Review by dougmoto

"The newest Harvest Moon goes back to it's gaming roots, and produces a solid game."

Harvest moon has become a gaming hit over the years. Its open-ended gameplay and playfulness has attracted many different kinds of gamers. What other game can boast a fanbase of anything from 18 year old boys to adult women? I remember playing harvest moon 64 for the first time and laughing because Natsume spelt its own name wrong on the title screen. But all the glitches and bugs in that game didn't stop it from becoming a classic in the series.
The newest installment for the Gamecube is called Magical Melody, trying to renew its reputation after the horrendous "A Wonderful Life". So what did they fix with Magical Melody? Appeal is one. In AWL, tasks were boring, people were stale and it felt like a chore to play the game. Somehow, Marvelous has renewed the fun of the series, by going back to its roots of SNES and HM64. They also added a storyline and goals, which seem odd, but by no means hurt the series. Basically, Marvelous took all the great aspects of the past harvest moons (including several grammatical errors on the part of Natsume) Here's the breakdown:

Story: 7
Wow they actually decided to add a bit of linear gameplay. Fear not, you don't have to do any of the goals. It's just something to keep the appeal going, after you've become a tycoon in the farming industry. The story itself is boring and a bit cliche, but it works out well enough as a side dish.

Graphics: 7
The graphics aren't the game's forte. They've actually reverted from a wonderful life, perhaps for the better. The Gamecube can manage much more detailed textures, but the childlike characters bring back memories from past Harvest Moon games. I can't complain too much about them. But I can complain about the framerate, which slows down when there's too many people or objects on screen. Not a huge problem, but enough to annoy.

Sound: 7
No voice acting, which is the major disappointment. However, the music is bouncy and upbeat, and will keep you happy playing the game. Characters each have a greeting sound, from a "hiiiiii" to a "grunt", but I wish they could have extended on that into full voiced-characters. Maybe next time Marvelous.
Gameplay: 8

They've added some features to help make Harvest moon less frustrating, and I'm grateful. The first would be the aiming system. Yes, now you can hold R and actually see which square you are watering, saving countless sprinkles. Second, now when you drop items, it actually takes a few seconds to disappear. Ever Harvest moon fan has lost something valuable by mashing A without watching, and now it can be prevented. Also, the use of the C-stick is better in this game, helping to manage your rucksack much better. With these additions, the controls are as good as they've ever been on a platform. That being said, the learning curve is still extremely steep, and newcomers might find themselves in a hole quickly. But that's just part of the harvest moon series.

Lasting Appeal/Value: 10
This is the real reason people buy harvest moon. Addiction. It becomes like a craving, one that needs to be satisfied before anything else. AWL lacked this addiction factor, and MM brought it back with a vengeance. I played many years on HM64, and I plan to spend even more on MM. Talk about unlimited hours. But the real kicker is the price. I picked this up for 45$ Canadian and I was astounded. Even though I know Marvelous can do better, and Natsume can CERTAINLY do better, this may become one of my favorite games, of all time.

Overall (Not an average) 8
Newcomers might find it hard, as with almost any harvest moon, but If you liked HM64, and hated AWL, then I can almost guarantee this game is for you.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 04/19/06


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