Story of Seasons, the most recent localized release of the Harvest Moon series as envisioned by Marvelous Entertainment, is a game that hooked me in for a long while. I wouldn’t exactly call this game and the other games in the series progressive, and I certainly don’t purchase it for any other reason than fun farming times. Yet, for a series that seems to try its best to stay away from anything too, perhaps, “controversial”, I find it interesting that in SoS they reintroduced a character type that could be seen as stereotypical and offensive, at least from my Western perspective. While the characters of Animal Parade’s Julius and SoS’s Marian present a potential conversation about non-binary gender identity and how they interact with the small, rural farming town they’re a part of, this is something that is never exactly discussed. Certainly, this can be seen as a positive thing–that no one treats them any differently because of how they choose to express themselves. In some ways, that’s probably even true, but much of the conflict here is simply untranslatable to mass marketable Western audiences, and in this case, that may be okay.
Speaking as someone who admittedly doesn’t know all the nuances of gender identity and LGBTQ+ life in Japan, there will be some things I mess up on. As such, take my analysis with a grain of salt. If you, yourself, have more experience with these topics, please feel free to chime in!
Okay, okay, I’m kind of breaking the rules for this column since there’s not actually a trailer out for this yet, but I’m just too excited for it to wait.
Back in February of 2014, XSeed released the spiritual successor to the Harvest Moon series, Story of Seasons. Although the original IP remained with Natsume, Story of Seasons continued on with the dating sim/farming simulator formula that fans had come to love. Having invested a hefty number of hours into Story of Seasons myself, I can safely say that I trust XSeed with everything from now on (not that I was uncertain on their quality earlier, but sometimes you get a little protective with the things you love). Needless to say when it was revealed last week that the next game in the Story of Seasons series was preparing for release, I jumped onboard with no time to spare.
This Trailer Tuesday might be a little self-indulgent, but bear with me here. While I’ve dabbled in Harvest Moon, I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself an expert in the game. Indeed, my interests usually end up being mining and cooking as opposed to filling my entire farmland up with crops and livestock. Luckily, the series lets the players play however they want without punishing them for, say, spending all their energy digging up precious gems and then fishing instead of talking to people. This freedom of choice is something that makes the series great. And this precedent of choice is what made A New Beginning one of the worst Harvest Moons I’ve ever played. I find no joy in a Harvest Moon game that’s all tutorial and forcing the player to do uninteresting tasks to get more people in their town. As such, I haven’t really been into the series for a while. However, despite getting badly burned on ANB, I can’t help but be excited for the upcoming installment: Story of Seasons.