Parting Shots – Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos

Taka Maekawa
Game: Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos
Occupation: Producer, Natsume Inc.
Career Highlights: Wild Guns Reloaded, Harvest Moon: Skytree Village, Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure

Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos takes the long-running and much-beloved farming franchise into some previously unexplored—and thanks to its move to an open world, much larger—territory. To learn more about all of the work the team at Natsume has put into this new direction for the series, we set off across Anthos on a quest for answers with producer Taka Maekawa.

Harvest Moon games are first and foremost about farming, so what improvements does The Winds of Anthos bring in this regard?

Taka Maekawa: The biggest is that you are free to live in different places throughout the world from essentially the start of the game. Because Anthos has regions with significantly different environments, my hope is that players will feel free to explore, and spend time in the places they enjoy most! There are also different kinds of crops and different animals you can find in each area, of course.

Since you brought up Anthos itself, what was it like to craft The Winds of Anthos as the first Harvest Moon game set in an open world?

TM: Obviously, this was going to be a big challenge, as Harvest Moon has always been about settling in one specific area and living your life there. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be interesting if you could move to other places while at the same time exploring a vast world?”

I wanted players to be able to freely explore the entire world, interact with individuals from different cultural backgrounds, and, in the process, enjoy many discoveries such as encountering wildlife, discovering fishing spots, hidden mines, and more!

We [also] wanted people to feel new possibilities and new experiences when playing. And to challenge this, we really focused on the world map, so that there is always something the player can interact with, or even something like beautiful scenery when traveling from one place to another. 

Another noticeable shift from previous Harvest Moon games is the new art style and camera. Can you tell us more about those aspects?

TM: We aimed for a balance between not going for too cutesy of a design, and also staying within Harvest Moon’s traditional image. After many discussions and redesigns, we finally arrived at the art style for this title.

With the new camera option, we believe it will enhance the player’s immersion into the game. [But] we also understand that some players may not be accustomed to this kind of camera, [so] the player can adjust the camera control speed in the options to play at a pace that suits you best.

What are some of the smaller, less noticeable improvements or additions that are equally important?

TM: One addition would be the Power Wisps! Although they are not directly involved in the main story, the Harvest Wisp Fruit they offer will increase your stamina and bag capacity, which will be very important when exploring the wide world of Anthos! 

Another important improvement is loading time, or lack of loading time, to be precise! Our programmers worked diligently to minimize loading times, aiming to reduce waiting times as much as possible during gameplay.

We know it’s not always nice to ask someone to pick favorites, but who is your favorite bachelor or bachelorette this time around, and why?

TM: I’m directly involved in the story development of all the characters, so I really can’t pick just one. [And] for The Winds of Anthos, each bachelor or bachelorette the player meets has their own unique background, issues, and concerns that only you can resolve.

But if I had to, it would probably be Vivi from Providence Village. She’s an explorer, just like the main character, so the two of you immediately have something in common. And just like the main character, she’s not afraid of or intimidated by anything!

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