Review by Legender93

Reviewed: 07/12/07

The Continuation of a Brilliant Series

We all know how Harvest Moon is an old game, beginning way back in the SNES time. Harvest Moon has always been very popular. It's not an adventure, or a game to save the world that's full of action. It's more of an experiment. What crops will get you the most money? What kind of cow should I buy? It has its mistakes, like it always has had, but let's just say it's not the only series. Here's my review of Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life.

Graphics: 9

The graphics are nothing like in Twilight Princess, but it's the best of the Harvest Moon series so far. The landscape is beautiful, and you can see well in the distance. You can pinpoint stars and the moon. Unless I'm very much mistaken, the moon even waxes and wanes. The sunset and sunrise are simply breathtaking. The colors change and thus the world around you becomes yellowed at dusk. It gets lighter and darker more cleanly than in any other Harvest Moon game thus far! The water in the river and the waterfall look clean and they sparkle in the sunlight or moonlight, depending on the time.

People still have that young, block-ish look, which just doesn't seem to fit in with Forget-Me-Not Valley. It's like mixing 34-bit and 16-bit. It's just not meant to be. However, they still have that realistic look. You can see muscles, they have realistic shading, you can pick out every strand of hair, and some look plain creepy. But really, some creepiness is a must for any video game.

The animals have always been cute, with those soft pelts of black-and-whites for cows, pink for sheep (white if they have their wool), and white-and-red for chickens. Now, they look more realistic. The eyes are beautiful, and let's not forget the different kinds of animals. They move more. When cows moo, they raise their heads. You see them eat grass/fodder. They shake their heads if they get mad. When they sleep, their heads lower. Overall, they look more realistic than I've ever seen; Although it's hard to make a sprite look realistic.

The plants look wonderful. The apples, for instance, aren't just red apple-shaped blobs with a brown line coming from the top. They're a nice, dark red, with flecks of dark yellows towards the bottom. You see the leaves on trees change with every season. In spring, the leaves are pink buds that eventually become a pale green. In summer, they become vivid green. In fall, the leaves become golden and fall. In winter, you see snow collect on the branches.

The weather is nice. You can see lightning in hurricanes, and you see every rain drop. If it rains lightly, there's not as much rain as when it's raining hard. When it's cloudy, you see the puffy white clouds in the sky. If it's going to rain, they'll be grey. The snow is white, and like the rain, you know if it's raining hard or lightly.

Sound: 8.5

The sound has changed. Remember Harvest Moon 64? The music was very catchy. You could hum along for hours, then become tired of it. But the loop was quick, as the music didn't last so long. In AWL, the music is much longer. Rather than hearing it millions of times in one game day, you hear it two or three times. You can switch it with the record player in your house whenever you want. You get two songs: Breeze and Quiet Winter. You can get more, including the Harvest Moon 64 songs, but not in the game. You need to hook up a GBA with Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town and get them.

There isn't always music; Sometimes it's just the sounds of birds chirping in the distance or the river rushing down to the ocean, which roars with every wave. You hear every clap of thunder in a hurricane, and the rain sounds real.

The cows are scary at first. When they moo, it sounds real. When they let out that loud noise that sounds somewhat like the abominable snowman, it's when they're mad. And that, by the way, is realistic. The roosters and hens all cluck about, and when you lift a hen from its egg, it begins to crow angrily. The ducks quack differently from each other, again showing realism. Not everything sounds the same. Your cat meows, the dog barks, the characters make groans and gasps... Need I go any farther?

Control: 9

To anyone who says the controls are sensitive: Complete rubbish! The controls are sensitive because the GameCube controller is more sensitive than the N64's controller. It's not the game, so don't complain about it.

It does take a while to get used to. After a bit it'll be no problem. No more milking a bull when you're trying to talk to it. 'A' is the same in just about every game. It's how you talk to people, open doors, etc. 'B' cancels things. 'X' allows quick access to your bag. 'Y' is for eating and secondary options for things like cows. 'Z' brings you to first-person viewing, so you can look around. Tapping 'R' once calls your dog, while twice calls your horse. 'L' rotates the camera behind you. The c-stick moves the camera around, and the control stick moves you. The d-pad is useless. 'Start' pauses the game. Pretty much the same as every other game, eh?

Story: 8.5

It's the same as always. Your father died and left you to manage his dreams of running a farm. With the help of Takakura and the cow he gives you, you're left to run a farm on your own. Thankfully, there is no cleaning the farm. It's already taken care of.

The game does have an end, much like other Harvest Moon games. It takes up 30 years, but you only play through 10. The 30 years are divided into chapters. Some chapters have a goal (chapter one requires you to be married), and others are long to give you the chance to take care of your son and bend his likings to where you want it. However, as always, the story isn't as important as the rest of the game. The story goes on, but you could skip all the story and still play the game.

Gameplay: 9

This is something that matters. It's how fluid the game is, how easy it is to understand, ow things happen, and so on.

There are more plants than ever. You can grow vine plants, root plants, and trees. There are apple, bananas, oranges, peaches, strawberries, melons, carrots, potatoes, and more. They're cheaper as they cover one square of tilled land rather than nine, but you sell them for more. You can plant them in different soils and fertalize them. Like in real life, the ground dries, so you have to water them multiple times. You can get different grades (C, B, A, S) and create hybrids.

Fishing is still around. With rumble on, you can easily pull up fish once you get a big bite. And once you get a fish, you'll know it! Mining is here, but instead of a real mine, you dig in an archeology site, digging up fossils and ore.

Now you can get different cows! You can get normal, brown, star, or marble, and you can get cows and bulls. You can get male sheep and goats, you get a horse (for free), a dog (which you choose from a floppy-eared and a pointy-eared), and a cat if you become friends with another character. You can get hens and roosters, chicks, and male and female ducks.

Let's not forget: You can cross-breed your cows. You don't have to keep to one kind! There are no hybrid cows, but they can look much different from their parents. For example, a brown cow and a star bull might result in a brown calf with a white star on its head. When a cow becomes pregnant (via other farm for gold, or your own for free), it's isolated. The calf becomes isolated as well once its born. Hens lay eggs no matter what, but they only hatch into chicks if they're fertalized by a rooster. Roosters don't lay eggs. Goats produce milk, sheep supply wool, cows give multiple bottles of milk a few times a day, and if you have a male and female duck, your hen might have an egg with a duck in it! your dog guards your farm as long as you feed it from Daryl and Murrey. Your cat is just... There. Your horse gets you from place to place quickly, and eats half as much as any other barn animal. You feed animals once or twice a day, you talk, nuzzle, brush, wash, and push them. You can pick up small animals, but your dog and cat get annoyed if held too long.

There are only three girls, none of which are named: Elli, Marie, Ann, Popuri, or Karen. They're Celia, Muffy, and Nami. Nami is shy and will leave if you don't marry her, though she can come back. Muffy's a blonde flirt who works at the Blue Bar. Celia is a farmer, and works where you need to get your seeds from. Your child resembles your wife, and determines the likes and strengths of him. They don't help out like they did in Harvest Moon 64, but they do have some roles in cut-scenes.

Now, the downside is some chapters last two or three years. Each day lasts ten-twenty minutes, depending on what you do. You can easily get bored with the game, but if you keep going, each chapter is different than the one before and after it.

Replayability: 7.5

Every real second is a game minute. Each real minute is a game hour. Each day is 18hours, as you sleep for six. There are ten days in each of the four seasons, which, surprisingly for some, passes as quickly as the 30-31 day seasons in Harvest Moon 64 (because time passes slower). The good thing about this is you have more time to do your work, and still leisure time.

The game is really long, around 120 hours not including pause time or when someone talks to you. Because it's so long, it's hard to replay the whole thing. However, you can always create a new file to experiment with hybrids, children, friendships, etc, which does make it more replayable, which is good for those folks who need to get everything possible in video games.

Final Recommendation:

Notice there's no 'buy' or 'rent'? That's because it's up to you. You should rent it if you've never played Harvest Moon before. If you like it, return it on time and buy it. Trust me; It'll be cheaper to buy it if you return it on time. Then you can continue where you left off, as long as the memory card used was yours. Buy it if you love Harvest Moon and are a hardcore player/fan of the series. It'll be a great addition, and it's very fun to play.

Overall: 9

If you enjoyed other Harvest Moon games, then you should definitely get this. It's like... The start of a new era, yet still a continuation of a brilliant series.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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