Review by Alf

"A very great game"

When I first played the SNES game, I was stunned. It was a simple but yet addictive game (which kept me up until 6AM once), with cool male characters and cute girls. Later on I got hold of the first GameBoy game, which unfortunately was, in my opinion, a disaster, since many features where removed. About a year or two later, I rented the N64 game, and this was, in my opinion, the beginning of a golden age for the Harvest Moon series, since graphics where great (yes, I like 3D-looking sprites, so sue me. :P) and more cuter girls, since they implemented a mood picture of all characters during conversations, and there where more crops, a more evolved house building system (greenhouse RULES) and collectable stuff. Unfortunately, the recipies you could collect couldn't be cooked, and the photos you collected where pretty hard to make out what they where showing. But it was yet a great game. Now I recently bought a PS2 and the PSX-game Harvest Moon, and here's what I thought:

Gameplay = 7/10 - The greatest part of the game. It does have the same consept as the previous games, but it's allways something that makes the new game differ from the others. This time, you wont be able to collect photos, which true is a little shame, but Natsume compensated it with keeping the recipies from N64, but now, you can actually cook them! But you need very pricey utensils for it...
And when it comes to crops, it's the same as N64, except that there is some more now, such as cucumber, onions, and so on. The old fascion potatoes, turnips, tomatoes and corn remains too, keeping the tradition from SNES living. All the other events in the game, such as the festivals, are very amusing (especially the Tomato Festival, where you can compete in a Tomato-war).
People proclaimed that the NPC characters that where moving in real time where walking much faster than yourself. Correction: They walk as fast as you, and you can get to them by running instead of walking. Since the screen keeps you in the middle, you can't see the speed changes when walking and/or running.

Control = 6/10 - Unfortunately, all great games can't be 100% flawless. The controls can be very confusing at first, but after a few minutes of gameplay, you wont even notice which buttons you actually are pressing. Another bad thing is that you cant move in horizontal and vertical ways, just diagonal. A very good thing tho is that you wont have much troubles with the rucksack now, since you can take out what's in your rucksack by just pressing the R2 button. Very usefull during the harvesting.

Story = 9/10 - Ok, this story is very much more deeper than the previous games. Before it was the old ''Grandpa died and you inherit his farm'' thing, but here's the story of this game:
You are Jack (which is the lead characters official name, even tho you can name him whatever you want, like Link in the Zelda-games), and your grandfather recently died of aging (no, I wont stop there), but as you get to the farm, old memories goes into your mind. You remember when you visited your grandfathers farm when you where about 8-10, since your parents had to cancel your family trip due to the tight schedule your father had. You rode the cows (and fell off...), got to sit on grandpa's horse, poked at chickens with a stick (and they later poked at you with their beaks), and occasionally played with the kids in the nearby town. But you found all that boring, and went to the hill south of the farm and fell asleep in a bed of flowers. But you are awaken by a girl singing. After some small introducing, you become good friends and your farm visit didn't seem much dull anymore.
Unfortunately, all fun comes to an end sooner or later, as your parents come to pick you up and drive back to the city. You meet your new friend tho, and you give her a promise to return...

Now, 10 years has passed, and now the busy schedule of your father is in your hands. But since the townsfolk are a little bit sceptical about a cityboy taking over their very good friend's farm, they are giving you 3 years to make the farm a productive piece of land, as well as being a very friendly neighbor to the townsfolk. If you can't fullfill these tasks, pack your bags and move on the 3rd year. But as you work on your farm, you still wonder whatever happened to that girl 10 years ago...

Audio = 7/10 - The music in the game is pretty much nice, altho the summer season music is pretty bad. Spring music is neat, fall is entertaining, and winter is soothing. Altho the animal sounds are liveable, I miss the ones from N64...

Graphics = 10/10 - This is one of the best parts of the game. Not being one of those ultra-3D-games, the sprites are cute, as well as the partially 3D enviroment(sp?) is nice. But best of all is that the mood pictures of the NPC characters are a lot more detailed, since they show mostly everything from waist and up. Not only does this make the characters look more detailed, the girls are alot more cuter! ^_^

Replayability = 7/10 - Mostly because I haven't finished the game myself, I don't know if the game is replayable, but it sure has potential, which is why it gets a 7.

To buy or to rent? - If you live in any country using the NTSC-format of games, video etc, you should buy it. However, for the PAL-owners, like myself, I am not very sure, since there's an awful bug in the game that makes it crash whenever you get married (oops, spoiler... but it's just one of the 5 eligeble girls, not the girl in the story, since I haven't seen her (yet)). I asked Natsume about how to fix it, but they told me to consult the European distributor, UbiSoft, and they haven't replied yet. So if you are european, and really want to try the game, rent it until there's a way to solve the bug.

TOTAL = 9/10 - A great addictive game, smalish complicated controls, nice story, can it be better? (it would be if the controller was better)


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/08/01, Updated 11/08/01


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