Review by Reverent
"Harvest Moon - Save the Glitches!"
Anyone who has played a Harvest Moon knows the general idea of the game. You somehow have been given a farm and it is up to you to raise livestock and crops to make money, all while trying to find a wife of your very own. Over time, more things have been added, and in this edition of the game, you are also able to mine, "fight" monsters, breed super crops, have a few pets, have a kid, save the Harvest Goddess and her Sprites, and use the touch screen on the DS to give a new dimension to your farming.
Overall, it's a formula that works, and this could have been one of the better HM titles, but unfortunately it lacks in some areas.
Story - 6/10 - As stated, all of the Harvest Moon games have a basic story line that they each follow, with some variation here to there. In this version, you are trying to save the Harvest Goddess from a prank pulled by the Witch Princess, and to do so, you must complete tasks to find at least 60 of the 101 Harvest Sprites to bring her back. You find this out in the first 5 minutes of the game, and it's never really elaborated on much after that.
The townspeople each have their own set schedule, interests, dislikes, and habits which adds a little to the game play getting to know them. As an added bonus, you can have old familiar faces from Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town come to visit if you have a copy of the game in your GBA slot of the DS.
Novelty aside, this is a basic story that is just slightly above average. That, however, does NOT take away from the fun of the game since this isn't a standard role-playing game.
Graphics - 8/10 - Most of the game looks almost identical to HM: DS predecessor - Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town/Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town. Yes, the DS has more power than the GBA did, but the artwork still looks clean and smooth. The touch screen portions of the game have larger, better resolution character portraits and pictures of your live stock that seem to take more advantage of the DS's power, but this doesn't even come close to touch the full potential of the system.
Which is fine. The graphics are exactly what they should be for this game - cute, crisp, and functional. They are better than what they would need to be for this game to be a success, and none of the graphics are hideous and distracting.
Sound - 8/10 - The game itself only has a handful of songs, just as the other Harvest Moon games did - 4 songs per season, a town Celebration song, a Love scene song, and maybe one or two others. HM: DS however allows the player to purchase and play songs from other Harvest Moon games that they might have liked. While not a full selection, at any given time you can change the music to something you may prefer.
Sound effects haven't changed much in this game from others, but the sound effects the game was using are appropriate and rarely get annoying to the player.
Game play - 4/10 - The core of the game is solid. Your controls are mostly quick to learn, and the game has some in-game manuals to help you. Some things may not be immediately obvious, like using the touch-screen gloves, but the learning curve for Harvest Moon is still fairly low, and the non-dual screen controls work perfectly.
First problem I really came across were the animal touch-screen mini-games. If played properly, you will end up getting either carpel tunnels syndrome, or have something like tennis elbow after hours of playing this game. They are fun to play at first, but it quickly begins to feel like a gimmick just to have an excuse to use the touch screen. You could skip by using them if you wanted, but to get all of the Harvest Sprites in the game, you are forced to sacrifice your wrists.
The game's biggest flaw, however, is how glitchy it becomes. You can have entire areas made inaccessible because of glitched blocks appearing on screen, your game can freeze for no reason or for entering into a new screen, your cat or dog can get trapped behind furniture for the rest of their immortal life, loading save data can sometimes corrupt it, and your towns people could randomly decide to leave town until you throw a ball into the water (try not to think about the real life implications of that). Some glitches can be beneficial, like there is one that can net you a billion gold in one go, or a few tricks that can be used to get infinite wool or guaranteed large milks, but even those cheapen the feel of the game by making it to easy to make money.
From reading the forums, sometimes the glitch problems experienced by gamers are so bad they have been forced to return the game entirely because it was simply unplayable. Apparently some copies of the game are better than others, so you may luck out on not getting one of the "unplayable-glitch" copies and get the "only mostly glitch" copies instead. A little extra time by bug checkers could have saved the day and made this a solid title, but it feels as if Nastume was getting this game out as fast as they could.
Finally, there is the content that was lost. In the translation from Japan to the US, apparently there were MANY parts of the game left out. Certain items you could use, events that could occur, shows you could watch, and essentially anything that the translators could not translate fast enough were all left behind and taken out of the game entirely. Ideas that sounded neat like having a DVD player to watch the shows from Harvest Moon: FoMT that you liked were dropped from being the full show to just getting to see the picture on the TV with none of the text.
Overall - 6/10 - Glitches and loss of content aside, this is a great game that will keep previous Harvest Moon fans addicted for days. It does what Harvest Moon does best, and then it adds a little extra on top in the way of new crops, mini-games, and utilization of the touch screen.
However, the glitches can become so much of a problem that many will just end up getting turned off by the newest Harvest Moon title long before they finish their first year on the farm, letting this one go the way of Old Yeller.
Buy or Rent? If you are a fan on the Harvest Moon series already, this is a worthy addition to your HM collection. Just remember to save the receipt incase you need to return it or switch it out. If you're new to the series, play Friends of Mineral Town or Musical Melody instead.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 01/22/07
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