestock in Harvest Moon: Light Of Hope. — AFP Relaxnews

In part responsible for a resurgence in slow-paced gardening and community-growing games like Stardew Valley, the Harvest Moon franchise is preparing for another franchise entry on console: Harvest Moon: Light Of Hope.

Stardew Valley plumbed a well of nostalgia for less combatative times.

Created as an homage to the seasonal joys of the Harvest Moon franchise, 2016's Stardew Valley spread from computers to PlayStation and Xbox, with a portable Switch edition arriving late in 2017.

It's a game about care and nurture rather than unsustainable exploitation.

Players are encouraged to be mindful of their plants, the equipment chosen to grow them, and of their relationships with not only neighbors but their own avatar's needs and, by extension, their own needs away from the game too.

The critical and commercial success of Stardew Valley created fertile ground for 2018's follow-ups My Time At Portia and Staxel, which offer individual variations on the theme.

My Time At Portia moves from a bird's-eye 2D viewpoint to a 3D perspective, while Staxel takes the gardening and resource gathering of a Stardew session and cross-pollinates it with the imaginative construction of Minecraft.

Nintendo's own iteration on Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing, has been given a new lease of life as mobile app Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp following a November 2017 launch.

And not far off now is Ooblets, which splices in cute creature influences from the Pokémon franchise and is tracking for a 2018 debut on PC and Xbox One.

Surely cognizant of this is Harvest Moon publisher Natsume, announcing a console version of latest release Harvest Moon: Light Of Hope.

Released to PC the same month as Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp made it to mobile, it had the unenviable task of living up to Stardew Valley comparisons and, according to many a Steam user review, is best experienced without Stardew in mind.

Arriving in May, the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch release will take the form of a Special Edition which will have "new features made specifically for console gamers", though what those are remain a mystery for now; Natsume plans to reveal them over the next few months. — AFP Relaxnews