Here are a few of my favorite things: Nintendo, Penny Arcade, The Legend of Zelda, Mario, Pokemon, Harvest Moon, Fallout, Dungeons and Dragons, books, dice, Professor Layton, Shadow of the Colossus, Minecraft, and so much more. I'm going to talk a lot about video games, I sincerely hope you don't mind.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Harvest Moon: Another chance (?)

Before I kick off this post, I'm going to issue yet another apology for not having my surprise ready to unveil! I'm at least extremely happy to inform everyone that it is well underway and I am 95% sure that it'll be ready for next week! Here's to hoping you all find it to be worth the wait. So, with that out of the way, let's dive into today's topic: Harvest Moon! There's a brand new one coming out for 3DS on November 1st, and it has prompted tons of sweet memories for me.

The cast of A Wonderful Life. Image found here.

I've been a big fan of the series for quite some time now. My first foray into the series was the Super Nintendo version courtesy of a recommendation from a friend. I instantly fell in love and was very sad when the game ended during summer of year 3. Fortunately, and to my great delight, the Nintendo 64 and Playstation versions continued on as long as the player wanted them to.

There are many fond hours and days in my memory of lying on the floor with my feet up on the TV stand, milking cows, pulling turnips and wooing the many ladies of the town (in these older versions one could only play as a boy *shrug*). I had a fantastic time tending to my farm and keeping the fields free of weeds. I named my animals carefully and lovingly, and made sure to get all of the eligible bachelorettes in love with me before I picked one. Seems perhaps a tad cruel, but it was just so fun for some reason.

Those giant red pounding hearts are addictive. Image found here.

I was never really a fan of the portable versions. I've played the majority of the Gameboy and Gameboy Color versions, as well as almost every DS iteration. I know many people that love Friends of Mineral Town for the Gameboy Advance, but I just about hated it. The town layout didn't appeal to me, and neither did the cast of characters. It has been long enough since I've played them that I don't remember particulars of the gameplay, but I know I gave it a legitimate shot. 

Harvest Moon is a game that I auto buy. I love the early versions so very much that I'm always hoping against hope that the new releases will bring back some semblance of that joy. I hardly ever read reviews. I try to just listen to my heart regarding how it makes me feel. I think that reviews have a certain amount of legitimacy, but something that one person dislikes could be something that another person does like. So I try to not put too much stock into their opinion.

I don't know what reviewers think of these two games, and I also don't care.
These are fantastic games. The opinion of someone else doesn't matter!
Images found here and here.

One thing that I really enjoy about this series is how universal it is. Pretty much anyone can enjoy it. My experience working at the game store showed me that! There were almost as many guys that looked forward to the new releases as there were girls. It was always a thrill to get into an unexpectedly fun conversation with a guy about how great Harvest Moon was. 

In the heyday of the 64 version, my sister and I spent many happy afternoons with our male cousin taking turns playing our files. I recall our parents urging us to go outside and enjoy the summer days, but we were addicted and in love with our virtual farms. 

The spectrum of Harvest Moon games is so big. It's interesting to me how many different ideas Natsume has been able to incorporate. Of course, I'm not a fan of all of them. Some of the games I downright hate. I love the original formula, and I'm a stickler for consistency, so whenever there is change that I perceive to be bad I get very upset! Although, I don't think that is unique to me. 

It's my personal opinion that the game developers want to make sure the titles don't become stale, so they attempt to incorporate new challenging aspects. I totally get that, and it's valid, but the "challenges" that they add end up being cheap and incredibly frustrating. Case in point: Magical Melody. It is, hands down, my absolute favorite Harvest Moon title. However, they added one of the stupidest features ever: the random "fall up" pits in the mines. How can you even fall up? This stupid feature makes it next to impossible to get to the bottom most layer of the mine, which is where the player has to get to find one of the power berries. I'm still very bitter about this.

Aside from the 64 and PSone versions, Magical Melody and 
Save the Homeland are my absolute favorite versions.
Images found here and here.

If anyone ever asked me (and they did frequently at the game store) what my favorite Harvest Moon game was, I would immediately say Magical Melody. To me, it is perfection (aside from that stupid mine thing). Magical Melody has so many amazing, enjoyable features! The player can choose male or female, the graphics are super cute, the beginning of the game gives you the option of three different places in town to live, there are tactical challenges of finding good soil, you can buy more land and expand your farm empire, there are tons of in-game characters, the story line is great, the town is really big and it develops organically as more people move in. It is amazing! If anyone has ever been curious about the Harvest Moon series, then please go get Magical Melody! It's available for Gamecube and for Wii. The Wii version removed the playing as a girl option, but other than that it's the same.

Save the Homeland is another fantastic version. It's for PS2 and I really love the graphics, controls, characters and town. The only real downside to this version is that once you 'save the homeland', the game ends! So frustrating. There are a bunch of different ways to save the homeland, and once you do you successfully "win", so the game starts over. You appear in town on day 1 as if you'd just moved in, but you get to keep all of your money, house items and farm animals. The player has to forge relationships with the townsfolk all over again, and find a new way to save the area. If it weren't for the game ending aspect, I'd say this version was perfection.

Some cute Harvest Moon art. I love the character designs!
Image found here.

Just the other day I found out about the newcomer to the series, Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns. It comes out on November 1st, and I can't believe I haven't heard about it until now! The one real advantage to working at the game store was having video game news thrown at me literally every day. It didn't take too much effort to keep up on the things that I loved. Now that I don't work there anymore though it is super difficult to find all of the information that I want to have! There's just so much of it! 

I watched the trailer/gameplay video for the game and I'm feeling fairly hopeful. I won't be able to buy it when it comes out, so this time I'll have a chance to read reviews and hear player feedback. I have my fingers crossed so hard that it'll be the portable version I've always wanted. Each DS iteration has let me down worse than the one before it, yet I keep buying them. Come on Natsume, please don't do it to me again.

Looks promising, right?! It's also available as a regular DS game
for a whopping ten dollars less. I'll probably go with that option.

Now that I've spent the day writing all about Harvest Moon, I am feeling some serious withdrawals. Perhaps I'll go fire up the Wii and play some Magical Melody for Gamecube. That sounds like a wonderful way to spend the day <3



reading this has me antsy and looking around me at my many game/movie cases in case I might have "save the homeland" or "back to nature" handy. Ughhhh. I MUST PLAY. Thanks for stirring up the virtual farmer within again. <3 haha

p.s. after seeing the video you provided, I think that I will also opt for the regual DS version. 3D hurts my eyes anyhow. haha

I know I have myself all riled up! haha! I don't actually own Save the Homeland, I borrowed it come someone a long time ago. I'd love to get my hands on a copy though!

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