Last year at the Natsume E3 booth, I saw a Rune Factory game, a Harvest Moon game, and a nifty little DS rhythm game starring a little girl dancing to get her soul back.
Oddly enough, I had a very similar experience this year! I'll put everything after the jump so as not to take up valuable real estate on the front page!
First I saw an action RPG called Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny. It's due out this fall on both the PlayStation 3 and the Wii. You'll travel the world map by controlling a giant golem called Ymir. He's your home base in the game, and he's mobile. But you'll also plant stuff in him and stable your animals. Of course, you'll be able to plant sprouts while actual crops are planted by the monsters that you've captured. And there's also item and weapon crafting, plus cooking and competitions, the usual stuff you'd expect to find in a Harvest Moon RPG.
The unusual twist here is that the two lead characters, Aden and Sonja, suddenly find themselves trapped in the same body. This sets them out on their adventure as they try to find a way to break the curse. Naturally, you're in the boy's body, but she's still a proper character. Oh, and while there's also a romance subplot where you can choose a spouse, Aden gets a wider variety of women to choose from. Poor Sonja gets only two, and they both look lame! It doesn't seem fair!
The main difference between the two versions is that obviously the PS3 version will have better graphics than the Wii, although the PS3 will also have online rankings for the mini-games so you can see how your scores rack up against your friends'.
The newest Harvest Moon title, The Tale of Two Towns, is heading to both the DS and 3DS this time around. There's no interconnectivity between the games, though. They're basically the same game on two different platforms, with the 3DS version having slightly better graphics as well as an exclusive mini-game and item trading with StreetPass.
There's two towns to choose from, one being more European and one Eastern. You'll pick a boy or girl to play as and start your farming, breeding and cooking. The main goal of the game is to reunite the two towns, who have been feuding over whose food is better. Sidequests are requests posted by townsfolk on the town bulletin board in what they're calling the "Request System."
Honestly, I don't know that there's going to be much difference between the two platforms, so if you're a Harvest Moon fan with only a DS, you won't be missing out too much. I took a look at the 3DS version, and because the graphics are still 2D sprites, there's very little 3D effect to the game at all. Honestly, it was just the map and the icons in the corner that had any depth compared to the background. Other than that, the 3D is so subtle as to be almost nonexistent.
Last year, one of my favorite hidden surprises of E3 was the DS rhythm game Gabrielle's Ghostly Groove. But it seemed to disappear off the face of the Earth, and when I inquired about its status, I was told they were still working on it. Now I see why, as the game has been rejiggered to play on the new 3DS instead!
It's the same basic game, although they've added some mini-games that use the gyroscope. And since they want you to be able to watch the 3D screen, you won't have the usual multiple dots and lines to tap and trace on the touch screen. No, in order to let you enjoy the 3D visuals, all you have to do is tap the large circle on the touch screen instead. The icons you need are also on the top screen. Of course, it's not as simple as it sounds. I tried some levels, and first you have to tap, but you'll also slide and flick. All in time with the music.
Sadly, the music is no longer the fun remixes of classical pieces. It seems to be mostly just generic electronic tunes. But the graphics are still wonderfully adorable and quirky, and they've even got a fashion show mini-game! You can unlock all kinds of outfits and items so you can play dress-up with Gabrielle and then enter her in a spooky fashion show! Come on that's gonna be awesome!
There are four monsters to dance with, and each one has their own mini-game. There's six places to visit, and 117 dances you can play on Easy, Normal and Impossible. So there should be a lot to do when Gabrielle's Ghostly Groove 3D hits the 3DS in July of this year. Oh, and if you feel like taking a break, there's also a Dance Theater, where you can just sit back and watch the groovy ghoulies dance for your entertainment!