Thursday, August 14, 2008
100% Completion in Harvest Moon
This is a subject that I need to address for myself as well as other devoted players of Harvest Moon games. Most games are based on a couple of goals: 'winning' the game, unlocking all options and finally, realising 100% completion of items and so on.
In Harvest Moon, 100% completion is optional. Yes, you have a Shipping or Items List and you can try to complete it, but the official description of any Harvest Moon game is that 'Harvest Moon is NOT a linear game'. What this means is that the game is not one where the player must go from A to B to C, down a line to Z.
Think about it. If it is a game where your character can marry, you usually can choose between individuals other girls/bachelors may desire to wed as well. If you marry the girl/bachelor, your Rival cannot. That means that, in any game where you choose a partner for whom there is a Rival, you will not be able to experience the Rival Marriage and any subsequent events involving that Rival. In a game like Tree of Tranquility, where the Rival Marriages actually produce children, you will not be able to meet the child if you marry the individual in question.
Is this bad? No. It's Life as it exists in the Real World. The path we choose changes the future. In Harvest Moon, the same holds true.
I cheat the game a little by raising all the bachelors or girls to red heart level, experiencing their events, marrying them and then reloading the game to a point where every one is single again. I therefore can 'have my cake and eat it too'. I usually try to marry a girl/guy without a Rival so I can experience all the Rival Marriages and subsequent events for those couples. I do that partly for the sake of the guides I write.
A player, though, should have absolute freedom to follow his/her heart. Why should he/she base life-altering decisions on factors like 100% completion? Harvest Moon is a virtual reality where you have a chance to lead another life. Follow your Heart!
On the other hand, delaying your marriage definitely can be to your advantage in most Harvest Moon games. In many Harvest Moon games, Rival Heart events usually cannot occur until a specific number of years have passed. The 1st Rival Heart Event can occur immediately, but the 2nd will not trigger before the 2nd year, the
3rd before the 3rd year and the most important Rival Heart Event, the 4th and final Event that leads to a Rival Marriage, will not trigger before the 4th year.
You can experience ALL Rival Heart Events EXCEPT the 4th and still marry the eligible girl/bachelor yourself. Once the 4th Rival Heart Event triggers, the Rival Marriage inevitably will follow, usually within a week.
Here are some other examples of paths that will not be open to you if you marry too quickly.
In HM DS and Cute DS, you cannot unlock the 4th Mine if you marry before you experience Keira's 1st Heart Event. Making 'friends' with Keira after marriage will not satisfy the requirement, evidently. You need to go to the 255th Floor of the
3rd Mine BEFORE you marry in order to be able to experience the Event with Carter at the Excavation Site that will unlock the 4th Mine.
Being unable to visit the 4th Mine will not diminish the quality of your life if you married in haste, but it will prevent 100% completion. If you become obsessed with 100% completion, you probably will jettison all your hard work in creating a decent and happy life for yourself with the partner of your choice to start a new game. Is this really a good decision? I don't think so. Continue to play your game, even though you won't see the inside of the 4th Mine... By all means, start a new game where you CAN unlock the 4th Mine but don't devalue the game on which you have lavished your heart and soul and so many hours of REAL TIME.
In my very first game of HM Cute, I made an 'error' that upset me immensely and almost caused me to wipe the game. Like many players after me, I fell head over heels in love with Skye and was determined to win his heart at any cost. I made the mistake, then, of triggering Part 1 of his 3rd Heart Event on a Sunday, little realising that it would cost me Part 2 of the Event. Part 2 of Skye's 3rd Heart Event may be the most romantic of all Skye's Heart Events, but failing to experience it will NOT prevent you from marrying him. Experiencing Part 1 of any of his Heart Events is all that matters in terms of fulfilling the requirements for marriage.
I actually began a new game in the other slot and began to play it, ignoring the game on which I had spent so much time and energy before I realised how foolish I was being, especially as I was working on the guides for Cute at that time. It was important for me to discover if I could experience Skye's 4th Heart Event even though I had not been able to trigger Part II of the 3rd Heart Event.
In fact, I proved that a player COULD go on to experience the rest of the Heart Events and marry Skye. This was far more important in the general scheme of things than experiencing Part 2 of the 3rd Heart Event at that point in time, long before the game was released.
Anyway, that is an example from my own life of a game where I had to resign myself to the loss of an event in favour of building a future without it.
Remember that, unlike THIS life on earth, you always can start a new game later. Few mistakes in Harvest Moon will devastate your game to the point where you cannot continue. A typhoon may occur, collapsing a Shed or a Greenhouse, but you can go on to rebuild a new one. Animals may die, but you can raise more Animals. People may die as well... but you can go on afterwards.
An example of the death of a character is Nina's death in HM DS and Cute DS. That event will occur after the birth of your child. Players who failed to obtain a Starry Night Stocking BEFORE Nina's death need not despair, however. Even if you neglected Nina during her lifetime, she did not neglect you. In a wonderful example of Harvest Moon friendship and selflessness, Nina knitted the Starry Night Stocking for you and left it with Galen before she died. If you raise your Friendship Level (FP) with Galen, you will experience an Event with him wherein he will give you the Stocking that Nina knitted for you.
Harvest Moon teaches us the value of perseverance in the face of loss. It teaches us that there are many different paths in life, that where the choices of our heart are concerned, we are free to create our own destiny.
100% completion gives a player a sense of great achievement, but it is far less valuable than the other goals in life, such as that of creating a home, finding a partner and raising a family.