Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Yuletide Heart from Fantasy Kingdoms


Created by my friend Cherie, Harvest Moon and Rune Factory veteran, a Yuletide Heart in Fantasy Kingdoms fashioned from Pointsettias and Rainbow and Autumn Dryad Trees. Exquisite bit of landscaping...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Traditional Christmas Spirit in Games

Any player of Harvest Moon is familiar with the Starry Night Festival and throughout the series, there have been traditions in Harvest Moon that are similar to Christmas traditions, such as the Stocking that must be knit by another Character and then placed on the wall to be filled in the middle of the night, usually by the Mayor acting as Santa's agent. Christmas per se, however, is not one of the traditional Harvest Moon festivals...

Some of the Animal Crossing games include Christmas revelries. Jingles is a character beloved by almost all Animal Crossing fans and one can enjoy the annual hunt for him, tricking him into giving extra gifts by changing clothing and headgear.

For gorgeous opulent Victorian depictions of Christmas and Yuletide, one cannot do better than to play Fantasy Kingdoms on Facebook. It is a total fantasy fulfillment for any one who delights in magic and who has gazed at Victorian illustrations wistfully, wishing that one could surround oneself with that type of enchantment and beauty during the Yuletide season.

The artists who work on Fantasy Kingdoms have created a real Winter Wonderland, complete with Magical Reindeer, Sleigh and all the other traditional symbols of Yule. Gifts can be exchanged with Neighbours and the fairly new option of Spellcrafting now allows one to craft special Limited Edition buildings, including an Ornament House and Gingerbread House.

Farmville may have more Holiday activities, including snowball fights and gift-wrapping, but it cannot compare with Fantasy Kingdoms for sheer breathtaking beauty. Furthermore, Fantasy Kingdoms always tends to be more 'giving' in its rewards for players who spend time and energy on the game.

Fantasy Kingdoms should appeal to any one who appreciates the philosophy at the heart of every Harvest Moon and Rune Factory game as it is based on the concept that power is derived from the acts of tending to the land and living in harmony with it.

Mana is the 'currency' upon which Fantasy Kingdoms is based, although Kingdoms Cash is a secondary currency that can be used to purchase special Items. For the most part, however, players can earn Mana by conjuring and gathering magical Crops, harvesting trees and empowering and gathering from Artifacts. The Crops that have been released for the Christmas season are extraordinarily beautiful and enchanting. They consist of Holiday 'Candy' and Ornaments. The various stages of growth of any magical Crop in Fantasy Kingdoms are distinct and the ability to 'freeze' Crops at any stage allows players to landscape their Kingdoms in different ways.

There are four different types of 'Christmas Trees' this year and each will change as it grows until it is ready to be harvested. One Tree displays pinecones. Another has lit candles. There is a Green Tree heavy with gorgeous ornaments and decorations and another 'trimmed' White Tree. Both of these will have gifts beneath them when they are ready for harvest.

One cannot compare a game like Fantasy Kingdoms with Harvest Moon or Rune Factory in terms of depth and gameplay. Fantasy Kingdoms basically is a method by which players can create their own works of arts, bringing their visual fantasies to life. It is landscaping for the most part, but it can be as detailed and as challenging as the player desires. Changing perspectives as well as creating patterns from objects are very much a part of Fantasy Kingdoms. If one is not interested in this, however, one can create a simple landscape that is beautiful and satisfying artistically.

It may be difficult for most people to find any time during the busy holiday season to play any games, but I do urge all lovers of traditional Christmas images and symbols to explore Fantasy Kingdoms a little. It is a free game and definitely worth the effort, for gamers and non-gamers alike.

For those who find themselves alone or unable to socialise in the real world during this season, games like Fantasy Kingdoms offer a very fulfilling way to celebrate the Spirit of Christmas and to interact with others who share the same sense of enchantment and magic.