Semjaza Posted March 20, 2004 Share Posted March 20, 2004 So I ordered this from Gamestop and it came in the mail this past Wednesday. I've played it on and off since then and I've come to the conclusion that it's another great addition to the series. [B][U]Graphics[/U][/B] Graphically, I was somewhat surprised. It looks pretty damn good compared to other games in the series. It's not pushing tons of polygons, has some subpar textures and isn't doing anything amazing, but it's definitely above what I was expecting. Mostly because of two reasons. The first being that everything in the game has a real time shadow. I had heard this was in the game and then removed later on. Apparently they added it back in. In most screens for this game, everything has a circle shadow. However, when you actually play it, all characters have a shadow that mimics their movements. Buildings, tress and other things also have their own shadows. What I thought was cool was that the shadow actually changes depending on the light involved. At sunset your shadow is longer than it would be at mid-day, for example. The other impressive thing is the draw distance. Again, this game isn't pushing massive amounts of polygons, but you can literally see forever. I just thought it was somewhat impressive to see someone walking around all the way on the other end of town. Or to go to the beach and see the ocean fade off into the horizon... no fog or other tricks whatsoever. Sunsets and sunrises also rock. I'm also slightly impressed by the water appearance lol. [B][U]Sound[/U][/B] Sound is good. I noticed IGN gave this a low mark claiming there was very little music in the game. I disagree with this. There is no town theme. However, every house and building in the town has its own song. You are also able to buy records to change the song that plays while you're at your farm. I thought they were all well done and pretty high quality. [CENTER][img]http://cubemedia.ign.com/cube/image/harvestmoon_012004_023.jpg[/img][/CENTER] Sound effects get the job done. Animals all sound like they should. The game doesn't overuse these sounds like the GBA version did. The only sound I found annoying was that stupid "doot" sound that plays when a character's text is being displayed on screen. It's the sort of thing you expect to see in a NES game and is grating at first. I don't even notice it anymore, honestly. [B][U]Basics[/U][/B] Unlike other games in the series, A Wonderful Life is divided into chapters. Each chapter can be from one to a few years long. There are certain things you have to accomplish in the game in order to go on to the next chapter. For example, you must get married by the end of chapter one. A good deal of this game is based on your character relationships and the woman you marry. This is because you have a child and what you do in the game has effects on how he grows up. The goal of this game is to have a great life. Having a happy family is apparently a part of that lol. In Harvest Moon the year just goes by four seasons. Usually the seasons last 30 days... so there's 120 days in the year. However, in AWL, the seasons are only 10 days. This seems really short at first, until you realize that time passes far more slowly in AWL. An hour is equal to one minute of our time. Because of this, there is no longer a Monday through Sunday day of the week system. The game just goes by the day number, one through ten. The game also relies heavily on a 12 hour clock. There are 12 PM hours and 12 AM hours. This is nothing odd, since everyone is used to a 24 hour day as it is. However, in this game, the AM and PM hours are treated a bit differently. Anything you do in the AM hours also has to be done in the PM hours. So, for example, you'll have to water a plant in both the AM and PM (twice, rather than just once per day in the rest of the series). You can also milk cows in the AM and the PM. I assume this is to make up for the fact that there's only 10 days in a month in AWL. Your character also sleeps for as long as he needs to. No more going to bed at whatever time you feel like and getting up at 6 AM automatically. Generally I go to bed at 10 PM and wake up at around 5 AM. Of course, this early in the morning, most everyone (including your animals) are asleep. There's still plenty to do though. [B][U]Farming[/U][/B] So what is there to do? Well, obviously, Harvest Moon is a farming game... so that's what you'll be doing. When you first arrive on the farm, you'll start with a heavy hoe, heavy sickle, milker and small watering can in your tool shed. There's also a bag of tomato seeds that you can plant to get started. The main difference here is that there's now different types of soil. Some things will not grow if your soil isn't fertile enough. There are three different fields, each with different fertilities. As expected, the season also effects plant growth. There's quite a bit of plants to choose from in this game. You can also grow trees in this game. There's several types to choose from and I believe you can also make hybrid trees and plants. You can also use fertilizer to increase the quality of the plant (it's the only wat to get S and A ranks apparently). Farming is made easy because of the camera view that is put into place when you work in a field. It automatically goes overhead so you get a clear view. A yellow rectangle goes around the section of ground you're targeting (it's basically divided up into a grid). This way you won't accidentally water something you don't have to or plant in the wrong square. Working obviously tires your character out. Your starting tools are heavy and require more energy to use. They can be upgraded to better versions for some money (you get some as gifts too). You can regain energy by sleeping or by eating. As usual, you have to till the ground, plant the seeds and water the ground. As said before, due to AWL's reliance on a 12 hour clock, you have to do it twice in this game. [B][U]Animals[/U][/B] After I do this, I feed my dog (you get to pick from one of two at the start) and go to take care of my cow (you also start off with one at the start). The cow can either stay in the barn or go out into a fenced pasture. It's your choice. Leaving the cow outside is easiest, although you should bring it inside if you know it's going to rain (there are weather broadcasts on TV in your home). You can also purchase other animals... male or female. In addition to cows and bulls, there are also sheep, goats, chickens and roosters. Goats are not available at the start of the game. There are also other animals you can get by various means... mostly by making friends with people. The animals in this game seem a lot more temepermental than in past ones. Chickens get angry if you pick them up when they're busy. Dogs and cats don't like to be held very long. In past games, none of this ever mattered to my knowledge. Animals really dislike being woken up (something that, again, didn't matter in other versions from what I remember --- but it's bee n awhile). This is made even more obvious because your character is often awake before the animals are. You have to do other chores and wait for them to wake up by themselves. I also notice my cow gets mad if it doesn't eat my a certain time. It makes mean noises and runs over to the trough as soon as I fill it. So I just make sure to feed it in the barn or leave it outside in the pasture where it can gather its own food. Chickens also must be fed, and the game doesn't tell you if they can be left out or not. I leave mine in the pasture for days at a time and they stay healthy and lay eggs. So I assume it's okay. You can also wash animals once you get the brush. They like being washed and it also increases the quality of their output. You get the best sheep wool doing this, for example. It's in your best interest to keep them happy. The happier they are, the better their food is. The better the food is, the more you can sell it for and the more people will like it as gifts. [CENTER] [img]http://cubemedia.ign.com/cube/image/harvestmoon_012004_024.jpg[/img][/CENTER] [B][U]Buying and Selling Stuff[/U][/B] If you want to sell your milk and crops, you can just go into your silo. Inside of there is a small ledger. When you use this, you're given the option to move them into your bin for selling. Then Takakura, the man who helps you on the farm, sells it and gives you the money the next day. This is also the way you buy and sell animals and most tools. Anything else you want has to be bought from or sold to a traveling salesman known as Van. He vists the town on the first day of the game and then the third and eighth day of each season after that. He buys anything and sells some useful items such as brushes and fishing poles. Brushes let you wash and care for animals and obviously a fishing pole lets you fish. You can eat, cook, sell or give away your catches. You can also go next to the Inn and set up your own little shop. People that walk by might stop there to look at your items. If you talk to them they'll ask if they can buy your stuff. You can charge full price or cut them a discount, if you decide to sell. [B][U]Townspeople[/U][/B] Something that has remained constant in this series is your relationship with your neighbors. If you become friends with them, they might help you out or trigger little cutscenes that can affect the game in some way. For example, if you befriend an old woman named Romana, she eventually gives you a pet cat. So how do you make friends? It's simple, really. You just talk to them and give them gifts. There are things some characters love, hate or are indifferent to. It's up to you to figure out what those things are. They might mention it or tell you what they think when you give them the item... most of the time what they like mimics their personality. A tomboyish girl might not like a flower as much as another, plain girl. I've noticed that they remember what you give them too. If you give a character some sort of food you grew or made yourself, the next day they will tell you what they thought of it. They all have their own little routines as well. Some people have jobs, so they leave town altogether. Others get up at certain times and do certain things throughout town. Some go and hang out with eachother, some go on walks, some go to work on projects, etc. Because of this different little events can happen. For example, an event might be triggered if you're friends with a both people in a couple... or if one of them is by themselves or whatever. [B][U]Girls[/U][/B] Which gets us into the next part of the game. AWL brings marriage back to the console versions of HM. The GBA version that was recently released has marriage, but the PS2 game preceding these did not. Marriage has never been complex in these games. Basically it consists of giving the girl a lot of things she likes and being nice to her. Eventually, you can give her a blue feather, which is the sign of a marriage proposal in this series. There are only three girls to choose from in this game, which is a bit less from some of the others. There's a bartender named Muffy, a traveler named Nima and a farming girl. Personally, I'm going after the last one heh. [B][U]Flaws[/U][/B] There are things that bother me in this game, however. Most of them are rather minimal. For example, I would have liked if the game stuck to the standard time system it has always used... but this new one has its own benefits and challenges. Translation is iffy. Most of it is decent, but there are a decent amount of typos... as in pretty much every Natsume game in history. Again, that "doot" sound when people talk is very, very annoying at first. Eventually I just tuned it out entirely, but I wish it wasn't there in the first place. When your character is hungry, he randomly gets really hungry. When he's very hungry, he stops in place, leans over, grabs his stomach and then it rumbles (~guu~). The problem with this is that it can interrupt anything you're doing at the time, such as fishing. Obviously if you feed your character, this won't be an issue. The menu system is just weird. It would be set up fine, but certain portions of it are hard to access and I find myself pressing the stick in all sorts of directions to get to them. WORST -- No fesitvals!! Why? The festivals in previous games made a lot of things worthwhile. Basically they consisted of minigames... dog games, horse raising, chicken fights, cow judging... they were a fun way to meet characters, pass time and an excuse to make your animals better. They're gone. Bad decision. [CENTER] [img]http://cubemedia.ign.com/cube/image/harvestmoon_012004_028.jpg[/img][/CENTER] [B][U]New Things I Like[/U][/B] If you leave your cow inside the barn you have to feed it fodder, as expected. However, in AWL, each cow has two feeding troughs. You can fill both of them up and the cow will eat whenever it feels like it. There's a button on the outside of the barn that automatically calls all the animals inside of it so they come outside. Same for when you want to bring them all inside. Needless to say, this is a GODSEND. The day of pushing animals around or ringing bells is over! Yay. Your rucksack is HUGE. You'll most likely never have an issue where you don't have room for a new item. This is such a great thing, especially after the GBA version. In that one, at first you could only hold two items other than your tools. Obviously two isn't much. You had to buy new rucksacks later on. They were very expensive and even the biggest one only held eight items. [B][U]Conclusion[/U][/B] Overall this game rocks. I'm really loving it so far. It's surprising how different it feels from other games in the series, despite all the similarities. The good qualities far outweigh the bad and I'm definitely happy with the end product. It hasn't let me down in any way, which is saying a lot considering this was my most anticipated game for the first half of this year (and the end of last year too, since it was delayed). So I'm hoping that my impressions of this might convince some people to buy it. I'm also hoping someone else here owns it so we can actually get some discussion on this game going. [url]http://media.cube.ign.com/media/482/482323/imgs_1.html[/url] -- more screens for those that want them. 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