Xbox Game The Harvest returns from the wastelands to Windows Phone 8

When Windows Phone 8 reared its shiny head back in late 2012, there was much cause for celebration. Although the new OS switched kernels from the one used by Windows Phone 7, it retained the ability to run most pre-Windows Phone 8 apps and games. That said, some very important games did not run on the new OS: more than 20 mobile Xbox Games! Considering how many gamers came to Windows Phone specifically for Xbox Games, those compatibility issues among came as quite a blow.

Microsoft and some of the creators of the affected games worked to restore compatibility where they could. One year after the Windows Phone 8 launch, 12 games gained compatibility or received new compatible versions. 20 games remained incompatible however, including some important titles like Fable Coin Golf and Tentacles. Well, it’s been a long time coming but one more Xbox Game just became available again on Windows Phone 8: The Harvest from Luma Arcade.

Back where it belongs, warts and all

The Harvest is one of those extremely rare things: a high-quality game that is exclusive to Windows Phone, Windows 8, and Steam. Most of the exclusives that anybody cares about eventually became available on iOS or Android, including Wordament, Tentacles, Dodonpachi Maximum, and Kinectimals. But The Harvest hasn't jumped ship yet, and the folks at Luma Arcade apparently never gave up on Windows Phone even after an excessively long period of incompatibility.

Actually, although The Harvest works with Windows Phone 8 again, it still suffers from one little incompatibility issue. The story videos won’t play. After starting a new game, you will receive an error message when the intro video pops up. Don’t fret, though. The message quickly goes away and  you can then proceed to play the game itself; that’s the important part.

Considering that the video playback issue is reportedly the reason that The Harvest was pulled from Windows Phone 8 in the first place and the Store says the game was last updated in 2011, it seems that the only thing that’s changed is someone at Microsoft decided to let Windows Phone 8 players download the game again. Gee, thanks guys! In all seriousness, it’s better to have the game with broken videos than not have the game at all.

Not a farming game

As for The Harvest itself, it’s an action-RPG set in a distant future in which aliens have conquered humanity. Thanks to the development of armored mech suits, the remaining pockets of humans finally have a chance to fight back.

Players can select from three unique mechs (two must be unlocked by beating the game), each with its own stats and abilities. You’ll have to play through the game with all three characters in order to earn the full 200 GamerScore, but that can be done in less than 10 hours – no biggie.

Simply touch anywhere onscreen to move your character and then tap enemies or objects to interact with them. Even though The Harvest was written as a Windows Phone 7 game and thus runs at a 480 x 800 resolution, it still looks quite good even on newer devices like the Lumia 1520. Chalk that up to quality art design and a good 3D engine.

Although The Harvest never left Windows Phone 7, the world has moved on from that OS. Windows Phone 8 (and now Windows Phone 8.1) are the future. It’s great to have The Harvest back, especially for gamers who purchased it prior to switching over to Windows Phone 8 and lost access to their game. Let’s hope it remains available despite the broken video playback! My advice is to buy it while you can, just in case Microsoft changes its mind.

Now if the big MS would just make The Harvest a universal app so we didn’t have to buy it on both Windows Phone and Windows 8…

  • The Harvest – Windows Phone 7 and 8 – 86 MB – $6.99 – Store Link
  • The Harvest – Windows 8 and RT – 213 MB – $6.99 – Store Link

QR: The Harvest

Thanks to @opticon9 for the tip!

Paul Acevedo

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!