Konohana and Bluebell were once the friendliest of neighbours before a simple dispute over food transformed theses happy neighbours into bitter rivals. This is the scenario you are instantly thrust into in Harvest Moon 3D – The Tale of Two Towns, the latest release in the hugely popular farming, adventure, RPG hybrid series.
The game itself is an enhanced version of the DS title released last year, featuring improved visuals and an extra mini game, along with the 3DS’ native features of 3D and the trading of items via Wi-Fi or Streetpass.
From the moment you start the game, the tussle between the two rival towns is thrust upon you in a rather uncomfortable fashion as you are forced to choose a town in which to setup your farm. The town of Bluebell prefers a ranch like approach to farming, favouring the raising of livestock to provide milk, eggs and wool etc. whereas the town of Konohana considers farming to be all about getting down and dirty growing crops to produce things such as turnips potatoes and corn. Both towns obviously consider its rivals methods to be utter madness
Regardless of your choice of town, you can still visit the rival to complete tasks or use the various shops, you can even relocate to the other town at the end of a season should you decide you don’t like the initial choice, but the only thing seeming out of place is the pure hatred that is often displayed by the two towns towards each other. When you visit either town the people are happy and polite but during the times the communities come together, the hatred really flows over which given the cuteness and style of the game really feels wrong.
From then on you are tasked with building up a thriving farm, oh and solving the small matter of the feud between the two towns once and for all. You do this initially by completing seemingly endless fetch style quests for people in the communities and then entering various cooking festivals spread throughout the calendar, using tips tricks and recipes you pick up around the towns to create the best dishes based around a set theme.
The game’s lengthy introduction feels more like a manual than a tutorial, due largely to a lack of voice acting as is the way in these types of Japanese games. It walks you through the basics in random bursts usually triggered by you being awoken by an intruder explaining another game mechanic. However, it’s light on the detail and often leaves you bemused and alone in your farmhouse, not knowing what to do next. The game really does feel like it’s for players of previous releases, although I’m informed its possibly the most friendly and accessible of the lot, I just felt a bit alone at points, but once you get the gist of it there’s absolutely loads to do no matter how repetitive it may be, Fetching supplies for people around town, growing, harvesting and selling crops, rearing your animals, looking after pets, fishing, catching bugs, wooing a member of the opposite sex, it’s all here if you’re willing to invest the massive amounts of time this game can offer the devout.
Graphically the game is bright and charming, as you’d expect. The animation is a little simple and can appear a little limited, but it all looks pretty and nice. The sound too is simple charming music to toil away on your farm too and the controls are pretty simplistic and easy to master.
There are a few technical niggles with the game however. As mentioned the game is basically a re-release of a DS title from last year, and apart from the 3D and Streetpass function, it’s hard to see what’s new. The 3D isn’t the best either; often items seem to get muddled up in the screen. The sound weirdly cuts out when it rains (also most shops close during downpours, although but the only actual outdoor one stays open, which again is weird). You can’t pause the game, which for a game that has a time mechanic that’s quite important at points is a little strange, and you can only save when you go to bed at night, meaning sometimes quick bursts of gameplay are hardly worth it which is strange for a handheld title.
Overall Harvest Moon 3D is probably more attuned to fans of the series. However, newcomers with the time and patience could be rewarded with an often fun and simple title to pull them away from Mario Kart. I do feel, however, that many fans of previous games will probably return to older titles that don’t feature the uncomfortable situation with the two town’s hatred.
MLG Rating: 5/10 Platform: 3DS Release Date: 29/06/2012
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of Harvest Moon 3D for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of four days on a 3DS