Some companies show up at E3 with big, fancy expensive booths and dozens of games to show off. That’s not how Natsume rolls, at least not this year. Natsume is a publisher that knows its audience and does what it needs to do in order to appeal to them, namely by aggressively pushing Harvest Moon to the many fans who have become hopelessly addicted to farm life.
But it’s not all cows and chickens, however, as Natsume had a surprise or two this year that should please fans. Naturally, we just had to stop by and check out the action for ourselves. This is what we saw.
Wild Guns Reloaded is getting a lot of traction with the kind of people who make YouTube videos about how many retro games they own. You know, the ones who think they’re game connoisseurs in the same manner that there are wine or cigar connoisseurs. Not to judge, but I think they’d judge me for thinking Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare looks as good as it does. (It looks really good, by the way.)
I mean, don’t get me wrong, Wild Guns Reloaded is looking pretty cool. You’re either a heavily-armed cowboy or a heavily-armed Southern belle and it’s your job to blast robots, banditos and robotic banditos in classic SNES style, using a reticle to aim when you aren’t dodging shots. The graphics are about as retro as it comes and the gameplay certainly feels authentic. Also, there’s apparently a dog riding a robot that you can play as at some point, but that character was sadly not available for the E3 demo. What more do you need than that, though? I’d buy FIFA if you could play as a dog riding around on a robot.
Continuing with the retro theme, we also saw River City: Tokyo Rumble, which was originally released in Japan in 2013 and is the latest localization in the long-running River City series of brawlers that began with River City Ransom on the NES. It appears to be a brawler with minigame elements; the portion that I was able to check out involved dodgeball, but it looks like that won’t be all you’re doing.
One would assume there will be plenty of beatings for baddies, plenty of change collected and plenty of BARFing to go around, so don’t be surprised if all those elements and more show up in the final game. You’ve been warned.
Natsume also showed off the latest Harvest Moon game, Harvest Moon: Skytree Village, and as one would expect this was the central feature of their booth. While I’m a fan of the series I can’t say I’ve kept up with every single update; Rune Factory’s integration of combat with farming ended up doing a better job of keeping my attention. Still, Skytree Village is looking good, with plenty of quality-of-life improvements like easier methods of tending your fields and planting new seeds.
There’s also some focus on animals, including the new Poitou donkey, a shaggy French fellow that can be sheared like a sheep. It’s essentially a dreadlocked donkey, which is just as cool as it sounds. What’s more, animals of all sorts can now develop skills that can be passed down via breeding, allowing you to selectively produce mighty animals that will put your rivals to shame. I wonder if it’s somehow possible to eventually end up with dreadlocked chickens?
Natsume didn’t have quite as many games to check out as some of the other, larger publishers, but their breed of quaint Japanese charm was present and accounted for. Harvest Moon continues to be a fan favorite, as the legions who stopped by to check out the booth demonstrated, so I’m sure there’s at least a few of you out there who can’t wait for Skytree Village. Meanwhile, Wild Guns Reloaded and River City: Tokyo Rumble show that Natsume is punching above its weight class with retro-hungry gamers.
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