Friday, April 30, 2010

Fishing in Hero of Leaf Valley


'Save the Homeland' was a wonderful game, but I have to say that 'Hero of Leaf Valley' surpasses it in every way, at least in my view. Any aspect of 'Save the Homeland' that frustrated me somewhat has been changed and improved in HoLV.

Fishing is one aspect of the game that is immeasurably more fun and satisfying in HoLV. I was prepared to face a rather frustrating long initial phase of catching nothing, followed by a long procession of boots and empty bottles. Much to my delight, this was not my experience at all. There was a day or so when my Character had to go home without any fish, but after that, he at least was able to catch more than one Fish on any fishing expedition.

The actual Fishing mini-game is fun. Even more satisfying is the Character of Ponta and the 'Fish Prints' he creates. They are works of art, quite exquisite, a vast improvement upon the rather insipid King Fish prints that would be your only souvenir of catching some of the rare fish in older HM games.

Incidentally, the rule in HoLV that allows you to offer only one item per day to any Character as a Gift does not apply to 'collectors' such as Ponta (who collects fish) and Tim (who collects insects). You therefore can continue to give Fish to Ponta in the course of a single encounter until you have obtained everything you wish.

Hero of Leaf Valley 1st Year Events Guide

I am creating 1st and 2nd Year Event Calendar Guides for Hero of Leaf Valley in the style of my Event Calendar Guides for FoMT/MFoMT, HM DS and Cute DS. They will contain the schedules of ALL Events (both mandatory and optional) for all 16 Storylines. I have completed the schedules for the 1st Year for the first three Storylines and the Guide is live on IGN. By the end of the weekend, I hope to have both first and second Year Events for all the Stories.

You will find the link to the 1st Year Events Calendar Guide as well as my other HoLV Guides on the right side of the page.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mining is a BLAST in Hero of Leaf Valley

My Character had his first opportunity to apply for part-time work with Rudolph in the Mine. In 'Hero of Leaf Island', the opportunity for part-time work gives you an added source of much-needed income early in the game. It is a rather clever mechanism for affording the player a tutorial about a specific aspect of life in Leaf Valley while paying him to learn about it. Detailed tutorials about every activity exist in every Harvest Moon game, but half the time, players are too impatient to take advantage of them. Either dismissed as tedious or unnecessary, many players prefer to flounder in unfathomed waters rather than READ a manual or go through every step of a farming tutorial.

In 'Hero of Leaf Valley', you can sign up for a tutorial about Mining under Rudolph's tutelage and go home at the end with 450G and a rucksack filled with Ores.

Mining consists of a mini-game puzzle where rocks of different colours have different properties and each has its own direction of explosion when hit with your Hammer. Yellow Rocks cannot be smashed with a Hammer, but can be moved to a position where the direction of an explosion when you hit another rock will cause the Yellow Rock to fly into bits. It is very entertaining.

Raising Friendship Levels in Hero of Leaf Village

'Hero of Leaf Village' follows basic Harvest Moon rules where Friendship is concerned. Your Friendship Levels with specific Characters will determine your success or failure in any specific quest to save the Land. Beyond that, marriage is a possibility once you have saved the Land from destruction and therefore, your Friendship Levels with the Eligible Girl of your choice will determine your prospects for marriage.

In 'Hero of Leaf Valley', 'meeting and greeting' any Character on a given day will raise Friendship by +1 FP. A gift of a 'Most Favourite Item' is worth +3 FP. A simple Favourite is worth +2 FP and an acceptable Gift is worth +1 FP. Unlike many other Harvest Moon games, unacceptable or disliked items simply will be refused. You therefore cannot 'waste' an item by giving it to some one who will not appreciate it.

You are allowed to give one Gift per day to any Character. There is one added twist to this in that an item that has been refused counts as the gift for the day even though it was not accepted. You therefore can waste your opportunity to give a desired Gift, although you cannot waste an actual item.

Gift-giving is fairly easy in Hero. There are a number of inexpensive items that can be found in the Wilds that are acceptable to almost every Character in the game. These include Fruits and Berries, Red Herb, Flowers and any size of Fish. Crops and Eggs are acceptable as well to most Characters. There are only a few exceptions. Chester does not care for Crops, while Joe does not like Red Herb. Ponta likes ONLY Fish.

Although most Characters will not appreciate the Gift of Fodder, there are a number who do. Bob, Chester, Joe, Parsley, Ronald and Rudolph all will accept Fodder happily. As the Meadow on your Homestead is filled with fully ripened Grass that needs only the use of a Sickle to be transformed into Fodder, this item makes a perfect gift for the individuals who appreciate it.

Another item of little general value but which is appreciated by a few is a Failed Dish. Aurelia, Chester, Rudolph and Zann all will accept Failed Dishes with pleasure.

Insects, on the other hand, will be acceptable solely to Tim, who collects them and actually will pay for them. Scrap Metal can be given to Zann in a sequence of transactions that ultimately can allow you to obtain Accessories.

Preliminary Guides for Hero of Leaf Valley

As promised, I have sent two preliminary Guides for Hero of Leaf Valley to IGN. One is my Walkthrough/General Guide and the other is a mini-guide in the form of a Calendar of Festivals and Birthdays. Both are rather skeletal at this point, obviously. I have had the game only for one day, and there is a limit to the amount of work I can do in that amount of time!

Nonetheless, there should be SOME useful information in the Guide and as always, I will update my Guides daily until they are as comprehensive as possible.

I did play 'Save the Homeland' a few years ago and in some respects, 'Hero of Leaf Valley' is rather similar to that wonderful Playstation title. Without wishing to cast any shadow on the older game, I have to confess that 'Hero of Leaf Valley' far surpasses its predecessor. There are more Events and more Endings, BUT beyond that, there is the ability to marry and continue to play your EXISTING game AFTER you save the Land. In 'Save the Homeland', the game actually ENDED when you saved the land. You could carry over some of your assets to a new game, but you still had to start anew after any Ending had occurred. Moreover, although you could 'court' some of the Girls in a limited fashion, it would not lead to any life that you could experience firsthand.

In 'Hero of Leaf Valley', much like 'An Innocent Life', your successful completion of the primary quest does not bring the game to an end. You can rest on your laurels, as it were, and continue your life in Leaf Valley once the threat of destruction has been negated. You do have only two years to complete one of the Stories that will 'save the land', but if you fail for any reason, you will be able to keep some of your assets when you start again.

As some of the 'Happy Endings' are very easy to complete, there is no reason why your Character should fail in his Quest. As a matter of fact, if a player is at all uncertain of his potential at the start, he can choose one of the easier Storylines first, in order to familiarise himself with the game and to be able to devote more energy to his own private life while still moving forward towards the vital quest of saving the land.

The fundamental basis of 'Hero of Leaf Valley' is quintessentially founded on the philosophy of Harvest Moon. The last game I played was Sunshine Islands and in the dialogues both of Mark and Chelsea at different Heart Levels, it is interesting to find the underlying principles that created 'Hero of Leaf Valley'.

Mark's Dialogues in his guest room at the Inn:

At Black Heart:
My dream is to become a rancher. Living together with nature is wonderful!
At Purple Heart:
I don’t like big cities because I feel too removed from nature.
At Blue Heart:
It feels nice when the crops you care for grow really well.
At Green Heart:
I keep in touch with my family through letters. Every one seems to be doing well.
At Yellow Heart:
Mark: People need to learn how to respect nature and live with it.
At Orange Heart, a rather heartrending fact:
Mark: The hill that I played on when I was small got flattened for city development.
At Red Heart:
Mark: Freya, your Asgard Ranch is awesome! You have my respect.

As you can see, the dramatic confession at Orange Heart Level mirrors the possible destruction of Leaf Valley, an idyllic place filled with natural beauty that could be 'flattened for city development' by the Funpark Corporation.

You will find links to the two preliminary Guides on the right side of the page. They are not 'live' yet unfortunately, but I have been assured that they will be later today.

For those readers who have not seen or played 'Hero of Leaf Valley', I recommend it highly. The game is complex and rich in detail. The graphics are incredible and the music is varied and sophisticated. With 16 different storylines, you actually have 16 different games for the price of one. The fact that the PSP allows multiple save slots on a memory card makes it possible for players to begin a single game and then branch out along different paths to experience more than one ending and ultimately, more than one marriage.

Friendship always is the most important aspect of any Harvest Moon game. 'Meet and greet' every Character regularly and give them items they love as often as possible. A 'favourite' or 'preferred' gift on a Character's Birthday in 'Hero of Leaf Valley' as in most Harvest Moon and Rune Factory games is worth far more in terms of Friendship Points than it would be if given on any other day. A Calendar that includes all Birthdays therefore provides key information.

Until the links for the Guides are 'live', the following may be useful:

Calendar of Festivals and Birthdays


1 Spring: Renton’s Birthday
5 Spring: Alice’s Birthday
11 Spring: Harvest Goddess Festival
Ronald’s Birthday
16 Spring: Parsley’s Birthday
27 Spring: Lyla’s Birthday


1 Summer: Earth Day
Bob’s Birthday
8 Summer: Gwen’s Birthday
10 Summer: Joe’s Birthday
14 Summer: Rudolph’s Birthday
15 Summer: Zann’s Birthday
20 Summer: Fireworks Day
21 Summer: Wallace’s Birthday
24 Summer: Chester’s Birthday
27 Summer: Race Day


2 Autumn: Louis’ Birthday
5 Autumn: Aurelia’s Birthday
12 Autumn: Tim’s Birthday
20 Autumn: Gina’s Birthday
25 Autumn: Race Day
29 Autumn: Katie’s Birthday


2 Winter: Woody’s Birthday
9 Winter: Dia’s Birthday
10 Winter: Kurt’s Birthday
23 Winter: Liar’s Day
Charles’ Birthday
25 Winter: Martha’s Birthday
30 Winter: New Year’s Day Festival

As usual, I will be adding other details to my Calendar Guide, including favoured gifts for each Character and any Seasonal Crops and other items.

For 'Hero of Leaf Island', I will be creating separate Guides for 'First Year Events' and 'Second Year Events', much like my Events Guides for FoMT/MFoMT and HM DS/Cute DS. THese will include all of the specific Events that must be experienced in order to obtain each of the 'Happy Endings' required to save the land.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Using your Hammer to Forage in Hero of Leaf Valley

In Rune Factory Frontier, one of the early delightful surprises for me was my ability to knock ripe fruit from the Trees using my Hammer. In my first day of explorinng the landscape in Leaf Valley, I discovered that my Hammer could serve the same function in this new game. Using it, I was able to collect both ripe fruits and insects from various Trees.

It is not ALL Trees that can be assaulted in this fashion but only those that display the Hammer icon.

There is a significant difference between Rune Factory Frontier and Hero of Leaf Valley in terms of the yield that is obtained when you use your Hammer to knock down fruits. In Rune Factory Frontier, the two 'Orchards' were rather magical in nature. Each Tree would CHANGE its yield according to the Season. Thus, every Tree in RFF Orchards yielded the same Fruit in a specific Season but would yield a different type of Fruit every Season.

Hero of Leaf Valley is more realistic in that the identity of the Tree determines the type of Fruit that it yields. The trees do not change their identity and thus an Apple Tree will yield Apples and an Orange Tree will drop Oranges. They are seasonal to some extent as well, so if you use your Hammer on a Tree that is not in a fruit-bearing season, you will obtain only insects.

Fruits thus are location-specific and, to some extent, season-specific and so are insects. Certain insects tend to hover in certain areas of the Map. You will need a Net if you wish to catch flying insects, but those that are earth-bound can be knocked out of Trees with the Hammer.

Tip for Players who tend to be confused by camera angles: The landscapes in Hero of Leaf Valley are breathtaking but the camera angle will shift on you quite suddenly sometimes. This is very artistic and enjoyable as an observer, but if your Character is trying to find his way about town initially, he may become hopelessly lost, entering and exiting the same building or area countless times in utter confusion.

The trick is to learn to use your Controls to change the camera angle again. You can centre the camera angle with the Triangle button or use the Directional buttons to move the camera until you find an angle that suits you.

The most foolish thing I did today in Harvest Moon was to keep my DS stylus in my hand thorugh the first few hours of playing Hero of Leaf Valley. It has become so much a habit in the past fortnight or so while I was furiously going through Sunshine Islands to bag as many events as I could that I forgot that the PSP did not have a Touchscreen.

Being an Anti-Hero (Temporarily) in Hero of Leaf Valley

When you write a guide for a game, it is your duty to perform unpalatable acts, giving the 'wrong' response, the 'bad' response and otherwise exploring dark avenues instead of patting yourself on the back as you unerringly always choose the 'correct' and 'good' response that takes you forward.

'Hero of Leaf Valley' will draw you into a scenario that will be somewhat familiar both to players of 'Save the Homeland' and 'An Innocent Life'. Your Character must assume the role of saviour of the village...

At the start of 'Hero of Leaf Valley', the Harvest Goddess will quiz you to determine your aptitude to wear the mantle or cape of the Hero.

Her three questions:

A puppy is abandoned in the rain. What do you do?
Take it home.
Ignore it.

There’s trash on the ground. What do you do?
Pick it up
Leave it.

There’s money on the ground. What do you do?
Take it to the police
Keep it.

Every player will know the responses that are expected of him/her.

What happens if you give the 'bad' responses to all the questions?

For me, exploring ALL the possibilities is part of the thrill of working on a game guide.

It so happens that you can give any response you wish and you still will end up being the 'only choice' to save the land...

Thanks to a friend who is helping me to log the responses, I was able to do the negative ones without being forced to start over to log the positive responses. I had a feeling that your Character's choice of responses could affect Friendship Levels of other individuals in Leaf Valley.

As it transpires, they DO, but as in other Harvest Moon games, even 'negative' actions or responses appeal to SOME Characters. For example, littering sometimes will endear you to the Witch Princess...

Evidently, Friendship Levels are affected as follows:

If you give the 'positive' response or first response to each of the three questions
of the Harvest Goddess, you will earn +15 FP with the following individuals: the Harvest Goddess herself, Dia, Louis, Bob, Joe, Wallace, Chester and Nak.

If you give the 'negative' or second response to each of her three questions, you will gain +15 FP with Katie, Gina, Kurt, Ronald, Charlie, Renton, Rudolph and Nik.

If you give a combination of positive and negative responses, you earn +15 FP with Gwen, Lyla, Aurelia, Alice, Parsley, Tim, Woody, Martha and Flak.

None of this causes irreparable results, obviously, but if you have a specific target in mind in terms of Courtship or Friendship, you may wish to plot your responses accordingly.

I simply did not much like the responses Freyr gave in MY game and believing now that it could have an impact on the friendship levels of the people he would meet, I explored things a bit for two days and then reloaded... In any case, it is important to prove that players CAN give negative responses to all the questions and still assume the mantle of the Hero to move ahead in the game...

Even if you reject the idea of saving the land from the very start, the Harvest Sprites will forge ahead.

Flak: Yeah! Maybe you can help us save this land! Will you hear us out?

Your choice now:

If you choose No:

Nac: What?! Don’t say that! We just want you to listen!

The Harvest Goddess then will make her appearance to quiz you further.

The negative responses sometimes lead to the most entertaining Dialogue, which is another reason to log them.

In this case:

Nic: W-W-What are we going to do? He’s a bad person! Terrible!

What is interesting here is that the Harvest Goddess will put a 'positive spin' on the negative as well as the positive:

H.Goddess: Calm down. He might just be the first honest person I’ve met. And I know there’s a good heart beneath that rough exterior.

Nic: Well, he can see us.

Flak: Yeah. He’s probably the only person we can ask anyway.

It takes me awhile to adjust to the controls of the PSP after using the DS exclusively for a few weeks... The PSP may be clunkier and heavier, but the graphics certainly are magical. Mind you, I love miniatures and the exquisite detail of Harvest Moon games on the GBA and DS continue to enchant me... Returning to FoMT yesterday reminded me of how marvelous THOSE graphics were even in the pre-DS era of gaming.

Later: Now that I have explored some of the requirements for the various Storyline Quests in HoLV, I can see that your Responses to the three Questions at the very start of the game can make a big difference if you wish to complete a particular Story.

Often, in order to trigger the first Event of some of the Story Quests, you need to have at least 30 FP with a specific Character. Your Responses to the three Questions, by giving you an instant boost of 15 FP with a group of Characters, make it far easier to begin certain Story Quests far more than others.

'Meeting and Greeting' a Character givea +1 FP. Giving an item he/she likes gives +1 to +3 FP, depending on the nature of the item. In some cases, the first Event in a Story Quest must be triggered before the end of the 1st Spring. With 15 FP with a pivotal Character before you even start the game, you would have a far easier task ahead of you...

A good strategy, therefore, for any player who would like to complete all the Story Quests, would be to start three different games. In each, begin with a different set of Responses and then branch off in that slot towards the Story Quests with Characters whose FP has been increased by your Responses.

Hero of Leaf Valley Guides

I received my copy of 'Hero of Leaf Valley' this morning. Many thanks to Natsume! This is simply a brief announcement to the effect that work has begun on the Guides for the PSP title and that I hope to have a preliminary General Guide/Walkthrough published by IGN by noon tomorrow. It will be rather skeletal, to say the least, but will contain basic useful information.

Meanwhile, there is a part of me that wishes I could divide myself and begin a new game of 'Sunshine Islands', return to my ongoing 'Animal Parade' game and explore 'Friends of Mineral Town' again!

As a matter of fact, I am planning to make a video about Mayor Thomas, including his Events in FoMT, HM DS and the marvelous Event with Trent in Sunshine Islands. He is a bit of a shady character, as players familiar with him in different HM games know. After all, what Mayor with ANY dignity would come to your farmhouse begging for an item every year to satisfy a gambling wager???!

Which brings me to another question:

In those games where your Character has the option to beat him over the head with a farm implement, how many players chose the option to 'continue'?

The reason I mention FoMT, actually, is because I did start a new game yesterday in order to film the introductions to Thomas, Cliff, Trent, Karen and Popuri. Within the first half hour, I was drawn into the game once more, despite the knowledge that I would not have time to pursue it, especially with 'Hero' in the wings.

What a wonderful game 'Friends of Mineral Town' is, even now! They may create new systems, but the old games have enduring appeal. I look forward to a day when those old games will be available on ALL the new systems perhaps, when one will be able to download FoMT, MFoMT, HM DS, Cute DS and so on both to the Wii and to whatever descendant of the DS allows it... or even the PSP...

Which brings me to the DS Lite. I still love that system, despite the newer versions. How marvelous to be able to have Sunshine Islands, for example, in one slot and FoMT in another and to play either at will! How clever it was of Natsume to allow FoMT/MFoMT to unlock the Mineral Town characters in HM DS/Cute DS. I loved the way one could exist in two separate towns with two separate lives and yet have a crossover, as in AWL/AnWL with FoMT/MFoMT and FoMT/MFoMT with HM DS/Cute DS. The only problem with that was the demise of the systems for the games. When the GameCube was supplanted by the Wii, the option to connect to FoMT/MFoMT disappeared. You can PLAY AWL and AnWL on the Wii but how can you unlock Van's visits to Mineral Town?

That is where I hope one day that Marvelous and Natsume will create a downloadable method to unlock extras in the old games and play them on all the new systems.

Finally, it delights me to recognise that the underlying philosophy of Harvest Moon in Thomas' Introduction in FoMT continues to define every new Harvest Moon game: 'It's your farm, and you can do whatever you like.'

Monday, April 19, 2010

New Sunshine Islands Harvest Sprites Guide

The dialogue and effects of the various Harvest Sprites and their Enchantments were threatening to take over my Sunshine Islands Characters Guide. I therefore pared down the entries for each Harvest Sprite in the Characters Guide and created a new Guide devoted exclusively to the Harvest Sprites:

Sunshine Islands Harvest Sprites Guide

The Dialogues are entertaining but the precise effects of each Enchantment may be more useful. I have logged all the effects of Small, Medium and Large Decreases in Prices and Materials at Gannon's Shop and Chen's Market as well as the effects on Mirabelle's Prices in the second half of this new Guide.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Harvest Sprite Aid with Farming and Animal Care

I have written posts previously about the best strategy to employ while you still are trying to bring all of the Members of every Sprite Team to Harvest Sprite Island in Sunshine Islands.

Once you have all 45 Sprites on the Island, your strategy can change.

All this information now is included in my General Guide but it may be useful to post it here.

In particular, it appears that when you have a full Team of Orange Sprites at 10 Hearts, you can hire a single Sprite to FEED or MOVE your Animals in and out of the Chicken Coop or Barn. One Sprite alone can fill every feeder in the largest Barn in an instant at 6.00 a.m. One Sprite similarly when hired to MOVE your Animals can bring them out of the Barn or back into the Barn in an instant!

Animal Care Enchantments and Farm Aid Enchantments are not defined by size as are those that raise Friendship or affect Prices and Materials. You simply choose the number of Sprites that you wish to hire. Furthermore, the rest period for these Enchantments is only 3 Days, irrespective of the number of Sprites hired to perform the work. In contrast, a Large Enchantment to Lower Prices requires a rest period of a full season.

What this means in practical terms is that you can hire one Sprite to feed your Animals almost every day of any season, only begin required to feed them yourself on the day after any Enchantment ends. On that day, you should return to Coral to order a new Enchantment by another Member of the same Team...

Moving an Animal outside is a potent remedy against Stress. When you are in a position to hire a single Member of the maximised Orange Team at 10 Hearts to move your Lifestock outside instantly, you should be able to reduce any Stress caused by a severe storm to zero. In fact, as the same Sprite can be ordered to return all the Livestock to the Barn instantly at the end of the day, there is no reason to leave any Animals outside after dark. This is so much easier than pushing your Animals one by one manually in and out of the Barn... I advise players generally not to bother putting any Livestock outside unless they can hire a Sprite to do the work.

Chickens, on the other hand, can be carried easily outside by your Character and deposited in a small pen made from Material Stone or any other building material. When Poultry or Livestock are outside during daylight hours in fine weather, their Affection increases as well.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Official Natsume Forum is LIVE

Natsume's Official Harvest Moon forum now is live, which means that players can go directly to the source with all of their questions about Harvest Moon and Rune Factory games. I am a moderator on the forum. Please do register there!

Official Natsume Forum Registration

New Features on Harvest Moon Forever

After some thought, I have added a few new features to my Sites, including direct links to Harvest Moon and Rune Factory games sold by Amazon as well as a detailed 'Search' engine for this site at the bottom of this page. Another 'widget' of Amazon links is included at the bottom of the page as well, leading to some of my favourite literary Classics. (I will add to this one. At the moment, it contains only links to books by E. Nesbit.) The link to Harvest Moon and Rune Factory games includes the upcoming 'Hero of Leaf Valley'.

Unfortunately, where older Harvest Moon games are concerned, the prices on Amazon sometimes are higher than the original retail prices. I do not condone this particularly, but at least it does provide players who do not own the games with a chance to acquire them if they are willing to pay the price.

There should be 'buyer protection' for any products bought from Amazon sellers.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Postscript to the Pumpkin Festival in Sunshine Islands

In writing my guides for any Harvest Moon game, I usually try all possible responses in any given situation. When visitors knock on the door on the day of the Pumpkin Festival, therefore, I note the responses they make when you refuse to give them sweeties or give them odd inappropriate items instead but then reload to give them Chocolate or another Sweet that they will find acceptable.

In Sunshine Islands, I wanted to test the response for actual 'Candy' in the form of Rice Candy or other sweets made from Rice Candy as well as the responses to various 'Desserts' such as Pudding and Pineapple Pie. I therefore made a few items, intending to give them to each consecutive visitor without reloading until the very last visit from Felicia and the party on Meadow Island.

If I had reloaded immediately after each visit as I had done in previous years, I never would have discovered an important aspect of the Festival which is that, should you NOT give Chocolate or any acceptable Sweet to a visitor, that visitor will be your LAST until the next year.

Charlie is the first visitor. When I gave him Boiled Spinach and then re-entered the House expecting to receive Eliza next, she failed to appear. When I gave Charlie a Chocolate Banana and Eliza a Pudding but then attempted to give Popuri Omelet Rice (her Most Favourite Gift on an ordinary day), the Witchkin never appeared, nor did Felicia after that...

What this means essentially is that you have to give ALL your Visitors a Sweet if you wish to receive Felicia's invitation to the Party at Meadow Island. I did test many different 'Desserts' and ALL were acceptable to the Pumpkin Festival visitors. I therefore would venture to guess that ANY Dish that is listed in the 'Desserts' section of your Cookbook will qualify.

I have revised my guides accordingly. Previously, the Calendar's entry simply listed the different visitors and explained Felicia's Party on Meadow Island, without carrying any warning to the effect that, should you deny any visitor a Sweet, you will have no opportunity to attend the Party.

I made a video for YouTube a few months ago about the Pumpkin Festival that shows the visits and the party on Meadow Island. It is very touching to see that Karen, an individual who really detests sweets of all kinds, attends the Party for the sake of her best friend Popuri and will thank you as well for giving 'candy' to Popuri. The Party on Meadow Island, incidentally, does not end until 6.00 p.m. so if you do not wish to waste any working hours during the day, count your visitors and make certain that you do not re-enter your House after the Witchkin's Visit until you are ready to go to the Party.

Another new discovery I made was the ability to cook DURING a Pumpkin Festival visit. You actually can whip up some 'candy' while your Visitor waits patiently inside your Farmhouse! No earth-shattering new information but it IS interesting!

Tribute to Yasuhiro Wada

Any one who has played Island of Happiness and/or Sunshine Islands is familiar with the rather laconic character, Wada. Wada is the only true 'native' of Sunny Island and is the repository of its ancient mysteries and traditions. Befriending Wada can lead to situations where the entire bounty of Sunny Island becomes available to your character. It is fitting that Wada bears the name of Harvest Moon's founder, Yasuhiro Wada.

Recently, Yasuhiro Wada announced that, for 'personal reasons', he no longer would be as active in directing operations at Marvelous. He will continue to act as an advisor, however.

The character of Wada is NOT that of a farmer, but he rather is part of a hunter and gatherer culture. Yasuhiro Wada confesses that he tried farming but has no expertise in farming in the real world. 'I tried it,' he told an interviewer a few years ago. 'It was hard work.'

Farming is hard work in Harvest Moon as well, lending versimilitude to the games. Under Wada's guidance and with the help of Natsume in North America, Harvest Moon has become an internationally-beloved alternative world.

Here are some photographs of the 'real' Wada and his namesake in Island of Happiness and Sunshine Islands. Many, many thanks to the creator of Harvest Moon for making it possible for us to enjoy over 10 years of a magical universe where hard work and loyalty to friends are rewarded and where we can interact with the seasons and the Earth to create a life in harmony with Nature. May the magic continue in the hands of those who have inherited the mantle of leadership from him...

I do have one question to ask of Wada, however. What is the REAL connnection between Wada and the mysterious 'Tower' behind his Hut in the Jungle? Will that 'ship' one day take off again to colonise new planets?

P.S. Pursuant to questions from readers, I need to make it very clear that neither the quality nor the quantity of Harvest Moon games will suffer from the real Wada's decision. His successor, Haruki Nakayama, actually is included in the credits for Harvest Moon games as far back as 2004 in 'A Wonderful Life' (and possibly other early games) and has been responsible for Island of Happiness, Sunshine Islands and Animal Parade, inter alia. The only reason I wrote about Wada's announcement is because he was very much part of the founding of the series and has been immortalised in the character of Wada in IoH and SI.

In fact, as CEO of Marvelous Entertainment, Haruki Nakayama made a statement recently about the Nintendo 3DS announcement. He believes that the device will succeed commercially when it launches, even though the system's retail price and development costs associated with it will be higher than previous systems. As he appears eager and excited as well as optimistic about its online capabilities, it hints at possible future Harvest Moon and Rune Factory titles for the system...

Looking forward to Hero of Leaf Valley

I should be receiving a copy of the soon-to-be-released Harvest Moon game, 'Hero of Leaf Valley' for the PSP in a few days... I will begin to work on Guides for the game as soon as I receive it. As always, I am very excited about ANY new Harvest Moon game while still feeling there still is a great deal to explore in all the existing games...

Incidentally, 'Hero of Leaf Valley' will be the third Harvest Moon game produced by Natsume for the PSP. The first was 'Innocent Life' and the second was 'Harvest Moon Boy & Girl'. In fact, as 'Harvest Moon Boy & Girl' really is two games in one, 'Hero of Leaf Valley' actually could be considered the fourth game produced for the PSP platform.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Winning Animal Contests in Harvest Moon and Rune Factory

I receive rather frequent emails from players even now asking how they can win the Animal Contests in HM DS or Cute DS as well as the question of how Large Eggs are produced.

Winning an Animal Contest in any Harvest Moon game is based on Heart Levels. Producing superior Ranch Products in Harvest Moon games usually is based on Heart Levels as well. Where there are options to play Touchscreen mini-games, you may be able to boost the quality or size of the product by obtaining a very high score in the game.

The key to success both in Harvest Moon and in Rune Factory where any kind of breeding option exists is to raise the quality of your Ranch Animals through breeding. This strategy becomes critical where Animals, especially poultry have defined life expectancy.

In many games, you can obtain the highest quality of product without ever winning an Animal Contest, as long as the Animal attains maximum Heart Level. In other games, such as Friends of Mineral Town/More Friends of Mineral Town, the very highest quality of Product in the form of Gold Product or X Product cannot be obtained unless the Animal in question has won a Contest. (In FoMT and MFoMT, a certain number of hours spent outside is required as well to obtain some special products. You had 1 chance in 255 of obtaining an X Product from any Animal who ordinarily yielded Golden Product.)

In Sunshine Islands, the highest Rank of Product, which is S Rank, cannot be obtained ordinarily unless the Animal has won 1st Prize at a Festival. The exception to this is the Milking/Shearing Touchscreen Game, where even an Animal who would not yield S Rank product otherwise can do so if you obtain a high score.

As there is no egg-producing Touchscreen game in Sunshine Islands, the sole method of obtaining S Rank Eggs is by winning 1st Prize at the Chicken Festival.

No matter how religiously you play the petting game in HM DS/Cute DS, you may find that your Chickens die before you ever win the Chicken Festival or obtain a Large Egg.

The rather short life expectancy of Poultry makes an aggressive breeding strategy more important than it might be with respect to Livestock. If, however, you wish to obtain the best grade of product as early as possible in almost any Harvest Moon game and in Rune Factory games where breeding is an option, you need to breed your Animals.

The general rule in Harvest Moon is that no Animal born on your Farm/Ranch will have a Heart Level lower than 2 Hearts at the time of his/her birth. Any Animal purchased from a local merchant, on the other hand, always will have a Heart Level of zero.

In Sunshine Islands as in many other games, the Heart Level of the Animal who is born on your Ranch will equal half of the heart level of the parent. The rule that no Animal will be born with less than 2 Hearts makes it possible to begin to breed your purchased Animals even before they have gained any Hearts themselves and still obtain better Animals through breeding. Breeding livestock usually is a much slower process than incubating Eggs. The fact that there usually are Ranch Tools, such as Brushes and/or Petting Gloves that can raise any Livestock Animals heart levels means that there is less need to begin breeding Livestock before they have attained fairly high heart levels. A longer life expectancy for Livestock as well as the fact that no Ranch products are produced by Livestock during the course of pregnancy are factors as well in determining when to breed a Cow or Sheep. (In Rune Factory Frontier, any Monster who 'trusts' you, can produce an Egg instantly so there is no need to delay breeding. 'Trust' is translated to 2 Hearts I believe.)

As soon as you can afford to buy an Incubator in any Harvest Moon game, you probably should invest in one. In FoMT and MFoMT, players often made a fairly decent little early income by incubating eggs and selling the Chickens they raised to Popuri. I always was too sentimental to pursue that strategy...

In HM DS/Cute DS, possibly the ONLY way to obtain Large Eggs is by incubating Eggs progressively to raise Chickens of a high enough Heart Level to win the Chicken Contest before they die of old age.

I have covered the topic of choice of Entries in the various Animal Contests in Sunshine Islands in my General Guide as well as strategies for maximising your profits in terms of Ranch Products. In Sunshine Islands (as well as IoH), you can enter the same Animal each year to win progressively superior 'Crowns' and Titles. THE ONLY VALUE OF DOING SO IS THE PRICE THAT MIRABELLE WILL PAY FOR THE ANIMAL. As the actual value of the Ranch Product produced by a different Animal who won the basic Copper Crown would exceed the profit made by selling a Cow/Sheep with anything higher than a Copper Crown very quickly, the best strategy in financial terms is to enter a different Animal every year and win the Copper Crown that will allow the Animal to produce S Product regularly.

Where Pets are concerned, you never have a choice of entries but with Poultry and Livestock, it is best to enter a different Animal each year. Incidentally, Heart Level is all that matters where the chance of winning 1st Prize is concerned. A Silkie Hen at 10 Hearts has no better chance of taking home a Copper Crown than a regular Chicken. The difference between the two is in the value of the product produced and it is Jersey Milk and Suffolk Wool, when converted into Superb Cheese and Superb Yarn that yield the largest profits. Superb Mayonnaise is more valuable than regular Mayonnaise, but shipping it will not make you rich.

As previously indicated, it is possible to obtain S Milk and S Wool in the course of the Touchscreen Milking/Shearing games even when the Animal in question has not won First Place at a Contest. You therefore can unlock the Jersey Cow and Suffolk Sheep simply by shipping 1 S Milk and 1 S Wool obtained in these mini-games before you would be able to enter a Cow/Sheep with 10 Hearts in the appropriate Contest.

You can obtain a Silkie Egg from Mirabelle as a birthday gift in the second year if she is at 7 Hearts or higher. You then can incubate it and hatch a Silkie Chick. The ordinary method of unlocking the Silkie Hen is by shipping 1 S Rank Egg.

The only ways of raising a Chicken's Heart Level are:

1. Feed it daily;
2. Hold/Hug it daily;
3. Take it outside in fine weather and do not allow it to be threatened by the Wild Dog;
4. Play the Petting Touchscreen game when it occurs.
5. Enter the Animal in the appropriate Contest and ATTEND the Festival.

Here are the values for each action:
Eats Meal: +1 Friendship, 0 Stress
Hold or Pet/Speak to Animal: +1 Friendship, 0 Stress
Touchscreen Petting Game: +0 to +20 Friendship, -0 to -20 Stress*
*The actual value depends on your success in the Petting game. There are three separate stages for success. In the first, the animal shuts its eyes. In the second, he/she blushes. In the third and final stage, the animal’s eyes are tightly shut, indicating a state of utter bliss. When the game is completed, the animal should be surrounded completely by hearts for maximum success.
Use Brush: +3 Friendship, -5 Stress
Use Milker: +1 Friendship, 0 Stress
Use Shears/Clippers: +1 Friendship, 0 Stress
Enter Animal in Festival contest: +30 Friendship, 0 Stress
Outside on Sunny/Hot Day: +0.2 Friendship per hour, -2 Stress per hour
Outside on Cloudy Day: +0.1 Friendship per hour, -1 Stress per hour
Unable to Eat: -5 Friendship, +20 Stress
Do not Hold or Pet/Speak to Animal for 2 Days: -2 Friendship per day, +2 Stress per day
Strike with Farm Tool: -10 Friendship, +10 Stress
In presence of Wild Dog: -2 Friendship, +10 Stress
Neglect to attend Festival when Animal is an Entry: -20 Friendship, +50 Stress
Outside in bad weather, in Drizzle, Rain or Snow: -2 Friendship after 4 Hours, -1 Friendship for each additional hour, +1 Stress per hour
Outside in Typhoon or Blizzard: -10 Friendship, +30 Stress

The natural life expectancy for a Chicken or Silkie Chicken is 4 years. A Cow and Jersey Cow each have a life expectancy of 6 years and a Sheep and Suffolk Sheep have a life expectancy of 5 years.

As you can see, the speed at which you can raise a Chicken's Heart Level will depend somewhat on chance in terms of the weather and the occurrence of the Petting Game.

How long does it take to raise a Chicken to 10 Hearts? Here are some examples from Freya's Ranch that demonstrate the significant difference between a Chicken hatched on your Ranch and one purchased from Mirabelle:

Glimr, purchased from Mirabelle at 0 Hearts on 6 Winter of the previous year and taken outside only sporadically, had attained only 4 Hearts almost a year later at the end of Autumn.

Adoro, hatched from a Chicken who had 10 Hearts but had never won the Chicken Festival*, born on 15 Winter and taken outside every day in fine weather, had attained 9 Hearts at the end of Autumn.
*The Egg of such a Chicken would be Rank A, Quality 10, Size 5, Freshness 10. This would be the Rank and Quality of Milk and Wool produced by Cows and Sheep at 10 Hearts if they never had won 1st Prize at a Festival.

Aliya, hatched from an S Rank Egg (from a Chicken who had won a Copper Crown), born on 18 Summer and taken outside every day in fine weather, had attained 7 Hearts by the end of Autumn of the same year.

Examples of Silkie Hens at low Heart Level are:

Onyx, purchased from Mirabelle at 0 Hearts on 9 Summer, on the last day of Autumn of the same year finally had attained 3 Hearts.

Kalila, hatched from Onyx's Egg and thus born with the minimum 2 Hearts on 3 Fall, had attained 3 Hearts by the end of the same Autumn.

As you can see, the advantages of incubating an Egg even from a Chicken with low Heart Level, are significant.

The prices that Mirabelle would pay for Animals depend not only on Heart Level and any Crowns they have won but also the length of time that you have kept the Animal and whether or not the Animal was born on your own Ranch.

Here are some examples:

For a Chicken with a Bronze Crown, Sparkl: 7000G
For a Chicken with 10 Hearts and no Crown, born 2 years, 1 month ago : 5360G
For a Chicken with 10 Hearts and no Crown, born 2 years ago: 5235G
For a Chicken with 9 Hearts and no Crown born almost 2 years ago: 4640G
For Glimr, the Chicken with 4 Hearts, born almost 1 year ago: 2105G
For a Chicken with 10 Hearts but no Crown, born a little less than a year ago FROM AN INCUBATED EGG: 5240G
For Aliya, the Chicken with 7 Hearts, incubated from an S Rank Egg, only 1 Season previously: 3900G
For Onyx, the Silkie Hen now at 3 Hearts purchased from Mirabelle a season and a half ago: 2005G
For Kalila, the Silkie Hen now at 3 Hearts, incubated from Onyx's Egg less than a season ago: 2285G

If Freya had sold some of these Chickens to Mirabelle one season prior to this:

Sparkl: 7000G
Glimr: 3 Hearts: 1650G
Adoro, 8 Hearts: 4250G
Silkie Onyx at 1 Heart: 1350G
Silkie Darks at 1 Heart: 1380G

The real moral of this tale is that it is a good idea to order an Incubator from Gannon at the earliest opportunity and begin to incubate the Eggs that your first Chicken hatches and continue to incubate the Egg from each succeeding generation to raise Heart Levels at birth progressively.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

All Birthday Gifts in Sunshine Islands

This is a video tutorial I wished to make for some time, but my laptop had become too slow to allow me to make ANY videos at all without devoting at least 12 hours to the project.

In any event, I finally decided the video was long overdue, whatever the price... It contains a complete list of all possible Birthday Gifts that you can receive in Sunshine Islands. When any item is a 'Most Favourite Gift' for the individual who gives it to you, that item is capitalised.

Birthday Gifts usually are worth at least 500 FP if 're-gifted' and therefore, the video provides some useful information about three Favourite items for each of the Characters as well as showing the advantages of befriending EVERY ONE on the Islands.