Saturday, August 30, 2008
Patience and Island of Happiness... Tips for Saving
I am writing this post because of the many emails I have received from players who are finding that Island of Happiness is very different from previous Harvest Moon games in some ways.
In the past, my own fundamental strategy in Harvest Moon has been to push myself to find the earliest possible time to experience any Event or to unlock any new option. I told myself that I did this for the sake of my guides, but it was a personal challenge as well.
Although I have unlocked many options in IoH very early in the game, it is not a game that lends itself to quick completion in any of its aspects.
For a start, many players, including myself, found the necessity to use the stylus almost exclusively to be rather difficult. Many hours in realtime and game time have been spent simply trying to build a pen for the animals, for example. (It took me almost an entire HM night to build my first pen for my Chickens, by the way. It is not that easy to make the stone/lumber/Material Stone fall where you want it to be placed using the stylus. I thought I was particularly inept, but emails from other players have shown me that I am not alone in struggling with this.)
The Touchscreen and the stylus, however, are the future in DS games and I think there will be more games that require this kind of skill. Better to learn it playing a great Harvest Moon game now...
My fundamental strategy in terms of playing Harvest Moon has changed radically where Island of Happiness is concerned, and for players who are experiencing difficulty in the first year, it may help to know that you really cannot accomplish THAT much at the beginning of the game.
It is the Third Year that unlocks options that change your life radically. Make that your goal rather than thinking in terms of the first year in this game.
You cannot meet all the bachelors or eligible girls immediately, so that makes early marriage an impossibility in some cases. You cannot meet all the subsidiary characters in the first year. You cannot unlock all the crops, although you can unlock all the Ranch Animals if you are diligent in upgrading your Barn.
Making friends before you have a horse or a teleport stone is difficult simply because the territory is large and it takes time to go from one end to the other, especially where you are obliged to cross a bridge to arrive at another area. Climbing the mountain or exploring the Forest takes considerable time.
If you do not visit an individual almost every day, he/she will begin to reject your gifts. Don't let that disturb you. All you need to do is talk to individuals to keep them on the island in most cases. You will need to ship a few of every important item regularly to keep a few characters on the island, but in most cases, an individual who leaves automatically will return after a full season passes.
It is almost impossible to keep your field tidy in the first couple of years and in fact, my own instinct is to use the Greenhouse primarily for crops and reserve the field for fruit trees and animal pens. You really cannot control the weather effectively in Island of Happiness, because it is set 6 days in advance. So far, I never lost a Greenhouse to a typhoon or snowstorm. I need to confirm that there is NO chance of that, but I have weathered quite a few and the Greenhouse remains intact.
Where severe storms are concerned, the results are random in terms of the crops and trees destroyed. If there is a particularly valuable crop or fruit tree, do not save your game after the storm until you look at the field to see if it still remains standing. If it has been destroyed, reload and try again. That is the best I have been able to do where typhoons and snowstorms are concerned.
You only have one save slot for each game, although you can have 2 games on a cartridge. This leaves you little margin for error, but you can save ANYWHERE on the map at any time of the day or night.
The best times to save during the day are:
1. When fishing, before you catch a fish, especially at the Beach, where you can catch Large Fish, Pirate Treasures and Fossils of Fish; (Pirate Treasure can be caught only in Summer and Fish Fossils in Autumn, true to HM traditions);
2. In the mines, save as soon as you arrive on a new floor. The configuration of the items inside Rocks as well as the location of any pitfalls or stairs will change each time you reload and in fact, the configuration for an item inside a Rock is loaded at the moment you smash it. If you stand in front of a Rock, therefore, and save your game, you may find a different item in the Rock each time you smash it. This is useful on Floors with very valuable items, such as Floor 100, containing Mythic Stones. You can find a Mythic Stone inside ANY Rock, although there appears to be some limit as the the total number you can find on that floor... In any case, energy is so limited in this game that the more you can save BEFORE you perform an action with random results, the better;
In the Mine, you may wish to save immediately after you obtain any special item as well. The Mine contains pitfalls and their position is configured when you step on the square. You can lose significant stamina, (especially before you have increased total SR and FL with Accessories), when you fall through a Pitfall. Early in the game, it is best to reload if you fall through a pitfall that takes too much of your energy. Falling one or two floors at a time is best until you have decent recovery items in your Rucksack. So save BEFORE you move even a step in the Mine!
3. When you are standing at the counter at the Cafe or Diner and are about to give Madelynn or Luke an item to make a new recipe. The results in terms of success or failure are random. There is no point in wasting ingredients... Just reload if he/she fails and try again.
4. If you have the patience for it, save before you go to sleep on any night in Winter when the last digit of your Total Earnings equals 5. Go to Chen's Market to see if a Wonderful is being offered the next morning BEFORE YOU SAVE again. If there is no Wonderful, reload and try again. (This is very tedious though and you may not want to do it that often!)
5. In the first year when you are desperately poor, without any significant number of items in storage or cooking abilities, you can save before you go to bed and search West Town for Wild Grasses and other edible items BEFORE you save. If you don't find many, reload and try again. The configuration of items in the Wilds appears to change each time you reload BEFORE you go to sleep on the previous night. Mind you, it may change before you leave the house for the first time or enter a screen for the first time. I need to test this more. It's not worth the effort once you have some recipes and food in storage...
6. In the third year and afterwards, when you stand in front of Manfred near the Tower, save BEFORE you speak to him. The item he gives is utterly random. By reloading, you can obtain any crop you have not unlocked or any rare item that you may lack...
Tip: The longer you leave an item on the ground in the Wilds, the higher its Rank, Quality and Size becomes. This stands to reason, of course. An item that continues to grow in the soil will be larger and better than one harvested too quickly. You will need to weigh desperation and need with judicious planning early in the game, though, especially when you have no recourse to the Cafe or Diner to replenish your energy.
As I wrote before, the ray of light on the horizon is the start of the third year if you have been diligent in befriending Wada. If he is at least at 7 hearts, you can experience an event at his hut that unlocks the area with the 'Tower'. Manfred, the Jungle Sprite, will be found there henceforth and if you speak to him, he will give you a random item each day. If you have not been able to ship sufficient crops to unlock Wheat or Soybeans, for example, or all the Fruit Trees, obtain one from Manfred and use your Seedmaker to convert it to Seeds. I am ashamed to say that I had to obtain my first bag of Soybean Seeds that way!
Be patient and don't fret if you lose the Contests early in the game, even though the prizes are Wonderfuls that you need. By the way, you really need to have reached the bottom of the Mine and obtained gems or ores of the highest Quality and Size in order to win the Mining Contest. A Rank 'A' Gem or Ore, even if its size is 10 will not win the Contest. It is quality that counts.
The Fishing Contest, on the other hand, is easy to win. I won it in the first year with a Large Fish that was not a 10 either in Quality or Size.
I won the Cooking Contest as well with a similar Large Fish that had been Grilled the first time I entered. In subsequent years, though, I had to make the 'Best' of a Recipe to win. It is a combination of SR and FL (Stamina and Fullness) that determines the winning Recipe.
Where Courtship and Marriage are concerned, I suggest a strategy that differs from other games here as well. BEFORE you marry, the rival heart events depend on specific heart levels and year requirements as they do in other Harvest Moon games. In other words, if the Bachelor or Girl has a heart level that is too high or if you have not reached the required year yet, you won't be able to trigger them. AFTER marriage, however, unlike some other HM games, the equivalent of AP (Affection or Love Points) is transformed to FP (Friendship Points) in quality and the only requirement for triggering Rival Heart Events is the year.
For this, therefore, I recommend that you bring all Eligible Bachelors/Girls to full red heart level by the third year and then marry in the third year after experiencing ALL heart events for each of the Eligible Spouses. After this, you will be able to trigger all three of the 1st three Rival Heart Events effortlessly. The 4th and final Rival Heart Event then will trigger in the 4th year, causing the Rival Couple to marry and have a child.
You cannot achieve 100% completion of your Inhabitants List if you do not allow all four of the Rival Couples to marry. On the other hand, if you are truly in love with some one, you should follow your heart and forget about your Rival! 100% completion is not a primary aim in Harvest Moon. It is one of those subsidiary challenges. A decent life and success for you and your community is the primary goal.
Finally, if you really are struggling with the stylus, go ahead and practice with it to build a pen for example without saving the results. Take your time without being stressed and don't save the game while you are doing it. Once you have mastered the technique, you can play seriously again.