Review by fallen angel1

"Life really is wonderful!"

Wake up,water your crops,tend to your cows, chickens, sheep, and your horse,go into the village and spend some time with the girl you want to marry some day,go home, water your crops again,milk your cows again,go to sleep, wake up tomorrow and do it all over again. Doesn't seem too fun? IT IS!

The Harvest Moon series has always captivated its loyal fanbase with these few, repetitive, yet fun, chores, and the newest title in the series does not disappoint.

Storyline: 7/10
You have inherited a farm from your dearly departed father. A close friend of his that lived on the farm with him has asked you to stay on the farm and try to make it the best it can be. Takakura, your fathers friend, explains to you that he would like you to marry, and improve this farm into something your father would be proud of. It's nothing special, but it does the job.

Graphics: 9/10
Simply..great..The Harvest Moon series has never been known for its incredible graphics, but A Wonderful Life's are, simply put, incredible. No cell shading here, which I think gives it a more realistic feel, even though the graphics are quite cartoonish. The environment in Forget-Me-Not Valley is beautiful. The trees in the area look great, and very realistic, and the river that runs through it is simply amazing. Lighting effects are nice as well, but the textures on buildings and things are a little flat. Overall, however, things are great.

Controls: 7/10
The controls do their job, but at times they're a little too sensitive. At first, they're a little hard to get used to because of the way a Gamecube controller is layed out, but once you get used to them, you should have no problems. Mostly everything is done by pressing the A button, which makes everything fairly straightforward, which helps. For the most part, the controls are decent.

Sound: 7.5/10
Nothing much to describe here. The only music you hear is on your farm or in the bar. The music tracks you listen to on your farm are a little annoying at first, but the option to change the track makes things tolerable. One major downside to the ability to change your music is that you are only given two tracks to start the game, and if you can't connect to the Gameboy counterpart, Friends of Mineral Town, you basically have to listen to those two over and over again. The sound effects are okay, but you cant really expect much from a farming game can you? The cries of your animals are dead on, and they really sound like their real life counterparts. When you're running around outside, the ambient sounds of the Valley are actually very nice. You can hear birds chirping, insects, and a variety of other things, such as the waves crashing on the beach, or the water in the river as it rushes by. Overall, the sounds are nothing special, but they do have some high points.

Gameplay: 9.5/10
This is where the Harvest Moon series has always been its best. The gameplay in past games has been very simply, which actually helped make the game all the more fun. This time around, Natsume decided to revamp the way you played the game. In the past, Harvest Moon has always been about making the best out of your farm in the three years your parents have given you. In A Wonderful Life, however, it's basically about living, you guessed it, a wonderful life. The game progresses in ''Chapters''. These chapters are comprised of a few years at a time, with major milestones in your character's life falling into the chapter. This gives the game a definite ''goal'' to accomplish, unlike in the past where all you really had to do was make money, and marry if you wanted to. This time around, you're forced to do things you may not have done in the past, but the game makes up for it in its depth and playability. Unlike past games, there are 3 eligible girls in the Valley, instead of 5 as in past games. This was a blessing in disguise actually, because all three girls shows more personality than did the five in past games. My only rant about this is that I find the girls a little too easy to woo. Another major difference from past games is that crops, which used to be your lifeblood, are not nearly as important and as big a moneymaker as they were in the past. In fact, they are almost more trouble than it's worth, because you have to water them every day, and if you want to make great produce, you have to add fertilizer to them everyday. This is a very time consuming process, and the money you make at first doesn't seem worth the time, but after you make some high quality stuff, and have hybrid crops and things, you see a reason to continue. Another huge difference from other games is that the days are extremely long, and you can do much more than you could in the past. One minute of real-time is equal to one hour in game-time. That would mean that the days take up about 24 minutes if you don't sleep, but sleep is necessary, so the days are actually about 18 minutes long. All of these additions have really upgraded the basic formula used in almost all of the past Harvest Moon games, and have made this arguably the best in the series.

Overall: 9/10
Simply put, it's an amazing game that many people will overlook simply's about farming. If you haven't played a Harvest Moon game yet, this is the perfect place to start, and if you have, play it NOW! That being said, this game is not for everyone, so you may want to rent before you buy to test it out.

Rent or Buy?
Rent first to see if you like it if it's your first time playing a Harvest Moon Game. Any fan of the series, BUY IT NOW!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/21/04

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