By Quentin H. / June 30th, 2016
At E3 2016 I had an opportunity to visit the massive Natsume booth on the show floor. After quickly introducing myself, I walked over to the media area where I was introduced to CeeCee, the community manager for Natsume. During our brief time together, we discussed several upcoming Natsume games, such as Harvest Moon: Skytree Village, River City: Tokyo Rumble, and Wild Guns Reloaded. Towards the end of our interview, I was able to broach the topic of the ever-popular Lufia series and if we would ever see Harvest Moon 64 on the Virtual Console.
Operation Rainfall: Hi, this is Quentin H. with Operation Rainfall, and you are?
CeeCee: I’m CeeCee, I’m the community manager with Natsume!
CC: That’s right! Two weeks ago today [OR Note: This interview occurred on June 14, 2016.]
“We like to have bold long term and short term goals [in Harvest Moon: Skytree Village].”
OR: How has this game evolved from the prior [Harvest Moon] game, Seeds of Memories?
CC: I actually think of it more as an evolution from Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley.
So we heard a lot of feedback from fans about what they loved and what didn’t love quite as much from The Lost Valley, and so we sort of built on that. So we’ve returned to the terraforming from The Lost Valley, but we’ve evolved it quite a bit. For example, one of the things that you can do is operate your tools and do a multi-harvest. Do a multi-seed drop, do multiple watering cans that water at the same time, [and] raise more of the land in huge patches. So we really wanted to make sure that you could manipulate the land that you were in in a way that was easily accessible.
We’ve also introduced a completely new cast with a completely new art style. We do have a few returning characters – like Sam, Naomi, and Sally- but all of our bachelors, all of our bachelorettes and all of the families that come with them are brand new.
OR: Part of the objective is to save [the] seven legendary Skytrees. What is a Skytree?
CC: The Skytrees were the pillars of the land – and this [land] is the oasis of the harvest goddess – and what Skytree Village became known for. But as the villagers stop believing in the harvest goddess, she lost her powers and in turn, the Skytrees lost their powers.
And so you’re working together with the harvest sprites and the harvest goddess to return the Skytrees back to their positions of power. And as you do that, more and more of [the] story unfolds.
We like to have bold long term and short term goals. And we [at Natsume] feel like restoring the Skytrees is a nice, tangible goal to is easy to shoot for.
OR: With Harvest Moon: Skytree Village, what is the balance between the farming aspects and trying to save the seven legendary Skytrees?
CC: Well, they’re pretty intermingled. Must like The Lost Valley, some of the tasks that you’re going to be set forth by either the harvest goddess or the villagers – which we have almost doubled the number of requests – all of that builds into the larger narrative of the Skytrees.
So there’s going to be farming in the restoring the Skytrees, and there’s going to be other things that don’t include farming that’s going to be involved in restoring the Skytrees.
OR: How many candidates for marriage are there going to be?
CC: There are three bachelorettes if you play as a boy, and three bachelors if you play as a girl.
OR: Any chance of same sex marriage in [Harvest Moon: Skytree Village]?
CC: Right now, it’s looking like ‘no’ for this title. But I’m the one who gathers all the feedback for this stuff. I know it certainly a frequent fan request. We’re keeping it in mind.
OR: [There] was a temporary glitch in Seeds of Memories that allowed it-
CC: So there was a bug in Seeds of Memories that actually didn’t set a gender flag. And so the problem was that as you played the game, you would actually start to search for that flag more and more to the point where it would actually crash the game. And so the problem wasn’t that it included gay marriage, the problem was that it kind of completely messed up the game if you played it long enough.
And so it kind of killed me to take it away, but it was one of those glitches that we had to fix and it had unfortunate consequences.
OR: In some of the previous [Harvest Moon] releases, you’ve had DLC. How do you plan on implementing DLC for Skytree Village?
CC: The way we approached [DLC] with The Lost Village was a happy medium. Which was [that] we announced DLC right at the start, but we were really adamant that development for DLC wasn’t going to begin until the full game was done. And that seemed to create a good balance between expectations that the fans had and the time between when we start[ed] the DLC and we could accrue feedback from the fans.
For example, one of the things we heard when The Lost Valley came out was ‘wow, wouldn’t it be cool if we had another marriage candidate?’ And so that was actually one of our DLCs, was that [you could marry] Luke and Sabrina.
OR: Are you saying that there is going to be DLC for Skytree Village?
CC: I think it’s likely, but nothing to announce right now.
CC: Well, it actually wasn’t us. It was Arc System Works. [Natsume] started a partnership with Arc System Works a couple of years ago. We localized two games for them: Gotcha Racing and Brave Tank Hero. [OR Note: Both of these titles were released on the Nintendo 3DS.] And we loved working with them. And so we went back to them and said “Hey, Kunio-kun [OR Note: The protagonist for River City Ransom] is having [his] thirtieth anniversary this year, and it has been since the Gameboy Advance – since a mainline Kunio-kun game has come out in North America. So let’s get together and do one.”
And so we got together, and picked one that came out in 2013 for the 3DS. And we sort of ran with it. And so River City: Tokyo Rumble takes you with Kunio – a badass high school student – who discovers that there is actually a gang that has taken over all of Tokyo.
And so you have to go to the various districts of Tokyo and wrest power back from the various gangsters that are holding them hostage.
I kind of like it because it’s a sidescrolling beat-em-up that feels very simple on the surface, but actually has all of these cool RPG elements to them. You gain money and you can buy food to power your character up [and] you can buy books to increase the number of moves you can have. As you unlock more characters in the story, you also get to play them in the minigames that are included in the game. This includes the Free-For-All Brawl and the Dodgeball.
OR: What’s this ‘Dodgeball’?
CC: So aside from the main storyline, you have two minigames you can play in River City: Tokyo Rumble as well. There is an arena that is just a free for all rumble with all of the characters you’ve unlocked, and you get to pick which one you’d like to play. There’s also Dodgeball, which is kind of like a sports game that the Kunio-kun series has become infamous for. And so you get to play dodgeball with all of the Kunio-kun characters.
“A text-heavy game, localization-wise, is different from a game that has very little text but has a lot of context that you have to give without using words.
For us, it is all about making sure that all of the little details are included.”
OR: Are you planning on bringing more Kunio-kun [series] games to North America?
CC: We are definitely open to the possibility, but one Kunio-kun game at a time!
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