Out of nowhere, Natsume has announced Harvest Moon 64 for the Wii U Virtual Console. This was one of the most demanded N64 games that has never been available before, and it’s coming ONE WEEK before Nintendo puts the Wii U to bed and launches their next console, the Switch. Questions abound: why now? Why not just wait to put it on the Switch? Does the Switch even have a Virtual Console yet? (At this late date, with no word from Nintendo, we’re guessing no.)
Harvest Moon may have gotten started on the Super NES, but HM64 was the game that made the series famous. The template, the art style, the multiple girlfriends — it all started here. Everyone wanted the ability to buy it digitally, but it was never added to the Wii Virtual Console, and every time Natsume was asked about adding it to Wii U, they told people it was impossible for unexplained reasons. “We know how beloved the title is by fans, and we have tried everything possible to have it released on the Wii Virtual Console, but there is nothing that can be done,” said Natsume president Hiro Maekawa just two years ago.
For starved fans, there would seem to be just one solution: buy the original N64 cartridge. Except that’s not really an option either. Due to demand and a finite supply, it’s been one of the most expensive used carts to buy for years….and that’s not all. Even if you were to find a copy, Harvest Moon 64 is one of EIGHT unlucky N64 games that happen to use battery-backed memory saves instead of Flash chips. It won’t be long until the batteries die in all those carts, if it hasn’t already in some of them. There is also no currently known method of lifting and archiving save data from an N64 cart, so your game could disappear at any time.
Long story short, we have needed a cloud version of Harvest Moon 64 for quite a while. And Natsume ended up picking next Thursday of all days to put it onto a system barely anybody will have plugged in anymore. The risk is that, after seeing the sales numbers such a move will generate, they’ll say “oh well, guess no one wanted it after all” and cancel all plans to put it on more active consoles.
So to you, dear reader, I offer this plea: plug your Wii U back in, go to Virtual Console and download Harvest Moon 64. Even if you don’t know what Harvest Moon is, do it for your own favorite website. Yes, they could very well announce it for Switch the next week, but they could also not. It’s a risk we’re all going to have to take.