Title: Harvest Moon: Mad Dash
Publisher: Natsume, Inc.
Genre: Action, Arcade, Multiplayer, Puzzle
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 29/10/19
Price: £23.99 – Rapid Reviews were very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
Up there with the best of them…
In my household growing up, Natsume Inc. was up there with the best of them. Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town on the PSone provided hundreds of hours worth of gameplay for my friends and me through its upbeat nature and endless possibilities. For us, it was about so much more than that, though. It brought us together as we set out to achieve a common goal. We found ourselves designing layouts for our farm on bits of paper at school, to having business meetings where we decided our yearly financial goals: strategy and creativity were in abundance.
Fast forward some twenty years, and there is a lack of evidence to suggest that Natsume Inc. are close to recapturing the former glory of the Harvest Moon series. Many of the games just haven’t hit the mark, even though they are all built on the same premise. The same can be said for their latest venture, Harvest Moon: Mad Dash, which is a unique twist on the formula that still fails to capture that magic that made the early titles so endearing.
Gone is the long and detailed introduction into how you inherited your farm and all that must be done to restore it. Instead, after a short series of screenshots introducing the town and the sprites, you are presented with a map. Any immediate concerns that this has all the makings of a mobile game are justified, as this looks, sounds, feels and plays as though it has spent a couple of years on the iOS store and the Nintendo Switch seemed the logical next step for a quick buck.
The idea behind Harvest Moon: Mad Dash is that as a timer runs down, you must dash between crops to pick them up using A and set them down next to each other – again, using A. In doing so, the crops become bigger and once enough have been placed near to one another, you can harvest them using B. The left and right bumpers are used to rotate the crops to fit neatly with the others – sharing similarities to Tetris and harvesting the crops yields points. The aim of the game is to receive enough points to achieve the elusive three stars – mobile port, anyone?
As the levels progress, the number of crops on screen grows, as does the size and shape of the obstacles in the way. Animals may charge from one side of the screen to the other, or parts of the map make the land unavailable for planting. You may also be asked to complete an ‘order box’ where you harvest the crops to get extra points. After a period of success, you unlock ‘Power Mode’ whereby the crops grow at a quicker rate and are instantly ripe for harvesting. It stops time and offers a great way to earn points quickly.
While it shares some similarities with the likes of Overcooked for its fast-paced, local multiplayer action, this is where the comparisons end. Harvest Moon: Mad Dash is far from exciting and has a short shelf-life. Even those oh-so-helpful sprites from the games of old sharing their ‘Earth energy’ to turn things up a notch don’t detract from its unenjoyable gameplay. A lot has been done to ensure that progression across the levels is evident, and it does ramp up the action more with each new initiative that is introduced. That being said, it isn’t enough to draw you back in time and time again.
If my former self could see me playing this Harvest Moon title now, I would be shaking my head in disappointment at just how bad the fall from grace has been. At £23.99, Harvest Moon: Mad Dash is the epitome of cash, grab and disillusion while its core gameplay loop had some potential, its a mostly disappointing affair where the Harvest Moon moniker should not have been used.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Harvest Moon: Mad Dash from the Nintendo eShop on the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch/Harvest-Moon-Mad-Dash-1660566.html
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.