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Retail therapy: Wada's 'Project Happiness' is a shopkeeper's life


Harvest Moon creator Yasuhiro Wada and publisher Natsume revealed their next project together at E3. "Project Happiness" is a new IP in which you run a shop in a small village, buying and selling items to improve the shop and learning the stories of all the customers who come in over the years. Natsume later revealed plans to put it on 3DS and mobile; during an interview at E3, Wada said it was planned for a "variety of platforms."

Wada recruited top talent to create his new game. Character designs, for both humans and the adorable "sprite" creatures that inhabit the world, are by Pokemon character designer Atsuko Nishida. The music, including that heard in the above trailer, is composed by legendary Final Fantasy series composer Nobuo Uematsu.

Like Harvest Moon, Project Happiness reflects an interest in a quiet life in a small town, and in getting to know your neighbors as you improve your own standing in the community. "There are about ten people to start with in this village, but eventually you'll get to a hundred people in total," Wada said. "30 out of 100 are going to have their own story. Each character has their own key item." Identifying the correct item and selling it to the right villager allows the player to learn more of that character's personal story.

Later in the game, you'll be able to grant one of seven wishes to villagers. "Because you've spent very much time with the villagers – you care for them, you feel affection, you're attached to them – that is going to make your choice very difficult," Wada said.

Deciding which wish to grant will force the player to consider what would make the villagers happy, and what would make you happy. "This game makes you ponder what life is really about, what happiness means. I want all the players to think about what happiness means."

Natsume president Hiro Maekawa already knows his wish for the game. "The Harvest Moon franchise, which has been around for 15 years, is one of the most popular franchises for the entire family," Maekawa said. "Very peaceful games. We are expecting to raise Project Happiness in the same way we raised Harvest Moon. I don't know how long it will take. We have a strong belief in ourselves that this peaceful, friendly game will have big potential to grow in the same way as Harvest Moon." I asked for clarification: does that growth refer to a multiple-game franchise over the years? "I hope," Wada said.

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