The original farming simulator that started the crop growing craze makes a return to handheld for a new generation with its latest incarnation for the Nintendo 3DS. Marvelous Interactive’s Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns 3D incorporates the same cutesy charm that captivated a generation but this time, adds a dual village twist.
Developer: Marvelous Interactive
Publisher: Rising Star Games
Platform: Nintendo 3DS (Reviewed), Nintendo DS
Genre: Farming Simulation, Role-Playing
Release: (AU) July 9th 2012
Our tale begins much like the previous Harvest Moon titles where we find ourselves in the uninitiated shoes as the newest resident in town. After selecting your character’s gender and name, we’re presented with a prickly question of having to choose between two potential hubs to call home. Vying for our affection and citizenship are the towns of Konohana and Bluebell, each with their own pros, cons and unique personalities. On one hand, we have Japanese inspired township of Konohana whose expertise lie with growing crops and on the other is Bluebell with a more European flair and speciality in raising livestock like no other.
Where Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns 3D differentiates itself is in the storyline as with two towns comes added problems. Konohana and Bluebell, once friendly with one other are no longer chummy due to an unresolved feud from long ago. In comes our young, bright-eyed farmer full of optimism, tasked with re-uniting the two villages and restoring harmony throughout the land. How you go about this is entirely up to you and the open-ended nature of the Harvest Moon series allows for players to develop and grow at their own pace and leisure.
For those well versed with the long running series, Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns 3D is a familiar landscape and the initial constant wall of text tutorial early on will feel off putting for most. Being told how to do things you already know drags on during the early stages of the game where the mornings usually begin with abrupt interruptions at your door as the villagers offer helpful, and at times annoying tips on how to get things done. It wouldn’t be so bad except this all takes place during the first good hour of gaming before you can really start tending to your land. Even newcomers to the franchise may find it intrusive however once you get over this initial hurdle, things start to fall into place and the magic of why Harvest Moon was, and still is such a great series takes hold.
On top of the well established fundamentals, Marvelous Interactive have incorporated new features such as the introduction of an all-new quest system. Quests can be undertaken by visiting the notice board in town where townfolks pin their requests for you to complete. These quests generally involve sending you around on item collection missions to obtain specific goods from catching bugs, gathering wild produce to other various chores.
The process not only potentially rewards useful items like new recipes, items and upgrade but also helps to forge stronger bonds and relationships with the locals. In addition to quests, there are new farming tools to acquaint yourself with, brand-new structures to build such as the waterwheel, and new animals to raise which include the delightfully cute Alpaca breed.
In terms of visuals, the graphics are gorgeous to look at while the character art are vibrant and bought to life in high-resolution. The dual screen formula allows for quick access to the inventory and item list in an easy to read display on the bottom touch screen. It all works beautifully provided you aren’t someone who enjoys using your stylus as there isn’t much allowance made for pointing devices here.
Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns 3D is also available for the Nintendo DS which represents both positives and negatives. Those that are yet to adopt the 3DS will still be able to enjoy the Harvest Moon franchise and although 3D support is lacking in the DS version, there isn’t enough of a difference to really separate the two.
The 3DS version does have the added benefit of 3D display however sadly it doesn’t really give you that “pop” sensation of a full 3D experience, feeling under-utilised at best. Street Pass gameplay allows other farmers to send mystery parcels, farm progress and information to one another but the parcels you receive aren’t items that are especially sought after or hard to obtain for the most part.
If anything, Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns 3D feels more of an afterthought. Game play is charming and engrossing as always, yet Marvelous Interactive doesn’t take full advantage of the graphical capabilities of the 3DS powerhouse. Given the transition between the DS and 3DS, you can hardly blame Marvelous Interactive to be quite frank. If you’re looking for a fully fledged Harvest Moon 3DS title, The Tale of Two Towns 3D isn’t it. It’s still a great little title in its own right but isn’t that definitive Harvest Moon experience specifically tailored for the 3DS we’ve long been waiting for.
Despite some of the negative points mentioned, it’s hard to not recommend Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns 3D and if you’ve found yourself reading this review, chances are you were already leaning towards purchasing it and even after everything that’s been said, I’m sure you’ll still want to experience it for yourself. Although there are a few drawbacks, Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns 3D looks the part, sounds upbeat with its usual joyful melodies and will more so than not appeal to a new generation of budding farmers, while offering up a breath of fresh air for us older country bumpkins like myself. Look out for it on both the Nintendo DS and 3DS.
7.5 – Good. Entertaining but is held back by a couple of flaws. It will certainly capture its intended audience but it won’t appeal to everyone.