If you're embedded within the farming game community, you'll know all about the Harvest Moon / Story of Seasons schism, in which (Western localisation team and publisher) Natsume and (developer) Marvelous went their separate ways. Natsume kept the Harvest Moon name in the West, and cranked out a bunch of wildly disappointing sequels, while Marvelous was forced to rename their games "Story of Seasons", losing out on the recognition of the Harvest Moon brand.
We don't fully know what the working relationship is between the two, but it's relatively safe to assume that the messy divorce situation could mean that there's a low chance of Harvest Moon remakes or re-releases in our future. The most recent one was a remake of 2003 GBA game, Friends of Mineral Town, for the Nintendo Switch, but we have yet to see any of the older games announced for the Nintendo Switch Online service.
That means that it would be wise to grab the Harvest Moon games off the 3DS and Wii U eShops, plus the Virtual Console service, as well as any DLC you don't already have, before they close forever in March 2023. Many of these games are also available physically,
Here's a list of the games and where to find them, compiled by Ranch Story:
- Harvest Moon (Game Boy Virtual Console)
- Harvest Moon 2 (Game Boy Virtual Console)
- Harvest Moon 3 (Game Boy Virtual Console)
- Harvest Moon 3D: A New Beginning (Digital Version)
- Harvest Moon 3D: The Tale of Two Towns (Digital Version)
- Story of Seasons (Digital Version)
- Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns (Digital Version)
- “New Neighbors Pack“ DLC for Trio of Towns
- Rune Factory 4 (Digital Version)
- Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale (Digital Version)
- Harvest Moon (SNES Virtual Console)
- Harvest Moon 64 (Nintendo 64 Virtual Console)
- Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town (Game Boy Advance Virtual Console)
- Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town (Game Boy Advance Virtual Console)
Rune Factory 4 is also available on the Switch, and as we've already mentioned, the Friends of Mineral Town remake is, too.
If you already own one or more of these games, make sure to redownload them — although Nintendo has confirmed that the ability to redownload games will be available "for the foreseeable future" past March 2023, you never know when that might change.
And maybe let's hope for some more Friends of Mineral Town-style remakes from Marvelous, too, eh?
Which of these Harvest Moon games do you think is the best one to grab off the eShop? Let us know in the comments.
if I have to get a couple of these games, what you guys recommend? I've been always curious about this series but never played it yet.
Alas, only the first GBC one is in the European eShop.
Region-locking the 3DS was unnecessarily annoying ten years ago, and the effects of that decision are still being felt by fans today.
Still milking the eShop closure for all its worth for content, huh guys
@Murrio For a news site, they seem to have an awful lot of recent news.
@Murrio Wow yeah, it's almost like this is a very important subject for regular readers of this website or something.
Of all the things the eShop is losing, I'm actually not that pressed about the Virtual Console, you know? It's a lot cheaper to buy a GB flash cart one-time, than it would be for me to rush out and panic buy a bunch of different digital copies of Game Boy games. Plus Game Boy emulation runs smoothly on damn near any device.
PSA: The Tale of Two Towns digital version diminishes serious lag that plagued the cartridge version. The lag made it a hassle to use the horse-drawn wagon, and it also clogged things up if your farm was thickly planted. @Luigivaldo and @Redax I would recommend Tale of Two Towns and Trio of Towns. They're all good, but those two stand out, IMO.
@Burning_Spear I had absolutely no idea about that. I’ve played like 200 hours of ToTT’s cartridge 😂
@SugarKane If you're planning on buying 3DS games on eshop, check websites that track sales such as psprices, you will see what games are still getting discounts every now on then even in 2021. Maybe there'll be a last sale for those games before closure!
@GerBearNy not sure what bad blood you're talking about, this is just a PSA from one Harvest Moon fan to another
@nessisonett Me too. Like 500 hours. Such an underrated game. The lag doesn't bother me much, but some people got pretty freaked out about it.
@Luigivaldo Trio of Towns has Ludus, my favourite Harvest Moon husband of all time!!! A New Beginning isn't the best HM game, but I have spent A LOT OF TIME in it all the same, so I'd recommend that too
Why are people mad about this type of article? 3ds and WiiU shops closing is bad.
Games are not something you buy when they come out and thats it. People are constantly re-discovering old catalogues and games that they missed back in the day. It's a good thing.
Harvest Moon 64 is a must-play for any fan of the series. I'd highly recommend it!
Probably still my favorite one, although the PS1 version of Friends of Mineral Town (and the Switch remake of that) come close. Always got really weird "alternate reality" vibes jumping between the two, though, since they have mostly the same cast of characters, but have largely different roles and personalities.
Yeah it is getting kinda old ( cue the comments saying “well why did you click on it then”)
I think it has more to do with nintendolife milking the shops closing. We don’t need a detailed guide of every single game franchise. Honestly most people who are intrested in these games have already bought them.
@GerBearNy I seriously don't understand your comment. I'd welcome one of these articles from every regular writer on NL. If you're a gamer, how do you fail to understand the significance of losing access to games?
@KateGray The only farming sim I've played is Stardew Valley, although I've been looking at some from the GCN/PS2 generation. Among the titles listed here, do you have a recommendation for we neophytes among these games?
@Luigivaldo Of the games listed here, Friends of Mineral Town or More Friends of Mineral Town are among the best. The original SNES entry is still good and a nice little bit of history. Honestly, though, if you have a Switch.. you might just be better off playing the Mineral Town remake and/or Rune Factory 5 (or 4 Special). Without the nostalgia, the older entries might just feel somewhat archaic.
Oh, they love it! Rubbing in the salt again and again and again.
I own physical copies of all of them already, that's how you actually own these games, not by downloading them on your 3DS or Wii U. If your system develops a failure, you're out of luck. The cartridges are practically indestructible. They are not even very expensive unless you also want a pristine cardboard box.
I appreciate articles like this. I don't care about harvest moon but I do care about games I should check out before closure.
On that note, everyone be aware there is a new entry in the Silver Falls horror games coming out on WiiU and another one on 3DS THIS YEAR. The dev is releasing them despite the eShop closures because he wants people to come together one last time to celebrate and enjoy something on these consoles
Natsume regularly throws good sales so hopefully they’ll have a few between now and the closure, for the people interested on their share of entries.
Also, I know, I know, but Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley is such a unique little game, and one of my favorite entries on the 3DS. It’s easy to find physical but if you guys see it on sale digitally do give it a chance. Its sequel has quality of life improvements, but I prefer the original for some reason; it's a thing like with the original Harvest Moon on the Game Boy.
I also second the notion that Tale of Two Towns’ digital edition is the best way to play it, if you don’t want to hunt down a copy of the DS version.
I prefer Friends of Mineral Town remake on Switch / PS4 as I can get married with same gender. 😘
I heard Tale of Two Town was better on NDS version than on 3DS version due to glitch and some technical issue on 3DS.
@CANOEberry Tale of Two Towns and Trio of Towns are both pretty good, although the mining in both games sucks — Trio of Towns is especially interesting because it has three towns (duh), each of which is themed — a Western one, a Japanese one, and a tropical one.
I liked A New Beginning, but it is VERY slow — you have to unlock all the town buildings yourself and it takes a long time. I also vaguely remember having to rely on the online multiplayer to get a lot of rare items that took ages to get.
Friends of Mineral Town (and More Friends of Mineral Town) is great, but I really think the Switch remake is the best way to play it!
I think going from Stardew to some of the older games will be a bit of a stark difference, so I leave that decision up to you — they don't include a lot of the modcons of the later games, like dating and easy access to shops. Also apparently HM3 ends when you get married, if you choose to play as a girl, which SUCKS
Is the difference between the two Mineral Town games just boy or girl character?
I ended up buying a physical copy of Rune Factory 4 early on when there was some panic about it being delisted or something years ago.
Also have a Japanese copy of one of the GBC games. Certainly this is one of those game franchises were being able to play in Japanese would make the games a whole lot cheaper and accessible. Oh yeah, got the SFC game CIB for about a tenth of what a loose English copy sells for.
@KingMike The girl version has a few extra scenes and minigames, as far as I know.
And you can marry a few oddball characters as well.
@KateGray "I think going from Stardew to some of the older games will be a bit of a stark difference"
Is it, though? The "maker" nonsense in Stardew (and also PoOT unfortunately) made a game that is already basically busywork into busywork AND waiting. If that was Stardew's contribution to the genre, it can kindly remove itself. All the Harvest Moon games are better than Stardew Valley, as awesome as SV is for a game made by one person.
@GerBearNy Trying to be the voice of reason here ...
I've seen quite a few people on this site request best-of lists for the download-only titles, so I think features like this one have merit. I plan to review the other ones NL has published in the past day and create a shopping list. So I don't have a problem with these articles, and I'm sure it was not intended as gaslighting.
That said, I'm with you in that I don't want this to devolve into what happened when the Super Mario 3D collection was ticking down to extinction. You're right: These articles provoke all-out war in the comments section, and for some, myself included, just seeing the headline is a turn-off because it's understood that a firestorm follows below. So, speaking as an editor, I think NL needs to handle this one a little more prudently and be cognizant of the fact that these articles can be unpleasantly received. Remind us periodically, but don't go overboard.
And along those lines, yesterday's article headline, "Nintendo has been waiting for this day ...", I get that it was a direct quote, but it didn't need to be headlined. It made this process sound diabolical, when the truth is that it's nothing more than sound business planning to have a projected sunset date for a particular good or service.
@Troll_Decimator in terms of being able to date people, yeah, I think it makes a difference
@GerBearNy people fighting in the comments is not my fault, and it's pretty unfair to try to hold writers responsible for the way some people behave in here - we're certainly never trying to make anyone angry, because why would we want to deal with that?
I'm just doing my job, highlighting games that people should download, not stoking the fanboy fires on purpose.
@KateGray Lol, okay, if that's what you play the games for. I never cared for romance in them, I am all about the moolah.
@Troll_Decimator I actually thought Stardew Valley handled the makers really well 😅. They only take one square of space so you can comfortably have many at the same time, and there's no menus or confirmations, you just go up to them and press/hold A to insert the item, then go away and let them do their thing.
Much better than the usual "stop and look at this menu" Makers in the other games.
@Eel I think Troll Decimator's point was that Stardew Valley took the makers, which were never more than a minor component in the BokuMono series, and made them a major component. And then PoOT — which the pinch-hitting development team decided had to copy Stardew Valley — took it to an even more disruptive level. To which I say ... Folks, if you want to play the original — the one that all these other games riff off of — download some or all of these games.
@Burning_Spear I might have my timeline wrong, but makers were already problematic in BokuMono ever since A New Beginning.
I remember it was particularly bad in Story of Seasons (the game). My gameplay loop there eventually became planting the same thing over and over going from maker to maker to process it.
@Eel I suppose, but still, there were only, I think, six makers in the original SoS. It certainly wasn't something that took over the farm and was integral to everything you did. But we all perceive things differently, and I can see where you'd say it was too much. All that said, I found PoOT to be a crazy extrapolation of the maker system.
@Burning_Spear oh I absolutely feel PoOT attempted to take inspiration from SV with the makers… They just seem to have taken the wrong aspect to copy!
What makes them work in SV is their ease of use, not the quantity you can have of them.
@Eel How about you and I make the next Story of Seasons? Butter maker, mayonnaise maker, seed maker, yarn maker and no others. We're already looking good.
@Burning_Spear Just drop the produce in and take the product out, no menus or recipes... A back to basics like that would certainly be welcome!
@Burning_Spear Yup, that's exactly my point. The makers were a very minor part of Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons games before Stardew Valley, and they were instant, no waiting time involved. I would have no problem with them if they were instant. The moment they add a timer, it means you need multiple of each. This is a problem in both PoOT and Stardew Valley despite them taking less space in the latter. It's just a ton of extra busywork that was really unnecessary in a game that already has plenty of things to do.
apparently HM3 ends when you get married, if you choose to play as a girl
@KateGray So female protagonist = "bad ending". Yikes. I really thought I'd heard it all when it came to absurd game design... and people say Simon's Quest was obtuse?
From your description, I think I'm inclined to start with Trio of Towns and go from there. Harvest Moon seems to have earned the ire of the audience, so I think I'll start with a "SoS" title, haha. Many thanks for simplifying my entrée here!
@CANOEberry back then they couldn't figure out how to go about having your farmer become pregnant, so they just... Ended the game!
Now they just ignore it.
None of the games in this list are part of Natsume's independent Harvest Moon titles btw. Those would be Harvest Moon:The Lost Valley, and Harvest Moon: Skytree Village.
they couldn't figure out how to go about having your farmer become
@Eel Will you ban me if I make a comment about declining birth rates here?
@CANOEberry it's probably more related to the idea of having a pregnant lady doing all the farm work.
I remember way back they said 64 wouldnt be possible on the Wii VC for some reason and then it showed up on the Wii U VC some years later.
Not sure if it'll be on the Switch app or not whether its possible on the hardware or Natsume doesnt wanna but might be worth considering.
@Angelic_Lapras_King apparently the N64 game is kind of... Unstable? I remember reading something about it being difficult to emulate correctly.
I'm quite surprised we haven't got the SNES game to begin with, Natusme is usually among the first people in line when it comes to re-releasing classic games.
Some people may be tired of it, but there's an overwhelming number of games I never got to, and I have no idea what to grab while the ship goes down. I'm taking notes, and am deeply appreciative of articles like this. I never even thought of Harvest Moon!
@Eel Kinda the disadvantage of the apps. Some publishers would rather sell digital copies than agree to some kind of subscription model. We've seen that with the Megaman, Street Fighter (Like 3 different paid releases of SFII on Switch alone? XD) and Castlevania series already, Natsume is probably the same.
@CANOEberry The only Harvest Moon games you should absolutely avoid are the ones that came out after A New Beginning on 3DS, as well as everything on Switch (and henceforth). A New Beginning is a great one though, I would highly recommend it.
In the ongoing debate over coverage of the eshops closure, allow me to offer one more perspective that I learned over decades of gaming, from the very first days of video game arcades:
You physically cannot play all the good games, at least not if you want to have any time left over for things like a career, family or really just living a life. And all the games worth playing will come back in some form eventually. This is NOT your last chance to play Harvest Moon (or whatever franchise you are currently worried about missing).
The last few years have seen remakes, re-releases and collected editions of Space Invaders, Asteroids, Pac-Man and Dragon's Lair (a game that was only ever noteworthy from a technical angle), not to mention things like the Famicom Detective Club and Advance Wars on the Nintendo end. Closer to home for this article, we also had the Friends of Mineral Town remake.
All of this has happened before, and all of it shall happen again.
@Troll_Decimator Thanks for your perspective. There are many titles to choose from here...
And all the games worth playing will come back in some form eventually. This is NOT your last chance to play Harvest Moon (or whatever franchise you are currently worried about missing).
@JasmineDragon Interesting that you should say that. I was absent from this hobby for a very long time myself, and I have found the Switch generation to be an absolute boon for people like me who want to "catch up" to some degree - my lighter bank account can attest to that. And yet...
Games like Final Fantasy Tactics, Symphony of the Night, Xenogears, the Rare Replay set, Clock Tower, the early SMT and Persona games, several Fire Emblem titles, GameCube classics like Eternal Darkness, and (for me most painful) Metroid Fusion are still out of reach, either due to exorbitant cost or lack of physical versions (and I won't buy an Xbox for that one title, never mind the principle of supporting MS). The remake of Famicom Tantei Club, for example, while encouraging, is somewhat bittersweet without that retail release, although that may come later (I hope).
My agreement with you is therefore only partial. There has been progress, as you point out, but there are still a wide array of tastes and seminal titles not being fed. I hope you can see that leaving things to the companies - especially in the multi-decade case of Famicom Detective Club - is no certain strategy.
@CANOEberry A fair rebuttal, and if there are games you feel like you need to play I'm not saying you should just wait to see if/when they come back. Buying now will obviously always be the safest bet.
BUT please note the first part of my comment! Namely, you can't play all the games. You just can't. There are too many games worth playing, and video games are a medium that inherently takes a long time to explore. It's inevitable that you're going to miss out on some good games, and it's better to accept that and carry on with your life than to bankrupt yourself and miss out on life itself trying to keep up with all the good games.
No man ever laid in his deathbed, looked up at his loving family and said "if I regret one thing in life, it's not playing R-Type III on the original hardware when I had the chance".
I'm not trying to tell anyone not to buy video games. I love games, too. I just bought Raiden IV out of FOMO, and I'm getting Atelier Sophie 2 on release day next week, whether I've finished Ryza 2 or not. But at the same time, there are rock-solid Switch games from two years ago that I haven't bought yet and may never play. And that's okay.
EDIT TO ADD: also, this: https://www.nintendolife.com/news/2021/11/rumour-the-original-final-fantasy-tactics-might-be-getting-a-remaster
If they had Physical those are the ones I will keep and get now.
Had a lot of fun with Tale of Two Towns. I still get the Fall/Autumn music stuck in my head. Nice little ditty.
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