November Community Game-Along: Natsume

Natsume Month Chic Pixel Community Game Along

As always, a new month has completely snuck up on me! I was so busy enjoying everyone’s kusoge playthroughs for October that I completely forgot to announce November’s Game-Along theme. Luckily, I think this month will be pretty laid back for us busy folk, because November is all about Natsume games.

Not that “laid back” is a bad thing, but Natsume is by far most famous for Harvest Moon (now published by XSEED as Story of Seasons), and you can’t get much more laid back than that. So grab a Natsume game and start sharing your experiences on social media with #NatsumeMonth! In the interest of making this as accessible as possible, both titles developed and published by Natsume are eligible for this month’s Game-Along. Here are just a few notable items they have in their roster:

Rune Factory 3 key art

Rune Factory series (various) – If you’re looking for something a little more action-packed than Harvest Moon‘s low key farming, the Rune Factory series adds RPG fantasy elements to the mix. While the latest title in the series, Rune Factory 4, was published by XSEED Games on 3DS, all previous games were published by Natsume. If fantasy farming sounds up your alley, be sure to give this adorable series a try! 

Yumi's Odd Odyssey 3DS screenshot

Yumi’s Odd Odyssey (Nintendo 3DS) – I don’t think anyone could have imaged that a game in the Umihara Kawase series would finally get an English release over 20 years since it debuted in Japan. Originally released as Sayonara Umihara Kawase in Japan, Natsume gets full credit for being the first company to bring over this Umihara Kawase game, which prides itself on a unique fishing rod platforming mechanic and intensely difficult levels. You can now find the game on both PSN and Steam, but to be a true #NatsumeMonth participant, you’ll need to spring for the 3DS version.

Gabrielle's Ghostly Groove 3D screenshot

Gabrielle’s Ghostly Groove 3D (Nintendo 3DS) – Now this is one severely under-appreciated game, in my humble opinion. While we may be past Halloween, this spooky cute title is perfect for those who love kawaii characters coupled with ghoulish things such as bats and zombies. The rhythm game itself may be a bit easy for the more mature crowd, but I guarantee you’ll be too enamoured with its cuteness to mind all that much!

Legend of the River King GBC title screen

Legend of the River King series (various) – Ok, so maybe farming isn’t your cup of tea. How about fishing? If so, have I got a series for you! The Legend of the River King and and its sequel are both available on the 3DS Virtual Console if you’ve never had the chance to try one of these intriguing fishing RPGs. The first title is also relatively short, so if you’re looking for something fun but concise to play this month, look no further. Those after something slightly more modern may want to hunt down a copy of River King: Mystic Valley for the DS.

A-Train 3D City Simulator 3DS

A-Train: City Simulator (Nintendo 3DS) – If farming and fishing just don’t suit your style, Natsume has yet another genre up their sleeve. I won’t admit to fully understanding what exactly is going on in A-Train, but I’ve heard great things about this train-centric city simulation game. Rather than directly being involved in your city’s growth like in SimCityA-Train is focused entirely around your ability to manage a transport company. I’d love to hear more impressions of this one, so let me know if you pick it up!

This month, I think I’m finally going to take a look at one of the Rune Factory games in my backlog. If you have any other Natsume game suggestions, leave them in the comments!

About Anne Lee

Also known as apricotsushi. Anne can be written with the kanji for apricot (杏), and sushi was the most quintessentially Japanese thing I could think of when I was 13, resulting in my goofy, albeit memorable, nickname.

  • VelvetDespair

    A-Train series is developed by Artdink, the 3DS game is the only version published by Natsume. A-Train is a rather complex game. In A-Train you are the CEO of a transportation company. Despite this setup, your company will work in other fields as well. Your goal is to earn a certain amount of money, and to accomplish this you must build a transport network and construct subsidiaries to promote development in the area. As you construct a rail network and various subsidiaries (factories, warehouses, hotels, apartment buildings, office buildings, restaurants etc.) you influence other people and companies to move to the area. The area will begin to be populated with other buildings built by other companies. With a growing city you get to take advantage of the people’s need to travel by setting up passenger and freight trains. It’s very important to schedule your trains in a way that will maximize their profits. Your passenger trains probably won’t have any passengers in the middle of the night, so you should set them to run only during the day. Similarly with freight trains they should run only when the factories operate, so during daytime and only on weekdays. You need the factories to produce materials which are stored in warehouses. You use the materials to build your subsidiaries. The materials are also used by other construction sites within the warehouse’s effective area. Any surplus materials can be sold to other cities. You can also attempt to reach the money goal faster by playing the stock market. A-Train 3D is fun, but it is just as complex and difficult as the main titles in the series on PC. I’ve been playing A-Train 9 Version 4.0 Japan Train Simulator which released on Steam back in October published by Degica. If you like the smaller form DS release, you should look into the full-sized PC game for a greater challenge with mapping tools and it’s own unique and challenging scenarios. Unlike the 3DS game, A-Train 9 Ver. 4.0 even features some licensed Japanese trains.

    Also there’s a typo in the article, instead of #NatsumeMonth it reads #NastumeMonth

    • Thanks for the detailed explanation of A-Train! It sounds complex but I bet it’s very rewarding 🙂

      And thanks for spotting that typo! I’ll fix it now

  • Wisdom Ming

    I would recommend Chulip for the PS2 as well. The game is charming, yet diffiucult, and has cute character designs.

    • Awesome! I’ve always wanted to play Chulip

  • Thanks for the recommendations! I think that Gabrielle’s Ghostly Groove looks too cute, definitely something I’ll be checking out!

    • You’re welcome! It’s jumped up in price a little on Amazon but if you hunt around you should be able to find it pretty cheap (since it’s not very popular haha). There are some iOS Gabrielle games but I believe they’re match three instead of rhythm

  • HotLimit

    My personal picks for Natsume Novermber would be the 2D Gundam fighting games. Endless Duel has a special place in my heart (a game I loved LONG before I was ever a Gundam fan), as do the Gundam Seed fighters for GBA (which actually came out in America!!). Again, you don’t need to be a Gundam fan to enjoy these, they are interesting on their own.

    I’m a huge fan of the Kawa no Nushi Tsuri (Legend of the River King) games, but my most recommended titles in the series were not actually Natsume games. The GB games (3DS virtual shop) suffice if you’re looking for a taste though.

    Finally, there were some cool Medabot fighting games that came out way back when (can’t remember if they were GBC or GBA). They were like the Custom Robo games, but with a Medabot theme (obviously).

    • Thanks for all the awesome suggestions! I’ve never tried any of the 2D Gundam fighting games myself, but they sound really fun! I’m curious which River King games are your favorite, even if they’re not Natsume titles. Do you mind sharing?

      • HotLimit

        My favorites are Kawa no Nushi Tsuri 2 and Umi no Nushi Tsuri (SNES), which both received remakes for the PS1.. Both remakes are on the Japanese PSN game archives shop. They are kind of like cult classics in Japan (along with the second N64 game), I couldn’t find a physical copy of any of them!

        There is also an interesting GBA game, “Kawa no Nushi Tsuri 5” that had a completely different art direction, 3/4 isometric view, and a goofy story where you had to help people in these fantasy worlds that were turned into fish… it was the easiest and simplest of the games by far, but neat nonetheless (insanely better than the DS and PS2 games, which were a broken mess). I also couldn’t find a copy of it in Japan!!!