"Put in the Work and this Game Will Blossom"
The Harvest Moon series is proof that not every game needs to be a splendor of space marines or stories of modern warfare. It is a simple game of tending to crops, caring for domestic animals, and building relationships with the local population. This farming simulation has seen the twilight of the 16-bit era, the rise of the Sony, the fall of SEGA, the rise of Microsoft, and the resurrection of Nintendo's Dominance. Harvest Moon may not be as popular as Halo, but the game's appeal has seen much longevity.
The first Harvest Moon I played was on the Super Nintendo. Fast forward to the present and you'll encounter Harvest Moon: A New Beginning for the Nintendo 3DS. After fifteen years, I found it strange to be playing this series for so long.
Harvest Moon: A New Beginning starts off like any other Harvest Moon. The player takes up the role of a young farmer eager to work on his or her inherited land. The game starts off painfully slow, with a plethora of tutorials that slows the game to a crawl. Once the learning period is over, the game's easy-going farm simulation kicks in, and pretty soon players will be tending to their crops and remembering the birthdays of the their favorite townsfolk.
The basic Harvest Moon formula remains unchanged. Players grow crops, sell them, use the money to buy more crops, and the cycle begins again. Of course, when the player works hard, a greater reward is gained. Players can care for domesticated animals as an extra investment, and they can go through the various locations to pick up materials for some added income.
While a player can gain a lot of income through hard work, Harvest Moon: A New Beginning tries to limit how much can be done. The farmer can only perform a certain number of tasks before he or she becomes fatigued. A good night of rest is the best remedy for exhaustion. If that's not your alley, eating meals and the hot springs are good ways of recovering health.
Despite all the old features built in the game, Harvest Moon: A New Beginning has some extra stuff that will keep players busy. One of them is town building. Unlike the previous entries to the series, the nearby city is not filled with a bustling population. People are quickly abandoning ship for greener pastures. The young farmer is tasked with building up the town's economy and attracting newcomers to Echo Village. Players can choose the locations of certain buildings and spruce up the town with decorations.
A lot of customization is added to this Harvest Moon. Aside from the town building feature, players can choose the look of their farmer and the clothes that their farmer can wear. A tailor shop and hair boutique can be unlocked for players that want to customize their farmer even further. The main character's house is customizable as well. In this case, blue prints are required for certain themes that the player can choose from or strictly buying furniture would suffice.
The game takes a lot of patience to play. Just like growing crops, Harvest Moon: New Beginning does not blossom in an instant. As players go through the game, they are given more and more to work with. After a long session of gaming, there might be so much to do, the poor farmer may not have enough health to get everything done! If anything, the game's slow burn is its most fatal flaw. From the time-consuming beginning to the inevitable wait of game's features being opened, Harvest Moon: New Beginning does require resilience to withstand it. However, once that is over, the game becomes enjoyable just like all of previous iterations.
In the end, Harvest Moon: New Beginning is not for the action-starved gamer. People who love simulations and a nice easy pace will enjoy what Harvest Moon has to offer. Veterans of the series will revel in all of the features that make Harvest Moon unique and appreciate the new stuff that is added to the game. I recommend Harvest Moon: New Beginning for fans of the series and gamers who enjoy a slow and steady simulation.
GameDynamo's Score for Harvest Moon: A New Beginning (3DS)
Chris started playing games at the tender age of 5. Since then, he sees mushrooms, hearts, aliens, and spikey-haired blondes in his sleep.
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