Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns [Review]
September 24, 2011
The Harvest Moon series is getting a little old. That is right, I said it. It is not something I am happy about saying, and I wish it were not true. That is the cold hard truth, though. Like I have said in a similar review about a farming sim in this series, I still keep buying them. Maybe it is just because I like thinking there is going to be something new about the game, maybe it is just the hope lingering there. The truth is there is still nothing new about this series.
What am I expecting? It is Harvest Moon we are talking about. It is the game where you start a farm, raise a family, and it never really has to end. The perfect game right? Maybe. Nevertheless, here we are with another Harvest Moon game. Tale of Two Towns is actually going to be released soon for the Nintendo 3DS as well and is speculated to have some differences. This review is for the Nintendo DS version, though, so it is sans 3D.
Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns starts you off as a reckless horse and wagon driver who is knocking poor animals off the mountain path like a drunk driver. Not surprisingly, you run into a tree and get knocked off of that horse. Taking a cue from some of the first games in the series, you get awakened by strangers. Unlike those first games, you do not have amnesia and these two strangers are actually two different mayors. Rutger is the mayor of the town of Bluebell, a European style town that is focused on raising livestock. Ina is the mayor of the town of Konohana, a town with a traditional Japanese style and a focus on farming. Oh, and they are fighting.
That is right, A Tale of Two Towns throws you into the center of a domestic dispute. These mayors are kind of mad and are putting you into the center of it all like you are the only child they are fighting over. You have to choose which town you want to be in, which means that you can either raise livestock or farm to start out. This is my first problem with the game. I want to do both immediately, which is something that is kind of standard in all of the games in this series. This is what gamers call a bad change.
After you choose your town (I chose Bluebell), you are led away to your home and told a bunch of tutorial-like stuff by the mayor. Bluebell starts you off with a barn and a chicken coop with a surrounding fence for each to put your animals out when it is sunny. The past couple of Harvest Moon games have been doing this, which seems like a sort of dumbing down compared to what the series used to be like. The last game I played was Harvest Moon DS Cute which required you to save up to build any structure including barns and such. Which means when you started playing you had absolutely nothing but a patch of dirt and a house. Top that with the fact that harsh weather conditions can knock those structures down and you have yourself a simulation. That is life, man. No one is going to just build it for you. There is nothing really to do in the beginning of the game because of these changes.
People in town are considerably less interesting than they used to be. They really only used like one (maybe two) pieces of dialogue each day. Of course there are a number of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes to choose from, which are essential to the secondary plot of getting hitched. Good luck figuring out which ones are which because there are no useful beating hearts in the corner of the screen when you talk to them to indicate attraction.
You are just handed a cow and a chicken on the second day of residency, which is again like the game is being force fed to you. Animals need to be brushed or picked up everyday and then they will be happy and give you milk, eggs, and wool. In addition to cows and chickens, you can also buy sheep and pets from in town. Animals can also be bred, but Harvest Moon is still afraid to give children that talk so in order to do so you have to hand over your animal to the livestock lady in town for two weeks to she can clone a baby. The Pokemon series taught us that putting two creatures together may result in offspring, why can’t you do the same Harvest Moon?
When you are not farming or livestocking, you have to make due with attending festivals and talking to town members in the meantime. This game really made me want to play less than other games in the series because they took out many of the farm building options (like building barns and whatnot). The game is centered around helping the two towns get along, so that everything can be sunshine and rainbows. When the towns are reconciled, there will an easier way to get back and forth from the towns instead of all throughout the mountain.
There are four seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. The town and map change accordingly with the seasons, with Winter being a complete waste of time because there is just nothing to do during this time. Festivals are held all year, though, so I guess that is something. At the end of each season, you have the option of moving to the other town. It seems like a forced custody arrangement, but after getting stuck in one place for a whole season you will want to switch.
Basically, Harvest Moon got worse. Sure the graphics are a little better and they tried to mix it up with two towns instead of one, but it is still the same old game with things left out. If you are extremely dedicated to the series, you will probably pick this one up anyway. If you do not, you are not missing out on anything. Same old Harvest Moon, different town(s).
[Images via Natsume]
Out Of 5
Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns
There has been a slight upgrade to the visuals. Very, very slight. Cut-scenes offer a drastic improvement though, which is always exciting to see. I should say cut-scene as it is really just the beginning of the game that has an improvement. In-game cut scenes are just the same as they have always been.
Again, same old same old. A lot of the item pick up sounds are exactly the same as in previous games in the series. Music is different, and dependent on the area and town, but still hold the same flavor it always did.
This game gets major perks for not trying to make you use the touch screen to move your character like they tried to do in one of the games. Controls are pretty smooth, and now your character can jump which is useful since a lot of time you will be climbing the mountains.
Did anything chance? Not really. You still are looking for love in all the wrong places, trying to raise a farm, and foraging for nature's leftovers. They made it a little too easy this time around by having most things already handed to you, like animals and buildings. It takes away from the point of the game: starting off with nothing and having to make it on your own.
If you like the series a lot, you will probably buy this regardless of what I say because I know I did. This game is less fun than the first Harvest Moon games for the DS, because it appears they made it more accessible to the younger generation.