I’ve been a fan of Natsume games for a few years now. For a while there was really only one game franchise I was interested in: Harvest Moon! I’ve blogged about my various HM games plenty of times in the past. I find them to be a lot of fun! So when I saw Natsume’s huge booth at E3 last June, I was ecstatic to see which new games were coming out!
Hometown Story is the latest 3DS title from Natsume (aside from Rune Factory 4. I dunno, I never got into Rune Factory. Maybe I should?) and it looked extremely cute from the game demo I played at E3. In fact, Hometown Story’s characters were designed by an animator who works on Pokemon games, so I knew I was going to like the art style before I even touched the game. I think that’s how most people felt. Until they started PLAYING the game, that is!
Unfortunately, Hometown Story lacks direction. It lacks any sort of explanation at all. The game manual does little to explain the facets of the game. There is absolutely no walkthrough or guide to speak of. I joined a Hometown Story group on Facebook and found that everyone else is suffering from the same problem. In Hometown Story, you’re on your own… quite literally.
In Hometown Story, you don’t grow veggies, chop trees, catch bugs and fish… all you need to do is stand in your shop and sell things. When you run out of things to sell, you wait for a vendor merchant to come into your shop (2PM in-game) and he’ll sell you more things. If you’re lucky, you might stumble upon some wild edibles if you spare some time to walk around town, but they are hard to find.
The game is basically like a cross between the bazaar aspect of Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar and the shop-running aspects of games like Cake Mania and Diner Dash. Only, in all of those games, your daily tasks are pretty transparent. In Hometown Story, what you do is up to you. However, there are quests that you must complete to further yourself along in the story. Unfortunately, there is no in-game list of tasks, so if you didn’t take notes on the quest when it happened, you are pretty much out of luck. Because not only will you have to go blindly to find out who wants to buy some particular item, but you can’t even consult an online guide walkthrough… because it doesn’t exist. GameFAQs has nothing. Fogu doesn’t cover this game because it’s not a Harvest Moon game (that was kinda smart of them). There’s no Prima guide to buy in stores.
Another issue I have with this game is it’s complete lack of connectivity features. There’s no WIFI, no SpotPass, no StreetPass. You can’t have friends or visit other people’s shops. Like I said before, in Hometown Story, you are on your own.
Despite all of these issues, part of me refuses to give up on this game. I’ve only played about a week in-game so far, and it’s not been what I’d expected. The online group that I joined doesn’t give me much hope that I’ll ever figure out what’s going on in this game. I figure I should play through at least a month in game and see if my luck changes. But I won’t keep my hopes up. This might be a trade in. 😦