It’s the fifteenth anniversary of Harvest Moon this year, and Natsume has evidently felt the need to bring fresh content to a series which has successfully remained consistently entertaining, albeit growing a little more stale with each title.

Harvest Moon 3D: A New Beginning looks to be exactly what the title implies, bringing with it a fresh burst of new flavors that will be sure to appease both veteran and novice fans alike. From the ability to finally customize your own character to setting up buildings to your own preference, you can expect several new surprises in Natsume’s latest work, which is poised for release in the late 2012 window. After our time with the title at E3 2012 this year, we’re very excited for a Harvest Moon title that’s full to the brim with fresh content.

Right from the get-go, it’s impossible not to notice that Natsume has focused heavily on the idea of allowing the player to customize everything in the game.¬† For the first time ever in a Harvest Moon¬†title, players are able to change their appearance, with options ranging from unique hairstyles and colors to skin tone and eye color. Once you build a shop for the town’s hair stylist, you’ll unlock even more hairstyles, which just mat come in handy to distract potential wives from the wicked farmer’s tan the protagonist likely sports. There are also additional outfits which can be equipped and expanded upon once – you guessed it – you build a place for the tailor.

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest changes in the entire series is the ability to move any object regardless of where it was and how large it is. For instance, let’s say the player is planning on marrying a girl who lives in a blue house. The player could literally go into town, pick up the entire house, bring it next to the farm, and place it down – making it much easier to run into the girl. The ability to rearrange buildings also applies to your farm, where you can finally move things like your water fountain and place it next to your main patch of crops. It’s an interesting feature, and as the game progresses you’ll be asked by the town’s mayor to build and place new objects in the town before he grants you access to new areas and benefits.

Harvest Moon 3D A New Beginning Preview

Natsume has also introduced the workshop, a system which completely replaces the town blacksmith. This time, players will be responsible for building their own tool upgrades and expansions, which means they have to find out resource requirements and take initiative to build their own improvements. It’s an ultimately handy system which allows you to quickly craft things like hay bales and water silos for your farm, as well as placing them wherever you think they fit best. When you place items town, you’ll also see how citizens adapt to their new surroundings – expect eldery folk to sit happily on homemade benches.

Your usual cast of animals from cows to to chickens have returned in 3D glory for Harvest Moon: A New Beginning, and now have two brand new companions: a yak, and an alpaca llama. The yak provides a source for the new expensive yak butter, and the llama provides more clothing options with alpaca fur. These unique fur types can be sold for coin and can be used to make unique clothes from the tailor. There’s also a new method for fishing, where the player builds a fish trap in the workshop and throws it in the water. Later, the player can return and grab all the fish that were caught – when the trap breaks down, you can just build a new one. It’s a great time-saver for farmers on the go, which means players won’t always be as pressed for time if they need to catch some fish to fry.

Harvest Moon has always been a consistently fun series, and it’s great to see Natsume recognizing that it was time to add something new to the gameplay. Whether it be the ability to marry a prospective love interest with a wedding ring instead of a feather, or just the ability to move your own stable, the new features work well within the style of the series and will provide for hours of entertainment for anyone who enjoys the franchise. For those who haven’t tried it, there’s no way to properly make a game about farming sound fun – but there’s certainly a reason why Harvest Moon is celebrating their fifteenth anniversary. What better time to join a longstanding series as a newcomer than during a New Beginning?

Harvest Moon 3D: A New Beginning is set for release on the Nintendo 3DS later this year.

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