Farm simulation, yet not quite simulation? That is what [i]Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town[/i] is. I haven’t played any of the other [i]Harvest Moon[/i] games prior to this one, so I won’t be making any comparisons, but I will start off by saying that this is a decent game overall.
The story is pretty simple. You befriended an old farmer some time back, and he died and left his farm to you. So, you start off with almost nothing, and you are supposed to make your farm successful. Between planting crops, raising cattle, fishing, mining, and other activities, you can gain great wealth.
As limitless as this game is in that respect, it kind of falls into the category of those sandbox titles like [i]Nintendogs[/i] and [i]Sim City[/i], where you don’t so much beat the game as much as you just get tired of it. That is what happened to me.
When you start the game, you are limited to just a few items. As you plant crops, go mining, or sell stuff you find, you will earn money. As you earn money, you can use ore from the local mines to upgrade your tools, thus making your job easier. Watering plants one square at a time (everything is grid-like in structure) can be a bit of a pain in the ass. Running back and forth from the water hole to your plants gets tedious as well.
On top of the plants, if you get chickens, cows, or sheep, you have to tend to them every day. This eats up a lot of time, which in a given day you don’t have much of. Then of course if you dig up ore in the local mines, there’s more time.
Time is handled in a pretty good way in this game though. You wake up at 6am and should be in bed by 8pm. If you exhaust yourself before the day is up, you may oversleep, which makes getting everything done the next day a bit more difficult.
Time is a big thing in this game too. The shops in town are only open at certain times of the day and only on certain days. If you need supplies, you need to plan out your schedule. You also need to plan out what plants will net you the most profit, and what animals will do the same.
[i]Harvest Moon[/i] does get a bit tedious. I played about one game-year in the course of a few weeks, and I was starting to find myself rather tired of it. I wasn’t making much progress, and all of my money was just going into making more money. I also couldn’t convince the girl I wanted to actually marry me, which kind of pissed me off. Yes, you can get married in this game, but I clearly was going after the wrong girl. I couldn’t help it. Karen was a cutie!
Perhaps I got tired of the game because it was winter. Since the seasons do change how you spend your days will change as well. You can’t plant anything in the winter, so you’ll spend a lot of time chopping wood for spare lumber and mining for ore so you can make money or upgrade your tools. There’s still plenty to do in the winter, but if you had the right crops, planting them was the best way to make money.
Should you try [i]Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town[/i]? I don’t know. I did enjoy it for a while, but then I just got tired of it. Perhaps it’s because it felt too tedious towards the end and it felt like I wasn’t making any progress. Perhaps it was because I couldn’t even get myself married. Maybe I was just tired of all the mining. I couldn’t tell you exactly.
[i]Harvest Moon[/i] is not a bad game, but due the repetitious nature, it can get tiring. It’s certainly not a game you will play for hours at a time, but I suppose that’s why it played so well on the GBA.
If you have liked [i]Harvest Moon[/i] games in the past or you like having a free-roam type of experience in your games, then [i]Harvest Moon[/i] will likely suit you. If semi-simulated farming doesn’t do anything for you or you prefer the “beat bad guy X and save girl Y,” then perhaps this game is not for you. If that is not the case, then maybe you will enjoy it. The upside though is that it can be found at a pretty decent price. It’s been out for a while, so you shouldn’t expect to pay too much for this game if you’d like to try it out.