Review by strawhat

Reviewed: 02/18/04

The best thing is, Mom will think this is another educational game. Oh wait, it is!

Harvest Moon hits the Game Boy Advance for the first time, and I must say that this is quite an improvement from the old Game Boy Color games, and even the other consoles. It is perhaps the best Harvest Moon game yet even though it is on the GBA and a remake of Harvest Moon: Back to Nature. The secret formula is...well, I don't think Natsume will tell us but I'm sure most players can see that for themselves. It's not just a remake, it's a whole new game.

Story: 9/10
The story is basically the same as in the Playstation version with a few changes. This time, you get lost as a child while on vacation in the country. You end up on an old man's farm and he calls your parents. The old mad says he's lonely and wouldn't mind having you stay with him for a while and your parents says it's a good idea to see the country life. So your parents let you stay on the farm with the old man(Note to parents: Bad idea) and you explore the area a bit. You meet a young girl who becomes your friend and makes you promise to come back. Being the stereotypical good guy you are, you say yes.

Back to the present. You grow up and now come back to Mineral Town. You find out that the old man had died which makes you sad. The mayor finds his will and says that the old man wanted to leave the farm to you. So, you take the farm.

Gameplay: 9/10
So what's this game all about? Just like the previous Harvest Moon games, it's about farming and living a good life. It may seem a bit stupid at first, but you must actually try playing it to believe it is that addictive. It is just like Harvest Moon: Back to Nature actually, with farming by raising animals and planting crops, clearing land, and finding other things to make money. They have the same villagers in which you can befriend by giving gifts. You can also get married. You can stray away from farming if you'd like by fishing, improving your house, exploring the town or forest, and many other things. The goal is to basically have a good life by the end of three years.

For those who already have the Harvest Moon games, namely Back to Nature, many ask if this game is actually worth buying since it is just a remake. The answer is yes. There are changes, although nothing major. You can play mini games with the Harvest Sprites which is actually quite fun, the villagers like and say different things. There are more items to collect, like Black Grass and you can get cursed or blessed items. One great improvement is that time is faster so it doesn't take 30 minutes for an hour to pass. There are many more secrets that you must find, such as what's behind the locked door, if there's a monster in the lake, or if the Goddess serves more of a purpose rather than staying in that old waterfall all day... Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town is a whole new challenge to overcome in the Harvest Moon series. Its secret to success is that there are many events that happen after you're married which is usually the downfall of most HM games. This keeps you going and increases the game life.

The Controls of the game can take a while to memorize but is overall pretty simple. The game now runs off of a square map rather than diagonal so there's no problem with up being northeast and things like that. There are many controls for a Gameboy game and it requires several buttons so it may take a while to figure that out.

There's just one flaw that prevented this game from getting a higher score. That is that it has HORRIBLE translation and is loaded with glitches. Sentences just cut off, there are spelling errors, and one day a villager started talking to me in Japanese. How strange. There's not enough to actually effect Gameplay but it can be very irritating at time to not understand what someone is saying.

Graphics: 8/10
The graphics are great. The are similar, if not better, than its counterpart. The colors are sharp and vibrant spilling with detail. The character sprites all resemble the pictures when spoken too and don't look sloppy in any way. The animals look cute and cuddly just like how they're supposed to. You can see movement within the characters and animals. The scenery is also excellent. You can see trees and leaves and wild animals wandering around in the forest. Bridges and wood have such detail that I find myself surprised at how good the Game Boy Advance's capabilities are.

There are flaw though, sadly. First, it's very hard to tell between adult and young animals. I didn't know that my dog became an adult until a few weeks later when it started jumping out of my stone pen. Sometimes, the sky can flash if you decide to travel to the summit which makes it look kind of fake which is a letdown. That's basically all the flaws. It's obvious the goods outweigh the flaws so the graphics get a 9.

Sound/Music: 9/10
The music is perfect. They are all better remixes of Back to Nature's music but that is fine. The music is less annoying than the other version. It is softer and more appealing to the ears. The sound quality has also improved. The sound no longer greatly outweighs the music so it sounds normal. They are realistic and smooth.

There's also just one flaw in the sound. Whenever you select an item, there will be a chicken sound. I hate that. It is very annoying, but learn to get over it after a while.

Replay Value: 10/10
Is there any way a simulation game cannot get a 10 for replay value? You will replay this game for many years to come. You can date all the girls and marry different ones to see what they say, see new events, and get things that you have missed. If you want, you can also just have a new way of life by just fishing. Harvest Moon leaves an open door for many possibilities of gaming.

Overall: 8/10
This game has way more events and fun festivals than the other game which will keep you entertained for more than enough time. If you are a fan of the HM games or just want to try something new, pick up this game. It is fun in every way and I guarantee that you will like it. There are only a few flaws that lead up to nothing major making this an enjoyable game.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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