Monthly Archives: March 2012

A Fan’s Overview of the Harvest Moon Series

Harvest Moon Game

When it comes to Harvest Moon, you might say I am just a tad obsessed. I have played every game to date – from the original for the SNES, to the newest one for the 3DS. Today, I will share my thoughts and opinions for each game.

Released on August 9 1996 in Japan, Harvest Moon was released from the SNES. Since then, they have made over 15 versions of the Harvest Moon games, not including the spinoffs. (Innocent Life, Rune Factory, etc). Now, being as obsessed as I am, I have indeed played the spinoff games as well. I will cover that and the portable Harvest Moon games in a future article, but for now I will take you through the console versions of the Harvest Moon series.

First up, we have the previously mentioned Harvest Moon SNES.

This game is popular with retro gamers such as myself. I enjoyed this game, but it only holds your attention for so long before you long for more. The story starts out where your character moves to a pretty rundown farm to build up to its former glory. After that, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Plant crops, buy animals, get married…and you only have two and a half years to do it!

The concept of this game is pretty much the same for every Harvest Moon game, but as more titles were released, so were new features.

Next up, we have Harvest Moon for the Nintendo 64.

Out of all the Harvest Moon games, this is one of (if not the most) popular one.

The game starts out similar to the previous game, except in this one, your grandfather has passed away, and you decide to test your wings and take over the farm. You have an extra 6months in the game to run the farm, grow crops, get animals, get married, etc, and after 3 years, your father will come to grade you and see how you’ve done. No pressure or anything!

This game has a few more features compared to the SNES one. When talking to your future bride, you can now see what I call the “Heart System”, which they use in the Harvest Moon games to follow. When you’re well liked, the heart by her picture will change color (gray being worst, red is best). There are also more festivals, and a bigger town to explore.

Though this game is well loved…let’s face it, it’s a 64 game, and though 64 graphics and games are viewed as a classic for some people, others might say that they do not hold a candle to the future titles.

Harvest Moon: Back to Nature.

This is basically just a rehash of the 64 version, though slightly different…emphasis on slightly. If you haven’t played the 64 one, this game is enjoyable, but…it’s just the same game. When I played it, I was just tempted to turn it off and return to the former one. The characters are the same, but they just gave them different jobs.

They also released a “Harvest Moon: Back to Nature For Girl” which is the same as Back to Nature…except the main character is a girl. This was the first time you could play as a female character, which is cool, but the Back to Nature games are not some of my favorites.

Harvest Moon: Save the Homeland.

As the title states, in this game you gotta save your homeland from becoming a fancy resort. Construction starts in a year, and you have until then to save the homeland.

Sound fun? It did to me – but I quickly realized that this was a disappointment to the Harvest Moon series. Sure, there are a lot of new characters, and there is a lot to explore, but the major downside that kills the game is that it resets itself…after one year. To me, this butchers the premise of the game.

What’s worse, it’s like a bad Twilight Zone episode…because after it resets, any and all relationships you have made with the townspeople are just gone. It’s like you never existed. Yes, there are 9 optional endings…but that didn’t save this game from being a flop.

All in all, this game was not very popular with gamers, and you can find a used copy for very, very cheap.

Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life.

I believe it was this game that I realized I was addicted to the Harvest Moon series. I would play this one nonstop, and even after my memory card got corrupted, I played it again, having to start all over. It was that good.

A Wonderful Life had much better graphics than the PS version. You can now run a small shop, there are a handful of new characters, you can plant fruit trees, there are new animals (ducks and goats), and you can actually raise your son into adulthood, while your character ages himself!

The downside is that there are only three bachelorettes to choose from, but that is only a small setback, and doesn’t take away from the fun of the game at all.

This game had two spinoffs of it’s own, but I won’t really cover these because they are only slightly different.

Harvest Moon: Another Wonderful Life is pretty much the same game, except you play as a female. Other than that, the chapters of the game have been reduced to one year, your character can run a bit faster, and a few characters have added dialogue. Like I said, it’s basically the same game, the only big difference is that you play as a female character for the first time.

Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life Special Edition is pretty much the same A Wonderful Life, except that it was released for the PS2. The only difference in this version is that they have a chapter entitled “Heaven”, where you can play forever once you’ve completed the game.

Harvest Moon: Magical Melody was released for the GameCube. This title has some really new graphics for the HM series, it was more of a “cutesy” or “chibi” style compared to the other ones.

In Magical Melody, it opens up with a rather long (dare I say dragging) cutscene. Basically, like a CareBears episode, the townsfolk have forgotten “how to love” and thus have unintentionally turned their dear Harvest Goddess to stone…and it’s up to you to save her!

In this game, you have a rival named Jamie who you will compete with on a daily basis as to who earns the most income on different areas of the game.

You also have the option to play as male or female, there are 100 quests to complete (once you earned them all, you will save the Goddess), you can arrange where to put your buildings, you can customize the inside of your home, and there are 11 bachelors and 11 bachelorettes to choose from. That’s quite the improvement from the previous 3 in A Wonderful Life.

As good as this game was, a lot of people (including myself) were a bit put off by the style of these graphics, and the character moves rather slow…also, if you marry Jamie, your game will end…so stay away from her!

Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility

Well, as time went on, systems advanced, and here…after over a decade from the first Harvest Moon for the SNES, you have the very first Harvest Moon game for the Nintendo Wii!

Many Harvest Moon fans waited excitedly for this one to be released, and when it did, it was not a disappointment.

In Tree of Tranquility, you can play as male or female, there are over 35 new characters, you can explore an island, dress up your character, have a part-time job in several stores, and so much more.

Once again, your mission is to rescue the Harvest Goddess. (Thankfully this time, she is not turned to stone.)

Out of all that I have played, I think that Tree of Tranquility definitely holds a spot for one of my favorites.

And last, but not least, we have Harvest Moon: Animal Parade.

You can play as a male or female character, but for the first time ever you can choose from one of two styles for each. (You will recognize the second style option as the ones from Tree of Tranquility.)

You can now grow coffee bean trees, have two kids, there are even more characters (quite a few are familiar from Tree of Tranquility), there are more pets than ever before, and a new feature allows you to take photos! This is definitely the most feature packed Harvest Moon game to date.

The only complaint I have with Animal Parade and Tree of Tranquility is that whenever you walk into someones house, or walk to a new place, the screen goes black and you get a “LOADING” message. After a while, you may become accustomed to it, but it can be really quite annoying at times.

Still, with that put aside, the game is very fun and offers for many hours of game play.

Well, that about sums up every Harvest Moon game for a video game counsel. I hope my insight was interesting and helpful to you, and really…when it comes to this series, you can’t go wrong. Each game has its own pros and cons, but I’ve found that the pros outweigh them!

Learn More About Giants Revisited

Pathfinder Giants Revisited Sourcebook

Pathfinder fans should take note. A late May 2012 release is slated for Giants Revisited, game publisher Paizo’s newest supplement for the world class fantasy role playing game. Giants Revisited promises to be the definitive sourcebook for all things “giant.” Within the book’s 64 pages, Game Masters and players will find everything they need in order to understand these mythical creatures — everything from the unique habitats, social structures, and history of giant-kind. Ten races are fully explored, including storm giants, cloud giants, frost giants, stone giants, hill giants, rune giants, marsh giants, fire giants, the one-eyed cyclops, and the nomadic Taiga giants.

Giants Revisited will allow Game Masters to incorporate giants into Pathfinder campaigns with ease. Not only is the source material well organized and illustrated, GMs will find complete statistics for sample giant leaders and jarls. The book includes unique spells and magic items for both giant-kind and the industrious player characters looking to explore the secrets of the “big folk.”

The sourcebook is written for the Pathfinder RPG, but the information contained within can easily be utilized in other role playing games. Giants Revisited has been skillfully put together by the team of Jesse Benner, Ryan Costello, Brian R. James, Jason Nelson, Russ Taylor, and Ray Vallese. The book’s retail price is listed at $19.99, and gamers can place pre-orders at their favorite hobby and game stores to ensure they get a copy.

Resident Evil 6 Release Date: 11/20/12

Resident Evil 6 Release Date

Capcom is really on the roll this year as they will be releasing two new Resident Evil games in the same year. We also have the little brother, Resident Evil: Revelations, which just came out with a bit of a spelling problem in its cover :) The positive feedback gained from Resident Evil: Revelations helps enure the expansion of this intense game series.

Before continuing, I want to clear up a common misunderstanding.  Some people are mistaking Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City as Resident Evil 6. These are separate games. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is a standalone title. Although it was pointed out in the plot that the game is set during the events in Resident Evil 2 and 3, there is not much emphasis given on the storyline (the game is advertised as a fast-paced shooting game). Don’t get me wrong, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City has a story, but plot is not its selling point. It’s more of a “gunning down hordes of zombies” sort of thing. On the other hand, Resident Evil 6 is the direct sequel of Resident 5.

Now that I’ve cleared that up, just a little taste of what Resident Evil 6 will have to offer. The action takes place in the Antarctic Umbrella facility where the Wesker Children Project took place. The year is 2013, and the President is going to reveal what happened during the Raccoon City Destruction Incident. The game starts as you wake up in a hidden laboratory with complete amnesia. Even with no memory, you soon come to realize that a bio-hazard incident has occurred in the facility. No place is safe anymore thanks to good-for-nothing bio-terrorists. Dead Ones, Conkers, and Sentients try to take you down, and it’s up to you to put a stop to their wrong doing and save the world and humanity. Just like Resident Evil 5 and Operation Raccoon City, Resident Evil 6 will be a horror-filled, fast-paced shooting game. Expect this game to be as scary as the previous Resident Evil titles, and look forward to a lot of interesting challenges, improved graphics, and kick-butt weapons.

There is not much detail about the game modes in Resident Evil 6, but the possibility of having online play and cooperative mode is very likely when you look at the offerings of Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. The game is set to release on November 20, 2012 for the PS3 and Xbox 360. Microsoft Windows will have to wait as there’s no specific date mentioned yet.

Is Nintendo Doomed?

Nintendo Is Doomed

I had an interesting discussion with some of my gaming buddies in light of the recent PS Vita portable game system release. After talking about the amazing capabilities of the Playstation’s newest handheld, the talk turned to Nintendo — specifically the 3DS. We had quite a debate, with me defending Nintendo and my friends dissing the company and the 3DS.

“Nintendo is doomed,” stated one friend.

“The 3DS has no games,” said another.

Seriously, have they been looking at recent sales figures, especially in Japan where the 3DS is kicking butt? The 3DS is now considered the fastest selling handheld in its first year, even surpassing the sales figure of the mighty Nintendo DS. True, the PS Vita is on fire right now, but Sony’s success doesn’t spell Nintendo’s doom. Haters have been saying Nintendo is toast for more than a decade, and what do you see now? The company is  still alive and kicking, and in fact they have dominated both the handheld and the console race (even if some self-proclaimed “hardcore gamers” like my buddies do not approve of the 3DS or the Wii, just because the majority of Nintendo games are not targeted to their tastes).

During my debate, I argued that Nintendo is staying true to itself by catering to a wider, casual gamer audience that my friends simply dismiss. We went back and forth, and I really couldn’t understand their reasoning. Why be a hater just because someone isn’t as hardcore as you? Why not accept the fact that not everybody enjoys first person shooters or complex RPG games? There’s room for all sorts of games and gamers, and one gaming style isn’t necessarily better than the other. The PS Vita rocks, and FPS games like MW3 rock, but this doesn’t mean that Nintendo or the 3DS suck. Far from it — Nintendo and its game systems offer something special to a unique fan base. I for one consider myself a “hardcore” gamer and I’m looking forward to new releases likes Max Payne 3, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy playing casual games like Mario Kart 7 or Pilot Wings Resort. As far as I’m concerned, I have the best of both worlds.

So how about it? What is your opinion in regards to Nintendo and its products?