Review by BannedAccount
"Slow motion for me, slow motion for me"
...The tagline, of course, referring to the horrible frame rate. This game was originally on the Gamecube, but was ported over to the Playstation 2 with some extra features. Like you can now decide whether you want a son or a daughter, there's more sizes of fish to catch, and there's one more bride available.
If you've ever played a Harvest Moon game before, you know what to expect here. If not, you pretty much just spend your time on the farm watering crops, feeding and brushing your animals and wooing one of the eligible girls. The first (and only Harvest Moon I had played before this) was Harvest Moon 64. Here, everything is pretty different. Like instead of automatically having a meal appear out of nowhere in the morning, you're supposed to find food for yourself and you have to eat. Though, that's easier said than done since you have no ****ing money to begin with and no crops.
Speaking of crops, this game has made them almost worthless. Before a great source of income happened to come from your crops, now it seems to actually cost you more to buy them and grow them than it does to sell them. So I guess crops now are pretty much just for eating and cooking with. Also, all seeds only give you one fruit or vegetable per plant as opposed to before where you would get multiple crops. Crops are almost a waste of your time and money now, which seems odd since you're running a farm for God's sake. Your primary source of income will now come from your animals, mostly cows. Since you don't get much for egg's and the wool on sheep's take too long to grow. Now you have to feed your animals twice a day, but with that you also get to milk them twice a day. And now you get multiple bottles from one milking. But, it's still a lot harder to make money in this game than it was in previous ones though you will get used to it after awhile and won't be as hopelessly broke as you were in the beginning.
I should mention with this game comes constant load times. That's not an exaggeration. Want to go inside your house? Load time. Your barn? Load time. Oh, you wanted to hit pause? That's another load time. Yes, you read that correctly. You need to sit through a loading screen to get to the pause menu. And as soon as you're ready to exit the menu, another load time. Everything requires a load time. It's really quite ridiculous. Half the time I question whether I really need to go into a building because I'll have to sit through a load screen if I do. Thus really testing your patience more than this type of game already does. The load times aren't very long (probably about 5 seconds or more, but having to do this everytime you want to go inside a building really starts to grate on you.)
Another thing that's different in this game is that you only get 10 days in a season. That may sound too short, but the time it takes for a day to be over increased. I would have preffered the old system of a day is over in minutes and not getting much done than having to wait for the day to be over. The days are, in my opinion, much longer than they need be. For every one second that passes in real time, one minute passes in the game. I don't even know how you're expected to pass that much time since I always wake up at about 4:00am or so and finish with everything by about 9:00am. Which means I'm supposed to kill time until it's the afternoon and I can milk my cows again. And even then, I'm done easily by 3:00pm so I have atleast 7 hours left until I can go to sleep. Why don't I just go to bed when I'm done with my work you ask? With this game you sleep a set amount of hours instead of before, where you'd wake at the same hour every morning, no matter what time you went to bed. So if you go to bed early now, you end up waking up at midnight while all of your animals are asleep and you can do pretty much nothing. People who have played this and are reading this review are probably asking why don't I just go fishing or something. I do, but am I honestly expected to do that everyday?
Also, with this game you're forced to get married before the first year is over if you want to continue, which sucks since the funnest part for me was always just flirting with the multiple girls and dating them all. Now, since there are practically no festivals (I think there's like two and there's no real interaction, you just watch a scene) the fun of dating really went with it. You just go to the girl's home and talk to them a few times and give them a gift. With this game's horrible frame rate, it's not really fun to go anywhere. You'll have constant frame rate issues, it's just to what degree will you have frame rate issues. I found one tiny spot where my character moves really fast. I think that's what the game was supposed to be like without frame rate issues. Though in this area, you move four feet and you step back into into frame rate hell.
Back to dating, as I've said before, there's one more bride available. To those of you who have played this on the Gamecube previously, you'll recognize this new bride. It's Lumina (you're probably going "WTF?! pedo!!11!shift+1!! right now) She's no longer a child, they aged her to 18 in this game which is good since I have no idea how they thought only three possible bride's would be enough before. I think there needs to be even more variety, but it's alright. As soon as you get married, you have a child and from then on the game continues going through chapter's which you'll see your child grow up, and the village change a bit.
Like I've mentioned, bad, horrible frame rate that you'll have to deal with constantly. Aside from that, everything has a cute cartoon-y look to it. The character's are nice looking, but everyone, even the potential brides, look like they're eight years old or so. The village is nice, but nothing great. Upon close inspection you'll see that the textures suck on pretty much everything, though.
You have background music that you can (thank God) change using your record player or just turn it off completely. The game starts you off with two records and it's up to you to find the rest of them. I've heard the default 'Breeze' so much I hate it now, but it wasn't that bad in the beginning. I do suggest you try 'Quiet Winter' as you you start the game though. It's really nice and simple, so it's very relaxing. Other ones like 'Town Spirit' have a techno-y vibe to them. There's no speaking (except for maybe the occasional giggle or sigh) and it's all text pretty much. You get sound effects like cows mooing and any other sounds are just little cartoony things.
Should you buy this game?
Harvest Moon isn't really for everyone. It's slow and repetitive and at times it can get quite boring. If you've played other Harvest Moon games before this and liked them, I don't see why you wouldn't like this, frame rate troubles and load times aside.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 03/31/06, Updated 04/17/06
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