E3 2019 Hands-on – Harvest Moon: Mad Dash

When I first received an invitation from Natsume to test their brand new Harvest Moon game, I had no idea what to expect. I certainly wasn’t a big fan of their last iteration of the franchise, the somewhat subpar Light of Hope, but was still looking forward to see what would be the next game in the series, since it feels like a brand new slice of life game is released every other week nowadays.

When I finally arrived at their booth, lo and behold, I wasn’t greeted by a new main entry in the franchise, but actually a spin-off. A fast-paced puzzle spin-off. Of all things I could have imagined coming from the Harvest Moon franchise, a puzzle game inspired by Overcooked was definitely in the bottom of the list. Yet, after playing it, I can safely say that this was a great decision by Natsume.

Mad Dash

I can make one hell of a pizza with these tomatoes.

Harvest Moon: Mad Dash is one of the simplest yet chaotic puzzle games I’ve played in a while. Your objective is to turn small seeds into massive crops in order to harvest them and earn points. You grow your crops by stacking similar seeds next to another, in a reverse Puyo-Puyo method: instead of getting destroyed, the crops actually get bigger. You can also stack up piles of hay and feed them to cows in order to collect their milk. That’s the core jist of the game: keep growing your crops and harvesting them until the timer runs out, hoping for a three-star ranking for all your troubles.

Mad Dash sounds simple, and well, it is, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have some challenging elements thrown into the mix. First of all, you will constantly be attacked by wild boars on later stages. If they run over your crops, they’ll be destroyed, and if they touch you, you’ll be stunned for a few seconds. That’s probably the first time I ever saw something or someone actually cause pain or harm to anyone else in a Harvest Moon games. It’s also quite hard to achieve a three-star score, as you’ll need to harvest a TON of crops in order to do so. You’ll most definitely need some friends in order to achieve three stars in each level, and thankfully enough, Mad Dash features couch co-op with each player using one joycon each.

Mad Dash

I thought harvesting crops was supposed to be relaxing. I’m glad it isn’t.

I had a blast with Harvest Moon: Mad Dash, even though it was the complete opposite of what I was expecting it to be. I never imagined Harvest Moon jumping into the world of puzzlers, but Natsume proved they definitely know what they’re doing. I’m absolutely looking forward to the final release slated for later on this year.