Friday, September 5, 2008


I really expected Harvest Moon DS: Island of Happiness to at least be as good as Rune Factory, and zones better than Harvest Moon DS:Cute.

It's not and I'm disappointed. Why:

1. The controls are atrocious.

It's very nice to want to make full use of the NDS' touchscreen functionality but to make this an exclusively touchscreen-control game is just a bad idea when doing stuff in this game would be so much easier using the d-pad and buttons. That's an opinion. Still, one would think they would have given players an option between touchscreen and d-pad controls.

So now, you use the stylus to move around and point to stuff to pick up or select things, while the d-pad and buttons are use-tool/item buttons.

You can get used to it enough to play competently of course. But it doesn't change my opinion that it is unintuitive, imprecise and often a real pain.

2. You still can't walk over crops.

I'm really shocked. Rune Factory fixed this, so that you can grow perfect 3-by-3 plots instead of the 8-plot. (For those of you who have never played, it's because the basic water can/could only water one square in front of your character.)

So I still have to plant the crops like this in this new Harvest Moon:


instead of like this:


It's unbelievable.

3. Why can't I build the farm anyway I want now?

In Harvest Moon DS (the original and the later "Cute" version), you can choose where to place your chicken coop, your cow/sheep barn etc. Now you can't. They've designated the area at the far top of your farmland for those. Ugh.

The graphics and art are really bland compared to Rune Factory. It's sad. (I don't care that it's 3-D or 3D-ish now, it's plain and boring.) Even RF aside, the first Harvest Moon DS looks better than this one imo.

What's good about it.

1. I like the idea of populating an island and increasing its visitors via my farm's success. It's satisfying to see your island come from being deserted to one with more people, occupied houses and improved appearance.

2. You don't have to water the plants every day now. Each crop type have different water and sunshine needs. Too much watering can cause some crops to wilt, the same as not having watered the crops enough. So say if it rains heavily the previous day, you don't have to water the next day. This is more realistic and interesting.

Last note, this game has made me appreciate Rune Factory's art and control scheme.

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