Review by tayaleoni
"A friendly and refreshing entry into the Harvest Moon series"
Harvest Moon has been in North America since 1997 and there have been many games in the series. The Nintendo DS holds the record for most HM games on one system. So with so many Harvest Moon games to choose from, why pick Grand Bazaar? If you own the other DS Harvest Moon games, is Grand Bazaar worth picking up as well?
The gameplay in Grand Bazaar is easy and works great. You can use the stylus to manage your inventory if you want but the game is usually controlled entirely with buttons. You can blow into the microphone to make windmills spin faster but that is optional as well.
The mayor of town explains in great detail everything you have to do. Plant seeds one at a time on your field. Then you water them and fertilize them every day. When your crops are grown you can put them in storage, cook them, give them to people, or sell them in your bazaar. You can also find flowers, herbs, and other small treasures around town to sell. The bazaar is a new feature in Harvest Moon and it's a lot of fun. It's up to you to figure out how to make enough money to reach the mayor's goal. There's never any pressure though; meeting the goal will get you a prize but there's no consequences if you don't make enough money. Harvest Moon veterans will surely try and be rich as soon as possible but I encourage everyone to play the game naturally without worrying.
There are also windmills around town that become available as you keep playing. The windmill feature is similar to cooking and it also replaces the product makers of previous Harvest Moon games. These are also explained in great detail by a character in the game.
Overall the gameplay is very solid. Controls are easy, the game mechanics are fun, and everything is explained well enough so that you are never left confused or unsure of yourself.
The story is somewhat similar to older Harvest Moon games. You've just become the new farmer of a small town. The town used to have a bazaar that attracted people from all over the world but now it's small and pathetic. It's your job to maintain a stand at the bazaar and help restore the bazaar to its former glory. That's pretty much it.
The art style in Grand Bazaar is very cute. I personally like the art style but I can see how it may annoy some people. The sprites look nice but some of the character sprites are palette swaps of other characters. This seems a little lazy. The environments, however, are quite nice. It's a nice touch to see a shadow of a cloud move across the ground, smoke coming from a chimney, or the trees blowing in the wind.
Aside from the song in the opening title, the music in this game is fine but mostly forgettable. Some of the music and sound effects are re-used from previous HM titles. The music won't grate on your nerves but it won't stand out either.
Each character has a few sound clips like a laugh or a grunt that they say when you talk to them. Most of them are not bad at all but you'll probably avoid talking to the elderly characters after hearing them laugh a few times (oh ho ho ho!). Your character also has several sound effects that you may like or dislike depending on your taste. I play as the female character and her little "ushuu" sound for when she spreads seeds is a little too cute for a character who is old enough to get married.
The bazaar system is a fun, new feature.
There are lots of recipes and things to make using the windmills. Don't get bored selling the same things every week.
You can go fishing and bug-catching.
You can have several cats and dogs that can be trained to herd your chickens and livestock.
There are five marriage candidates for each gender. Get married and have a child of your own.
Until you get the fishing rod and learn to cook, there isn't much to do to pass the time. This is less of a problem later in the game.
The village is really small.
The characters are a little plain and they tend to repeat themselves a lot.
There is no mine, although I personally always hated mining and I'm glad to see it gone.
There is nothing expensive to spend your money on late in the game. That means if you become too rich too fast you will get bored quickly. Take your time and run your farm at a relaxing pace to fully enjoy this game.
If you're new to Harvest Moon then this is a wonderful game to start with. It's easy to play and it has no big flaws. If you're a big fan of the series already then Grand Bazaar is still worth owning, but keep in mind that you may get bored fast if you know all the tricks to making big money. It's not as deep and long-lasting as Animal Parade (Wii) and Friends of Mineral Town (GBA) but it's still as calm and fun as Harvest Moon should be.
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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