This is appalling. It really is. I mean, have you checked out RPGamer’s game list recently under series? Just look! RPGamer has covered no less than 12…twelve! Twelve Harvest Moon games! I didn’t even know that there were 12 Harvest Moon Games! AND - wouldn’t you know it - there’s more to come, Natsume is apparently ready to continue its “farming simulation” onto the next generation handhelds and consoles. Of course, RPGamer will probably be there to cover every single one of them too.
But, hey, that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’ve got nothing against Natusme (that was intentionally misspelled for you Harvest Moon buffs out there!). I’m here to talk about a game that was more ambitious than Harvest Moon. A game that didn’t just have seasons, it had years. It didn’t just have npcs, it had neighbors. And you didn’t grow crops, you fostered relationships. I am, of course, talking about Animal Crossing, the pseudo-social engineering game that the great Shigeru Miyamoto called his “Communication” game.
Exactly how Animal Crossing intends to qualify as a “communication” game I’ll try to tackle in another article.
Anyways, when it first came out on the Nintendo 64, and then again stateside on the GC, it made quite an impression. With up to 4 human players capable of moving into a single town, there were reports of Japanese mothers playing in the daytime and writing in-game mail to their children who’d play at night. In the online community, special message boards popped up to help people trade items back and forth between their towns. And did you know that in 2003, the AIAS (Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, a game industry group made up of professionals) awarded Animal Crossing the Console RPG of the Year award over Squaresoft’s Final Fantasy X and Kingdom Hearts, and over Media Vision’s Wild Arms 3 and KCET’s Suikoden 3?
But let’s hold all debate about that award for another article shall we?
Let’s stick to the plain fact of the matter: here is a game, Animal Crossing, that was new, acclaimed, made connections… and it isn’t covered by RPGamer.
Meanwhile, Harvest Moon, a game series which shares a lot of similarities with Animal Crossing, has been covered for more than 12 games. Harvest Moon lets you till the fields, Animal Crossing allows you to plant entire orchards and care for your town’s landscape. Harvest Moon features a nearby rural township where interpersonal interaction can shape your experiences, and in Animal Crossing, your neighbors are the best resource for gossip, personality, and cool swag. Harvest Moon has different levels of tools. Animal Crossing has different levels of tools. Harvest Moon has fishing, Animal Crossing has fishing. Harvest Moon lets you have a dog, cat, and horse while Animal Crossing lets you have fish, bugs, and… if you’ve got a messy house… cockroaches. In Harvest Moon you can get married, while in Animal Crossing both you and your brother can develop a crush on a certain character named “Bunnie” and drop all semblance of filial allegiance in your obsessive and immoral battle to get her to move to your town instead of his…
…Don’t ask. That’ll be a topic for another article too.
Well, anyways, you get the idea. How can Harvest Moon be given the amount of coverage its received while Animal Crossing gets shunned? Whether it be a simple mistake or gross discrimination, I say it stops now. A website that has as extensive a coverage of Harvest Moon as RPGamer does should have little reason not to cover an extremely similar little game called Animal Crossing.
You’ve covered Harvest Moon for 12 games. I believe that Animal Crossing deserves some equal representation.