Nintendojo At The 22nd Annual Natsume Holiday Party

We ate food and talked all things Harvest Moon, secret projects, returning IPs, and more!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 12/12/2018 06:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

It was the second time in as many years that I was fortunate enough to walk through the doors of┬áSakae Sushi & Grill in Burlingame, California for Natsume’s annual holiday party. The posh, Micheline-recommended eatery is resplendent, with its warm, lavish interior providing a most luxurious respite from the cold outside its doors that night. With contributor Angela Marrujo and her boyfriend Zack in tow, the trio of us were immediately greeted by Hiro Maekawa (the President of Natsume) and his wife, both of whom were incredibly gracious and friendly as they excitedly shook our hands and directed us to the plethora of food on offer.

It felt as though every open surface had a platter of food on it, from sushi to roast beef, all of which was incredibly delicious. A host of industry members were there, including Nintendo Minute hosts Krysta Yang and Kit Ellis who were there representing the Japanese company for the first time at the event. Everyone was in a cheery, celebratory mood as we all feasted, drank, and eventually gathered around Mr. Maekawa for his yearly speech. Maekawa was quite enthused to announce that Harvest Moon: Light of Hope had not only exceeded sales expectations, but that the title also now holds the sales record for the series overall.

It’s an impressive feat for the game, which marked the first time that Natsume released a Harvest Moon title across multiple platforms at the same time, a tactic that Maekawa believes played a role in its success. He would go on to state that Natsume’s investment in digital storefronts like Nintendo’s eShop have been incredibly fruitful for the company. Although he didn’t provide specific sales numbers for these titles nor for Light of Hope, he was quite adamant that the initial investment into getting these games available for download paled in comparison to the dividends it was now yielding. Things are looking decidedly up for Natsume as the company heads into 2019.

Prior to Maekawa’s speech, Graham Markay, the Vice President of Operations for Natsume, had walked over to my small group as we were eating our food and chatted with us a bit about Natsume’s plans for the future. Although he couldn’t divulge any names, Graham did share word with us that Nastume is very much looking into resuscitating some of its old IPs. Whether this means re-releases of old games like Shadow of the Ninja (which was specifically name-dropped) or entire reinventions remains to be seen, but it’s news that should definitely excite longtime fans of the company. If Wild Guns Reloaded is any indicator, Natsume absolutely knows how to do a modern spin on retro games.

The festivities ended, as is Natsume tradition, with the carving of an enormous, multiple thousands of dollars-worth tuna which was then made into sushi for the rest of us to eat. It was the conclusion to an immensely fun night, but as Angela pointed out to me while we all made our way to the car, it was particularly fascinating in how much the theme of family was part of the festivities. It didn’t feel like a corporate holiday party either this year or last, instead coming across more like a genuine gathering of family. We’ll have a little bit more to reveal from the party soon, but in the meantime we’d like to thank Natsume for having us and look forward to the games that the company will be bringing to us all in 2019 and beyond.

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