System: Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: 1
- Nintendo DS version - Amazon | GameStop | Play-Asia.com
- Nintendo 3DS version - Amazon | GameStop | Play-Asia.com
The Harvest Moon games have remained mostly unchanged since the franchise started in 1996 on the SNES. As much a dating simulation as it is a farming simulation, it has a niche following in the United States, making it a small - but successful - franchise. Other than some graphic re-hauling over the years, the main HM franchise has always been about two things: rising up to create a successful farm, and finding yourself a spouse. In that regard, HM: Two Towns does nothing new. But the new things it does bring has kept me interested and occupied.
The most interesting part of Two Towns is that you can choose which town you want to live in at the beginning of the game. The first choice is the farming village Konohana, a tranquil and pretty Japanese-inspired town that centers around raising crops over livestock. On the other side of the mountain, you have your second option: the town of Bluebell, a more European-looking town that centers its income on raising livestock. No matter which town you choose, you can utilize the land on both farms. (This makes it easy to live in Bluebell and raise a lot of livestock and still use the fields in Konohana to raise long-lasting crops like soybeans, corn, tomatoes, etc.) Living in Bluebell is almost like cheating. Living in Konohana is a lot more typical of other Harvest Moon games: being broke all the time and struggling to get the money needed for important things like seeds, fertilizer, and pet food.
Other activities - fishing, bug gathering, and foraging - are back from other games and work just as well as they ever have. Fishing has a new option, though: you can now wade into shallow water and catch fish with your hands by walking up to them and hitting the "A" button. These tiny fish can't be used in cooking, but they can be sold for ten to thirty gold and be used to fulfill requests for villagers.
The 3D graphics add a cute shadow effect to the game, but overall isn't worth the ten dollars extra you have to plunk down for it. The 3DS-exclusive animal petting minigame, however, makes your animals friendlier faster, and is an interesting benefit to getting the enhanced version.
In spite of everything that Two Towns is doing right, though, classic HM bugs are still present. The game freezes periodically and at random times, and when your only option for saving is before you go to bed, a lot of things can be lost. Additionally, the game lags when there's a lot of things going on: riding your horse while other livestock roams around in their pens will cause the game to slow a little bit. In 3D mode, it's motion-sick inducing. In 2D, it's just annoying. The last thing that this game has wrong with it - really, really wrong - is that the weather system only kind of works. Listen to the radio before you go to bed, and it will tell you what the weather for the present day and the next day will be. There's about a 45% chance that the weather forecast for the next day will be wrong, making it confusing and difficult to plan ahead for the next day, especially for weather-specific events like flower events and figuring out what to do with your livestock for the day.
Overall, Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns is fun and addicting. The typical bugs are still present, but are as much a part of the Harvest Moon experience as courting a villager.
Bottom Line: Mostly the same Harvest Moon, but with an interesting addition of choosing where you can specialize. It's a welcome - and interesting - change. Typical HM bugs are still present and more annoying than ever.
Final Score: 8/10