Review by AsWeFall
"A sweet, sweet fantasy."
Anyone would be stunned when they heard of the Japanese premiere of this game months ago. Harvest Moon...? With.... R...P...G aspects? Yes, it was a bit quirky and strange when people heard of it, but it still caused a stir of speculation, especially among the Harvest Moon series fans. Still yet, this amalgamation of two completely unrelated factors, swords and farming, made quite a masterpiece.
You begin the game to find yourself as an unknown young man named RAGUNA (by default) who lost his memory, wandered off for days on end, and is miraculously saved by a girl named Mist. Your death is prolonged as soon as the girl hands you some bread and water, but only after she hands you a hoe and a watering can. Why? It doesn't make sense to me either. Apparently you looked like a niche farmer, and she would rather give you some farm equipment than sensibly giving you some food and water. This is where your story begins.
From the beginning, the storyline tells you that this no longer revolves around the usual boy in a blue cap.
And so forth, the ratings.
There are still old conformities everywhere and changes as well. You begin on your farm as always, and you are assigned to take care of it, grow crops, socialize with the neighbors and townsfolk, and tend to your animals. It's basically Harvest Moon gameplay material that's been passed down from game to game. There are little shortcuts around that let you switch around what you're holding, what tool you've equipped, and what magic spell you use without actually going into your inventory to grab it out. This is especially versatile when it comes to shipping crops and other items, and making quick escapes from caves.
The movement in the game is similar to other Harvest Moon games, using the directional pad to move, and holding the shoulder button to run. As a nice bonus, the game also makes use of the touch screen by allowing you to harvest crops and navigate through your fields by tapping the square that you want to tend to, which is especially useful for taking care of business with harvestable crops and cutting down on the monotony of repetitively pressing the same buttons to gather your crops in a bunch.
Interactivity with the villagers is as the same as ever, allowing you to befriend and love the female villagers, and with the others, raise friendships. Naturally with those friendships come benefits, albeit small ones. Still, it's one of the things that makes the game follow the Harvest Moon trend. Where would the Harvest Moon be without a girlfriend/wife?
There's another twist as well, and that lies with the RPG portion of the game. A lot of the game requires going into caves, battling the monsters and the summoning machines, and ultimately defeating the final boss at the end. The combat is simply a hack and slash, plus magic spells and charge-up shots. Simple, yet still quite entertaining. Aside from the tedious moments of gathering crops, everything else is fun.
Yes, it's an improvement. A good improvement, since the RPG factor pretty much jumbles everything that you've known to be a Harvest Moon plot around. However, it is to my displeasure that the deal's still the same until you clear the caves; talk, interact, attend the festivals in town, and manage your crops.
There's simply not much of a change until you clear the dungeons, which sets a very boring tone until you're ready to face that final boss at the end. Not only that, but there aren't many major twists until a few caves in, which may as well bore the player until then. But, negatives aside, it does make a difference to the usual Harvest Moon stories, and with a slight touch of fantasy, the storyline fits and blends in quite well with the title.
The usual DS graphics: 3D sprites in a 2D world. It's nothing special, really. Textures are different from usual, and the character art is pretty well made. Not much more to say.
To be frank, there's not much on the soundtrack that's very memorable at all, except for the opening FMV music. But THAT however, is unforgettable in a miserable sense, seeing as the lyrics are translated with blatant grammatical errors. The background music is overall pretty good, especially the season background music; it really sets the tone and blends in. Voice-overs may get annoying at times, and there is no option to mute them. A bit disappointing really, but it can be overlooked.
A solid game, especially well made for the fans, yet appealing to the new RPG-loving crowd. A few things here and there can be fixed, but overall, Natsume's put a lot of thought into this localization. There's a plot depth, which was missing from a lot of Harvest Moon games until now, but as with all Harvest Moon games, it's not something that won't lose its fun touch in a single day or two. It lasts.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/21/07
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