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!

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