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Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness

Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness



The Bottom Line
A mediocre farming sim where you are tasked with planting crops, raising livestock, and finding a spouse. It's got difficult controls and tedious gameplay.
As with previous Harvest Moon titles, this is a farming simulation game where you are tasked with planting crops, raising livestock, and finding a spouse. After you are shipwrecked on an island, you work with others to help build the island into a vibrant community where lots of bachelors and bachelorettes decide to reside.

Your job is to start a ranch. At first, you are given a few turnip seeds and shown how to prepare the soil, plant the seeds, and water your plantings. After you have harvested several crops and you start to prosper, you can build a chicken coop and other buildings to house livestock.
Weather and seasons change in the game and are a big factor in your success. Likewise, you must pay attention to the cycles of the day and night to make sure you are getting enough rest and food to keep going. All this information is constantly displayed on the Nintendo's top screen. You must also feed all of your animals every day or else they will get sick and die.

The island on which your ranch is located is large; and, over time, it can be unlocked to give you access to a mountain with a workable mine, as well as a forest, and rice fields. But, the key phrase here is "over time." This is a game that requires a huge time commitment because the content unfolds slowly. At first, it is very difficult to earn money and find enough to eat. You will have to clear land, plant seeds, and water them over and over again. While farming can be interesting at first, tedium sets in fairly quickly.
When you get tired of farming (and you will), your other option is to run around trying to find wild grasses shaped as colored hearts or exotic flowers, which you collect by tapping on them. They can be sold. Eventually you will be given a fishing rod, but that pastime is also frustrating.
The stylus-only game controls also contribute to the monotony of this gameplay. You must tap on the screen to select a tool from your backpack, then tap again to make it appear in your avatar's hand, and tap a third time on the spot where you want to use it. But before you tap on the ground to use the tool, you need to line up a purple square on the ground. Unfortunately, as your character moves around, that square dances about, moving between several different squares. It is difficult to get it to land where you want to work.
While this is an E-rated title with cute-looking cartoon characters and a lot of content, it is a game that will frustrate most children. The ration of time invested to rewards earned is out of whack and the controls are subpar. Kids interested in time management or build-a-society games would be better off exploring the Virtual Villagers series of downloadable games from Last Day of Work at www.ldw.com.

All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.

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Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness
Company: Natsume
Price: 29.99