Review by KrystalKairi

"Not quite a wonderful life...."

Harvest Moon games were always about a non linear game experience that was unique and fun. This game, however, was not only linear with events that you have little control over but zapped the fun right out of playing after a while. The game itself is tedious and un enjoyable after a while.

Graphics: 9
This is the first harvest moon game with evolved graphics. The GameCube has never been famous for its graphics, there are some games that look realistic but not a huge amount. This game has realistic graphics were the people actually look like real people for the most part. The backgrounds are beautiful and make the town look real. Even the ocean and rivers look nice and well put together. The reason for only a 9 then? I prefer harvest moon games with the midgets and funny looking crops.

Sounds: 9
The sound in this game are all crisp and nice. Everyone has a few signature sounds, which although get to be quite repetitive are a nice touch. You can hear the river and even the ground as you run across it. The animals make it seem like you're in a real barn. The watering can actually sounds like you're watering crops. This is the only harvest moon game I've played that I was allowed to change the music for. There are many records you can get if you connect to your GBA harvest moon game, but fewer if you cannot. Not being able to, I was stuck with very few choices and ended up using the same one year-round.

Storyline: 5
One of the only harvest moon games with a continuing story, this game does a poor job of it. As always, you get your farm from a relative. This time, however, there are absolutely no weeds, rocks or anything stopping you from farming on your plots of land. There is already a huge pasture that grows for animals, which I'm guessing is the work of your farm hand.

The storyline of the game changes the farther you advance through, starting with you getting married and progressing to you having a baby. Then your baby boy grows up, chapter by chapter. Soon you'll have to start convincing your kid to choose a career path. Depending on who you marry, your kid will be automatically influenced to a few things. Working against these natural impulses is hard, but becomes easier if you befriend the right people, give your kid the right toys and confirm to him that what he likes is good or bad for him.

Sad as it is, this game does have an end. By the end, you are starting to get old and your kid is all grown up and moving out with his career path decided. Game over means game over so if you manage to survive long enough to get there then you have to start again.

Game play: 8
This game offers advanced features which make it quite entertaining at first. Growing crops has never been harder, you often need to water your crops twice a day on hot and sunny days if you want them to prosper. The seasons are shorter as well so you need to make sure to plant at the beginning of each season if you want your crops to be ready to harvest. There is also Tartan, the talking plant. If you befriend Takakura Tartan will appear in his house one day. Tartan allows you to mix seeds or crops for the chance of creating new ones. These crops have seasons as well, so be careful you don't plant out of season or your hybrid will wilt.

Getting married is no longer an option, it's a requirement. Sure you don't have to get married but if you don't your game will end at the end of the first year. There are only 3 bachelorettes in this game, and choose wisely as there's no such thing as divorce in this world. Who you marry influences what your kid will be like. Celias kid is down to earth, Muffys is mischievous and Namis kid is shy. Each bachelorette has distinct tastes and most people think Nami is the hardest to woo because both Celia and Muffy like flowers. Not even Nami can resist a trick blue though, so if you haven't gotten her hearts up much fall is the season to do it.

One of the big points of the game play is your kid. Your kid starts being able to crawl around and you can give him toys (scratch pad, toy car, blocks) that he'll take out of his toy box at will. Your kid is always a guy, no matter what. Your kid later grows up and starts walking out of your farm to talk to people. Your kid will go to places that have to do with what career interests him. For example, if he wants to become an artist he will go and visit Cody. Influencing you boy to do what you want can be rather tricky and tedious. If you farm a lot your kid might get more influenced to do that. Who you befriend has a great impact on what your kid will eventually want to do. Talking to Gustafa will make your kid more interested in music. At the end of each chapter you will see a cut scene with your kid which will let you know what your kid is most interested in. This could bring either good or bad news but with a little luck and a lot of work you can get your kid headed down the right path.

Now for the animals. The chickens in this game no longer have separate feed boxes, they'll share food from a center location in the chicken coop. If you have a lot of chickens the feed will go by fast but if you only have a single chicken then the bird feed will last longer. Notice how it is bird feed and not chicken feed? That's right, in this game you can get ducks! Buying a pond in chapter one will give you ducks in chapter 2 if you wake up after your wife. Ducks don't lay their own eggs and don't really do much. If you sell your ducks you can never get another pair.

Now comes the animals in the barn. Your cows, sheep and horse live in the barn. Cows give milk twice a day and the milk comes with a quality and in quantity. Feeding your cow before you milk them is a necessity and brushing and talking to them will up the milk quality. If you want really good milk you have to feed them good fodder, which comes with quite a price tag. A milking room to auto milk your cows becomes available and so does a cheese and butter processing room. Cheese and butter sell for more than the milk and you can easily make back all the money you spend. Cows have to give birth before they give milk and then for only a year after that. Different kinds of cows produce different kinds of milk.

Then there's the sheep. Wool sells for a fair amount but because of how long it takes for re growth the cows are easier to make money on. Your horse is easy to ride around the town on as it's a lot faster than walking and likes being outside. Your horse is quite lazy though, so it will fall asleep if you leave it standing around too long.

Then we come to the goat. You can buy a goat from Van in summer after chapter one. The goat gives milk for its time and then stops being useful at all. You can kill it if you want by making it sick and hitting it with tools but that's just mean. You can't impregnate or sell the goat.

Your town has many wild plants around town that re grow every day or every few days. Collecting the plants is a great way to earn easy money. Fishing is also quick and easy. You can buy the fishing rod from Van. Once you start fishing you'll learn your favorite spots. There are some fish that are common and others that are rare. Fish can be sold or cooked and eaten.

Selling items in this game is quite different. Instead of a shipping bin like other harvest moon games you have to sell items to villagers or to Van. Van shows up at least twice a season on the dates marked on your calendar but he also sets up shop on other days randomly. If Van is not in town and you have some extra stuff to unload you can set up shop. Villagers buy your items but with a maximum of three, selling things to Van is much easier. If you want the villagers to like you, you can sell them items at a discount. You can refuse a sale although the villagers might become a bit irritated with you if you do it a lot.

This is just the basics of game play and there is much more to be explored.

Replay value: 5
This game starts out very addictive and fun. After a while game play becomes boring and tedious, almost a chore. If you give the game a fair chance you'll probably get a lot of play time out of it.

My recommendation?
Rent it. Some people love this game while others can't stand it. Give the game a fair chance and see what you think. If you like the game after that, by all means buy it. If not, at least you gave it a fair shot.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 07/31/06

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