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It Really Is a ‘Wonderful Life’: ‘Harvest Moon’ Remake’s Expanded LGBTQ+ Options

Nami, may I count the ways ...

The villagers for a feast.

The September 13 Nintendo Direct presentation was full of exciting news, jam-packed into an hour of announcements and release dates. The variety of content was pretty remarkable, especially considering past Directs where nothing really notable happened at all.

Of course, most people are probably most excited for the release date and official title for the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. And while I share in that excitement, I was personally more excited for the announcement that the beloved Harvest Moon title A Wonderful Life is getting a remake via the Story of Seasons franchise.

More than that, though, they’re finally giving us the update we’ve been asking for for years: They’ve expanded their inclusivity options! The game allows players to play as a male, female, or non-binary protagonist, which won’t have any impact on which characters the player is able to strike up a romance with or marry.

Wow! Wow, wow, wow! This is a lot, and it’s also exactly what we’ve been asking for, so it feels like even more.

Of course, Story of Seasons has been working hard to try to modernize the franchise for years. Their latest title, Pioneers of Olive Town, and their other remake, Friends of Mineral Town, both allowed for same-sex marriage. This is a huge deal coming from an IP based out of Japan, where inclusion of homosexuality in video games is still sort of touch-and-go. But while this isn’t a win to sneeze at, I’m especially excited about the fact that we FINALLY have non-binary representation. Even many Western titles have yet to implement this kind of representation, so the fact that Story of Seasons was able to pull this off is nothing short of amazing. And hopefully, it’ll set the bar for future titles!

If you don’t know what the heck Story of Seasons is, it’s basically the “real” modern Harvest Moon franchise, made up of the original devs who decided to set out on their own for greater creative control. While game publisher Natsume kept the name Harvest Moon, the spirit of the series went on to live in Story of Seasons.

Of course, this transition hasn’t been entirely smooth. For a while, Story of Seasons really relied on nostalgia to make sales, yet found itself outpaced by more innovative modern farm-sims, like Stardew Valley. As a result, its latest title, Pioneers of Olive Town, heavily fell short, with barely any replay value and an incredibly tiresome gameplay loop. There’s also the fact that playable character’s marriage candidates—one of the biggest draws of the series—have continually been drawn in a soft chibi art-style that honestly makes them look underage. And considering you can have kids with these supposed adults, it just feels … weird.

I have hopes for A Wonderful Life, however, because it was already a phenomenal game, a series favorite, and it’s been sorely needing a modern touch for a while now. As well as this, the revamped art of the marriage candidates looks absolutely fantastic:

The girls didn’t need too much TLC, because they already looked great. But I think it’s neat that they updated Nami’s design, to more closely fit the look of the modern nomad (as opposed to her old look, which was a bit outdated.).

The men, though … ohhh, the men. Those poor boys were sorely in need of a makeover. They originally weren’t even designed to be attractive, because the first version of A Wonderful Life only allowed for straight male protagonists, and therefore, only the girls needed to be cute. The original versions of the “rival” bachelors, therefore, were crusty.

I mean, Rock (the guy in the middle) looks relatively unchanged, but it’s fine because some people are into the squeaky-clean surf-priest look. The ones who really needed help were Gustafa and Marlin (left and right, respectively), and good lord, they did right by them. Gustafa still has his Snufkin spirit intact, just with more youth to him, and less of the energy of an environmental-sciences professor in his late-thirties who likes calling his students “old souls.” Although I think they should have kept his big nose. And Marlin? Marlin??? Oh, Marlin … they finally made you the Sexyman you were always meant to be. Just please don’t be so weird about Celia this time around.

In any case, y’all don’t even know how excited I am to date Nami. She was my middle school girlcrush before I even knew I was queer. I can’t wait to give her nomadic ass a place to crash, feed her lentil soup, listen to old Dear Nora CDs together. It’s the domestic farm fantasy of my dreams.

Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life will release Summer 2023 for Nintendo Switch. While you wait, be sure to catch up on other similar titles, like Rune Factory 5 and My Time at Portia!

(featured image: Marvelous)

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Madeline (she/her) is a staff writer with a focus on AANHPI and mixed-race representation. She enjoys covering a wide variety of topics, but her primary beats are music and gaming. Her journey into digital media began in college, primarily regarding audio: in 2018, she started producing her own music, which helped her secure a radio show and co-produce a local history podcast through 2019 and 2020. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz summa cum laude, her focus shifted to digital writing, where she's happy to say her History degree has certainly come in handy! When she's not working, she enjoys taking long walks, playing the guitar, and writing her own little stories (which may or may not ever see the light of day).