Review by Juneberry_Chan
"A Good Addition, Depending on Who You Are"
Overall, Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar is a fairly well-made game. Though there are some pieces of the game that leave a bit to be desired, it makes up for those faults with many good pieces that make the game more than just tolerable. As a new edition to the Harvest Moon franchise, I'd have to say that the game has done rather well in adding to the well-known series. It's a fun game to play, and the new additions to the game-play and the like do make it wonderfully enjoyable.
The game-play of the game is quite interesting, to say the least. It has newer functions than in the past that are enjoyable, while other changes are quite a nuisance. I enjoy the idea that you can jump in this game- it stops the monotony, and jumping into the water is rather good fun, especially if you find something on occasion. The use of the windmills is rather neat too. No longer do you need to buy a cheese maker or anything like that- you just need to wait until the necessary windmill is available. The processing time being able to be altered by blowing into the DS microphone is a rather entertaining idea as well. You get to control nature a bit!
Bug catching is a neat little bit, especially since it makes a good way to waste time if you need to, and on top of it some people rather like bugs. It's a nice thing that you don't need a net in this game to do it, either. Though, albeit, it took some time to realize you could do that. The fact that you can pick up those hidden things in the ground when it's sparkling a bit is quite nice too.
The main parts of the game that are rather a nuisance are the way you have to save, getting to your assets menu and other such things. It isn't necessarily the most enjoyable thing to have to save when you go to bed only. If you have to shut off the game suddenly and you made great progress but hadn't gone to bed yet, that means the entire day's work was lost! As well, you can only see your assets by looking at your bookshelf, and furthermore about your animals can only be done in the barn. Though, having the barn and extra things in the house early is nifty, and getting into the barn from your house makes it easier to get work done with the animals, I suppose.
Finally, the bazaar system is an interesting concept in this new Harvest Moon game. Having to run a stand at a bazaar is quite new, and in general the idea of it is interesting. Though you can't set your own prices, it's nifty that to add to your abilities, you sometimes get to talk to customers to get reputation. It's a neat little tidbit, even if not the most handy. Though, on the other hand, the way the bazaar goals work can be iffy depending on who you are. Some people find making the goal really hard, while others find it far too easy. It really depends on how you play.
The game's story is pretty standard, but with some new additions. While it contains the usual "character moves onto a farm to start a new life as a farmer" and all that jazz, there are some new pieces to the story. Now, your goal isn't to ship items. The goal is to sell the items at a weekly bazaar to reach a certain sales quota. On the one hand, that concept isn't necessarily the best in terms of having to hold onto items constantly for a week, sometimes two depending on the festivals, but it's also a pretty interesting system.
Besides the bazaar system, other portions of the story are generally the same. You want to try to make friends with your neighbors, maybe get married and all that jazz. Though in some ways it's more interesting, mostly because you can give a more varied array of gifts to people and the like, at the same time the story in this respect is fairly plain, and if you get bored of it, can leave much to be desired.
The graphics of the game are quite nifty, even if cartoon-like. They're colorful and vibrant, but still easy on the eyes. The menus make good use of the touch-pad and are easy to navigate. The map on the touchscreen is fairly interesting, even if it isn't always the most useful, but it does help give a sense of where you're going. Character images, however, do tend to leave a bit to be desired, but some are quite interesting. As well, the way the wind effects the graphics such as the windmills, petals falling and all those types of things, the graphics do have some interesting pieces to them. Considering the console the game is on, I think it uses the abilities fairly well. Though most of it isn't for game-play itself besides the windmill part, it's pretty cute nonetheless.
The sound is simple and soothing. It adds to the calm feel of the game. However, the sporadic sounds of the townsfolk when they suddenly actually make a laugh or some kind can be a slight bit startling at first. So, some parts of the sound-base take time getting used to. However, the sounds for a new day and the like are quite nice, even if not always realistic. At points, such as when saving, the sound seems to take a bit of time to buffer, but it is handy for figuring out early how to plan a day in the game. In general, it does seem to use the capabilities of the DS well, all points considered.
The game takes varying amounts of time, depending on your personal goals for the game. While marrying someone can take about a year in the game (which, using proper calculations, supposing you were up perhaps twelve hours a day in game, would be about 24 hours and about seven minutes of play-time), finishing a portion of the bazaar can take a completely different amount of time. On top of personal goals, the way you achieve the goal can vary from person to person, thus making play-time very difficult to calculate for a generalization.
The re-playability is decent for the game, since there are many ways you can go about the game-play. Playing again can be fun if you want to try a new method of getting through the game, want to marry someone else, etc. However, it isn't really required either way- you can keep playing no matter what. Even if you marry someone, the game still goes on. So, it really depends on the type of gamer you are. If you like to play a game and then try a different approach, replaying it is a fine way to go about it, or you can always do something else.
In the end, Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar is a great game if you're looking for a casual game or are generally a hardcore Harvest Moon fan. Despite some faults, the game is worth trying, but in the end it all depends on personal preference. The game is mostly aimed towards casual gamers from what is noticeable, but it can be a great stress relief too if you're looking for that. Generally, though, the game is worth a try. If you can, likelihood is you should give it a try before making a final decision, though.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/09/10
Game Release: Harvest Moon DS: Grand Bazaar (US, 08/24/10)
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