E3 2019 Hands-On IMPRESSIONS- Harvest Moon: Mad Dash

Monday, June 24th, 2019

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Harvest Moon: Mad Dash | LogoTitle: Harvest Moon: Mad Dash
Publisher(s): Natsume, Inc.
Platform(s): PlayStation 4; Switch
Release Date: Fall 2019

Harvest Moon: Mad Dash is one of those games that I did not know what to think about when I first saw it. I’ve had a lengthy relationship with the Harvest Moon franchise in my life, and so I was a bit shocked to see the franchise name being used for a non-farming simulation title. As a result, I checked out Harvest Moon: Mad Dash in co-op mode at the Natsume booth at E3 2019 to see just what it is all about.
The gameplay concept is simple: You use A to pick up plots of land with vegetables, fish, hay, or more on it. After picking it up, you plop a plot of land down next to the same type of land. Those same ones will combine together into a larger single plot with a bigger vegetable, a larger fish, a larger bale of hay, etcetera available. When the vegetable or fishing plot is large enough, the player has to then harvest it with Y. This ‘harvesting’ is done in a variety of ways. For vegetables, it is simple enough to do by just clicking ‘Y’ to pick the vegetable. For fish, you have to press ‘Y’ rapidly to whip out your fishing rod and pull it out of the river. For hay, you have to set it down in front of a cow to eat while you then milk the cow with ‘Y’.

Harvest Moon: Mad Dash | Vegetables

Harvest Moon: Mad Dash | Vegetables

Harvest plots of land with crops on it in order to build up your score. Move like plots together to make bigger vegetables (as seen above) to get even more points. (Images courtesy of Natsume).

As you and your partner are picking and milking and doing all sorts of these farm activities in Harvest Moon: Mad Dash, you fill up your power meter. When the meter is filled out, you can enter power mode where harvestable crops spawn quickly and endlessly, and can be harvested super easily picked while the time countdown freezes. All of this has to be done while dodging environmental dangers such as lava on the harvesting field. When time expires, the more that is harvested, the better score the party gets. The better score the party gets, the more stars that they will receive, and these stars can be used to unlock new areas to harvest in.
Harvest Moon: Mad Dash | Power Mode

There is more than just vegetables to harvest, such as fish to pull up and hay to bundle up to feed cows with so they can be milked. (Image courtesy of Natsume).

Harvest Moon: Mad Dash is literally that: a ‘mad dash’ all over the place trying to harvest things as much as possible, and I had a real blast playing it. This is a game that stresses co-op coordination on harvesting the different crops, and myself and my partner split the crops up between the two of us to try to be as efficient as possible. The different gameplay mechanics themselves aren’t hard to perform, and there is a real strategic element to making as large of a combined plot of land as possible before harvesting while still occasionally grabbing the small plots to try to unlock Power Mode as quickly as possible.
Harvest Moon: Mad Dash | Map

Earn stars in each stage to unlock even more areas on the map. (Image courtesy of Natsume).

I honestly think that Harvest Moon: Mad Dash is a game that should be played co-op instead of solo, since a lot of the fun that I had playing it was from coordinating and planning on-the-fly with my gaming partner. The gameplay mechanics are fairly simple, and that is perfect for a game like this. The graphics fit right in with what I would expect a Harvest Moon franchise game to look like on the Nintendo Switch (the platform I demoed it on). This is a game that, while clearly aimed at a somewhat younger audience, has plenty to offer experienced gamers as well who are looking for a light-hearted experience.

What do you think of this Harvest Moon spin-off game? Are you excited to play it with your friends when it comes out later this year?
Let us know in the comments below!