Friday, December 28, 2007

HELP!!! ... Harvest Moon, Sims2 Castaway, MySims...

First of all, apologies to players for not being able to finish the Sims2 Castaway Guide yet... Christmas intervened. I will work on it this weekend and try to complete the Guide. I was thinking about writing another 'mini-guide' for the game as well that will list ALL plans for all items in the game. In this sense, plans would include items needed to create any tool, piece of furniture, building object or special item, any skill requirements and so on.

Having thought about it further, however, I realised that a player has no option to complete a plan until he/she unlocks the plan and it appears in the menu. A guide that includes all plans would be helpful only in the sense of letting you know what items and skills you would need ultimately once you unlock the plan. Is it useful enough to warrant the labour? I am not certain.

I realised this when a player emailed me about the plan for the Wedding Lei. The fact that it requires 5 Hibiscus and only a basic Crafting Bench and 3 Creativity is irrelevant if the player has not unlocked it as there will be no option for him/her to craft it...

Incidentally, as usual, the creators of The Sims have a rather wicked sense of humour. ALL my Sims developed gay or lesbian leanings as soon as I let them out of my direct control. I had intended to encourage a romance between a specific man and woman and had their friendship level at maximum. I switched control to another Sim and when I returned to proceed with the courtship, I discovered the girl being serenaded quite happily by another girl. This sort of development had occurred simultaneously between two of the males. The only pairs who had NOT developed any romantic feelings about one another spontaneously were those of opposing genders! Typical of The Sims!!!

Second of all, for all those players who continue to send me emails asking about the Mushroom Shed in HM DS, please refer to an earlier post on this site, where I gave detailed information about every aspect of mushroom-growing in the game. The information IS included in my General Guide for HM DS as well.

To all players who are looking for 5 Mechanical Skill Points in Sims2 DS, please refer to my General Guide where I list ALL Skill Points and the schedule and location for finding each of them.

To all players who need to know WHY they can't save their game in MySims for Wii, please look at my General Guide for THAT game. You will not be given an option to save until you have completed the 'comfy chair', the first item to be made in your Workshop. After that, you can save any time you wish and in more than one slot!

For any player who needs help with courtship or marriage in any Harvest Moon game, please refer either to my Heart Events and Rival Heart Events Guide or my Courtship and Marriage Guide for the specific game you are playing. My 'romance' guides list the likes and dislikes of every eligible girl/bachelor, a schedule of all heart and rival heart events, the actual text of each event and include sections with general information about the requirements for marriage.

Remember: links to the actual guides are included on the right side of this webpage. This site was created primarily to give players a quick reference point for ALL my guides rather than being dedicated to the little posts I write from time to time here.

To ALL players of ANY game, happy gaming during this holiday season. Look for updates to my guides, especially my most recent Sims2 Castaway and MySims Guides. I do intend to update my guide for Rune Factory as well, when time permits. I did not include the specifications for EVERY special weapon yet...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Starry Night Festival

To all gamers and fans of Harvest Moon, I would like to wish you a very happy Starry Night Festival, a happy Yule and a very merry Christmas! May your stocking in Harvest Moon be filled by Thomas with a gem of great beauty and value. May your stocking in this world overflow with gifts and treats. May all happiness and blessings be yours in every world.

The photographs display the official Natsume Harvest Moon Christmas cards.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sims2 Castaway General Guide

You will find a link to a General Guide for the Wii version of Sims2 Castaway now on the right side of this page. It is applicable to the PSP version of the game as well for the most part. Oddly enough, the two are almost identical, apart from a few differences in the controls that are used and more clothing and accessory options in the Wii version.

The biggest difference really is in the ability to save. Using the Wii, one only is allowed a single save file, which is rather annoying. On the other hand, saving is a quick act, performed without much fuss or time. Using the PSP, one is allowed almost a dozen slots in which to save a game but, as I noted in a previous post, saving takes a long time and the PSP system tends to shut off at the point of saving a file as well as when moving from one area of the map to another, and this can corrupt data. I advise players to keep as many save files as possible, simply in order to make certain that they will have some uncorrupted data to use if a file becomes corrupt.

I actually had completed the last two tasks of building a bungalow and a lavish shower in one slot. When I attempted to save, the game shut off in the middle of saving, corrupting the file completely. I had to return to an earlier point and perform these tasks again...

In the Wii version of the game, the Chimps move at incredible speeds. It is far easier to interact with the Chimps using the PSP. In the Wii version, a Chimp will enter the screen with a green delivery packet and simply race to the exit with it. Even when my Sim attempts to 'Respond', very often the Chimp simply ignores him/her and runs off into the distance. This is one of the most exasperating aspects of the Wii version of the game. The most exasperating aspect of the PSP version, apart from the system's dismal habit of shutting off destructively, is the camera angle. I have found it almost impossible to navigate sometimes, especially within the Dark Cave, due to the camera angles.

Having noted these unpleasant points, I have to say that the game is a lot of fun. Watching the Sims interact always is amusing. If you are bored, take out the Sleeping Mat and command your Sim to 'Do Yoga'. That is always good for a laugh.

The Sims always are a feckless lot at best and these Sims are no exception, even if you have created an entire crew of doctors, as I did in one of my games. Moreover, they tend to be moody and unpredictable. Even when skilled to the max, at times when they are not under your direct control, they often will go without food, hygiene or sleep to the point almost of suicide. When they actually do not NEED food, however, they will cook themselves a hearty meal, stuffing themselves. A word of warning: do not save good food in your inventory. A greedy Sim will take your Ham or any marvelous Large Fish at the earliest opportunity, whether he/she needs it or not. I somehow thought my Sims would allow me to cook the first Ham for a special occasion as a Group Meal, especially in view of the fact that, in my first game, my most skilled Sim sacrificed his life to slay the first wild boar he encountered. Alas, when I went to the larder, the Ham was gone!

Remember that Chess builds logic and that Music increases Creativity as well as the Fun Motive. An Umbrella is a useful tool when it rains... and it often rains in the tropics.

Finally, Sims will leave their rubbish about, as any one who is familiar with this bizarre species knows. Instead of choosing the 'Clean up' option, they tend to 'Drop' dirty dishes on the ground. Rubbish is a fire hazard in this game. An Emergency Fire Pit is dangerous in terms of uncontrolled fire but rubbish near ANY source of fire can result in a conflagration. Whenever you assume control of a Sim, spend a few minutes in housekeeping tasks, clearing up any rubbish you see in the area. Furthermore, as in all Sims games, rotten food will attract multitudes of flies and you will be regaled by a constant buzzing if any rubbish remains on the screen.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Secrets of Sims2 Castaway

IGN has published my guide for Sims2 Castaway for Wii now, although it is a work in progress. Even though I have not been able to transfer all information from my game journals to the guide yet, it does have a fair amount of useful information in it.

One of the most vital 'secrets' of Sims2 Castaway is the potency of guarana, a spice that can be found in many locations on the islands. Using guarana in any cooked dish will give your Sim extra energy and allow him/her to pass through new Portals, exploring difficult terrain, whether on land or on sea.

Make certain as well that you create all possible tools as quickly as you can, as this will 'unlock' new items.

Accept deliveries from Chimps. This fulfils goals as well as allowing you to obtain a piece of the Treasure Map.

I have noticed something very troublesome where the PSP version of the game is concerned. It is extremely slow at the point of moving from one location on the map to another AND whenever you wish to save the game. I advise saving frequently, although it is a case of 'damned if you do and damned if you don't' as the game system has shut off more than once for some reason in the middle of saving, thus corrupting the data. My system never did this with any other game, so I only can assume it is a problem inherent in Sims2 Castaway. I therefore would caution players to keep more than one save file for their game. Furthermore, as the system shuts off randomly in the course of this game, usually when saving or using the map to move from one location to another, even when the battery is fully charged, one is in danger of losing valuable progress if one does not save frequently.

Apart from these problems, the game is fun. The Wii version IS superior, alas... I always would like to be able to declare that a game on a portable system is the equal of the same game on a console but in the case of Sims2 Castaway, the PSP version is not quite as good for the reasons I have given.

There are more clothing options in the Wii version as well... although that is a minor point of comparison

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Few General Game Tips

My friend Shaggy told me he had purchased Sims2 Castaway so I decided to take a look at the game myself. I borrowed a copy from a friend simply to determine whether or not it would be a suitable future project for me.

My experience with the business of STARTING a new game made me aware of a tip I would like to share with other gamers.

Whenever you play a PSP game, you have a wonderful resource that is not available where DS games are concerned. It usually is available on most platform games such as GameCube or PS2 games as well. You will have the ability to save your game in more than one slot. DO IT BEFORE YOU BEGIN THE ACTUAL GAME!

'Valkyrie Profile Lenneth', 'Harvest Moon Innocent Life' and the 'Sims2 Castaway' games all have long introductions. In the case of Sims2 Castaway, it is not so much an introduction as the rather endless business of creating a crew. As a new player, you have few choices in terms of real customisation. It therefore is rather a tedious business at best. If you save the game in more than one slot afterwards, you can skip that process to begin a new game effortlessly if you do something in your active slot that you later regret!

With a game like 'Valkyrie Profile Lenneth', there are many choices in terms of transferring heroes to Valhalla. By saving your game in multiple slots in different chapters, you can change the outcome, branching off from the original game to make new choices. Innocent Life is more linear than most Harvest Moon games, but you can save your game at different stages if you like. You really are not going to change the outcome, however. There is no marriage option and your character never progresses. In 'Harvest Moon Boy & Girl', however, it is well worth saving your game in different slots BEFORE you choose a spouse. You then will have the benefit of all your hard farming labours and a means by which to experience different marriage scenarios.

'Magical Melody' is a game that was created for the GameCube platform, allowing one to utilise the same strategy of saving in multiple slots BEFORE you marry. This will give you a rich and varied experience of outcomes without forcing you to replay all the chores of creating and expanding your farm.

As I write this, I still am working on 'MySims' for the Wii platform. I have discovered a number of time-saving tips for this game, but will add them to the guide as they are specific to the game. I will say, however, that it is very useful to be able to copy a piece of furniture BEFORE you place any Essences on it and then stash the copy in your house or some one else's house for future use in other Tasks. For example, more than one Sim will request a chair or a sink. When you create a chair, make an extra copy WITHOUT Essences and stash it somewhere so that you can copy it again and again. You can alter the copy and customise it if you wish to create unique designs each time, but you will not be forced to build the basic chair more than once if you utilise this strategy. Building is fun, but building a mirror again and again could become rather tedious!

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Imaginative World of MySims

Although I am conscious of the need to create a guide for 'Harvest Moon Boy & Girl' and have left Shaggy struggling on his own with the game, I have to confess that 'MySims' has quite won my heart. The Wii version definitely is more complex than the DS game, although each has its own distinct charm. Despite some problems with the Wiimote especially when building, I finally have become completely absorbed by the game.

(Speaking of 'Harvest Moon Boy & Girl', from everything players have told me, I do believe that my FoMT and MFoMT guides WILL provide answers to most questions. I am going to write a guide for the game when I have completed the two 'MySims' guides but meanwhile...)

Games like Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing and MySims have one fundamental point in common. One must invest considerable time in the game in order to reap ANY of its rewards. The essential problem I had with 'MySims' at first was lack of adequate opportunity to immerse myself in the game.

A comprehensive guide is necessary to enjoy any Harvest Moon game and is necessary for a game like Animal Crossing. I am not certain it is vital where MySims is concerned, but it is fun to write nonetheless. I have discovered, however, that the game was created in a form that provides ongoing tutorials and tips on a regular basis. It can become rather annoying to be forced to read a prompt for the twentieth time to the effect that one should feel free to go outside the blueprint whenever one builds, but it does make the game 'user-friendly'.

When I compare Harvest Moon games to 'MySims', it becomes obvious to me that a young child would be LOST where Harvest Moon is concerned without the help either of a good guide or an older person (whether parent or sibling) but I can imagine that even a fairly young child could have fun with MySims without any outside assistance.

Graphically, the game is designed to appeal to young children although it seduces even older players with its charm and humour. The characters are modelled after the 'Miis' of the Wii. They remind me of little gingerbread boys and girls, but each has a very distinctive appearance and personality.

The map is large with many different areas that are unlocked as the game progresses, including a forest and a desert. The City Centre is the area in which the game begins and the first goal is to revitalise businesses in order to bring new residents and tourists into the area.

The game is based on items called 'Essences'. These are little iconic objects that represent specific 'interests'. Essences fall into one of the following categories: Cute, Fun, Geeky, Spooky, Studious or Tasty. One can obtain Essences either by harvesting them from trees, fishing for them, through social interaction with other Sims or by prospecting for them with a shovel!

Essences are used in building primarily. The game is a building game really to create both buildings and items of furniture. By using 'Essences' in building either, one can attract Sims who are attracted to specific categories. In other words, if you use 'Spooky' Essences when you create a home or business, you will attract 'Spooky' Sims. In similar fashion, by giving an item of furniture that is permeated with 'Spooky' Essences to a Sim who responds positively to 'Spooky' things, you will advance your friendship with that Sim.

Areas on the map can be influenced by the Essences used in building. You can transform the City Centre to a 'Spooky' City Centre by planting 'Spooky Trees' and using a wealth of 'Spooky' Essences in building. Buildings and objects can be remodelled at any point in the game and Sims can be relocated to other areas on the map, allowing the player to fashion areas in the category he/she desires. One can group all the 'Cute' Sims in a specific area, allowing more options and activities to be unlocked.

Social interaction and events both are important in any Sims game and these games are no exception. Every category has its own distinct social gathering. Spooky Sims meet for seances. Studious Sims meet for Book parties. Geeky Sims hold rocket-launching Parties. Participating in these events will allow you to obtain new Essences sometimes.

The entire 'Essence' concept is quite sophisticated in some ways. Each Essence can be used either as a 'Flair' or as 'Paint' in building. There are four different 'paint' forms attached to each Essence. When used as a 'Flair', the actual iconic object that represents the Essence can be added to any item of furniture. For example, in the case of Dead Wood, the icon is a Skull carved of wood.

Some Essences can be planted in the ground to produce trees that will bear the same Essence. Most of these are fruits and flowers, but players may be surprised to discover that the 'Ghost' Essence can be planted to produce a Tree that yields Ghosts!

Specific Tasks will be assigned by Sims when you 'Talk' to them and these tasks are an important part of the plot. Completing Tasks will increase the Star Rating of your Village and unlock new options and areas of the map.

As always, Sims games are both bizarre and quite witty where social interactions are concerned. MySims dialogue can quite clever and amusing.

There is a Sim named Sir Vincent who will be the curator of the 'Skullfinder Museum' in your village if you build the museum for him. He then proceeds to request a number of items. By accepting the Tasks, you will raise your Friendship with him as well as your Village's Star Rating.

One of the items he requests is a Sarcophagus to replace the one that was lost or stolen by the movers. When you take the completed Sarcophagus to Sir Vincent:

Vincent: Brilliant! I can't tell it from the original! (And neither will my patrons...)

Now there will be a little celebratory display of fireworks, followed by a game message.

Game prompt: The Skullfinder Museum is finally complete, thanks to you, Freyashawk.

Sir Vincent has given you an Aztec statue deroative! He's not quitre sure where the 'Inspected by #14' sticker came from.

Vincent: Freyashawk, you've done so much for my museum! I think what I'm feeling is called 'gratitude'. What's that expression people use? Ah, yes! Thank you.'

Game prompt: Sir Vincent's suit is now available in your dresser. How perfectly morbid!

Although the Sarcophagus is the last official Task that Sir Vincent will impose, he nonetheless will continue to ask for items.

In fact, the next time you speak to him, he will tell you:

Sir Vincent: Oh, Freyashawk, it's horrible! I need a Bed. Can you get one for me?

Another Sim named Elmira will request that you build a library for her as her requirement for moving into the Village.

When you have completed the Library and visit her there, she will exclaim:

Elmira: Well, look who it is. The Sim who built me an empty library.

Speak to her again and she will say:

Elmira: 'Hmph. Call this a library? Where are all the books!?'

She then will give you the Task of creating a Bookcase for the library.

I have included these examples to demonstrate the distinct personalities of each Sim in the game as well as the diversity of items that you must create if you wish to move the plot forward.

It is highly diverting and quite creative. Although you will be given 'Blueprints' for each item that you need to create, there are many building blocks and you can experiment to your heart's content, creating any form that you like as long as it fulfils the basic requirements of its type. In other words, if some one requests a 'chair', you must include a seat for the chair, but other than that, you can choose a Blueprint for a basic or very ornate chair and then add whatever creative touches (and Essences) you desire. Usually, an item created as a Task will have specific Essence requirements but once you have met those, you can add more Essences if you choose. Each Essence has a value in terms of its category. If you can give an item that is 100% Cute to a Sim who loves Cute items, you will advance the friendship with that Sim more than you would by giving an item with only a 5% Cute Essence.

I am enjoying this game tremendously now. My first bitter struggle in the Workshop creating a 'comfy chair' now recedes into the distance and is laughable. In many games, one can err by making matters too complicated. I could have followed the basic Blueprint and completed the Chair in about two minutes if I had paid adequate attention to the game. Whenever you work in the Workshop, the blocks that are needed to complete the Blueprint will be shaded green. It then simply is a matter of moving them to the workspace and turning them in the right direction before placing them. It reminds me a little of building in 'Lost in Blue2' although that game had a time limitation and required the use of a hammer. Building in 'MySims' can be done at leisure. In fact, you can take a break and leave the Workshop at any time, even if the item is not finished. It will be stored in your rucksack, awaiting your attention.

For those who enjoyed 'The Sims' games in the past or who love Role-Playing Simulation games such as Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing, I do recommend 'MySims' enthusiastically. Do not be put off by the rather childish style of the graphics. It is a very sophisticated game!

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Essences of 'My Sims'

I now have spent a little more time both with the Wii and DS versions of 'My Sims'. Essentially, both games are 'Animal Crossing' with building added to the mix. There is a slight echo of Sims 2 for the DS in the idea of making tourists happy by improving the village. (In Sims2 for the DS, one ran a hotel and built or ordered improvements and renovations to advance the plot.)

The Wii is lightweight, elegant, versatile and creative, but I am not the only player who finds the Wii-mote absolutely exhausting. The sheer effort of trying to place a single building block on top of another one is mind-boggling when compared to the ease with which one could perform the same task on a PC, GameCube or PS2.
The dual control of the wii-mote and the nunchuk requires some adjustment as well. Perhaps I shall become a devout fan of the system but at the moment, my wrist aches and I find myself taking a break from the Wii version of My Sims not because I have tired of the game itself but because I physically am weary and somewhat frustrated.

Both versions of the game are extremely intriguing in terms of concept and gameplay. With respect to the Wii game, the game is centred on 'essences'. 'Essences' are objects that can be acquired through conversation, excavation, farming, fishing and other means. The 'essences' can be used to build, decorate or paint furniture. Different individuals are attracted by different essences. For example, there are 'cute' and 'spooky' essences, inter alia. If you use many 'spooky' essences in building and decorating, you will attract individuals who respond to 'spooky' elements into your area.

I do miss 'Rune Factory', I have to admit. I definitely have not tired of THAT Harvest Moon game, and I haven't even touched 'Harvest Moon Boy and Girl' yet, alas.
Nonetheless, 'My Sims' is worth some time and energy. I suspect that, like 'Animal Crossing', it is a game that becomes more addictive in the course of gameplay.

I hope to send a preliminary General Guide for the Wii and DS versions of 'My Sims' to IGN either on Monday or Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

'Harvest Moon Forever' but 'My Sims' intervenes...

I feel slightly disloyal each time I work on a guide for a game that is not a Harvest Moon game. I had received emails from a number of players recently asking if I intended to write guides for the new 'My Sims' games for DS and Wii. When I was asked if I would be interested, I agreed to work on the project.

'Harvest Moon Boy and Girl' meanwhile has been released. I really had spent the amount of time on Rune Factory that would satisfy me either...

Regrettably for Harvest Moon, I have to take some time to work on the new 'My Sims' games. That having been said, they really are MY sort of game in many ways. Rather similar to 'Animal Crossing' (and not that different from Harvest Moon in the initial premise), the basic plot of these games rests upon the gradual diminishment of a community and the need to revitalise it.

I always intended to explore 'My Sims' for the DS, but did not expect to have a Wii. I now have been introduced to this new platform by Nintendo.

I am trying to play both the DS and Wii versions simultaneously. It actually makes sense as there are times when the Wii becomes far too exhausting.

Yes, the Wii is an exhausting interactive platform with a remote that can become a wand, a bat, a sword, a wand and anything else one might imagine. In a game like 'My Sims', it does not threaten the physical safety of the player as much as it would in a true action game. (People have broken wrists and other limbs in the process of using the Wii remote! It does use muscles that one might not expect to use and in many games, a physical action using the entire body is required!

Like many games, one cannot save 'My Sims' until one has performed a number of activities moving the plot forward to a specific point. I started the Wii version rather late in the day and really could not stand to continue a moment longer when I still found myself unable to save, held captive in my new workshop with my first furniture building project. I was told to build a 'comfy chair'.

If I had not been so exhausted and frustrated, I probably would have been able to complete the job within a couple of minutes. As it was, I failed to see the rather obvious 'blueprint' on the wall and began to design and build an extremely elaborate device.

The furniture-building tasks now remind me of 'Lost in Blue 2 but in fact are not half as difficult as energy is not used and one has no need to hammer nails or make connections in a limited amount of time while the pieces swing back and forth across a screen. In fact, it should have been a breeze, but...

I should have remembered that 'sometimes a chair is simply a chair'. I thought I had to create something with creative 'Essence', a wonderful and unique throne or objet de virtu. In fact, I should have shoved four legs beneath a square seat and a square back and left it at that...

Instead, I created an elaborate and quite tortuous edifice, rising into the air like a bizarre castle for 'Borrowers' or rodents. Even with all the blocks I used, I missed the point completely, avoiding the four stars instead of covering them. When I tried to convince the game that I was 'Done', it obligingly informed me of the need to cover the four spots I diligently had avoided.

This should be a lesson to any one not to persist in an activity when the brain and body is too tired to compute or perform. I rather desperately shoved two random blocks into the spaces where the stars hovered and proclaimed the job 'Done' simply in order to get out of there.

Alas! I was told then to take the 'comfy chair' to my own house! I had to set it in one of the rooms before I finally, finally was allowed to save the game for the first time and blessedly QUIT.

Now today, I realise I could have made a perfectly acceptable chair in less than three minutes if only I had been less exhausted and desperate. It could have been fun if only...

Like 'Animal Crossing' or Harvest Moon', however, 'My Sims' requires time, energy and dedication. One cannot approach a game of this sort without being willing to make a huge commitment.

I need to be seduced into it a little, I confess. I still happily was forging rare weapons and accessories in Rune Factory when 'My Sims' arrived on the doorstep. Nonetheless, both DS and Wii versions promise to be entertaining and quite creative... although, like ALL 'The Sims' games, they will include more than a small element of the truly bizarre.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Growing Mushrooms in HM DS

I am writing this post mainly because I have received 20 emails asking this question in the past few days. This post will be a reminder to add this information to my Quick Reference Guide, but in the meantime, it can help players who have a problem with this.

First, you need to ask Gotz to build a Mushroom Shed for you. When the Mushroom Shed it built, you will have three options to grow mushrooms:

1. You can buy Shitake Seeds from Vesta (in the evenings when her storeroom is open for business);
2. You can gather Matsutake Mushrooms from the wilds in the Autumn season, then convert them into Seeds (Spores really) using the Seedmaker;
3. You can gather Toadstools from the wilds in the Autumn season, then convert them into seeds (spores) using the Seedmaker.

Once you have a bag of Mushroom Spores/Seeds of ANY variety, you must do the following:

1. Throw a piece of Wood Lumber onto one of the wooden pallets in the Mushroom Shed;
2. Throw the bag of Seeds/Spores onto the Lumber.

You will see tiny spores or seeds in the piece of wood if you aim your throw properly. You then need to water the spores daily for MONTHS in order to obtain a fully grown Mushroom. Each of the three varieties has a different growing time, but all three can be harvested at three different stages:

1. Small;
2. Medium;
3. Large

You need to ship one of each size and variety to complete your Shipping List. Moreover, if you look at the Item Guide in the Farm Menu, you will see that you can grow and ship 99 levels of each type and size of Mushroom.

To grow upgraded Mushrooms, you must throw more than one bag of seeds/spores of the same level onto the wood on the pallet in the Mushroom Shed. Five or six bags of seeds (spores) usually will guarantee that you will obtain the next level of crop in at least 8 squares when you plant 9 squares in the soil. In the case of Mushrooms, I never have failed to obtain the upgraded level even when I threw only 4 bags onto the wood.

BE WARNED: Upgraded Mushrooms can contribute to the dreaded 'freeze glitch' that can corrupt your data and destroy your game completely. I personally would advise players to grow only Level 1 Mushrooms of each size and variety. Doing so will complete your List.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Harvest Moon Boy and Girl for PSP

Shaggy, a Harvest Moon fan, recently posted a comment on this site to ask if I had created a guide either for 'Back to Nature' or 'Harvest Moon Boy and Girl'. Actually, I never covered 'Back to Nature' but I am about to embark on a new guide venture to create a guide specifically for 'Harvest Moon Boy and Girl' for the PSP. It will take time, as do all my guides, as I am very thorough in my gameplay and base the guides on my own games. I do believe, however, that my existing guides for FoMT and MFoMT (Friends of Mineral Town and More Friends of Mineral Town) will be of assistance in playing Harvest Moon Boy and Girl. Fundamentally, they should be the same game, although Natsume always adds new dimensions to old games when they are created for new platforms. 'Friends of Mineral Town' basically was 'Back To Nature' modified and transformed for the GBA handheld system. 'More Friends of Mineral Town' was the 'Girl' version.

The first guides I ever wrote were guides for Friends of Mineral Town. If you are playing the boy in 'Harvest Moon Boy and Girl', the FoMT General Guide should be useful to some extent until I can create a guide specifically for the PSP game. In similar fashion, my General Guide for 'More Friends of Mineral Town' should be useful in playing the girl in 'Harvest Moon Boy and Girl'. As I have not touched the game yet, however, this is mere hypothesis. I do know, however, that players who were playing 'Back to Nature' often successfully used my FoMT guides for reference.

It will be difficult to put 'Rune Factory' aside, I have to confess. It always is difficult to leave any Harvest Moon game. Investment in terms of time and energy is great and after all, these games represents actual ongoing lives. Like your village in Animal Crossing, your neighbours NEED your continuing commitment and when I am absent for any length of time, I feel I have betrayed my 'community' somewhat. Harvest Moon in particular instils a tremendous sense of 'belonging' and working to restore the farm makes one truly believe one has created a place for oneself.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Cave Maps and Bestiary for Rune Factory

To the right of this post are sections devoted to specific games. Each Harvest Moon game has a section of its own, with all the guides I have written for that game listed beneath it. Some players apparently did not realise that links to the actual guides can be found on this site. In fact, the purpose of this page is to provide links to all my actual guides.

For any one who is playing Rune Factory, I would like to direct attention once more to the new 'Bestiary and Cave Maps Guide' for the game. I like to write 'text' guides rather than creating pictures because it makes the guide accessible to ALL players, even those with very elementary software. That is the reason I have created 'verbal' maps of all the Caves in Kardia. The Cave Maps give step-by-step descriptions of each cave, the position of each Monster Generator with details about the specific Monster it produces and the items 'dropped' by that monster. It includes the locations of all tillable fields, rocks that contain ore and underground water sources. I wrote this little reference guide in response to a number of emails from players asking for the location of a specific item. With this Guide, a player should be able to find the Monster that drops the item he/she needs instantly.

Furthermore, this guide should provide a resource for a player who finds himself/herself in a Cave without any more provisions and with low HP. By noting the location of all tillable fields, the player should be able to find a field that has wild items that could restore a little HP or cure poison. Remember that Medicinal Herbs and Orange Grass restore some HP. Antidotal Herbs cure Poison.

If you know the position of all tillable fields in a Cave, you can plan which crops to plant in order to be able to have access to runes on a regular basis. A field that is located deep within a cave may be useful when you are exploring that particular area but it is a good idea to grow crops near the entrance of every cave as well. That way, you can use those runes as a regular resource, whether you actually wish to explore that cave or not. I keep some Sweet Potatoes in the first chamber both of Carmite and Toros Caves for that purpose. If I need a rune quickly, I can nip into one of those caves to restore my RP. I chose Radishes and Sweet Potatoes for those locations because they grow quickly and are of little value as crops. It is better for me to keep them in the ground where they can produce runes daily.

I prefer to grow the crops that take more than a season to ripen further from the entrance. Crops will not die when they are not watered. They simply will not advance in their growth until watered again.

In any case, I hope the Bestiary and Cave Maps Guide will prove to be a useful resource to players. I use it myself when I need to refresh my memory as to the location of a specific Generator.

Neither Perfect nor a Saint

A comprehensive guide to any Harvest Moon game cannot be completed in a few weeks or even a month, especially if one does all the research as well as the writing personally. When I first began to write guides for publication on IGN, I included my email address as a matter of course, feeling that I wished to be 'accessible' to fellow fans of Harvest Moon if they had questions about the game.

Other guide writers as well as people at IGN advised me to remove my email address from my guides. I have been advised to delete emails unread if they did not ask questions that were NOT covered in the guide or to simply respond with a terse link to my guide page.

Instead, I tried always to answer all emails, even if the writer asked questions that are answered very clearly in my guides. Not one day passes even now without at least 20 new emails from people with game questions. I have counted more than 50 emails on some days.

I believe in courtesy and kindness, but I am growing weary of people who assume that my time is worthless and who are too lazy to read the guide. Instead of looking at the guide, they basically ask me to write a little personal mini-guide that answers all their questions. It would take me far more time to do that than it would take them to look up the answer in one of the guides that took me six months to write.

I still want to be accessible to players with game questions. I know what it is like to be 'stuck' somewhere, having tried everything I could think of doing without having any success in unlocking the next stage in a game. I enjoy the camaraderie of the gaming community and especially enjoy correspondence with other players who love Harvest Moon as much as I do.

So I shan't stop answering emails but I am going to ask for a little consideration from people who write them. Can you PLEASE write the name of the game you are playing in the Subject Title of your email? If you have written to me before, can you copy the correspondence into the body of your email so I can refer to it myself quickly? I can't be expected to guess which game you are playing or to remember every aspect of YOUR game when I am trying to write new guides of my own as well as answering emails from countless other players.

Especially where Harvest Moon games are concerned, it is extremely important that you give me the name of the specific game you are playing. There are many Harvest Moon games, and some of them feature the same characters as other Harvest Moon games. Every game is different, however. The method of making Butter in 'A Wonderful Life' is quite different from the method of making Butter in 'Rune Factory' or 'Friends of Mineral Town'. The method of obtaining a Yarn Maker in 'Friends of Mineral Town' is slightly different from the requirements of 'Harvest Moon DS'. I want to help you, but you have to help me a little.

If I were a Saint, would I patiently answer the same questions again and again without making any complaint? I thought about that, and although I always feel a little guilty when I am less than good-humoured with some one, I believe that I am right to point out these flaws in internet communication. After all, I am not the only person who writes guides and answers questions about games. For the sake of every one who is willing to correspond with other players, there should be a few common courtesies.

There are people who send emails without addressing the person to whom they are sent. They barge ahead with their questions without a greeting. They never thank the person for responding or for giving them the information they so desperately sought. 'Reply ASAP' they command, as if I am nothing more than a Harvest Moon answering machine who spits out answers to their questions.

Few people bother with proper etiquette in correspondence now but I have to say that I genuinely am touched by the players who write to me to thank me for the work I have done on my guides or who tell me that my guides have made all the difference in their enjoyment of the game. It is those emails that inspire me to continue.

And for the rest, please take a moment simply to try to understand that I can help you better if you help me. I created this website primarily to provide links to all my guides. The guides are here. Look at the right side of the page and you will find links to every guide I have written. These little posts are incidental. 'Harvest Moon Forever' was created to provide you with links to the actual guides.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Rune Factory Trick

I added this information to my guide, but hesitated even to mention it, as it totally changes the game. It is a trick that has the potential of allowing a player to obtain almost infinite amounts of money on the very first day of gameplay. If you can amass even 2000g on 1 Spring of the first year, you can buy the Small Fridge and the Small Kitchen instantly from Ivan. Otherwise, you have to wait an entire season until they are offered again on 1 Summer.

It is very simple and is an option that was programmed into the game by Natsume. Whether or not it was intended for THESE purposes is another matter...

All you need is another player with a DS and Rune Factory. Even if the player is a beginner and is on the first day of gameplay as well, you both can make enough money to buy the Fridge and the Kitchen. If the other player is more advanced, the potential is almost limitless.

It is the 'multi-player' option in Rune Factory that allows this trick. In multi-player mode, items can be 'traded' from player to player. Each time an item is traded, it increases in level.

On 1 Spring, you can collect bamboo shoots from your own field. Each bamboo shoot is worth 130g. Trade that and its value doubles. Trade it again and again until it is worth at least 2000g, then sell it at the Spring Rabbit Pub, one of the few businesses open on the Holiday. Take your earnings, and buy the Small Fridge and Kitchen from Ivan.

Another possibility is to connect twice. Connect the first time to enhance the levels of existing items like bamboo shoots. Sell those at the Spring Rabbit Pub, then buy the most expensive item that Emmett has for sale. Return to the Mysterious Shell to trade THAT item back and forth a few times. You can 'create' an enhanced item worth 20,000g without too much trouble.

The most important reason for performing the trick is to be able to buy the Fridge and Kitchen on the first day of the game. It makes a tremendous difference.

Using the multi-player option, it is possible to win ALL contests in the first Spring and Summer, if the other player has Large Ranch Product and has the ability to complete any recipe.

There are no real shortcuts where some goals are concerned and I am happy about that, actually. One doesn't want the game to become too easy, after all. On the other hand, being able to store items in a fridge and cook elementary dishes on the first day of Spring is rather marvelous...

You will find this trick included in the latest updated version of the General Guide.
There is an entire section that deals with the Mysterious Shell with instructions on how to make connections with other players.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Idealism in Harvest Moon

The unwavering idealism that underlies all Harvest Moon games never fails to touch my heart and soul deeply. Rune Factory demonstrated this beautifully in the 'Grand Finale' to the main quest.

Warning: Do not read this post if you wish to be surprised by the 'end' of the game.

Your character, a young man with amnesia, proves his worth, his valour and his essential compassion both for human beings and other species by taming monsters rather than killing them and ultimately refusing to use his weapon against his
arch-enemy because any weapon of his could kill a human being.

He then faces the entire mechanised Sechs Army in order to protect the town of Kardia although he believes the cause is lost, as the Sechs Army has mustered a hundred tanks against the small village of Kardia.

The great Dragon God, Terrable has been awakened by the machinations of the Sechs Empire in the hope that he could be used as a super-weapon against their enemies. Instead, Terrable confronts the army of tanks and breathes his 'fire' upon them.

What occurs then? Rather than being incinerated, the tanks are surrounded by plants!
The leader of the Sechs Army orders his soldiers to burn the plants in order to free the tanks but the soldiers respond that this would destroy the tanks themselves, as the tanks are completely entangled in the vegetation.

The 'great' Sechs Army then is forced to WALK back home, to the ridicule of the people of Kardia!

Throughout the game, characters remark upon the need to live in harmony with the earth and the importance of being aware and respectful of the power of Nature.

Rune Factory is great fun. The philosophical messages are delivered with gentle humour and yet, the game always remains true to the essential principles of Harvest Moon.

One aspect of Harvest Moon games that may be less than welcome to the more 'puritanical' Western players is the position that alcohol occupies in traditional Japanese culture and therefore in Harvest Moon as well. In every Harvest Moon game, there is at least one character who constantly extols the virtues of alcohol and Rune Factory has quite a few! There even is a peripheral quest that is centred on a bottle of rare wine named Rollabouti. Harvest Moon games usually include one girl who can outdrink the men in drinking contests.

When English editions of a couple of Harvest Moon games attempted to 'convert' alcohol to 'Milk', the results were rather absurd. Conversations warning against the strong properties of 'Milk' or telling children that they were not old enough to drink the stuff were rather bizarre, to say the least. Fortunately, Rune Factory in its English version has remained true to the original Japanese in this respect.

Like most Harvest Moon games, the game itself does not end with the credits. In fact, 'winning' the game usually merely unlocks new options. A devoted Harvest Moon player never needs to regret the act of completing the main quest as there always are more quests to discover and complete...

Note: For players of Rune Factory who have requested detailed 'maps' of the dungeons, I have created a 'Bestiary and Cave Guide' now that gives step by step descriptions of each cave and the locations of each Monster generator in the caves of Kardia.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Rune Factory and My Birthday

As it is my birthday today and there is nothing planned in terms of social events, I decided to devote the day to the creation of my most useful reference guide for Rune Factory, an Item List Guide. I mention this for two reasons. The first is that any one who is involved in Rune Factory may find the guide useful as it will provide all information with respect to the acquisition of any item in the game as well as the value of the item. The second reason is because, rather to my surprise, I realised that spending the day with Rune Factory, even if I am involved in the rather tedious drudgery of copying out 'Recipes' for items, is not a bad way to celebrate!

I always wanted to learn how to forge real blades and weapons. Unfortunately, when I had the money for it, I didn't have the time and when I finally had the free time, I didn't have the money. Creating and maintaining a proper forge is expensive and lessons in blade-making cost money as well. The days when an artist was willing to take on an apprentice for nothing more than the love of the art are gone for the most part. It has become a 'niche business' like any other.

There are some renowned contemporary female knifemakers, but I never became one of them, despite my great admiration for the art. Now, however, in Rune Factory, I can combine my Harvest Moon skills with the fine art of forging weapons and equipment. It is incredibly satisfying to forge a new magical weapon or to create a beautiful and powerful accessory, even if these items cannot be transferred to THIS world.

Rune Factory is more complicated than most other Harvest Moon games where 'cooking' and 'creating' items is concerned. You not only need the proper space and equipment in order to embark upon any new venture, but you need both the right ingredients and a certain level of skill. This makes Rune Factory particularly challenging.

In some ways, it reminds me of another favourite game of mine, Valkyrie Profile. In Valkyrie Profile, acquiring the right 'war trophies' did not in itself guarantee acquisition of a new weapon or piece of equipment. There were other requirements as well.

This is just a brief note en passant. I now intend to return to the forge, where I finally have amassed enough experience and skill to create a blade of surpassing beauty and power.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Clever Natsume! Frustration conceals a purpose...

Whenever I describe the most vital elements of Harvest Moon to any one, I try to stress the importance of patience, determination and the need to pay attention to ALL aspects of life in any Harvest Moon game.

I discovered a little trick recently in Rune Factory that allowed me to win the Egg Festival in the first Spring, but performing this trick successfully apparently is not simply a matter of purchasing an egg from a local shop. It is possible that, if the player does not have any friendship points with the monsters he/she has tamed, his character will not win the Egg Contest with the spurious egg. All my Monsters had at least 3 FP at the time of the Egg Festival.

Knowing the value of high Friendship ratings both with other individuals and with all tame Monsters (the Rune Factory equivalent of farm animals), I used the Brush daily on the Monsters. Friendship ALWAYS is as important as wealth and experience in Harvest Moon.

In all honesty, however, the value of the egg that is entered by your 'rival' may be set at midnight... I need to confirm this in another game. It is possible that, if the player who lost the Egg Festival had been able to reload his game BEFORE midnight, he would have won the Festival as I did...

In Rune Factory as in other Harvest Moon games, there is a use for each and every one of your tools and if you neglect them, gaining no experience, you will not be able to perform necessary tasks later in the game.

I was fuming over the particularly long delay in having my hammer upgraded to Level 3 when I realised once again how clever Natsume is in designing their games. By taking my hammer for a week (a festival and Holiday intervened to extend the required 4 day wait to a week), I was forced to concentrate more on my other tools, and to spend more time fishing and chopping wood, tasks I had neglected a little when new mines containing valuable gems and items were unlocked.

Although I stress the need to perform all activities on a regular basis in my guides for Harvest Moon games, I myself often am guilty of becoming too obsessed with a single goal. One cannot afford 'tunnel vision' in Harvest Moon. It always is a mistake to focus too much on a single goal or quest. If one is diligent with respect to every activity and interacts with every individual on a regular basis, the plot will unfold naturally and new options will be unlocked. It is only when one becomes frustrated that mistakes are made and new options overlooked.

That having been said, I was very glad when I finally was able to fetch my Level 3 Hammer from Leo's Smithery...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Cheating in Harvest Moon

Any one who has used my game guides knows that I do not believe in 'codes' or other types of 'cheats' but I am more than happy to find an 'exploitation device' within the game itself that allows one to succeed more quickly or gain an advantage.

Much to my delight, I found an early 'cheat' in Rune Factory. It is included in my General Guide, but for any one who reads my posts on this site, I will write about it here as well.

There are a number of festivals in Rune Factory as in other Harvest Moon games. In the first year, it is difficult to participate properly in any of the early festivals, apart from attending and speaking to the villagers.

The Spring Festival is the equivalent of the Spring Thanksgiving Festival, which is the Japanese 'Valentine's Day'. In Harvest Moon games, it is a day when boys give 'Cookies' or 'Chocolate Cookies' to girls they fancy. In almost every Harvest Moon game, one's character is unable to do anything for the girl or girls he likes in the first year as he will not have a kitchen nor an Oven in which to bake any suitable offerings. Rune Factory is no different in this respect.

The next Festival in Spring is the Egg Festival. In Rune Factory, there virtually is no hope of obtaining the 'Cockadoodle' who lays eggs before the Egg Festival in the first year, but I suddenly realised that there was a shop that sold small eggs. Without knowing what would occur, I bought an egg and stored it in my rucksack for a day or two before the Egg Festival.

On the day of the Festival, I went to the Town Square and offered my (purchased) egg to Jasper, the officiating judge. Much to my delight, he not only accepted my spurious offering as a genuine entry, but actually declared that I had won the contest!

Winning this contest is not simply a matter of pride. The prize is 5000g and an Empty Bottle! An Empty Bottle may not sound like much, but for those who are playing Rune Factory, it is worth its weight in gold, as one only can obtain health Recovery Potions if one has an Empty Bottle in which they can be poured.

By 23 Spring, 5000g may not be that significant, but another Empty Bottle really makes a difference when it means that one can take three Recovery Potions instead of two to the caves.

27 Spring is the day of the Cooking Festival in Rune Factory. As in most other Harvest Moon games, one must resign oneself to the certitude of failure in the first year, having neither kitchen nor appliances with which to cook anything, even a dish as simple as sashimi.

There is only one house upgrade in Rune Factory, instead of the usual two that are possible in some of the other Harvest Moon games but it is quite costly. As in all Harvest Moon games, however, all good things come to those who wait...

Part of the fun of Rune Factory is the addition of traditional RPG combat to Harvest Moon. I always love to fight monsters who drop 'war trophies' on occasion. In most cases, a chest can contain one of two or three different items in Rune Factory. War trophies in chests do not appear each time a monster is defeated, which makes it even more of a 'surprise package'. I never outgrew my love of wrapped gifts and chests in RPGs never fail to delight me even when they contain nothing more than a 'cheap bandage' or 'cheap cloth'. After all, the next chest could contain a special sword or crystal...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Rune Factory Guides Live!

Where guide-writing is concerned, I have had one of the most difficult weeks of my life, as my hard drive was wiped, destroying all my files. Although a technician supposedly saved the files to a disc beforehand, the disc proved to contain nothing more than empty folders for the most part.

Among the casualties were my notes and game journals for Rune Factory, as well as the preliminary draught of a General Guide.

Nonetheless, I have managed to work furiously to rewrite the Guide and it has been published now on IGN. You will find links both to a preliminary General Guide and to a reference guide for all Shops and Locations on the Map.

I consider it a personal triumph in a sense, although the guides would have been far better had I not been obliged to spend so much time writing information that previously had been included in my files. There were a few moments when I barely could stand the idea of doing it all again, especially when some of the work involved typing long lists of items and their values.

Rune Factory, however, is worth the effort. I consider all Harvest Moon games to be worth any amount of energy and time. It will be more fun when I can play the game without having to copy everything into my guides, but meanwhile, I hope other players will enjoy Rune Factory as much as I.

Rune Factory is a marvelous game. Like all the best Harvest Moon games, it requires a great deal of time, patience and determination. I have to admit that I love being able to wield a sword as well as farm, mine and fish!

Like all my guides, these will be updated regularly.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Havest Moon Philosophy

'Rune Factory' takes the essential philosophy of Harvest Moon to new levels. All Harvest Moon games embrace an animist view of the world but in many games, the interactions between humanity and 'magical creatures' is fairly limited, although one can court and even marry a magical girl in some games.

Interactions with Harvest Sprites often involve befriending them and learning their likes and dislikes. In all Harvest Moon games, ranching success depends somewhat on affection levels with the animals. It is not simply a matter of keeping them fed but of paying attention to them and spending a little time with them on a daily basis.

In 'Rune Factory', one cannot purchase farm animals. One must find them in the wilds, where they have become 'monsters'. One then must confront them and defeat them. Once defeated, however, one must establish a relationship with them, first by building a home for the monster and then by using the 'Friendship Glove' to try to persuade the monster to become a friend.

Tabatha, a maidservant who is a magical individual in disguise, tells the hero that: 'If you can get along with the monsters in the caves, you can become friends with them! If you have this friendship glove, you can become friends with them. Win it over and it may become your friend. But be careful, you may be attacked before you win the monster over.'

Then: 'The way to get along with something without speaking is through showing how you feel. Even if the monster hits you, you have to show it that you want to be friends.'

All Natsume games contain spiritual wisdom and a guide for players to follow in their real lives. One must be willing to deal with different personalities, to be patient with people who can be rude at first, but who ultimately display hearts of gold. One must respect the elderly and be kind to children. Listening to people and responding appropriately always is a vital element in Harvest Moon games. You can play the game without paying attention to the nuances, but you ultimately will wonder where you went wrong when you fail to obtain essential information and items!

In 'Rune Factory', the hero is both farmer and warrior. In every aspect of his life, he must work towards the good of the earth and the community. Learning how to maintain a balance in all things is the foundation of a hero's ultimate success in Harvest Moon. If he only is interested in wielding a sword, he never will be able to advance even as a warrior as the 'Runes' that restore energy are found only where crops are grown. If he is interested solely in farming, he never will be able to tame monsters that could provide him with eggs, milk and wool. If he neglects the other inhabitants of the village, he never will be able to acquire items and information that will allow him to attain his greatest ambitions...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Rune Factory Romance

All those who enjoy the courtship aspects of Harvest Moon will be thrilled with the possibilities in Rune Factory. There are ten different eligible girls and, as in other HM games, you will have rivals!

As one might expect, although most of the girls are ordinary human girls, there are exotic girls as well. One may be a ghost...

Here are the descriptions of the eligible girls:

Bianca: Bianca doesn't seem impressed with you at first, but good deeds can win her over. Does she have an axe to grind?

Felicity: Mayor Godwin's daughter has energetic ideas for Kadira, but lately she hasn't felt well. Maybe you can find a cure.

Lara: Dr. Evward's assistant is always concerned about your health. Do your best to keep her from being overly worried.

Mei: A proven warrior tough enough to be a match for any guy, Mei's convictions are as unyielding as her sword.

Melody: A lover of magic and comfort, Melody runs the local Kardia bathhouse. She respects a man who can cast a spell.

Mist: While Mist doesn't seem interested in anything other than you working on her farm, she might have secret motives.

Rosetta: Jean's daughter doesn't appear to be interested in poets, but that could change if you don't pay attention to her.

Sharron: Some locals wonder if Sharron is a ghost who haunts the Kasimir Ruins. Maybe you can make her feel alive again.

Tabatha: While Tabatha seems destined to serve as Bianca's maid, you might be the key that unlocks a new life for her.

Tori: Zavier's sister seems shy and apparently doesn't say much, but she knows plenty about most books in the library.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Is Harvest Moon for DS worth the effort?

Having written a number of guides for Harvest Moon DS, and having explored the different glitches in the game, I wanted to make a statement giving my own assessment of Harvest Moon DS. It is one of the greatest games ever created by Natsume. The glitches exist really because it is such a marvelous game. Harvest Moon games are not linear. There are hundreds of variables that can affect the course that the game will take. There are sub-plots within the main plot. There are more than a dozen eligible girls that one can court and marry, or one can choose a single life. One can choose to be an active matchmaker for other couples or let circumstance decide.

Almost every Harvest Moon fan longed for a game that would unite Mineral Town with Forget-Me-Not Valley. Natsume made Harvest Moon DS in response. Very few game companies pay as much attention to the wishes of the players as Natsume does. In Harvest Moon DS, Natsume created a game that was far more extensive than any other in every possible Harvest Moon activity: farming, ranching, courtship, mining, fishing, gambling and Sprites! The fact that the game sometimes can overload the DS system cannot be ignored completely, but that having been said, it is amazing that a complex game like this can be played on a handheld system at all.

The games created by Natsume combine intelligence, ethics, philosophy, creativity, humour, characters with depth and simple pleasure. Even for a fanatical Harvest Moon player like myself, every new Natsume game holds surprises and new challenges.

If your game freezes, you should be able to play through it. If the save files freeze, it is a tragedy but you can start a new game. It is a privilege simply to be able to 'live' in the world of Harvest Moon, even when that life ends abruptly because of a freeze. After all, in this real world, one's life is no more secure. One could be hit by a car when crossing a street. I try to see the 'file freeze' threat in Harvest Moon DS as an 'act of God'. In some games, the player never will experience it. In fact, there are many players who have played multiple games of HM DS without ever encountering this problem. For those whose games have been terminated abruptly, I have great empathy. I have experienced it myself. It can be devastating. On the other hand, would you rather never had the pleasure of playing the game and exploring the incredible world created by Natsume? Would you rather never have had the chance to meet Muffy and Karen in the game game?

Harvest Moon DS offers so many events, apart from the regular heart and rival heart events, allowing us to delve deeper into the histories and personalities of all the characters we have come to love. Is that not worth any price?

As I begin a new adventure in Rune Factory, I may have abandoned Harvest Moon DS temporarily, but I am certain I will play it many more times in my lifetime. It is one of my favourite Harvest Moon games, despite the occasional glitches.

Incidentally, with respect to Rune Factory, I see today that EB Games now gives the release date as 14 August rather than 31 July. I definitely should have a preliminary guide by then!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Rune Factory Preview

I received Rune Factory this afternoon and have begun to keep a game journal in preparation for the General Guide.

Natsume actually has made games like this in the past, but nothing that fully combined the farming life of traditional Harvest Moon games and the combat of traditional RPGs. Legend of the River King involved fishing as well as fighting monsters but it did not have the farming life so central to Harvest Moon. Now we can farm and fight as warriors! Moreover, we can raise monsters as 'friends'.

In the Shipping List, I have found most of the traditional seasonal Harvest Moon crops as well as some very intriguing new items.

I can't wait to fully explore this new Harvest Moon game! At the start of the game, the only weapons are a basic Hoe and Watering Can, but that soon will change.

As a little preview, I am including one section of the Shipping List:

Aqua Ring
Amethyst Ring
Emerald Ring
Sapphire Ring
Diamond Ring
Ruby Ring
Happy Ring
Cursed Ring
Fire Ring
Wind Ring
Earth Ring
Silver Ring
Gold Ring
Platinum Ring
Critical Ring
Silent Ring
Parasite Ring
Poison Ring
Magic Ring
Cheap Bracelet
Bronze Bracelet
Silver Bracelet
Gold Bracelet
Platinum Bracelet
Aqua Broach
Amethyst Broach
Emerald Broach
Sapphire Broach
Diamond Broach
Ruby Broach
Heart Pendant
Star Pendant
Sun Pendant
Gale Pendant
Tear Pendant
Earth Pendant
Silver Hairpin
Gold Hairpin
Fancy Hat
Leather Belt
Lucky Strike
Champ Belt
Leather Gloves
Field Gloves
Pierced Earring
Feathered Cap
Brand Glasses
Fireproof Hood
Evil Charm
Magic Earring
Ring Shield
Courage Badge
Feather Boots
Heavy Boots
Leather Boots
Knight Boots
Hero Certificate
Knowledge Certificate
Handknit Hat
Handknit Scarf
Fluffy Scarf
Art of Attack
Art of Defence
Art of Magic

Unlike some Harvest Moon games, there are no question marks to denote items one has not obtained. All items are given at the start of the game. There is a Crops/Wild Item list, a Jewelry List, a Recipe List, a Potions List, a Fishing List and one other list that has Monster Items from Feed to Furs and Fangs, Gems and other unusual objects. What fun this is going to be!

Farming, friendship and love are as vital in Rune Factory as they are in any other Harvest Moon game. It is a kinder sort of RPG in that monsters do not die but are rehabilitated into their original Forest habitat. You can tame monsters and befriend them...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Rune Factory Announcement

I now have confirmation that I will be sent an advance copy of Rune Factory in order to begin working on a guide for it.

I should have the game early next week and will begin the guide as quickly as possible. I am very excited about this: Rune Factory has been described as 'Harvest Moon meets Zelda'. Although I have not been able to play the game myself yet, I am more inclined to describe it as 'Harvest Moon meets 'Golden Sun' or 'Sword of Mana'. However one chooses to describe the game, the fact of the matter is that one is able to raise monsters, as well as creating and using weapons. I assume the usual activities included in Harvest Moon games are available as well: farming, mining, fishing and so on. As soon as I have the game, I will write a little review of it.

From all accounts, 'Rune Factory' will be great fun! To me, however, the most wonderful aspect of Natsume's games is the lasting appeal that they all have. Even when a new game is released, one does not put aside the old games forever. I look forward to a time when I will be able to play 'More Friends of Mineral Town', 'Magical Melody' and 'Harvest Moon DS' again...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

New Harvest Moon Games

For those, like myself, who intend to play every Harvest Moon game that is released, I would like to confirm my own intention to write a guide for every new HM game. Rune Factory was scheduled for release on 31 July. If there are no further delays, I will begin the guide as soon as possible after that date.

There will be a version of 'Innocent Life' for PS2. There probably will be a few minor differences between that and the original PSP version and I will try to address those in a guide written specifically for the PS2 game. Meanwhile, though, my own General Guide for Innocent Life for PSP should be helpful for players with the PS2 version.

More and more differences are being found between the various versions of Harvest Moon for DS. A large number of events that were included in the original Japanese version were eliminated from the first U.S. version. A second U.S. version eliminated a number of 'exploitation devices' that existed in the first: the Bonus Ranch Trick and the Billion Gold Fishing Bonus are among these. Unfortunately, it failed to eliminate the 'freeze file' problem that causes players to lose BOTH save files when the game freezes at the point of reloading. The U.K. version eliminated the connection with Mineral Town, all books and two of the Casino games. My General Guide does contain a section that deals with the differences between the various versions. At some point, I intend to include a list of the events that were included in the original Japanese game but deleted from the English versions.

All that having been said, Harvest Moon for DS remains a fabulous, intricate Harvest Moon game that combines the characters from Forget-Me-Not Valley and those of Mineral Town and contains a wealth of activities for the dedicated Harvest Moon fan.
Very few players are content to play the game once. Like other Harvest Moon games, it is one of those games that possesses true lasting appeal.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Legend of the Blue Feather

The 'Blue Feather' is an important item in many Harvest Moon games. When any marriage proposal is made either by a girl or a boy, the Blue Feather must be offered with the proposal.

The actual history of this charming tradition never is given in any Harvest Moon game, although characters will allude to it frequently, and it is not a tradition that is restricted to a single village or location. Individuals from Forget-Me-Not Valley and Mineral Town alike honour the tradition of the 'Blue Feather'.

Here is the Legend of the Blue Feather as told to Freyashawk by Aloysius of Mineral Town, a farmer who achieved great renown in his own village and whose fame spread even to Forget-Me-Not Valley. (In other words, the tale was relayed to me by my first character in FoMT. Make of that what you will.)

The Legend of the Blue Feather

In the first days of mankind, when people were learning about life in all its complexities and splendour, there was a very shy boy named Kuko. He was very much in love with the daughter of the chief of his tribe, but was too shy to say anything to her. Instead, he would leave a white flower at her door each monring and then walk past her house later to see if his gift had been accepted.

The White Flower was a rare and beautiful blossom that could be found only at the top of the highest mountain. Each evening, Kuko would climb the mountain to search for the elusive flower and he would not return to his village without it. To him, it represented the rare emotion that had blossomed in his own heart.

Every day, his heart rose when he saw that the flower no longer lay on the doorstep. He imagined his beloved would understand that her own beauty was reflected in the exquisite loveliness of the White Flower.

Then one day, a delegation of strangers came to the village. They brought an offering of marriage from the son of a neighbouring cheftain. Donkeys laden with gold, chests filled with precious gems and baskets filled with grains, vegetables and fruit accompanied the proposal of marriage.

Poor Kuko! His heart sank when he saw the ostentatious procession and heard the admiring exclamations of the villagers. All he had to offer was the simple White Flower. In fact, as the delegation entered the home of the village chieftain, their heavy boots trampled Kuko's offering into the dust.

Kuko could not imagine that the girl would prefer him to the son of a wealthy chief. He was a poor shepherd boy who owned only a couple of sheep and two chickens who never had laid a single golden egg.

In despair that evening, he went to the Spring of the Goddess to think. It was a favourite spot of his, a place he often visited when life appeared darkest. According to legend, the Harvest Goddess lived in the lake and granted the wishes of deserving indivduals who sought her aid. Kuko imagined the Goddess to be as compassionate as she would be beautiful, and he poured his heart out to her in the twilight, speaking of his dreams and hopes, his disappointments and his struggles. Ordinarily rather inarticulate and shy, Kuko found he was able to speak freely to the Goddess he could not see but whom he sensed to be ever-present in the sparkling waters of the Spring.

That eveniing, when he finally fell silent, he was surprised by the appearance of an exquisite blue bird flying across the sky. The bird circled overhead three times, then dropped a feather into his lap. The feather was long and iridescent, and Kuko never had beheld anything quite as beautiful.

Kuko was startled, but even more astonished when the bird actually spoke to him.

'I am the Namimoto bird, who makes her nest in the very lap of the Goddess,' the bird sang.
'She bids me tell you to take heart. Give this Blue Feather to the girl you love and if her heart beats true for you, she will be yours.'

Kuko bowed low to the sacred bird, thanking her for the rare gift. He then returned to the village, feather in hand, and laid it upon the doorstep of his beloved.

He could not sleep, however, and was at her door at dawn to see if the feather remained where he had left it.

Much to his joy, the feather was gone!

As he stood there, the chief of the village, his daughter and the entire delegation of strangers came out of the house, and the village crier began to ring the bell, calling the villager to a meeting.

All the villagers congregated in the Square, pressing forward to hear the news. Poor Kuko was afraid suddenly that it would be an announcement that the Chief's daughter had agreed to accept the offer of marriage from the neighbouring Chief's son.

Instead, he beheld his lady love stepping forward with the Blue Feather braided into her golden hair.

In a clear voice, she declared: 'I will marry only the man who can tell me where the bird to which this feather belongs lives.'

Her father then spoke: 'Three days from now, we will have another meeting and at that time, we will hear the answer to my daughter's question.'

Kuko realised that the Chief intended to give the neighbouring Chief's son a chance to discover the answer to the girl's question. The next three days passed far too slowly, therefore, for poor Kuko, who knew the answer himself, but did not know if his rival would be able to stand forth to give the correct answer as well.

After three days had passed, the bells rang. out again and the villagers collected in the Square. The delegation returned and this time, the neighbouring Chief's son was with them. Much to Kuko's consternation, he was a handsome lad, but with arrogance stamped in his features. His bearing moreover denoted one accustomed to having his own way in everything.

Kuko's rival stepped forward then, as if he and he alone had the right to speak first.

He declared loudly, 'Here is my answer to your question: I have sent men to every corner of our land, and no one has seen a bird with feathers like this. I therefore declare with confidence that the bird is foreign to these parts, and must be from a land very faraway.'

'Yes!' agreed the Chief happily, 'That must be so. We have our answer here.'

'And yet,' said the girl, 'That is no answer at all. It does not tell me where to find the bird.'

Kuko stepped forward then. Much to his surprise, when he spoke, he did not stutter as usual. His voice was firm and melodious as he said, 'I have seen the bird you seek. This bird will not be found anywhere in our land or in any other, for she makes her nest in the very lap of the Goddess. She is the Namimoto bird, favoured by the Harvest Goddess above all others.'

The villagers were amazed, not only by Kuko's words but by his transformation into a confident young man who had neither hesitation nor fear.

'How do you know this?' the Chief demanded with a frown.

'The bird gave me the Blue Feather,' said Kuko. 'It is a symbol of true love, for the man who offers this feather to a girl declares: 'My heart flies to you, even as a bird flies to its nest. I wish to dwell in your heart forever.' That is the message of the Blue Feather and that is why I offer it to your daughter. I am your humble servant, sir, but my heart has the highest of aspirations, to belong to your daughter forever.

Every one was captivated by the boy's words and even the Chief could not maintain his stern disapproval, although the thought of losing all the advantages that an alliance with the neighbouring Chief would have provided was disappointing. Even so, he loved his daughter and her happiness was more important than riches.

The Chief's daughter looked at the son of the neighbouring Chief, then at Kuko.

'I always loved you,' she told the young shepherd. 'Each morning, I would watch from my window as you brought a beautiful White Flower to my door. I always hoped you would speak to me one day of your love.'

She took his hand then in her own and announced, 'I accept your Blue Feather and your heart. From this day forward, let the Blue Feather be a sign of eternal love for every man and woman who wishes to marry.'

And so it came to pass that the 'Blue Feather' became the symbol of love and accompanied every proposal of marriage through all the centuries.

For all Harvest Moon fans

Harvest Moon is more than a series of games. It represents a philosophy of life and any one who becomes involved in Harvest Moon games will recognise the underlying philosophy in all these games very quickly.

Harvest Moon is NOT about making money or achieving victory over enemies. It is not about winning or losing. The central theme of all Harvest Moon games is working harmoniously with the environment and with society to improve every one's quality of life.

Using the land and natural resources wisely are lessons that are taught by Harvest Moon. Making friends and being able to sustain friendships over time are other lessons that are critical to the player's success or failure.

In this web log, I will include basic gaming advice as well as detailed hints for players. Links to all my Harvest Moon guides can be found on this website for those who are looking for detailed walkthroughs and guides to specific games.