Friday, June 1, 2012

Life on MooMoo Farm: Adventures in Harvest Moon-ing (Part 2 a review)

I talked a little bit the other day about my enjoyment in the Harvest Moon franchise games. I promised I would actually get around to reviewing the game and here I am keeping that promise! You're welcome.

Harvest Moon The Tale of Two Towns follows the basic formula set up in the other games in the franchise: you have a farm, you have a horse, you have an overall goal that usually involves caring for livestock and crops. The plot for The Tale of Two Towns is fairly straightforward: many many years ago, there were two towns-Bluebell and Konohana-located on either side of a large mountain, but they were connected by a tunnel/mine that ran through the mountain. One day members from each town got into an argument in the tunnel over which town could cook the best.  The argument got so loud and out-of-hand that the Harvest Goddess who lived on the mountain overheard it and became enraged at the bickering. In a fit of rage, the Harvest Goddess caved in the tunnel, separating the two towns. Decades passed, and the two towns grew resentful of each other mainly out of tradition. This is where the player's story begins.

You as the player must choose which town you want to start a life in.  In European-styled Bluebell, they believe that true farming focuses on livestock over growing crops, so your barns and animal pastures are larger than your acreage of fertile land. In the Eastern-styled Konohana, they believe that true farming should focus on growing crops over livestock, so there is a ton of fertile land available and minimal space for livestock. Your overall goal in the game at the behest of the Harvest Goddess is to befriend the townsfolk in both towns and work to repair the relationship between the two towns' mayors so that they will all be neighborly again, you know, just clean up her mess for her. On top of the overall story goal, you have the ability to court and marry and have a child just like in the other HM games.

Tee hee...I caved in the mountain and made everyone hate each other.  My bad.  Be a dear and fix everything for me, kthanxbai!

Something I was amused by in this game is the way you repair the mayors' relationship is by participating in the weekly cooking contests in which the two towns compete. (For two towns who hate each other, they certainly agree to spend plenty of time together.) The best/fastest way to repair the friendship is to cook extraordinary dishes and win the cooking competition for your town each week. This is easier said than done. You get help cooking and finding ingredients during your first season (seasons, btw are 31 days instead of 10 like in past HM games, making the game seem easier sometimes, yet sooo much longer.) After the first season is over, though, you're on your own for cooking competitions. And don't try cheating and buying a dish made by your neighbor, because you can't enter that in the contest. My favorite part about the cooking contest is that it's judged by Pierre, the Japanese Demon Willy Wonka.

This guy. This guy judges your nightmares cooking.
As far as HM games go in the franchise, The Tale of Two Towns is exactly what I want it to be: a little silly, fun, relaxing, and addicting. The game itself is great for anyone who enjoys the franchise. The addition of alpacas to the types of livestock, and the fact that you can have multiple pets who actually contribute to life on the farm instead of just looking cute and eating your food are welcomed in-game features. However, there are some issues and differences between the 2 versions available that are important to cover. There are 2 versions of the game available: DS and 3D. The DS version will play on the 3DS, but will not be playable with the 3D graphics. The 3D game is obviously playable in 3D, but also includes some added features such as StreetPass.  Not a big difference right? Wrong.

The 3D element of the game adds a little to the gameplay, especially during the cut scenes. You notice the trees swaying, the flowers and faces pop off the screen nicely, and I think it really adds a nice quality to the game. However, if you choose to not pay the extra $20-ish for the 3D version, don't worry, you are not losing too much as far as gameplay goes, in fact I actually recommend NOT buying the 3D version.

In case you were thinking about it and hadn't heard, the 3D version of HM is extremely glitchy. Apparently, Natsume has acknowledged the flaws and offered limited solutions or patches to fix it. There have been issues reported that the game will glitch out and close completely (as mine has done on many occasions)when the player is trying to travel/advance between scenes or areas of the map.  Since anyone who has played HM in the past knows that the only time you can save the game is when you go to bed, this is a major problem. The only "solution" to this issue has been to completely shut down the software and the unit after each time you save. Lame. Thankfully, this seems to be helping so far, it's just a bit of a hassle to save my game, then close the software and shutdown the 3DS for a minute, then turn it back on and reload the game.  I'm willing to put up with it mostly because I'm enjoying the game so much, but also I'm almost at the end of my first in game "year" after having played it for over a month IRL. I think Boyfriend was more upset to learn about this glitch than I was, seeing as how he "spent extra money to buy [me] a game that doesn't work!" (A direct quote.)  

So, my overall take on the game? I don't mind the glitch so much, as long as all it does is freeze.  I can tolerate it.  I have heard rumors of players' entire game data being wiped out by the glitch, so hopefully that will never happen, otherwise this gurl may Hulk out a bit and frighten her friendly neighborhood GameStop employees. So, depending on how much you enjoy HM games is probably how much you'll be able to tolerate the glitch. I do enjoy the 3D graphics, while I don't think the game loses anything without them, they are a nice addition.  For anyone who is on the fence about the game, I suggest buying/renting the DS version.  For those who are as gung-ho about HM as I am, you probably already own the game and know what I'm talkin' 'bout.

On my patented scale of 5 nerdy things:

Gameplay: I give Harvest Moon The Tale of Two Towns 5 out of 5

Howard thinks this game is FABULOOOOOOUS!

Mechanically I have to give the game a 2.5 out of 5 because of the freezing/glitch

This man is a Panda and he is not amused by you or your faulty mechanics.

Fun Fact: I always name my farms "MooMoo Farm" in every HM game I play. Why?
Why not?

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