Saturday, January 12, 2008
Just call me... Phantom Skye
Natsume is a company that considers the desires both of male and female players and make different versions of Harvest Moon games for each. The original English version of Harvest Moon DS was the 'boy version'. In that game, your male character had a choice of 5 ordinary 'Valley' girls, 5 Mineral Town girls and 4 magical or 'special' girls to court. Quite a generous selection!
When I discovered that the girl version of the game, otherwise known as 'Harvest Moon Cute' had only one 'special' bachelor, I initially felt that our gender had been cheated.
A day after I received an advance copy of the game, I have to admit that the single 'special' bachelor is worth a handful of 'special' girls in terms of dramatic potential and allure.
The 'special' bachelor in 'Harvest Moon Cute' is a smooth-talking famous thief who has the reputation of warning his victims in advance, rather like a contemporary Japanese version of the old British 'gentleman' cat burglars and jewel thiefs beloved of cinema. Skye dresses like a pimp in a leopard-patterned jacket but his manner is calculated to sweep any girl off her feet. At first meeting, he won Lumina's heart and mine as well. I couldn't help it. The guy possesses a cheeky charm that is irresistable.
I have included some rather poor photographs of Skye in the event that is known in Harvest Moon games as the 'First Heart Event' or 'Black Heart Event'. No doubt the quality of the photographs could be improved greatly but I hope they will give players some idea of the delights in store for them when Harvest Moon Cute is released at the end of March.
Skye may be the most elusive bachelor in the game as he visits the Valley only at night and his tastes tend to be extravagant compared to other bachelors, as one might imagine. Moreover, you have no opportunity to socialise with him after the Heart Event occurs as you are sent straightway to bed to dream 'sweet dreams' of the charming thief.
Kai held the position of the charming vagabond character in former Harvest Moon games. I'm afraid he now must yield first place to Skye.
Your first meeting with Skye will be his first Heart Event, and it will occur between 10.00 p.m. and midnight as you walk up the staircase to enter Romana's garden at the Villa. The weather must be fine as Skye is the sort of chap who pampers himself and refuses to 'work' in bad weather conditions.
As you will be sent straight to bed after the event, I wished to complete all my farm tasks before I met the elusive cat burglar. I therefore entered the screen at the last possible moment at 11.50 p.m. to trigger the event.
A stranger came out of the front door of the Villa. He then walked forward to stand next to me in front of the fountain.
Skye: (!) He he. Hello, beautiful. Walking alone at night?
Skye: Hehe. I'm quite the ladies' man, and a prince of the stars.
Lumina now came out of the Villa, and walked towards us.
Lumina: (!) Hey! Aren' t you that famous thief who warns his victims ahead of time?!
Skye and I both: (!)
Skye: Hehe. Sorry, but I'm a bit pressed for time. I'm about to jet out.
He began to walk towards the stairway to leave, but then turned back towards us:
Skye: Hehe. Call me Phantom Skye. I have a feeling we'll meet again. It's in the stars.
Lumina then raced towards Skye to confront him.
Lumina: Wait right there!
Skye: Hehe. Hold up, beautiful. Don't let such raw anger steal away your beauty.
Lumina (!): What a smooth talker... Phantom Skye...
Lumina displayed a huge red heart and attempted to follow Skye as he departed.
Lumina: Phantom Skye! He... he got away from me!
The event ended with Lumina at the gates and me in front of the fountain still.
Afterwards, I spoke to Lumina:
Lumina: Hehehe, that thief is cool!
As I exited from the stairway to the next screen, my parting thoughts were:
Me: I got to meet Phantom Skye today. What a pretty boy... Time for some sweet dreams...
I was sent straight to bed to dream of the elusive heartbreaker and only regained control of my character at 6.00 a.m. the next morning.
END of FIRST HEART EVENT
I have included the full text of this event as it is a good introduction to the character of Skye and shows his effect on the 'ladies', including Lumina.
Although Skye undoubtedly has potent charms, I was delighted to discover that a player can marry one of the lads from Mineral Town in Harvest Moon Cute without ending the game automatically with this act. In the original boy version, marriage to a Mineral Town girl meant that your character would move to Mineral Town. The game therefore ended summarily and you never were able to create a family in the Valley with a Mineral Town wife.
In Harvest Moon Cute, you can marry any of the eligible bachelors from Mineral Town and continue the game. I have to admit that, however powerful the allure of Skye may be, I was thrilled anew by the old Mineral Town 'heart event music' when I entered the Excavation Site and experienced the 1st heart event with my old husband from MFoMT Grey in a new incarnation.
It is amazing how 'real' memories of past Harvest Moon games can be and the depth and profundity of emotions they can evoke. In Harvest Moon games, there are musical themes for special events such as Heart and Rival Heart Events. The 'Heart Event theme' from More Friends of Mineral Town is my favourite. When that theme floated from the DS as I experienced Grey's 1st Heart Event in Harvest Moon Cute, I was swept away emotionally. What tender memories it engendered in me! What excitement and yearning!
A part of me laughs at myself for the incredible potency of my attachment to Harvest Moon but another part of me recognises the magic, bows to the power of the creators of these games and delights in their power to affect players. I am not alone in this. Other players have wept when they have lost their games due to some malfunction or some accidental overwrite of a file. Harvest Moon is more than a game. It is another reality.
As the game unfolds for me, I will be forced ultimately to make a decision. Will I return to the arms of Grey or will I follow a new path and marry the ultimate 'bad boy' of Harvest Moon?
Incidentally, there is a new twist to Harvest Moon in the Cute version. Although you cannot marry the special magical girls in the Valley, you can court them for a new relationship known as 'Best Friend'. I noticed immediately that one still could experience the Heart Events with the magical girls but what I did not realise initially was that it could lead to a socially recognised relationship! One actually can choose a female 'Best Friend' instead of a husband and offer the Blue Feather to HER. It is only the magical girls that can be courted in this fashion. Ordinary girls do not qualify. Moreover, it is an either/or situation. Having offered the Blue Feather to a magical girl, one no longer can marry a bachelor.
A magical girl, once she is a 'Best Friend' can give you a child as well. A child given in this fashion has an appearance that is randomly chosen in the same way that a child of a magical girl spouse in the original HM DS would have a randomly chosen appearance.
This is NOT to suggest that Harvest Moon is encouraging any sort of same gender marriages. The fact that Heart Events for magical girls are tied to special items and other events probably was the reason why it was decided to create the 'Best Friend' option. In any event, it is interesting to discover that one can have all the benefits of family life without marriage now in Harvest Moon. Despite this, I believe I am going to 'set my cap' either for Skye or for Grey in my first game...
In my view, there are far more attractive Mineral Town bachelors than Valley bachelors. Rock is handsome but rather feckless but Marlin, Gustafa, Griffin and Carter all appear to be of a different older generation than the girls in the game and they are NOT particularly handsome physically. The Mineral Town bachelors, on the other hand, all are of the same age as the girls and very cute with the possible exception of one whom I will not name because I know that EVERY bachelor has his own admirers among players. I even hesitate to say anything negative about the Valley bachelors... except that it really cannot be denied that, apart from Rock, they must be classified as 'older men'!