The Harvest Moon series has seen some pretty big changes in the last few years. After the series developers Marvelous Entertainment decided to have their own American division take over North American distribution in 2014, Natsume retained the rights to the Harvest Moon name and began developing their own original titles for the franchise. These newer entries have expanded the series in different directions, helping it reach out to new audiences. Natsume’s latest mobile title, Harvest Moon: Lil’ Farmers, developed by Rising Star Games, is a perfect example of this.
As with past titles, Harvest Moon: Lil’ Farmers is a farming simulation game where players take on the role of a new farmer. The main difference separating Harvest Moon: Lil’ Farmers from its predecessors is its target audience. Aimed at pre-school level children, Harvest Moon: Lil’ Farmers removes and simplifies many of the features typically found in the series.
Though other villagers do appear in the game, the abilities to date, marry and have children are not present in this game. In fact, the game has little to no dialogue past its initial title screen. While it makes sense that the game wouldn’t be very text heavy considering its audience, the game’s lack of text can sometimes make things just a little unclear as to what players need to do or why.
When players first start they game, Harvest Moon: Lil Farmers has you enter the house. Villagers appear with the image of a product floating overhead. Players are supposed to wrap up the desired products in a basket and hand them over to the villager. A problem I found was that sometimes the previous product would be in my basket without me realizing it, stopping me from handing over the basket. It’s a basic problem with a quick solution, but because everyone in the game is mute, it might take a few moments before the problem is even recognized.
There are times where villagers will request products that you don’t have. When this happens, the game guides you out of the house and to the necessary workstation to obtain the needed resource. These resources are obtained through a variety of small mini-games that simulate farm work. Being a mobile game, all of the games are relatively the same, having players perform simple tasks by tapping or dragging objects across the screen. The controls are generally receptive and there’s no punishment for a lack of precision. While there isn’t much animation to be found in any of the seven games offered, the artwork for the game is cute and fits in with other Harvest Moon titles.
Harvest Moon: Lil’ Farmers isn’t the worst way to introduce children to gaming. Priced at $3.99, the game does feel like it’s lacking in content in comparison to other games available on the same platform. Additional text would’ve also been a good way to help children as they learn to read, introducing the names of farm animals along with some fruits and vegetables. Having said that, Harvest Moon: Lil’ Farmers is a good first step for Natsume as they broaden the range of their Harvest Moon brand towards younger children and could benefit from an expanded sequel.