30th September 2010; By KnucklesSonic8
Not too long ago, we were able to catch up with the guys over at Natsume for a quick Q&A. Graham Markay was kind enough to respond to our questions. Read on as we inquire about their current approach towards WiiWare, some of the titles they've released thus far, and what their plans are for the future.
us about some of your titles and where your focus has been as of
Graham: Thank you very much for giving us the chance to tell you more about some
of our WiiWare titles! Most of our WiiWare titles have been based on our
established franchises, such as Reel Fishing and Harvest Moon. It was our
goal to offer something that both new and veteran players would enjoy. In
addition, we also have Moki Moki, which we’re very excited about. It has
always been our focus to offer games that we feel will make everyone happy
and that the whole family can enjoy.
Let's discuss your first WiiWare game for a bit. Harvest Moon: My Little Shop can definitely be classified as a spin-off
title for fans of the series. Where did the idea for this project spring
Well, it's a spinoff of the Harvest Moon series, but I think that fans and
newcomers to the Harvest Moon series will both be able to enjoy it
equally. You certainly don't need any prior knowledge of the Harvest Moon
series to enjoy the game. There are plenty of returning characters who
fans will get a kick out of, but it's set in an all-new town and the story
is focused on a fun new group of characters.
Our idea for Harvest Moon's first foray into WiiWare was to make a game
that was a little more tightly focused than the standard Harvest Moon
experience, and something that took the gameplay in a new direction. So we
de-emphasized the farming elements a little and shifted the focus to the
experience of running a shop. And running the shop means taking on a lot
of mini challenges that'll have you swinging, shaking, pointing, and
tilting the Wii Remote in a variety of creative ways to make towering ice
cream cones, fresh and delicious juice, and wildly decorated eggs.
It skews a little younger than the average Harvest Moon game, since
there's a bit less reading and a bigger emphasis on pick-up-and-play
minigames. Players of all ages should be able to enjoy the fast and fun
Surely there were risks involved in releasing this title. Were you fearful
at all about the response the game would get (particularly from those who
have never played a Harvest Moon game before)?
The Harvest Moon games have always been very welcoming to newcomers, so
that's an area where we weren't too worried. When the game was in
development, I think a bigger concern was that we might lose too much of
the Harvest Moon flavor that fans know and love. Seeing the final product,
though, we're very happy with the balance the game strikes. The new
gameplay elements deliver the fast-paced pick-up-and-play fun that people
expect from a WiiWare game, but the crop growing, animal raising, and
bright and colorful atmosphere all keep the game feeling distinctly like a
Harvest Moon title.
Well, we already have two "proper" Harvest Moon games on the Wii, Tree of
Tranquility and Animal Parade. For WiiWare, we wanted to do something a
little different, something that was more focused and better suited to the
kind of fast and fun pick-up-and-play experience that most people are
looking for in a WiiWare title.
Why did you decide to include DLC in the final product?
DLC was a way to offer players who were enjoying the game the chance to
expand their experience and get more life out of it. It was a great way to
be able to throw in some more fun characters and exciting options for
expanding the shop.
Of course! We'd actually love to have demos for all of our WiiWare games.
Moki Moki looks like a simple, yet fun little game. Can you tell us what
inspired you guys to bring this to the service?
When we were looking at titles to pick up and publish, Moki Moki was one
that quickly caught the attention of our whole office. It looked pretty
simple at first, but once people picked it up and started playing, they
didn't want to put it down. The level designs are wildly imaginative, and
we kept playing just to see what sort of wacky challenges the game was
going to throw at us next. It's just got that old-school appeal where the
gameplay is extremely simple to grasp, but the places it goes from there
are endlessly imaginative.
What did you try to include to motivate the average player to keep coming
The game has 100 levels, and every one delivers a pretty unique new
challenge, so conquering each level should take an average player a good
long while. And it’s definitely worth it to see what sort of wild and
imaginative challenges the game is going to throw at you next. And once
you do beat every level, there's that old-school appeal of going back and
trying to best your high score. And Moki Moki actually gives you two
scores to beat: you can aim to improve your best time, or try to make it
through the level while losing fewer Moki.
expectations with the title pushing into development?
We knew the series has a lot of loyal fans, so we thought it
would do fairly well, but I think it's safe to say that the game's runaway
success has been a thoroughly pleasant surprise.
How do you feel about the response towards the game? Why do you think the
game has been doing so well for so many months?
Obviously we couldn't be happier with the game's success. Fishing is a
natural fit for the Wii Remote, and I think Reel Fishing's reputation for
delivering a top-notch fishing experience time and time again certainly
helped the sales of Reel Fishing Challenge. There was definitely an
element of luck in there as well; it was the right game at the right price
at the right time.
Why do you think the game has been doing so well for so many months? How
have sales been faring for each of the titles you've released thus far?
We are happy with the performance of each of our WiiWare titles, but that
is not to say they couldn’t be better. It has always been our formula to
offer unique and entertaining games, therefore all of our WiiWare titles
set themselves apart from the other WiiWare games offered.
There are a
lot of great WiiWare offered today, but we feel our titles are great for
players looking for something different.
Currently we are working on a WiiWare title that will be released later
this year. Moving forward we hope to offer a variety of unique and
entertaining titles for WiiWare.
Do you have any plans to pursue development on the DSiWare platform? Thank
you very much for your time! Would you like to say anything to our
We have been looking into DSiWare and hope to have something in the future.
We'd like to thank Graham, Tina, and the rest of the Natsume team for taking time out of their busy schedules to answer our questions. We truly appreciate it! Thanks again, and we look forward to seeing more projects from you guys in the near future. Natsume really does offer WiiWare experiences that are different from the norm, and that in itself is commendable. Have you tried any of their WiiWare titles yet? Why not try one today!