Review by Ethereal Blue
"Succeeds where HM64 failed and vice versa."
Now if you're wondering why my title and score clash so much(I gave HM64 a 9) it is because HM64 succeeded in more places than it failed, making the PS version of Harvest Moon somewhat of a dissapointment for fans of its N64 brother.
Graphics (System-Wise) 10/10
A great improvement over HM64. Now, when you talk to people, rather than seeing a simple picture of their face, you get a full body portrait, making for a more detailed look at the person than the model you actually talk to gives. Gone are the many spelling errors as well. Character models are the exact same as HM64, but there are a few new ones there and almost all the characters have atlered personalities (example: Grey isn't a total asshole anymore, he's just shy. Popuri still likes flowers but isn't airheadedly obsessed with them this time 'round).
Sound (System-Wise) 7/10
Well, i can't quite remember the music that well from when i rented it around a half a year ago meaning it was neither memorable because it was good or bad, meaning it was just average. Sound effects are exactly the same, making for a decent overall experience.
Gameplay (Genre-Wise) 2/10
Ugh. I almost cried at how HM:BTN's gameplay modifications stunk up the game. At first, you'll notice the slightly awkward control scheme (pressing left on the d-pad makes you move north-west, for example.) but it will be overshadowed by some aesthetic things that will draw you in for a while. Characters in the game will leave houses and go into houses and actually move from place to place instead of just, dissapearing and reappearing. Remember the little meetings between characters close to you that occurred in HM64? This time they happen on a near-daily basis whether the persons in question like you or not. But this is simply outer-appearance that makes you go ''COOL'' the first time you play. If you go through a month, you'll start to notice the flaws. Natsume had a lot of ideas for Sony's take on harvest moon that could have been great but were all terribly executed. Your rucksack starts with 2 slots and you upgrade it every so often. Of course, something so valuable is expensive, but unlike HM64, getting money is harder than winning a rocket-car drag race on a tricycle, so buying the most menial thing will put you below the poverty line, the same goes for vegetables and animal products, each is 10 bucks a head at most. I know this makes the game more realistic but you have a time limit, remember? Not only that but the new tool system is UNBELEIVABLY flawed. Gone are the automatic tool-level-ups. Now, you have to use the tool a certain amount of times, then go to a blacksmith with the right kind of mineral you worked your ass off to find in the mines, which are open year round now, and pay him an absurd amount of money to upgrade the tool in question. The first level of all tools has now been downgraded terribly. The axe is almost totally useless until its second level. Here's how it works, at level 1, you can only chop up the small sticks that are scattered about your field in the start. No stump chopping. But there aren't enough sticks!! When you DO get the axe upgraded, you have to hit the log 6 times, meaning you'll display some sign of fatigue per log you chop. With this, upgrading your house becomes sheer hell. Also, i noticed that Natsume decided to bring back progressive house upgrading from HM original. On the 5th level, you get asecond bed for your wife. THE 5TH LEVEL, PEOPLE! This makes it insanely hard to get married in the amount of time you are given in HM:BTN. Also, natsume allows players to give a girl multiple gifts in a day, making courting a girl and getting the house to accomidate her totally unbalanced. I was unfortunate to discover that I could give multiple gifts on popuri's birthday, and because the mountains have an overabundance of flowers, I got her heart level up from blue to orange (the level before full fledge red) in a single day! Then i bought a blue feather and she would not marry me. So i check the online faq, then wail in sorrow for three hours.
Anyways back to making money. having the mine open year round is cool, cuz in HM64 you could get good amounts of money from the mine with little stress. The cheapest mineral would sell for 50 bucks. NOW! the cheapest metal that you find every other hoe-hack fetches you a mere 1 dollar. Oh, but gold silver and bronze should be worth something, right? WRONG! Bronze is worth 3, Silver is worth 5, gold is worth 10 and the rare and almost impossible to find mythril is worth 20...oh my god! Is that not totally insane? And because next to EVERYTHING in the shops is completely overpriced, you'll find yourself going to bed with little more than a couple pennies in your pocket. Profit is at a drastic low!
Most people knew about the load times when they bought a playstation but this is ridiculous. Load times are long and agonizing and it takes about 5 seconds to move between areas, making traveling in and out of buildings a living hell. In addition, choppiness plagues your movement!
Later on in the game, the control scheme will really get to you and the fact that you can't EVER seem to get your fishing rod except at the beginning of the game makes for even more money problems. Good lord make it stop!
Gameplay is definately where harvest moon: back to nature slips up, and it's the most important spot.
Story (Genre-Wise) 7/10
HM: BTN is a wee bit more story driven than HM64 as there is much more back-story on your grandfather and the good times you had on the farm (Including riding a cow and getting kicked off its flea bitten back). What I liked about the story-elements in HM: BTN, however, was that all the NPCs you see every so often PULSATE with character and personality, while the people of flower bud village (HM64) were mere simpletons. BTN is also filled with festivals that totally outdo HM64 in fun factor (Tomato fights ^^). The fact that you can't get a wife till that fifth house upgrade is a big drag, though...
Replayability (Genre-Wise) Unavailable
I only rented HM: BTN once and penguins forbid that I should rent it again.
-The dog and horse are back, of course. Chickens and cows and other manner of animal are now considered ''family''.
-The clock in BTN goes a bit slower than HM64's
-Sometimes characters will give you special items. For example, Maria will give you a book to read, when you bring it back, she will ask you about the plot and if you answer right, she'll like you more, or maybe, if popuri likes you, she will give you an egg (her family runs a chicken farm in this one) to hatch in your chicken coop. Name it popuri when it is born and popuri will think you're sweet for doing so. A cool addition in my opinion.
Harvest Moon 64 was great. Harvest Moon: Back To Nature could have been, too. It could have had everything, but it screwed up in the most important and third most important categories, those being Gameplay and Replayability. So, the question remains: 64 or BTN? I'll take my HM64 anyday over Natsume's shame. This game is for HM OBSESSED FREAKS! only. Casual fans of Harvest Moon may want to try a rental, but buying straight off may be the most preposterous idea ever suggested. This game is SEVERELY rent-before-buy material and chances of finding a copy of this game in anywhere that isn't Electroniques Boutique or EBay or some other online shopping network are scarcer than finding a ten-legged squirrel with a dog's head. Play if you dare!
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 09/16/03
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