Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon is a series that I love enough that I'm willing enough to spend over 100+ hours into gameplay on reaching level 10 affection with a cow, in order to win a Cow Festival, milk Golden Milk from it, and use said milk in various other contests and gifts.

As redundant as it may become, I'm still convinced to buy the newer games.

Harvest Moon: A New Beginning, at it's core, does not stray from your usual Harvest-Moon-Plot-Mix. You're a newbie farmer from the city who has acquired a farm because a) city life isn't all that its supposed to be and going to a farm might help you find yourself, or b) a close relative (be it grandfather or parents) have either kicked the bucket and handed it down to you or has decided to give you the family farm after a decade or two of ignoring it. You must bring in new shops, have old villagers come back, and win as many competitions as possible for the sake of earning Gold Ranked farm items.

What A New Beginning does differently, firstly, is the introduction of blueprints. Blueprints for farm equipment, as opposed to buying upgrades, blueprints for the barns, and even blue prints for the town itself. With that, you're in pretty much control of where to place all these. Have to say, it's much easier finding where the Blacksmith is, since I placed it there.

Glorious little things, really. 

All images found on Google/
Second, the game utilises Character Customisation. CHARACTER CUSTOMISATION. I can go on and on about the new batch of farm and wild animals and new village dynamic, but I'm just going to be very honest when I say that Character Customisation, especially one that is introduced to a game where you have had a male and female pre-determined character for generations, is 1000000X more interesting than another introduction of animals and characters(which they do with almost every new permutation of the game anyway).

Seriously, I was so excited. I might have spent way too much time on the screen.
Thirdly, they introduced an online multiplayer component. Meaning you go online and meet other farmers around the world. Harvest Moon, a relatively solitary game where the most social you can get is physically talking to your friend about your romance option, introduced online multiplayer. Sure, you don't actually talk to other plays beyond your basic emotes, but you do practice being a nice person if you've progressed far enough by gifting other plays items such as black chicken eggs or gold quality farm items (and if you're just starting out or feel like an ass, you give hay). What amazes me about this function is that you have other players help take care of your farm animals.

The moment of truth where you have to wonder if 1 out of the 4 is a nice person.
Now don't get me wrong, part of Harvest Moon's charm is taking care of the animals, wouldn't be a farming game without it, but the hassle of taking care of so many animals cuts the game shorter than it should be. Then don't have so many animals, duh! Yes, but that's still one Cow, one Llama, one Alpaca, one sheep and one bull to spend a lot of time on (and then future offsprings because old-age-animal-deaths are just as heartbreaking in-game as in real life), and then your crops to take care and talking to every single villager around, because some blueprints only unlock with a certain approval rating.
Fun note: happy farm animal that gives gold-grade stuff translates to GIANT HAPPY FARM ANIMAL in Multiplayer.
Unfortunately, this game doesn't have that much replay value for me. Sure I love it, but nothing really brings me back. The Bachelor and Bachelorettes were very subpar this time around, the single mining cave was very much randomised so it was truly luck to get any of then gems I needed, and these sort of games never really had a long lifespan for me honestly. Long bursts of game play? Yes. Sort of game that I will continuously go back to? Not so much.

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