When you think of Natsume, the first game that may come to mind is the Harvest Moon series. By that extension, titles such as Rune Factory that were spun from that formula might also get a mention. Well, at E3 this year, Natsume were showing off a brand new IP by the name of Hometown Story that I had an opportunity to check out, and so far it’s looking like a great addition to the 3DS and iOS libraries.
Hometown Story was originally conceived under the title of Project Happiness and was actually designed by Harvest Moon creator, Yasuhiro Wada. If that wasn’t enough to get people excited, Atsuko Nishida, known for her work on the Pokemon franchise, will be doing the artwork. Famed Final Fantasy composer, Nobuo Uematsu, will take up performing the soundtrack. That news alone is enough to convince me to pick up the game just to listen to the music.
Rather than building up a farm, Hometown Story has you in charge of an item shop in a small town. My immediate response to this was to think of the Steam title, Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale, and the Natsume rep had indicated that I was not alone in drawing this comparison. However, managing the shop will be less complex in Hometown Story by comparison, so you won’t have to worry about feeling overwhelmed with pending orders and things of that nature. You will be able to create and customize your own character from either gender, and the differences between the male and female protagonists are reported to be just cosmetic. Your shop can be arranged as you want as well!
Fantasy creatures that look like Pokemon will play a role in the story too, with some being normal residents of the town, while others actually lend assistance, such as one that serves as a navigator when scavenging for items. Residents of the town will stop in at your store, and while they may come looking for specific things each time, they may purchase items with sentimental value to them, thus improving your relationship with that character.
Despite releasing to both 3DS and iOS, the game will not be identical. The iPhone and iPad edition will focus just on the item shop aspect of the game and will set up goals for you to achieve, such as selling so many apples in an hour and similar tasks. The 3DS edition will be more story driven by comparison, focusing on building relationships with the townspeople, getting married, and more. Both versions of Hometown Story will be releasing this Fall of 2013.