Written by Rythix on February 23, 2015 @ 10:30 am
Note: I am reviewing the digital eShop version of this game, and I have not purchased the physical version because of the “freezing” issues I keep hearing. Nonetheless, you may still consider this as a trustworthy review.
Natsume’s best game franchise, Harvest Moon, has risen to a whole new level of virtual farm life. As a huge fan of the Harvest Moon franchise, I have always LOVED the game, and I spend hours playing it whenever I get the time to.
▬ Story / Gameplay ▬
“Welcome to a mountain of lush green forests and abundant wildlife. Nestled at the foot of the mountain on each side are two distinctive villages. A young farmer with dreams of owning a farm has come here to make the dream real.”
And then you fall off your horse and down the mountain.
Isn’t that a great start?
At the beginning, you obviously get to pick which gender you’ll be playing in. However, unlike the newer Harvest Moon games (A New Beginning, most notably), you don’t get to customize your character. Well, at least not much, and not in the beginning, you start off with a piece of clothing the mayor (of which town you choose) gives you to change your dirty clothes (you fell off the mountain) with. Later on in the game, you get to unlock other clothing and wear any of them to your heart’s content, but let’s not get off track. Anyways, two people, who happen to be mayors of the two opposite (or should I say opposing?) towns find you passed out in the dirt. They introduce themselves and the towns that they represent.
Unlike A New Beginning, this game doesn’t start off (and isn’t forced to start off) slowly throughout the year, but only in the first season does it feel slow (but not very slow). You can skip tutorials that teach you things that you may already know.
The left side of the map is known as Bluebell, a European-style town. The town has a large statue in the middle with all of the residences on the outside areas. Bluebell’s specialty is animals, and you will have to visit here if you want to buy animals for your farm.
The right side of the map is known as Konohana, a town with a rural Asian-style setting with unpaved roads and cozy houses. The town isn’t as centeralized as Bluebell and there is lots of space around the houses for their fields. Crops are a specialty in Konohana and almost everyone is growing some sort of vegetable or fruit tree.
These two towns are friendly at each other, but not the mayors. You get to choose which town you want to live in, you either pick Animals vs Crops. However, you can still adopt an animal in Konohana town and harvest crops in Bluebell, but not as much as the opposing towns originally intend you to.
In between the two opposing towns is a huge mountain that is preoccupied by animals, insects, and great wonders. This place is where you’ll be spending more than half your day in. The mountain has many secrets that you’ll find hidden within as you explore.
You will catch a huge variety of fishes, insects, plants, junk, and animals (unfortunately can’t bring animals to your town). It’s a great place to explore, but going from one side of the map to another takes a huge amount of time, even if you ride your horse (yes, you can ride your house freely, I’ll get to that later).
I honestly like the changes they made with this game. I love how you could ride your horse anywhere (with some spots as exceptions) and have it drag a cart for you to expand your item slots with (I know that Grand Bazaar also has this feature). I like how there is a request board in the middle of each town that you can do requests from (requested by the folks in the town). The only problem I honestly have is how you don’t get to have a shipping bin in your farm, but rather in the middle of the town – this makes it a pain to ship items because you have to walk all the way there, but it’s not that far that I come to dislike it. Not to mention that you’re only limited to shipping twelve items at a time.
All the characters are very likeable and there are many character events that trigger as you get friendly with them more and more. There are also plenty of marriage candidates you can choose from regardless of the gender you choose.
When the new season arrives, it feels like a completely new game, especially when it’s your first year and you get from spring to summer (which is when you get your fishing rod!).
I like the new dating system they have invented for this game, it creates a better feel for the bond that you and your dating candidate have, not to mention that it gives you some FP (Friendship Points) that’ll help you improve your relationship with them. The requests from the Request/Message Board is also a fun new feature that will help you receive items you won’t either acquire from the mountains or shops. Some requests may be a pain to do, but it’s well worth it (well, in some cases).
The gameplay brings some lovely changes that makes the game more entertaining, and that is what I like about the Harvest Moon franchise.
▬ Graphics / Visuals / 3D ▬
Even though the game sticks to the classic DS-sprites, it still brings a promising experience that makes the newer sprite-versions pale in comparison. Honestly, I like how they stayed with the 2D feeling (despite it being in the 3DS and it supporting 3D) because that’s what I grew up to like, and got used to. At the beginning, you’ll find that the text may be a little bit off the high quality for a 3DS game (I have XL, maybe that’s why), but once you get used to it, it seems like it’s nothing. However, the 3D isn’t all that great, to be honest. It makes the game kind of hard to play since you need to be playing in that “sweet spot” the whole time, and all the 3D does is put the dialogues and make some trees stick up the very front, so apparently they didn’t really spend their time worrying about the 3D features. But nevertheless, it doesn’t really affect the fact that the game is fun!
▬ Notable Cons ▬
Here are some notable cons that may be a deciding factor as to whether or not you should buy the game:
- The physical version of this game is known to have freezing issues, so it may crash on you while you’re walking through the mountains. It is extremely recommended to purchase the game through the Nintendo eShop. If you want a physical version, then you must buy the DS version, but you’ll be sacrificing the higher resolution, the 3D-enhanced graphics, Street Pass capability, and the petting mini-game – which aren’t really much of a big deal.
- You CANNOT SAVE during the day or anytime you want, you are only allowed to save when you go to bed. Meaning you have to go through the whole day in order to save. And… if you have the physical version and you have done a lot during the middle of the day and it crashes/freezes on you… then that sucks for you.
- Just like A New Beginning, the shipping bin is not beside your house, but rather in the upper (Konohana) or lower (Bluebell) part of the town.
- You can only ship twelve items at a time. Meaning if you have more than twelve items to ship, you have to ship the first twelve, then press A on the shipping bin again in order to ship another batch of twelve items. Shipping in this game isn't like A New Beginning's where it ships instantly upon choosing. Here, you have to put 12 in the Bin and ship them, then follow up with the remaining if you have more to ship.
- Item/Food “freshness” is a jarring feature in this game, especially when you depend on the item/food to give as a gift to a desired bachelor/bachelorette every day. Think of "freshness" as an expiry date.
- You can only buy pets once you’ve purchased animals that certain pets can handle. Meaning that if you buy a chick or a chicken, you’ll be allowed to buy a cat (which handles the chicken), if you buy a cow, you'll then be finally be allowed to buy a big dog, etc.
- Unlike the previous Harvest Moon games, stores only have up to 5 items (general store) or 2 items (food store) sold at a time. Also, you cannot buy Wonderfuls in this game, but rather, you must get them from the 'cracks' or other places such as the tunnel.
▬ Conclusion ▬
Overall, the game is a highly addictive and fun game that fulfill both your money’s worth and your expectations. This game will bring you endless amounts of fun and time will pass by so fast that you’ll crave to play it more. I highly recommend you purchase the game from the Nintendo eShop as it is up for $21.99 CAD and they have patched the “freezing” issues that many players have had in the physical cartridge. Ultimately, the game brings promising experience and nostalgia that every Harvest Moon fan will love.
Thank you for reading my review and enjoy your game!
Story Rating: 7
Graphics & Visuals Rating: 7
Sound Rating: 7
Overall Rating: 7
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