Review by FlareI

"A Depart from Old, but a Great New Beginning"

Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life is definitely a game worth getting. Though some of its aspects are departs from the normal of HM Games, it is still quite fun, and as entertaining as ever.

Graphics: 8
The Graphics, in my opinion do not leave me with any great sense of imagery. The only reason I really say this is because of the environment in which you live. While the interior of the buildings in the town are fine and very well put together, something about the outside world puts me off. Perhaps it's the fact that everything seems to end in a cliff face, or a wall. I'm not saying that's bad, but I would have enjoyed a bit more from the surrounding lands. However, the ocean is well done. From far back and up close on the beach you can look out and see islands dotting the sea that fade into a fog cover. It looks very impressive. I would have liked to see something similar to this for the lands around your valley as well.

However, aside from this, the graphics are excellent. The character designs, while still somewhat childish in appearance, are drawn perfectly and display emotions as you speak. Though their lips seem to stop and go independent of when the text is being displayed, or so it appears to me. The Animations, however, are smooth and clean. The Animals and Plants look nice, as well as the shrubby surrounding your farm and the town.

Sound: 6
The sounds are the part of the game I have to most complaints with. They're not bad, or annoying, but I just feel the sounds are lacking. For your farm you have a choice of two tunes with which to play when you start and that’s it. While it is possible to get more, you must have a GBA, a link cable and the new Harvest Moon game for the GBA, Friends of Mineral Town. I personally feel that at least a few of the records available to buy should be default. I think you should have at least four records to choose from without linking.

The rest of the sounds are, well... they're okay. The town around your farm is pretty much without music except for the Blue Bar and the Inner Inn. Their tunes are catchy and seem to fit the atmosphere of their locations however. The sound effects are fairly good as well. Your animals’ sounds sound about as realistic as you could hope for without actually recording a cow and sheep and putting it in the game. And the sound effects of your movement are decent as well.

Control: 10
While the controls can be a little tricky to get the hang of at first, once you grasp them they are very easy to follow. It only took me about five minutes to grasp the control scheme of the game in its entirety. In the Game, a small display of buttons in always present in the upper right corner. By watching those buttons the game lets you know what you can do, and how to do it. By holding something in your hands, those options will change, and it's really just a matter of figuring out what tool does what and where to use it.

The Fishing has gotten a bit more complex though compared to previous games (HM64 from my knowledge of it). It requires you to wait through various rumbles until you get a big hit. It does confuse a few people, but it only took me two casts to figure it out. (I checked the manual that game with the game).

Story: 9
The story is built in a linear path, which is different from previous HM games that let you do what you wanted, when you wanted, and how you wanted. This one does not. You are required to complete certain objectives within certain time periods. If you don't, the game does it for you at the end of that time period whether you like it or not.

While I do dislike this fact, the layout of the story is entertaining. There are side stories you can unlock and follow at anytime through out the main story and you can choose to ignore certain things if you wish (such as people... I have done this). It's different, but not bad.

Gameplay: 10
The Game play has drastically changed from what you might remember from previous HM Games. Seeds only cover one square, there's no lumber to be cut(meaning no axe), the hammer is gone, fishing has changed (as I mentioned), and there are now only three girls.

There are also more types of cows, new animals, and a new breeding system of animals, and hybrids crops, as well as trees. It can be somewhat overwhelming for the die hard HM fans who have grown used to and fond of the old ways, but I have no problem with it. In fact, the only change I don't like is the switch from five to three girls. I would have liked to see more variety.

Play Time/Replayability: 10
With this game, you are guaranteed to have at least a week of play, and that’s assuming you play from when you wake up in the morning to when you go to bed at night everyday for a week. This is because of the length of days. A day in game time is equal to 24 minutes real time (1 hour game time = 1 minute real time). You sleep 6 hours of the day, meaning you play an 18 hour game day each day. There are 10 days per season, and 4 seasons per year. And on top of all that there is a spankin' 10 years to play in the game. So let's look at the math.

That’s 18 minutes per day, for 10 days a season, for 4 seasons a year, for ten years.
18 * 10 * 4 * 10 = 7200 minutes.

This means 120 hours of game time for just one game. And that's not including the time you'll spend talking, playing mini games, watching cut-scenes, sorting your inventory, switching tools, selling items, etc. etc. So that's over 120 hours of gameplay for one game. With three girls to marry, that means you could play three entirely different games of over 120 hours. For an average gamer like me, that’s months of fun, even if I play hours each days.

Final Recommendation: Buy it!
To get the full feel for the game you have to buy it. Renting it would just not be enough. You'd have to spend as much money renting the game to finish it, as you would to buy. If you find a copy, grab it and hug it tight. Make sure to hiss loudly at anyone who might try to take it too.

Final: 9
A Wonderful Life, A wonderful Game, A Wonderful Time for all.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/23/04

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