This past weekend, I spent a lot of time thinking about Mount Fuji. Not the real one, but a pixelated version of the mountain range that’s available as a sightseeing opportunity in the new Apple Arcade release Japanese Rural Life Adventure. It’s a cozy game that’s all about making your way in a small mountainside town, giving you a long list of tasks to accomplish, with that beautiful Mount Fuji view pretty far down the line. It has become an important goal for me — for the past three days, I haven’t been able to stop playing, knowing that every cucumber I harvested and every fish I caught was going toward reaching that summit.
Developed by Japanese studio Game Start, the game is very much in the same vein as Harvest Moon or its more modern contemporary, Stardew Valley. That means adorable pixel art, a wholesome premise, and very laid-back gameplay. Here, the story involves you, a young person, moving to a remote cabin just outside of a small town. Of course, the cabin and surrounding landscape are a wreck, so in order to get by, you’ll need to fix things up and become self-sufficient. Eventually, you’ll get access to the wilderness around your property as well as the nearby town, which is populated almost entirely by elderly residents who need your help with, well, everything.
Like most similar games, Rural Life Adventure gives you a huge list of tasks to complete, but there’s no real pressure to get them done in a hurry. Initially, your focus is on your own home: planting fruit trees, getting things cleaned up for crops, rebuilding the house, making a well, and the like. You earn money by selling vegetables, fish, and other goods, which you can then reinvest in your house and tools. There’s an energy system, but it’s pretty nonintrusive; when you run out, you can simply take a nap or eat some grilled fish to get a boost.