When you ask someone about video game genres, the first thing that usually comes to their mind is either shooters, role-playing games, arcade, or sports – farming-related games are certainly not on the top of the list. And that’s a shame, as the farming genre houses a lot of cool games, too. For example: Story of Seasons and Harvest Moon, two fun and addictive agricultural simulation series.
Story of Seasons vs Harvest Moon – what are the differences and which one you should try?
Is Story of Seasons Harvest Moon?
The matter of comparing both games may be confusing for a lot of people and not without a reason. That’s because the modern Harvest Moon doesn’t have too much in common with the original Harvest Moon games – the original series operates under a new name now, which is Story of Seasons, while games called Harvest Moon are developed by a different company since 2014.
The series originates from Japan where it’s known as Bokujō Monogatari. The games from the series were translated by Natsume and published under the name Harvest Moon until 2014 – that’s when the Bokujō Monogatari development team decided to choose another company for the translation job.
However, Natsume held rights to the Harvest Moon name, so the new entries in the Bokujō Monogatari franchise had to get a new English title – that’s how Story of Seasons was born. Naturally, Natsume didn’t want to abandon such a lucrative project loved by many players across the world so they decided to keep developing the series on their own, which resulted in creating the competition: the original Harvest Moon, now known as Story of Seasons, versus the new Harvest Moon developed by Natsume.
Players quickly noticed the difference and so they criticized the new Harvest Moon games for not staying true to the roots and not being able to capture the spirit of the original. Clearly, Natsume didn’t manage to realize what made the original series popular and loved – but does it really mean that Natsume games are objectively bad, or are they just different and have other strengths that die-hard fans of the original series fail or refuse to see?
The main issue players seem to have with the new Harvest Moon games is the fact that gameplay was drastically simplified when compared to Story of Seasons. Of course, it’s hard to compare both series as a whole – there are already several games in the new Harvest Moon franchise and they’re all a bit different from each other, so some things may not be true for certain entries, but generally speaking, Story of Seasons offers a deeper gameplay that is more engaging, open-ended and requires more thought.
On the other hand, the new Harvest Moon games feel a bit grindy and they focus more on the story aspect – this is especially true for Harvest Moon: One World.
Both game series feature stylized, colorful 3D graphics and design that is meant to fill players with happiness and joy as they carry out their tasks and develop their farms. With that being said, Story of Seasons games look much better, generally speaking.
Natsume with their Harvest Moon games seems to focus greatly on the mobile market. As a result, sacrifices in terms of visuals had to be made to ensure better play on smartphones. The graphics suffered a bit, but it’s far from being terrible – if you enjoy the gameplay, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Although both series aim for a more colorful and casual-friendly look, there are clear differences visible in character design. Characters in the new Harvest Moon games look more realistic while Story of Seasons goes for a more cute and adorable style, for which Japan is widely known. It’s difficult to mimic this style for a Western company, so instead of trying and failing miserably, Natsume intentionally went for a different style. Which one is better, though? That’s up to you to decide, it’s just a matter of personal preference at this point.
If rich customization options for your farm are what you’re looking for, usually it’s Harvest Moon that got you covered. Although character customization does not impress, the farm customization does and leaves much more room for unleashing creativity and making everything look the way you want. Harvest Moon: A New Beginning goes even further and allows players to create the entire town.
With that being said, things are a little bit different in Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town – this one comes with much more customization. On the other hand, Harvest Moon: Skytree Village features a block-based world that allows players for limited terraforming known from games such as Minecraft, which may be a selling point for some of you.
Both Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons originate from the same series. Harvest Moon games developed after 2014 can be considered a part of a new spin-off series of the original Harvest Moon franchise while Story of Seasons is the continuation of the original Harvest Moon series that was developed until 2014 and operates under the new name since then.
Both series have their strengths and weaknesses and Natsume already proved that they’re more than capable of creating solid games. Most of the negative opinions most likely come from fans of the original series who treat Natsume works as cheap knock-offs, but they can actually be really fun to play if you approach them with an open mind or if you didn’t play the original Harvest Moon games before. Depending on what you’re expecting to find in a video game, you may find both series equally enjoyable. With that being said, it would’ve been great to see what could Natsume achieve if they put a little bit more passion and love into their games.
And if you still can’t decide, you can always go with a third option – Stardew Valley, which is considered by many a spiritual successor to the original Harvest Moon series.