Any time a new Harvest Moon comes out, I must try it (with the exception of the WiiWare, haven’t tried that one yet). All the Harvest Moon reviews I read, the author must state how long they have been a fan of the series, so not to break tradition, for me it has been the SNES. I even have most of the little plush animals that have come with the recent game releases. Most… I am not perfect. Anyway, the game. Definitely a departure for the series. Not so much as Innocent Life or Rune Factory, just a slight fork in the road. Lots of changes, primarily the main premise: The Grand Bazaar.
The whole focus is restoring the Grand Bazaar of Zephr town, a weekly occurance. Every weekend (Saturday or Sunday depending on holidays) the Bazaar is held, and various merchants sell their wares. Ever since the last farmer left town, the Bazaar has been on the decline. The town hopes that with the arrival of a new farmer (you) it will again return to glory. So instead of shipping bins and making money daily and having useful town stores, the Bazaar is everything. You can buy a couple of necessities in town from Raul, but otherwise, everything happens on the weekend. Animals, more seeds, farm upgrades, tools, etc. All while you need to be selling your products. It gets to be a chaotic bit of time. And there are goals to meet, none of which are remotely possible at first, no matter what you store up; you really need bigger ticket items. During the week you can sell off some items to Raul just to lighten your load, but you won’t do as well with them as you would on the weekend.
Another major change is the fact that you can jump. It can be a bit wild, running and jumping all over the place. It does allow you some much needed shortcuts, however. You throw things a lot too, there is no nice way to set things down, so you are always chucking chickens about. They don’t seem to mind.
If you want a second chicken, you have to buy one. You can’t hatch one. That is somewhat of a let down, and no miracle potions… you have to buy everything. And it ain’t cheap. 3500 for a chick. 6000 for a grown chicken. 6000 for a cow. 8000 for a sheep… and you have to get four chickens before you are able to get a cat; four other livestock before you are able to get a dog.
During the week it can get a bit slow. All you have to do is play with your crops, any animals you might have, once the first summer comes you can get your fishing pole, though they put limits on that. You can only fish off docks. You see those big fish swimming out there but you can’t reach them until you get a better rod. At least once the windmills start opening up you can play with those. Sometimes if I have some stamina to kill, I just jump in the river a bunch of times to see what might catch on me, since chances are, it is nothing I can buy, or buy yet. The wooing is still there though. That can still occupy some of that down time during the week. The beginning of the game does get a little tedious though, since you are constantly scavenging just to get some good products together to try to sell at the Bazaar and then still not sell enough. But the beginning of every Harvest Moon has that period where you struggle. What fun would it be if it were easy? Gotta get creative and focus on a game plan.
MultiPlayer has been added. If you have friends that play, you can actually hook up to them and go visit their farm. Your farm animals won’t be visible, neither will insects… but it does allow you to get some different seeds and play around a bit.
One of the strange things about the actual Bazaar, while you are in a flurry of activity, trying to satisfy all your customers, periodically one will come up and want to chat with you. What you reply can either make or break you. If you upset them your reputation goes down (but only for that one week), if you please them with your answer, your reputation improves and more customers come. The thing is, the answer isn’t always quite what you would think it should be. You have to be rude to some of the people, you are running a store and you have to hold your ground. You have to be responsible and tell kids not to be dorking around. You can’t be all nice and friendly to everyone. So there were a few I got wrong just because I was trying to be a people pleaser. Bad bad move.
While there are many things that I think could have been done a little better or maybe a couple that shouldn’t have changed (creature of habit and all), I think this is a good contribution to the series. Mineral Town was the last portable version of Harvest Moon I really liked. I think this is the next.