Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Striking Simiilarity in Sunshine Islands

The main plot in Sunshine Islands is founded on Sun Stones and raising Heart Levels is a method by which you can obtain many of the Sun Stones you need to raise islands from the bottom of the sea, but Friendship brings other rewards in the form of Event that occur at 6 Hearts between various Characters.

One of these subsidiary Events occurs at the Inn when Sabrina reaches 6 Hearts. It involves two of the Mineral Town characters, Karen and Popuri. It is a clever event that 'responds' I believe to some of the comments made by veteran Harvest Moon players when Characters in new Harvest Moon games resemble other Characters from the past. When Island of Happiness was released, a few players wrote that Sabrina was the 'Mary-look-alike' in the game. In 'A Striking Similarity', Karen and Popuri go so far as to mistake Sabrina for Mary! The creators of Island of Happiness and Sunshine Islands thereby used this resemblance to create an entertaining event.

A friend of mine who is playing Animal Parade complains that the game moves too slowly for his liking and that he grows weary once again of his daily chores. Ironically, he is an individual who is a creature of his habit in his own real life and does not really like to have his daily routine altered much. Nonetheless, if he cannot expect another major change in the near future in any Harvest Moon or Rune Factory game, his interest quickly wanes.

He asked me (again) why I do not become bored... I have written about this before, actually. For me, Harvest Moon and Rune Factory games offer endless delight in the details. Instead of waiting impatiently for the next major advance in the plot, I find myself surprised and delighted by a new bit of dialogue or a minor event that uncovers a secret from a character's past or a detail about his/her 'Most Favourite' Gifts. Any one who is not involved with the character studies in any Harvest Moon or Rune Factory game loses a great deal of the enjoyment that these series have to offer.

For me, experiencing an Event like 'A Striking Similarity' is as exciting as any major plot development. Similarly, I was delighted when Ray confided at 4 Hearts that he was a teacher before he became a fisherman, giving me a little window into his personal history. Yes, his official profile does mention that he was a 'former scholar' but it still made me happy to hear it from him... In Friends of Mineral Town and More Friends of Mineral Town, I loved the subsidiary Events that dealt with Jeff's aspirations and accomplishments as an artist. It delighted me to find his paintings as well as references to him as an artist in OTHER Harvest Moon games.

These small but satisfying Events and dialogues are what give the daily routines their spice and allow one to continue to find fulfillment in a game even after the Main Plot has been completed. The general rule for most Harvest Moon games is that new Events will continue to occur for five years at least. Any one who lacks the patience to live the idyllic life of a farmer in any Harvest Moon setting for at least five years is missing half of the game.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of striking similarities...

I had been reading this blog before I picked up Sunshine Islands, but somehow everything you'd mentioned about Will slipped my mind when I was creating my character, so I named him Will. Then, to compound the confusion, I also selected the white horse.

Unfortunately, the other Will didn't have any unusual response to finding out I shared his name.

Freyashawk said...

How amusing! Perhaps one day THAT will be programmed into a Harvest Moon game, so that any Character who shares a name with your own character would remark upon it. Perhaps you would be given a choice of responses when the Character makes the comment, and your own reaction would raise or lower friendship with your namesake. The creators appear to be very sensitive to players' suggestions and wishes, which is another reason I love the series. I believe one of the major characters in an upcoming Harvest Moon game is named Freya... I do hope that name will be retained in the final version. It would be rather exciting to have Freya in every player's game!