Ah, my first review. Lets see if anyone here can actually take a few minutes to read my long report on this impressive game. :)
I'll start by saying that I was really stoked for this game for the longest time before it was out, and for the most part it has delivered
. In fact I can honestly say this is the most addicting and enjoyable Harvest Moon game Iíve played since HM64 (granted, 64 is a bit overrated these days). And I believe the main reason is Ė ToT does what AWL and MM did best Ė and combines them. That is, it takes the character depth, and a few of the unique features of AWL and the customization, content, and classic style of HM gameplay that MM boasted had and combines them. The game certainly isnít flawless though, and I'll cover the imperfections that I've noticed as well.
So first off Iím going to cover the Gameplay. Iíll note right away that I have not used the classic controller at all, Iíve only used my Wiimote + Nunchuck. And really, the controls are truly ďbasicĒ. Even with the Wiimote + Nunchuck setup you can simply just use the buttons for just about everything, save fishing and a few of the festivals. I find fishing more entertaining using the Wiimote and Nunchuck myself in fact. However, when it comes to watering crops, and taking out weeds which are close to them Ė I prefer using buttons, as theyíre typically faster and more precise. For the most part though, the Wiimote and Nunchuck work just fine for most things, and even better for a few things. However, there are some issues with some of the mini-games in regards to controls. The bug catching game for example is incredibly frustrating with this setup. The motion target zips all over the screen and locking onto a bug is incredibly difficult when you can barely keep your target in one place. So you probably want to stick with the classic controller for those, if you can.
Moving on to sounds and music Ė everything sounds appropriate for the most part, especially the animals. Does anyone remember the cows in MM? Sounded like they were possessed by the devil Ö Thankfully that isnít the case here. However, hearing your character constantly say ďthere, there.Ē every time he interacts with an animal does get very old. Youíd think Marvelous / Natsume could at least throw in a few more lines or simply leave out that one phrase altogether. But this is a minor complaint (donít worry, Iíve got bigger ones). The music on the other hand, is quite catchy in my opinion. The outdoor season themes, indoor themes, even the funky music that plays when one of the sprites is making a rainbow and doing his little hippy dance is catchy. Though I personally think the summer season theme is a bit too lax.
Onto the graphics Ö hereís where we fall a little short. For what the Wii is capable of, theyíre ok, but itís clear that they couldíve used more polishing in this area. Like AWL, ToT uses a visual style where itís real pretty from a distance, but upon close inspection, you can see the textures are messy. You generally wonít notice said textures though, unless you really try to look at something up close. The other thing, which is one of the gameís bigger flaws, is the frame rate Ö it drops a lot Ö youíll notice some severe slowdown in certain areas at certain times. Your character will even come to a direct halt for nearly a whole second on occasion. We had some hints of this in MM, and unfortunately itís a lot more common in ToT. The character, building, and animal models however, are quite well done for the most part. So overall, it looks nice at a distance, but suffers from frame rate issues.
Now I mentioned earlier that the character depth was like that of AWLís Ö actually, I think itís even better. For one thing, a lot of the characters have moods that youíll notice right away. And not everyone on the island is quite so welcoming and friendly Ö Craig for example, is a complete jerk, from the first day you meet him. The dialogue was also buffed. Unlike in past titles like 64, MM (especially MMÖ), FoMT, etc thereís a lot more offered in this section. For example, when you create a rainbow, or a festival is going on, or even in different weather, the dialogue changes. Itís quite impressive compared to the previous titles. Also, similar to AWL and FoMT, characters have schedules that they follow and will actually move around the island to get where they need to be. Their schedule will change in weather as well, unlike in AWL Ö where people would commonly walk in heavy thunderstorms Ö perhaps because no one there owned a shower? The world may never know Ö All in all, the island really feels alive with the characters.
When it comes to the gameís customization, itís pretty decent, but not quite as flexible as what MM offered in some areas. You canít place furniture in any spot in your house for example, and in your initial house you canít change the location of your diary, table, or bed Ė you can swap them for others though. As for the house styles, there are 4 to choose from, and naturally you start with the plainest one. :p You have many different styles of certain furniture and appliances to choose from, even different styles of cooking utensils Ö ToT does top MM in the clothing department however, (but this isnít the first HM title to introduce clothing customization) by offering different sets of clothing and hats. One other neat trait is that there are now clothes for different seasons Ė Spring / Summer and Fall / Winter, which makes a lot more sense. I use to freeze my buns off in those short-sleeved shirts during winter in Flower Bud and Mineral Town Ö Oh, and yes, you can buy more property and build more houses, however your starting property is where your spouse and child will prefer to stay, and you wonít be able to change the location of your initial house or barn or coop, unlike in MM where you could freely move stuff all over the place. So itís best to be careful where you choose your starting property.
And Ö that about covers what I have to say. Ö Whatís that? A number rating? Oh, yes Ö people do like those review ratings Ö How about this ...
I rate this game seven Hippos :) Which clearly must mean - it's awesome. So if you like Harvest Moon, I'm pretty darn sure you'll like this title. Bust your piggy bank out and run to the store.