Saturday, March 15, 2008

Power or Wealth? It depends on your Gender

I feel a bit schizophrenic at the moment, playing the Boy and the Girl version of Harvest Moon Boy & Girl simultaneously. Although both versions share the same foundation fundamentally, there are some differences that are significant and others that are minor. Chief among significant differences is the fact that marriage in the Girl version ends the game. In the Boy version, you go on to create a family for yourself. For those who assume that the creators of the game are prejudiced against women, that assumption is quite false. There are many Harvest Moon games where a female character can marry and raise a family: 'Another Wonderful Life', 'More Friends of Mineral Town', 'Magic Melody' and 'Harvest Moon Cute DS' are among them.

I personally think that the reason why the option is not available in the Girl version is that it is based on an old Japanese game that never was produced in English. Perhaps it was created rather hastily or almost as an afterthought to please players who wished to play 'Back to Nature' as a girl... I wish that one could marry and have a child as a girl in Harvest Moon Boy & Girl, but there is no profit to be made in belabouring the point. If you wish to have a family, play as a boy... I always court all the eligible girls and all the bachelors in every game in any case, so seldom save the results after marriage. So far, as a boy in HM Boy & Girl, I have married Ann and Mary without saving the results of either marriage. In fact, I went through half a year of married life with Mary simply in order to experience events that cannot be triggered before the second year, including a two-part Rival Heart Event for each girl.

Courtship and Marriage appears to be one of the primary concerns of players of both genders. As I have completed all the Heart Events for the eligible girls in the Boy version and my Courtship guide now can take a male player to a successful marriage, I decided I had to return to the Girl version of the game to do the same with respect to all the eligible bachelors.

As I initially began to play this game as a girl but switched to the Boy version as early as 11 Spring in my first year, I was appalled by the state of my girl's game when I returned to it. I have become so much more adept at the game after playing a year and a half as a boy...

I therefore simply began a new game, overwriting the rather feeble first attempts to play as a girl. Having amassed a number of Power Berries withiin the first week as a boy, I thought I would do the same in the girl version.

Imagine my surprise when, after throwing five crop offerings into the Goddess Spring, the Harvest Goddess gave me a piece of lumber! In the Boy version of the game, she gives a Red Power Berry after five crop offerings, a chance to share the Spa with the girl with the highest heart level after 10 and finally, after a total of 20 offerings, a piece of lumber that Gotz will pay a very generous price to obtain.

In the girl version, the gift of the Lumber is first and in fact, Gotz pays 3000G for it rather than 1000G. Apparently, the makers of this game felt that Power was more important for a Boy and wealth was more vital to a Girl!

I now will have to discover if I receive the Power Berry after I have tossed another five crops into the Spring or if I am offered the chance to share a bath with the bachelor with highest heart level... As it is only 8 Spring, I do not have that many crops ready for harvest at present. I shipped the first lot and will have to wait until tomorrow for more to ripen.

Well, I have experienced the events now. It cost me a total of TWENTY crops to obtain the Red Power Berry and there is no Spa event in the Girl version. When you have tossed a total of 10 crop offerings in the Spring, the Goddess WILL ask you if you have a Sweetheart. If you admit that you do, she will send the bachelor with the highest heart level to you... In my case, rather to my annoyance, it presently is the Doctor, so he came to me and threw me a Moondrop! Not even a Toyflower, but a Moondrop, the most common flower in Spring. Never mind. A part of me did not wish to save the result, but I'll keep a separate file at a point prior to this so I can experience the event with all the other bachelors. It is not THAT important, although it sent him to Blue Heart level instantly. I still need to raise his heart further in order to experience the Wednesday Lake event though, apparently.

To return to the main issue, however, the Power Berry in the Girl version is given only after 20 crop offerings, making it far more difficult in the beginning of the first Spring than it is in the Boy game. I got it, of course, but at what a price!

I have to say that there are other minor differences between the two games that can be very cruel. My first experience of the Spring Goddess Festival was utterly humiliating. Even though the scene in which Gotz gives you a gorgeous traditional gown to wear is very poignant, as it is an heirloom that should have belonged to his deceased daughter, the actual Festival is horrible in the first year. Despite the fact that I had plied the bachelors with gifts since the start of the game, no heart level was sufficiently high to allow me to gain an escort to the Festival... When I arrived there, Mary was with Grey, Elli was with the Doctor and Cliff and Ann were together... Rick remained with his sister, thus leaving Karen to her own devices, but... various individuals were determined to remind me of the fact that I had NO ONE.

Grey spoke besottedly of Mary and how 'cute' she was in pink. Anna made a comment to the effect that Grey and Mary reminded her of herself and her own husband when they were young...Elli crowed about the Doctor being HER date... and so on and so forth, ad nauseum. It reminded me of the worst nightmares one had as a young girl, with respect to school dances and the fear that one would not have an acceptable escort...

In all honesty though, we had a very clever tradition of throwing an annual Twelfth Night party and inviting ONLY boys so that my sister and I would have a choice of six dance partners. All the boys we invited were our best friends so it inevitably was a great success. I suppose the Spring Goddess Festival in Harvest Moon will teach me humility, at least in the first year. It is interesting that my gaming practice of bringing all eligible girls or bachelors to deepest red heart level before I allow them to marry my rivals is not unlike my actual experience.

Well, back to the arduous task of building a farm... Ironically, I have forced myself to put down the Boy version of the game temporarily when it actually had become FUN... I had all the farm, house and tool upgrades as well as the Hothouse. All the girls were there for the taking and I received gifts from each and every one of them at the Winter Thanksgiving... Now I am taken back to a point when I am struggling with life, having only the medium rucksack, basic tools and a very meagre amount of money. I actually COUNT the bags of coins I scoop up in the Mine each day at 10G each. This gave me another realisation actually. When you do not have the Basket, a trip to the Spring Mine is important for the number of 10G bags of coins you can collect... after all, Copper Ore only ships for 15G. With only a few slots in your rucksack, collecting bags of coin probably is as profitable as anything else, unless you are willing to toss out all ore apart from Mystrile.


KalypsoCry said...

I've left a comment in the first post of the page, but I felt rather obliged to leave one here because I wanted to say... ouch.

Well, it does sound very awful not to have an escort while others all have one, but then I suppose that once you do have an escort, you'll be reminded by the lonely girls about what you felt in the first year. So maybe it goes both ways. However, I might just skip the entire festival so not to suffer, seeing how easily heartbroken I am by Harvest Moon... I remember in MFoMT, when I experienced Gray's rival heart events in my course of courting him, I was nearly in tears.

Then again, it proves that Harvest Moon is very very close to reality. While some games ply you with a date no matter that person likes you or not, Harvest Moon is very realistic with it, albeit rather cruelly.

Maybe I'll just get good grades to persuade my father to buy a PSP or borrow my brother's just to play this game.

Freyashawk said...

It definitely is a game worth playing for any true Harvest Moon fan. One of the most appealing aspects of the Spring Goddess Festival is the beauty of ALL the girls, including your character if you play as a girl. The gowns and the floral garlands are exquisite. Until I saw this event, the only time the girls were this beautiful was at their weddings. The dance they perform at the festival is lovely as well.

Hazirah said...

Your passage on the experience of the Spring Goddess Festival rang true with me! I'm sure it was not a real past experience that made me feel unhappy at my being without a date... I was a little insulted that Gray had thought me 'cute' on his first meeting with me, but was now openly giving the same compliment to Mary.

Another possibly 'minor' difference is the fact that as a girl you get a mirror, but all it seems to do is make you feel depressed about your appearance... (at least, as far as I know, I am only halfway through my first year)

Thanks for your post, and for the commenters' posts. Got here thru Google but am glad to have found that someone else felt the way I did about such a trivial thing :)