• Anyone who is a gamer knows the name of Yasuhiro Wada, he is the genius behind the ridiculously addictive games in the Harvest Moon franchise. So when a game pops up with his name on it then chances are it is going to be a good one. Well Hometown is that game, but it doesn’t have the depth or addictive nature of the Harvest Moon games. The basic idea is that you are a shop keeper due to the tragic passing of your gran. Your job is to place tables and then put items on these tables to sell. People come into your store, pay for them and leave. This is the core gameplay of Hometown Story and for the most part its fine. Not amazing or particularly groundbreaking but just fine.

    What makes this chore of selling items is the characters and charm this title has. Each customer is unique and has their own likes and dislikes. It is up to you as the savvy shop keeper to know who likes what and place those items on the table. I would say there are around 100 NPC here and all of them are actually pretty interesting. Now most of the gameplay happens in store but there is a massive land out there to explore. This massive land is pretty barren at first but as you start to increase your store size and gain popularity more houses will be built and more people will move in. The bottom screen is your map and does an ok job of guiding you through the world, but the bearings do go missing sometimes and you are left wondering at different directions from what the map says.

    The people that inhabit the town will give you side quests at particular intervals and timed events will occur. These missions are usually in the form of fetch quests but there are some interesting ones as well. As you explore you can also find items scattered around that you can pick up and sell in your shop. The issue is that there aren’t enough items to find and once you do they are in odd places on the floor. The US release of this title had a few issues, namely how long the story actually took to get going and the slow pace of the shop keeping mechanics. These have been addressed in the EU release and the story events now happen quicker. One aspect which perplexed me was the items you need to fulfill events pretty much always come to you in the form of a salesman selling them to you. So there is not a real need to go out and explore, you can conceivably sit in the shop and have things sold to you. However they have included a fishing aspect which is pretty cool and I did enjoy selling them at my store.

    The shop keeping aspect is done well but there are a few issues for me such the tables you place can only hold one item.  This I found to be odd as the items you can sell is limited based on the space. In the menu there is a list of the characters you have met and their favorite items so you can check this and place that item on the table(s). This does not guarantee a sale however so you have to be careful. Another weird gameplay mechanic is that if you keep the customers waiting in line you will get a bonus of multi sales. Graphically this is very pretty, the big eyes of the NPCs and the wonderful 3D feature plays very well into this title. The town’s various homes and shops are also detailed and varied enough to make you want to see them. The music here should have been fantastic as it’s from Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy) but if you listen to any song long enough then it loses its luster.

    Hometown Story is a game that tried to simplify the Harvest Moon series, with the idea being simple is better. It hasn’t really worked to the extent that the designers wanted though. It’s fun for a while to sell items in your store but after a while it does get slightly tedious especially given the nature of the customers and their interactions. Adding a fishing aspect was clever because you can sell them and it gives you something else to do besides selling stuff. Graphics are pretty and the character models are decent to get you immersed for a time. Ultimately how well this does is based on your love for doing simple tasks over and over again.

    Hometown Story - Review
    A decent attempt to bring shop management to game form. Falls flat in game mechanics but has charming characters
    OUR SCORE6.5
    Positives
    • Nice characters and graphics.
    Negatives
    • Very tedious doing the same thing over and over.
    • The map is a constant source of irritation.
    6.5Overall Score
    Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
    8.6

    About The Author

    UK Editor

    A gamer that loves to play games and write about them. Just living the dream.