"A key element of the game is to make the shop large and make profit, but it's not the point. For example, you can find some junk somewhere, but choose to display it in the shop. It doesn't matter if you price it high or low - it's junk to many people.
"But one day, a person comes into your shop and finds the junk, and says, 'This is something I lost a long time ago, something I got from my father as a present.' There's big value for him in that junk."
Top of the Pop(ulation)
This focus on the effect of a shopkeeper on their customers is central. With an initial population of 10 (out of around 100 possibilities) that grows as your shop does, you'll be getting to know the wants and needs of every citizen intimately - backed up by the fact that you benefit in a gaming sense as they do in a personal one.
"The point is that as a shopkeeper it's important to make profit," Wada explains, "but it's more important to make people happy with those priceless goods. The shopkeeper is a gatekeeper to goods, but they don't necessarily decide the true value of them for people."
It adds an element of social puzzling - getting to know the townspeople, finding out what they want more than anything and managing to give them just that is the true goal, ultimately leading to life-changing decisions. Which sounds a tad more involved than nailing a third successive wheat harvest. That desire to improve on Harvest Moon is at the forefront of Wada's mind, in terms of gameplay and message.
"In Harvest Moon, you can become friends with someone by repeatedly giving them, say, crops," he says. "Giving things away to particular people - that's how you became closer. But I find that it's different in real life. If you give someone something they really want, you don't need to repeat the action - you instantly become closer. I wanted that to be in Hometown Story."
That distinction between success through repetition and success through a single, meaningful act is at the heart of his change in style. We get the feeling that helping us all care that little bit more about gaming's humble shopkeepers will only be the first of the latter.