As huge fans of Harvest Moon, Rune Factory and other farming/dating type games, we were more than a little excited by Marvelous' announcement of the next game in the long-running series, way back in January. You see, 2016 is a big year for Harvest Moon, with the series hitting it's 20th Anniversary this year - and what better way to celebrate, than with a new game, known as Story of Seasons: Cherished Friends of the Three Towns outside of the Japan for various legal reasons we don't entirely understand.
While farming - planting, tending and raising crops, as well as looking after various farm animals - is still central to the game, the titular three towns all have their own unique ways of life, traditions and approaches to life. Such differences will likely be reflected in the crops they grow and animals they tend to in each town, along the same lines as past 3DS title, Harvest Moon: Tale of Two Towns, where one half of the village preferred veggies while the other was all about animal produce.
First up is the old-fashioned frontier Wes Town, which, with it's wooden buildings, was once a famous mining town - useful ores can still be found lying around here too, providing you bring your hammer. With its friendly and cheerful inhabitants, winding river and cactuses dotted around, Wes town is straight out of the Wild West, although without all the cowboy shoot outs, obviously. Exotic Lulucoco Town meanwhile, is a bit of a tropical island paradise, with mysterious ruins, a sandy beach and tropical fruit and fish galore. Finally, Tsuyukusa Village is a much more oriental, asian-influenced town, with rice paddys galore. With it's thatched roofs, arched bridges and kimono-clad inhabitants, it definitely feels very Japanese. Of course, each of the three towns will have it's own selection of romancable bachelors and bachelorettes for you to woo, and perhaps eventually marry, as well as various part-time jobs you can take on for a bit of extra cash.
While Cherished Friends of the Three Towns doesn't look set to do anything drastically different, following much the same planting and romancing formula of the past two decades of games, it seems the developers do have a new twist up their sleeves in the farming department. Loosely translated as the 'Farm Circle', you'll have a movable scarecrow (or other farm buildings and landmarks) that will net you various bonuses for the crops planted around it, such as increased yields, better quality and the like. But perhaps our favourite new feature is that you'll be able to adopt various pets, and apoint one as your 'Soul Mate' that will follow you everywhere, occasionally bring you presents and even take part in some special events and festivals too. Pictures only show dogs at the moment, but we're holding out for cats too. Either way, aww.
Story of Seasons: Cherished Friends of the Three Towns will be hitting Japanese 3DSes this summer, on the 23rd June - although with all the translation and localisation work to be done, it may be a little while before we see it in the West. Based on previous games, we wouldn't expect it for at least a year, maybe two… But it's nice to dream, right?