Monday, September 17, 2007

Harvest Moon: Boy & Girl

Developer: Marvelous Interactive
Publisher: Natsume, Inc.
Release Date: July 31, 2007
Systems: PSP
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web Site

In a nutshell: A farm RPG. FaRmPG?

0:01 The menu screen gives the simple choice of "Boy" and "Girl." No "Options," no "Start," no nothing. Boy it is since, er, I'm a boy.
0:02 "Welcome to Mineral Town. I'm Mayor Thomas." Cute, rounded graphics. Reminds me of Super Mario RPG. Old school!
0:04 I named the farm "Farmville" and the dog "Barksy." Also, apparently, I was born on "Summer 17th."
0:05 My grandpa's farm has been neglected, the mayor tells me. Apparently I spent a vacation here when young because my absentee father was busy with work. Sepia-toned flashback GO!
0:06 A cute little vignette shows a young me riding cows, falling off cows, riding horses, being attacked by chickens and playing with my dog. Good times... good times.
0:07 A girl comes along in my flashback and is unnaturally interested in me and my tales of the city. We go to a cliff and sing a tuneless song together. This is fascinating and all, but gameplay, please?
0:08 "Oh, you're going. That makes me feel lonely," says the girl. Way to bluntly describe your feelings, there, girl.
0:09 I have three years to get this farm back up and running to earn the respect of the town. If I can't, I'll be kicked out. Harsh!
0:10 Finally I'm in control. I promptly go to sleep so I can save and not have to sit through the intro yet again.
0:12 Odd... the game tells me there are four different TV channels, but all of them seem to give the weather. "Clear blue skies from the morning." Also, that's a very big TV for a simple farmer.
0:13 I find a chest full of tools. I love the way my cute little guy takes such a mighty swing of his scythe. Fearsome!
0:14 The post officer tells me of suspicious man in village. Then a weird guy in yellow comes to loiter on the farm. Er, OK.
0:15 Barksy gives a playful bark when I attack him with a scythe. Oh, Barksy.
0:17 I have no idea what my direct goal is, so I just run around picking up stones and cutting grass. It's more fun in Zelda.
0:18 The description of a big rock: "Can't break with a hammer that has not been leveled up." Hooray for double negatives!
0:26 Ah hah! I stumble across the library, which has many books explaining the world of the game. Time for a reading break.
0:31 What I learned in the past five minutes: I can harvest bamboo in Spring; there are yellow moon drop flowers in the mountains in the Spring and "Magic Reds" in the Fall, I can raise fish in the fish pond (duh!); the hot springs in the mountains can be used to boil eggs; there's metal ore in the caves. What I didn't learn: How to PLANT STUFF!
0:33 "Nobody can do well right from the start. Running a farm is very difficult," says the mayor. Tell me about it. No, seriously, I have no idea how to run a farm, please tell me about it.
0:34 The supermarket is closed on Tuesday. THE SUPERMARKET. So much for buying seeds.
0:35 I walk into the hospital and the nurse notices I have a cut. She gives me a bandage. It's as big as my head! I carry it around like a prize, then put it away because, apparently, "there's no way to use it now." Er, what about that cut?
0:38 There's a usable confessional booth in the church. I have nothing to confess, and the pastor says he envies me. This game just got ten more awesomeness points.
0:40 I stumble on a poignant conversation between two kids deciding what to do with their life. I'm really liking the slow, reflective tone so far.
0:41 The supermarket may be closed, but bar is open. Figures.
0:42 A full meal costs all the money I have. Yikes. I buy some cheap cookies and vow to make some money QUICK!
0:46 I come across a boy who fell down. Lucky I have a bandage. "Boys aren't supposed to cry like that," says the boy's passing sister. WHO ASKED YOU! *sniff*
0:48 It took a whole virtual day to explore the town. I spend the night clearing grass and chopping wood. At 10:30 I collapse from exhaustion. I end up losing a whole day recovering. Whoops!
0:54 Mountain-exploring time. I find some bamboo and a blue flower. If I sell them, maybe I'll survive despite still having no seeds or crops.
0:58 End of day #2. I should probably stop here for the time being, but I'm determined not to give up until I've planted at least one crop.
0:59 Oh great, it's raining on day #3. Wait, I'm a farmer, so that's actually good. If only I had some crops to water.
1:01 The market owner is berated by his wife for selling on credit. Hooray for public humiliation!
1:02 Finally, fruit and veggie seeds! I buy potatoes and turnips. They'll be delivered later? Whaaaa? Also, why can't I buy on credit?
1:04 By the time I finish te longish walk back home, the seeds are there. I plant them and... now what?

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes.
Why? The game has drawn me in to its charming little world, and it's a relaxing change of pace. Plus I have a perverse need to see my seeds grow.

This review based on a retail version rented from GameFly.

No comments: