Review by Harvest on the Moon

Reviewed: 03/19/04

Harvest Moon is back to kick some ass, famer style

My favorite Harvest Moon to date, right next to HM64.

To those unfamiliar with the series, Jack is a kid who's inherited a farm in one way or another. This time around, his Dad's left him it in hopes of his son living out his dream. Accompanied by his old farmhand, Takakura, the two are to fix up the farm and turn into something truly memorable. Jack's got quite the job to do--starting with only a cow, he must make friends with his new neighbors and eventually settle down. Quite the job indeed.

Graphics/Sound/Music: 9

To grade this fairly, I'll be grouping these together as one grade. Since these things aren't as important as, say, Gameplay, I won't be making them have too much of an impact on the grading. Graphics are a 10... a true treat to look at. Everything has a great cartoony look, making even the most disfigured of characters look pretty. Sound gets a 8. Nothing spectacular, really, but nothing too annoying/bad. At the beginning you may find the character noises annoying, but they'll grow on you. Music earns itself a 9. Although a few tracks can get repetitive, you can just switch out what you're listening to with another record at your record player. Not perfect, but it's a good and original idea.

Gameplay: 9

Alright, time to reveal the reason the Harvest Moon series isn't always as cherished as it should be... it's incredibly repetitive. I mean incredibly. Check weather, feed animals, eat food, water crops, eat food, talk to people, sleep. Lather, rinse & repeat. Yes, I'm serious. But it's not as bad as it sounds. There's just something that intrigues people to keep playing--to see all your work and effort pay off is worth all the time you spent. Throw in a few random things such as fossil digging and fishing, and it gets much better. You've also gotta watch out for a damn hobo, as it'll steal your crops for food at night. Damn the hobo. Moving on, this game differs from previous games in many ways. I'll compare it to HM64, as the other HM's just don't match up IMO. Anyway, the days are much longer. In HM64 they only lasted a few minutes, in AWL the last nearly half an hour. Every (in-game) minute equals a second in our time. So, each day lasts twenty-four minutes. Sleeping takes off six of those hours. There's also more crops and many more animals this time 'round. Four different types of cattle, along with a male and female of every animal. That alone beats the crap out of other HMs, and the new animals just add icing to the cake. More tools as well. But... it goes a tad downhill after that. The girls. In HM64 we had five to choose from, but in AWl... we have three. An intelligent loner, a flirty and outspoken broad, and a caring and helpful brunette. Not that this is any problem, as I find these girls much more enjoyable than the previous ones. Moving back to the time, seasons are ten days. Yes, there are still four seasons in a year. This makes things interesting, albeit a tad strange to adjust to. Characters (inclding Jack) age as well, adding more to this incredible game.

Longevity: 10

You kidding me? It's a Harvest Moon game for crying out loud! Of course it's long!

Overall: 9

This is the best HM game so far, having polished and added anything and everything is was missing. Although good, it still has a few bad points in it, however. Factoring that in with the repetitiveness that turns off people at times, it gets a 9. If you've never tried a HM game go get this. If you've tried one and disliked it, steer clear. A must buy for Harvest Moon vet's.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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