Developer: Marvelous AQL
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: October 19, 2012
ESRB: E for Everyone
It“s been a whopping 15 years since Harvest Moon saw its first release. Since then, we“ve seen the series span over various consoles with over twenty different entries. There has even been a spin-off series created, Rune Factory, which consists of RPG-esque gameplay with Harvest Moon elements. A New Beginning marks Harvest Moon“s first true step onto the 3DS (as The Tale of Two Towns was only a port of a DS game). Not only does it offer the classic farming action that we“ve loved for so long, but presents new and exciting features such as in-depth customization. But is this â€œnew beginningâ€ a step in the right direction for Harvest Moon?
Right away, you“ll notice one of the bigger new features that Marvelous has decided to implement into a Harvest Moon game – full customization of your playable character. Having a diverse wardrobe in previous games was fun (and there“s an even bigger one in A New Beginning versus the other games), but this is even better. You“ll get to choose from a wide variety of different hair styles and colors, eye styles and colors, and skin color. And don“t fret if you end up disliking your initial choice. You can change any of these features later whenever you unlock the appropriate villager!
After creating your character, A New Beginning“s story commences. You“re heading to an old farm in Echo Town that you“ve inherited from your father. On your way there, you come across an old man that has passed out on the path. The man“s name is Dunhill, and he explains that he“s friends with your parents and that he“s been expecting you. He also tells you about Echo Town, which is pretty much desolate since everyone has left. After some (rather lengthy) chit-chat and tutorials, you and Dunhill devise a plan to restore the tiny, barren little village so that it becomes a bustling town again.
This strategy to revive Echo Town is comprised of five Town Renovation Plans. These plans have you perform tasks such as building various structures and new houses for people to move into and unlocking new festivals. There“s no time limit to completing these plans, but I guarantee you that it will take at least two or three years of in-game time to finish all five plans, which may equate to 100+ hours of gameplay for you. Nonetheless, it“s a fantastic and rewarding feeling to complete each Town Renovation Plan – and ultimately that final fifth one. It“s also a great way to have added a story to a Harvest Moon game (a series where plot is usually absent).
On a similar note, let“s turn our focus to the town and farm customization aspect of A New Beginning. It“s probably the best addition ever made to a Harvest Moon title. As mentioned before, you“re able to construct a bevy of buildings and houses, as well as decorations, roads, benches, fountains, and so forth. Not to mention all the amenities for your farm. With the ability to arrange and place objects in any way that your heart desires, the possibilities are endless. My only complaint is that I wish the editing mode, where you place and arrange objects, was refined a bit more to make the process easier.
Yet another new feature that A New Beginning offers is its mulitplayer mode. With it, you“re able to exchange items and interact with other players“ livestock via local connection or wi-fi. Not only is it a great way to make money since you“re able to milk and shear other players“ animals, but also for getting your hands on a particular item that you may need to make a certain building or piece of clothing. It“s an absolute lifesaver and an entertaining timewaster.
And let“s not forget the most important part of Harvest Moonâ€¦ farming! Each season will have you growing different vegetables and fruits on your fields (that you can also place and arrange anywhere on your farm!). It“s still as great as ever and will appeal to fans of new and old. On top of the classic cows, chickens, tomatoes, and corn, there are new animals to take care of and new crops to grow and sell such as llamas, yaks, lotus root, wasabi, and cotton.
Romancing and marriage are also still very prevalent, of course. There are six handsome bachelors and six lovely bachelorettes for you to choose from – all wildly different from each other with engaging personalities. It“s super hard to choose just one person! But when you finally do settle on a lucky lover, you“ll be able to go steady with them before marriage, which offers more intimate dialogue between the two of you versus other Harvest Moon games. Unfortunately, gay/lesbian relationships are still not an option, but the crossdressing that A New Beginning offers the chance for those out there who want a semblance of that.
As much as I adore A New Beginning, it isn“t without its faults. The first season that you“ll experience is absolutely boring. It“s riddled with tutorials and there“s nothing to do but forage and plant a few crops here and there until you have the ability to finally do fun things like customize the town. But please, tread on no matter how slow it may seem because A New Beginning becomes a hundred times better by the time Summer comes along.
A New Beginning is the best Harvest Moon game since Friends of Mineral Town or Harvest Moon 64. Multitudes of new features such as the town/farm and character customization make for an exciting and jam-packed farming adventure. And just to give you an example of how addicting and fun it can be, I“ve spent 130+ hours on A New Beginning already and I have no intentions of stopping anytime soon. To those longtime Harvest Moon fans out there that have been hesitant to try the newer games (and to those who haven“t played a game in the series at all!): please pick up A New Beginning. I guarantee that you“ll love it.
+ Town/farm and character customization offers limitless possibilities and entertainment
+ Multiplayer that lets you exchange items and milk/shear other players“ animals
+ Wonderful selection of genuine bachelors and bachelorettes
+ Farming is as fun and extensive as ever
- First season of the game is boring and littered with tutorials that may turn off some players
- Localization work has more typos and grammatical errors than you can shake a stick at
- Music can be repetitive and annoying
Overall Score: 9 (out of 10)
A New Beginning is the best Harvest Moon game in years. Definitely grab it if you“re interested in farming, customization, and cute little yaks!