Review by dionysosbaachus

Reviewed: 04/03/06 | Updated: 04/04/06

Ripe for the picking!

Introduction- Harvest Moon: Magical Melody is the latest edition to the storied Harvest Moon franchise by Natsume, with a history dating back to the Super Nintendo. It's genre is a blend of farming, relationship building, and rpg elements. Harvest Moon has been referred to as a virtual sand-box where the player is free to do most anything at anytime.

Gameplay- Harvest Moon: Magical Melody is an easy game to pick up and play with just a limited description of how to play needed to be on your way. However the game excels in depth and there is a whole lot under the surface. The designers have implemented new features geared at making the overall experience more enjoyable. One of these is the new auto target system when using the watering can which is quite useful in the beginning stages of the game; instead of moving from crop to crop you can now usually just press the water button and the player character will auto turn/aim at any near crops. I did say usually, which is because occasionally the character will over look a nearby plant. This coupled with a lock on button that allows the player to see which square is being aimed at allow fieldwork to be much less cumbersome than ever. Also, Natsume implemented a quick ability to scroll through the items in the rucksack by using the yellow c-stick. Even-though this may be useful and feels fine, it still leaves me wanting the free camera that was assigned to the c-stick in the previous entry in the series. Now the camera is fixed and limited to three zoom levels.

Story- The main story is far from compelling and mostly put on the back burner as you go about tending to your daily duties. But on another hand there is the ever present relationship building portion of the game and a unique aspect is the new rival feature in which you have a rival that you must compete against. Also, the non-player characters that populate the world have their own rivals, this really adds to the setting. But the dialogue interaction is obsolete, it isn't a wordy affair.

Graphics/ Sound- Graphics are ultra cutesy and the sound seems to be on perpetual repeat. I highly recommend looking at the box or any other image of the game you can find before purchasing, because I know there are just some people who won't find the graphics all that appealing. However, I am a big fan. The sound is catchy but doesn't add much to the gameplay. Newly added are character groans just as the dialogue box pops up, an attempt to add personality which only leaves me wanting full blown recordings. Thats right the dialogue is text delivered.

Play Time/ Replayability- This is variable. There is a whole lot to do and it will take hours to do it, but most of it is repeating similar if not the same tasks. The open ended gameplay will be delightful to most and so Harvest Moon: Magical Melody ranks high in replayability.

Final Recommendation- Even-though this game is clearly not for everyone, as some people might not even make it past the cartoony graphics, Harvest Moon: Magical Melody is one of the deepest games yet released. The shear amount to do creates a steep learning curve, but with a little explanation and alot of time anyone can create a mega farming empire. This is definitely the best Harvest Moon game yet.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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