Earlier this week, SPOnG managed to catch up with one of modern gaming's most idiosyncratic designers, Harvest Moon
creator Yasuhiro Wada - currently development director over at Rising Star Games - for a wide-ranging chat about farming, growing up in the countryside, the future of Nintendo, the new DS and PSP versions of Harvest Moon
and, surprisingly, his love of Grand Theft Auto
and what exactly makes 'acceptable' violence in games.
, described by some as a Ďmore hardcoreí Animal Crossing
is a cult farm-based sim/RPG which first appeared in 1996 (in Japan, 1997 in Europe) on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). Increasingly complex versions of the game have also graced Game Boy, GBA, N64, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, GameCube and Ė later this month in Europe Ė the most recent versions on DS
and on PSP
The charmingly simple object of Harvest Moon
games is to maintain a farm over a period of time, tending the crops and livestock through the seasons, while befriending the nearby townsfolk, getting married, having kids and living happily ever after. Beyond everything else, itís regularly cited as a refreshingly slow-paced antidote to the overwhelming trend of modern videogames to be faster, louder and Ė increasingly Ė more (unnecessarily) violent.
Hi, before we get started talking about the latest [DS and PSP] versions of Harvest Moon
just wanted to talk a little bit about the history of the games. Itís over ten years now since the first gameÖ
Yes, the first game was released in 1996 in Japan, then in Europe the following year.
Can you tell us a little more about your original inspiration for the game?
My life, my childhoodÖ I was born and raised in the countryside and I wanted to create a game that reflected rural lifeÖ as opposed to games that represented urban life or warzones or that type of thing. So I wanted to create a new type of game based on my own experiences growing up outside of city life.
So would it be fair to say there are similarities between what you did (and do) with Harvest Moon
and what Miyamoto does with Zelda
Yes, of course. I really respect Mr Miyamoto. Zelda
was the first game that made me want to make games myself. Whenever I construct a game there is always a Zelda
influence somewhere in there.
SPOnG: Harvest Moon
is a fairly slow-paced game Ė were there any other games which gave you this idea of creating a much slower gaming experience?
How the timing and pace of the game is experienced is totally dependent upon the players themselves and their individual personality, I think. Some players tell me my games are too fast, others tell me they are too slow. I donít consider the game to be slow, I donít think of it like that. I wanted to create a game that was based on the endlessly circulating time of the seasons, with the player being thrown into this circulating timeframe Ė in which they can develop human friendships and relationships, tend to their crops and look after animals and livestock.
There is certainly some influence from Legend of Zelda
, in that [in those games] players were able to destroy every single rock or tree or interact with many things and characters around them. Of course, the difference was that in Zelda
there is no concept of time as such Ė time has stopped there Ė so players can do whatever they want to do without thinking about the timescale at all. By introducing the timescale into Harvest Moon
I wanted to introduce this sense of the circulating time based on the seasons to players.