Review by Entegy

Reviewed: 12/03/04

It had the potenial to be the best, but fell in areas of gameplay

Harvest Moon. A series I only discovered summer of 2004. Starting with Friends of Mineral Town, I was instantly hooked. Borrowing Harvest Moon 64 from a friend only increased my interest in the series. I decided to buy A Wonderful Life for GameCube, but I heard that other people didn't like it much. A big part of my buying it was the fact that it had connectivity with Friends of Mineral Town.

Gameplay: 7/10
First off, I'm gonna say that this is the hardest Harvest Moon to date. The farming aspects are different this time around. The game is also divided into chapters. You now have three different fields to plant in. Yuu can never water more than one space at a time.

Time moves slower than any other game in the series at a rate of 1 minute in-game time for every second real time. This makes one day a total of 24 minutes. This would normally make seasons REALLY long, but no. A season is now only 10 days, as opposed to the usual 30 days in past games. Because of this, you think that once you've watered your crops/trees (will be covered later), fed your animals, and milked your cows, you done for the day. Nope. You have to water your plants 2-3 times a day and a cow can be milked twice a day.

For animals, you have the usual cows, sheep and chickens. There are differences here. You can now get different species of cows and they can either female or male. You require a rooster to fertilize a chicken's egg so you can put it in the incubator for more chickens. You also can get new animals: goats and ducks. A cat can also be gotten as a pet. However, the goat stops giving milk after 40 days (1 year) and can't get going again, ducks don't do anything and the only the cat does is steal food from your dog's food dish.

Another thing about the animals is milking the cows. While they can be milked twice a day (Yay!), they stop giving milk after 40 days. You need to impregnate them to get to give milk after birth again. This means that within your first few days on the farm, you have to impregnate your first cow if you want to get continuous milk. Now, if this was a normal Harvest Moon, I wouldn't mind this milking system but this milking system was a bad thing to do for this game. I'll say why later.

Crops. You have new crops that you can grow. Also, most crops can be grown in more than one season. However, raising crops is pretty worthless since you only get a very little profit from it. And if you use fertilizer on them, you'll actually lose profit. Ranks are also a new thing. There are three ranks: B,A and S, S being the best, B the worst. Fertilizer is used to up ranks but it takes around 10 bags to up a crop to S-rank and 40 bags to up a tree to S-rank. Trees are MUCH better than crops. Trees take a year to mature and will then give 24 fruit in a specific season. For a good profit, you put these in a new item, the Seed Maker and sell the seeds. Once again there is not enough time to fully enjoy this however.

Oh, yes. Selling is really tedious in the game. A merchant named Van travels between Mineral Town and Forget-Me-Not Valley stops in Forget-Me-Not Valley comes on the third and eight of every month (sometimes he comes randomly.) Only to he can you sell your crops and other things. The only thing you can ship via the bin are dairy products and later on, 3rd Gen crops/seeds.

Hybriding. A REALLY big point in the game. Once you make it to Chapter 2, you can get a plant that will mix crops/seeds together to make a better crop. Buy the 1st Gen seed from Vesta, give them to Tartan (the plant) and out pops a 2nd Gen plant! Mix two 2nd Gen plants to create an uber 3rd Gen plant that you can even name! However, you can't mix different Generations. (e.g. you can't mix a tomato(1st Gen) with a Cady(2nd Gen).) Different generations also need to planted in certain fields.To go even further, there are three types of flowers that will allows you to further your crops (not trees) so you can plant them in any soil, any season or even up them to S-rank in a second! Hybriding is really fun.

The Valley has a brand new cast of characters. As the game progresses, they age along with you. They all have different personalities. However, only three of them you can marry. Marriage is required in this game. Most of the villagers you can become friends with by just giving them flowers. And once you're married, you get a son to raise. You have to raise him to become one of six carriers.

Throughout this section, I've mentioned that there isn't enough time to do things. Why? Because after 10 in-game years, the game ends! That's right, you die. Ending all your hard work on the farm. Bye-bye hybrids. Bye-bye family. Bye-bye everything. This game focuses more on raising your son. At the end of the game, you find out what he wants to do with his life. I'll stop spoiling the game now.

Story: 10/10
It's the same story as all the Harvest Moon games that has worked again and again. Someone dies and you take over the farm. This time around, someone much closer to you dies: your father. Him and his best friend Takakura wanted to work on a farm and they found one in Forget-Me-Not Valley. However, your dad dies and Takakura calls you in to see if you will take over. Will you be a successful farmer? Will you be a lazy bum? Will you live a wonderful life? The rest of the story is up to you.

Graphics: 9.8/10
Fully utilizing the GameCube's graphical capability, everything is detailed, from a leaf falling from a tree to the wind gently brushing your character's hair. The world of Forget-Me-Not Valley is so beautiful, it's hard to forget. As the seasons change, you will see the world around you change so smoothly. However, what made it lose .2 points was the fact that A Wonderful Life goes back to the Nintendo 64 days where all the characters' fingers are stuck together.

Sound: 6.7/10 (with connectivity: 10/10)
The normal soundtrack of this game is ok. Each house has their own tune. Events have catchy tunes. The title theme is well done However, there is no music when you walk around. And on your farm, there are only two records that you can play that get boring after a while. However, once you connect to Friends of Mineral Town and start getting records, the music rating goes right up to 10. You get the exact same records as Friends of Mineral Town but they are orchestrated and EXTREMELY well done, making them even more catchy.

Play time and replayability:
You will get a lot of hours out of this game. You can replay the game to marry different girls and raise your son to be something else.

Final Recommendation:
Rent this game first, like I did, if you're unsure. See if it applies to your tastes, then buy it.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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