Monday, February 25, 2008

Harvest Moon Boy & Girl for PSP

I suspected that if I inserted my copy of HM Boy & Girl into the PSP, I would not be able to take a 'quick look' at it but would become completely immersed in the game... Today, after receiving yet another email from a player asking if I had written a guide for the game, I recalled my old promise to Shaggy and my own desires, so often suppressed in the past couple of months, to play this game...

There are those who view games like this with disdain. Sometimes dismissed as 'port' games, it amazes me that individuals who never played the ORIGINAL would be in any position to judge a game reborn in a new guise.

The old 'Back to Nature' game for the PS1 often was judged to be one of the greatest Harvest Moon games ever made. In fact, there are those who consider it one of the greatest games in the world. When this game was reborn as Harvest Moon Boy & Girl for the PSP, I for one was thrilled. I never dreamed that almost half a year would pass before I had a chance to play it.

The original 'Back to Nature' was made both in a boy and in a girl version in Japan. The girl version never made it to the States. Obviously, Harvest Moon Boy & Girl, in allowing a player to choose to be either a male or a female, incorporates both the original boy and girl versions of 'Back to Nature' in a single game.

'Back to Nature' was the predecessor of 'Friends of Mineral Town'. Most of the characters are the same in both games and many of the events are the same. There are a few small differences in terms of Festivals, and other aspects of the game, including events, but for the most part, the games are similar enough to allow a player who is familiar with one to play the other without much trouble.

Nonetheless, despite the fact that I played both Friends of Mineral Town and More Friends of Mineral Town many times, 'Harvest Moon Boy & Girl' is both new and fresh to me.

As I began the game, I was conscious of two different responses. On the one hand, I found myself delighted to walk familiar paths and meet old friends again... at the same time, it WAS new and I enjoyed the novelty of the game.

I decided to play as a girl, even though in the original girl version of 'Back to Nature', the game ends when you marry. I am not certain yet if that is true here as well, but I would like to experience the game both as a girl and as a boy in any case.

Within the first two days of gameplay, I had experienced many events and had acquired a dog and a horse. I had experienced events involving most of the bachelors, both 'heart' and 'rival' heart events according to FoMT/MFoMT definitions.

There is an aspect to some events in HM Boy & Girl that does not exist in FoMT/MFoMT or HM DS/HM Cute DS. You can enter a screen and realise that you have entered an event situation without losing control of your character. You then must find a character on the screen and initiate a conversation with him/her in order to allow the event to progress further. One way of knowing that you have entered at type of event situation is by making certain that the time always is displayed on the screen. When the time box disappears, inevitably this signifies an event is occurring.

The situation is complicated a little in B & G because there ARE events in the game that do take control of your character and where the time continues to be displayed in the right top corner of the screen! It is altogether fascinating, in fact, how many events of different kinds have been included in this game.

In other Harvest Moon games, events ordinarily proceed automatically and control over your character's physical actions is taken from you until the event has ended. This sort of event occurs in Boy & Girl as well.

Another element of B&G that was unexpected was the fact that I was able to pick up a wild animal I met in the forest and carry it all the way home! I found a charming little squirrel on the path near the Goddess Spring. I picked it up in my arms, carried it home and actually took it into my house... Whether or not it will be there when I return or once I have slept through the night is another matter. It will be interesting to see.

A new rather amusing event in this game is the first meeting with Won. In B&G, it actually is a series of little events, wherein Harris chases him from screen to screen and you encounter Won each time directly after you have spoken to Harris and sent him off to Won's previous location.

Ultimately, Harris and Won meet and after Harris fails to find anything suspicious in Won's bag, he offers to buy something from the peddler by way of apology. Won offers him... guess what??? One of his SUGDW Apples for 500G! Does that sound familiar?

The photograph shows my character holding a wild squirrel in her farmhouse.

Incidentally, I hope to have some preliminary guides published at IGN tomorrow afternoon for this game... Much of the information from FoMT and MFoMT can be used but I want to confirm everything in my own gameplay before I add it to the new guides.

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