Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns Review
harvest moon natsume nintendo 3ds ds review
Developer: Marvelous Interactive
Platform: DS, 3DS
Release Date: Out now
ESRB: E for Everyone
This review is based on the 3DS version of the game.
Being a fan of Harvest Moon since Save the Homeland on the PS2, it made me excited to see the series get its first installment on the 3DS. This time, it boasts a thrilling new feature: being able to live in one of two towns (hence the title of the game). Does the game present itself well enough with all its new additions? Will it all warrant a playthrough over other Harvest Moon games you might’ve been skipping out on?
Before the actual game even starts, you are greeted by a cheery, upbeat FMV opening sequence. Something like this is not usually seen in a Harvest Moon game, so it’s a bit impressive. The story, like one for any other Harvest Moon game, is incredibly simple. You crash your horse cart and are found by the mayors of two neighboring rival towns. They give you the option of living in Bluebell (a European-centric town that focuses on livestock) or in Konohana (an Asian-centric town that focuses on crops). Regardless of your choice, you can raise livestock and crops and interact with the villagers in both towns, as well as the ability to change residencies between either town (at a cost). It is soon that you realize that the goal of the game is to get the mayors to befriend each other and reunite the two towns.
In The Tale of Two Towns, your main objective is farming, of course. Along with cows, chickens, and sheep, new animals to add to your barn are brought into this installation, such as alpacas. Raising crops is pretty much the same as in any other Harvest Moon title: dig a hole, plant your seeds, and water until they’re ready to harvest. There are new bonuses in this game, however, such as creating trenches to ease your amount of watering and being able to water twice a day to reduce the amount of time needed for a crop to mature.
Other features new to the Harvest Moon series that are present in The Tale of Two Towns include a request system, hand fishing, and bug/creature catching. All of these make the game much more pleasurable and apt to keep your attention longer, as well as put more money in your pocket and make the townsfolk appreciate you more.
Of course, you have the option of taking a bachelor or bachelorette’s hand in marriage, of which there is a wide variety to choose. It’s almost hard to choose just one, though! Another new addition to The Tale of Two Towns is being able to take your potential husband or wife on dates, which helps increase their relationship with you. When you two lovebirds do get married, you’ll also be able to have a baby.
Throughout the game, you’ll get to experience the game’s beautiful mountain environment, as well as the unique architecture for both towns from which they derive their culture. The music is equally as fun and wonderful and I often find myself having it stuck in my head long after playing. The game looks and sounds splendid, but because the 3DS version is basically a port of the DS version, it does not take full advantage of the system’s graphical prowess.
Speaking of which, it’s important to denote the differences between the DS and 3DS versions. The 3DS version does have enhanced graphics that will pop out slightly when the 3D is turned on, however, it quickly loses its charm and there’s no real point in keeping the 3D turned on (not to mention NPCs’ portraits will look slightly blurry). The 3DS’s wider top screen proves advantageous over the smaller DS screen. Other 3DS-specific features include a special animal petting minigame and Street Pass.
The Tale of Two Towns is not without its faults, however, of which there are quite a few. For some reason, the game will be restrictive on what you name your character/animals/etc. Even seemingly harmless names will sometimes be blocked. The off-putting saving system, which only allows you to save before going to bed and ending the day, will sometimes become infuriating for those who are prone to wanting to save often and does not bode well with the 3DS version’s tendency to freeze. The 3DS version also unfortunately suffers from some slowdown issues.
With these thoughts in mind, it is more worth it to pick up the DS version of The Tale of Two Towns over the 3DS version, especially with its lower price tag. Despite some shortcomings, you will enjoy either version of this fresh and innovating installment of the Harvest Moon series (especially when there’s alpacas involved!).
+ Freedom to embrace game’s challenging portions, or simply keep things basic and easy
+ New features keep things fresh
+ Cute graphics/art style and fun music
- Freezing and slowdown issues in the 3DS version paired with restrictive saving system will frustrate many
- Loses luster after marrying and completing “storyline”
- Restrictions on naming characters/animals/etc.
Overall Score: 7 (out of 10)
Fans of the farming simulation genre should definitely have a place for this on their shelf.