Review by RAMS
"A great addition to the series"
The Harvest Moon series made its debut as an SNES game back in 1996. Throughout the years, numerous Harvest Moon games have been released for various consoles and handhelds. Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town is the latest in the series, and the first in GBA. As a simulation game, this game definitely ranks as one of GBA's finest. Many things have improved for the better since the first Harvest Moon game.
Storyline and Characters
You start off the game finding yourself in a farm, until a middle-aged man comes. You are told that you shouldn't be in the farm, and that the farm belonged to an old man who has recently died. In his will, he has stated that the farm should go to a little boy he had met years ago. Of course, no prize for guessing who they boy is. Not the best of a story line, but certainly this is by far the most creative out of other Harvest Moon games. Once you are done with this whole sequence, the game begins.
Being a simulation game, Harvest Moon does not really have a deep storyline that is comparable to RPG. However, this is of a lesser importance, as the main draw of the game itself is the gameplay instead of storyline. Beside story sequences that set up the games, there is hardly anything more.
As usual, you're a farm boy. Being a Harvest Moon boy, you will not expect anything different. In my opinion, this is an area that the game could improve on. Missing from this game is the ability to play as a female farmer, which exist in some of its predecessors. It would also be interesting if you could choose characters of different age group instead of being stuck with the stereotypical Harvest Moon main character.
This would be the main strength of this game. Harvest Moon gameplay would appeal to fans and non-fans alike. Creating a game out of farming seems to be a peculiar idea, yet it works. The Harvest Moon series have been popular throughout the years. Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town adhere to this successful formula. Farming is still the main staple of this game, despite many of the features added that were not present in older Harvest Moon Games.
In this game, you'll be receiving most of your income from farming. More variety of seeds is available for players to choose. The usual features that could be identified with Harvest Moon are also present. The basic tools are still there - Hoe, Sickle, Hammer. Seeing this, there would no reason for fans not to like this game. In addition to farming, you can generate incomes from livestock, mining, as well as fishing. This diversity in method of gathering incomes could not be found in the old games, and with the addition of these features, there's no denying that Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town is one of the best so far in the series. Addictive would be an understatement to describe the enjoyment level of this game.
Gathering incomes are not the only thing that you can do in this game. Like many of the previous Harvest Moon games, many side features are also present. One of them would be marriage. You can marry one of the five girls in the game. Of course, you would need to woo them with gift first. This serves as touch of realism to the game. In addition to that, some mini games are also available.
The graphics are quite well done. It is almost on par with games like Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire and Golden Sun. Being the first Harvest Moon game for GBA, the graphics will certainly be better than any of other Harvest Moon GBA games for handheld. It is detailed enough as evident from the graphics of the weather. The game still feature the old style Harvest Moon sprites, but you will definitely notice its superiority in details. Though not as great as the gameplay, the graphics of the game certainly increased the appeal of the game.
Music is quite subjective. Some might find the music good, and some might find it annoying. To me though, it would be the latter. Repetition is one of the features of simulation games. However, that does not mean that the music has to be repetitive. While it is not bad at all, after a while you might get tired of it, as its repeated often in the game. It is still passable, although its not going to be the best music you will hear.
Another strength of the game, is its replay value. Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town is a simulation game. Players will have a fair amount of control over events that happen in the game. As a result, there are many possibilities to the game. With this, you will find yourself playing this game times and again, and it will not discarded among the old games in a matter of weeks. Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town should be able to last for quite a while, or until the next installment of the series.
Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town is a great game. Furthermore it is on GBA, and you would be able to carry it anywhere, unlike Harvest Moon games for console. Between buying and renting this game, I would suggest the former. This game is certainly worth the money for its gameplay alone. If you have played Harvest Moon before and like it, this game is a must. Even if you have not played any of the Harvest Moon game before, there is a large possibility that you might enjoy this game. Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town is one of the finest in he series.
Final Score: 9/10
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/24/03
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