Saturday, March 1, 2008
A very difficult life in HM Boy and Girl, but with rewards
Harvest Moon Log, Harvest Moon date: 3 Summer, Year 1. Earth time: Noon, 1 March 2008. I ask myself: 'Why bother with Harvest Moon Boy & Girl where the largest rucksack only gives me 8 slots and where at the beginning of Summer, I haven't been able to expand my house yet?'
Why indeed? There is a part of me that longs to spend my entire Harvest Moon life in the Forget-Me-Not Valley of HM DS/Cute DS, where each slot allows a stack of 99 items, where one can get rich on the first day of gameplay by digging in the Excavation Site, where my life at this point is rather easy and automatic...
Why did I have ANY interest in the PSP Harvest Moon Boy & Girl? My life is difficult there, far more so than in Friends of Mineral Town or More Friends of Mineral Town. The controls stick often, causing dreadful accidents where I throw away an item inadvertantly. Transportation is SLOW. In HM DS and HM Cute DS, one can buy a Teleport Stone in the second week of gameplay... Oh, for a Teleport Stone!!!
Having said all this, I still want to continue my life in Harvest Moon Boy & Girl. The graphics are wonderful, with vibrant colours and detail. Although it is very similar to FoMT/MFoMT in plot and even in terms of many events, there are new events to experience. In particular, the Blue Heart Events of the girls, hitherto the stuff of legend for me, now can be experienced firsthand.
When a game is difficult, moreover, the rewards are greatly appreciated once they are obtained. I have to say that I HATED the Swim Contest on Opening Day. I knew that I would. I did not win it. If I had been able to save my game immediately before I entered the Beach area (as one could do in FoMT and MFoMT), I would have replayed it again and again until I won it, but in the circumstances, where one must replay the entire day, I couldn't be bothered. I'll win it next year...
The most important motivation in continuing Harvest Moon Boy & Girl, though, may be the emotional attachment to characters. There is a real poignancy to some of the stories about characters in HMBG that does not exist in HM DS or HM Cute DS. These stories are included in FoMT and MFoMT, but I had forgotten how they tug at the heartstrings.
For example, there is the story of little May and her longing for her mother, Joanna. I just experienced the event where Barley asks me to help him find her, when she is missing... Finding her on the pier at last after 6.00 p.m., she told me: 'I hope Mom comes home soon... Then I can live with her and Grandpa, the three of us.' When I take her home to Barley, he asks her: 'Are you lonely living with me?'
Both children in Mineral Town are rather lonely. Stu lives with his disabled grandmother, Ellen. She is very loving, but cannot leave the house (apart from one incident in FoMT/MFoMT, where she manages to get to Kai's restaurant for a meal). Elli, his sister, spends most of her time at the Clinic. Until you engineer a regular babysitting job for Carter that includes both children, they wander about aimlessly alone, wishing for a playmate.
The story of Aja is another rather poignant tale of loss and longing. She is the daughter of Duke and Manna who ran off to the city. The Winery in fact was named after her, but she has not been willing to return and does not communicate enough with her parents. Duke's heavy drinking apparently started after her departure... Manna's loneliness is based on her longing for her daughter's return. Harris, the local police constable, is in love with Aja, but it is an unrequited affair.
For characters like these and for the excitement that new heart events brings, I am determined to continue my lives in Harvest Moon PSP Boy and Girl. Unfortunately, I now must gird my loins for the ordeal of the Sumo Chicken Contest. I hated that Contest in FoMT/MFoMT, although by being able to save at the point of entering the Square, I could replay it until I won. It was possible in those games to win even with a Chicken with only a single heart... but one had to be persistent. Even chickens with maximum heart levels could behave idiotically, again and again... I daresay it will be the same in this game.