Oh hey there, internet. It’s been a while. This is Uta (not Basil). Last time I talked to you, I made a really real super promise to actually post. And to this day, I have half-finished articles on “Making a Murderer” and “O.J. Simpson: Made in America” just waiting for me to finish them. They were going to be great October reading. But alas, studying for Ph.D. exams was not conducive to being able to express my thoughts about anything else. But I’ve had the past month to recover, so I’m back.
But not back enough to have lucid thoughts about things. So I’ve traded posting days with Basil, at least this week, so that I could ramble on about what I’ve been doing since Christmas: playing “Harvest Moon: A New Beginning” for Nintendo 3DS.
This game came out a while back. I actually avoided it, because I was told it wasn’t a particularly good game. And I have to say, the first week or so of in-game time are pretty boring. For those of you who don’t know, the Harvest Moon games are stylized farm life simulators. You play as a person (a boy when you aren’t allowed to choose gender, but some additions let you choose to be a girl) who has just inherited their family’s farm. You usually have some mission that will improve and/or save the village you’ve just moved to. To accomplish this, you plant and harvest crops, raise animals, collect things in the woods, and work with the harvest goddess and her sprite underlings. In this iteration, you move into a village just as one of the residents is moving out (with his family, if I remember correctly), leaving just you and three other residents in town. You’re left talking to an old man, an old woman, and a younger, middle-ish age woman over and over again. And collecting things. I did so much collecting. Sold so many bugs. You also get to start growing crops early on, but it’s still a pretty slow start.
Eventually, though, Neil moves in. This adorable little jerkwad is the livestock salesman. You can buy cows and chickens from him as soon as he moves in. He’s actually one of the eligible bachelors for those playing as a girl. I kinda have a thing for him. He’s a douche. But he’s just there, moping in a corner, getting upset when you go to his place to talk to him, taking it as a personal insult if you accidentally give him something he dislikes, lighting up and smiling like a child when you give him something he likes (moondrop flowers, guys. The secret is moondrop flowers). A young lady-smith also moves in during spring. She’s pretty cool. Soon after, another woman and her son move in. This is where everything gets more interesting. She’s an architect and asks you to help build a house for her based on blueprints she’s drawn up. After you do this, she recognizes your skill as a builder and begins selling blueprints to you. The old man in town, who seems to be somewhat in charge, comes up with the idea that you can help revitalize the town. After this point, not only does this guy keep coming up with festivals for you to participate in, but he also assigns you certain town restoration tasks. These include doing some more cosmetic things, like putting bushes around town, and more central tasks, like putting in other houses/businesses, which attract people to the town.
And this, my friends, is where I got obsessed. It’s so gratifying to check the things off the list for this make-believe town. You gotta go and collect things and work your farm so you can get/buy materials to make new shops and meet new characters. And then you have to enter competitions for your crops and animals. Then you have to make sure you have eight adult animals on your farm so that Neil starts selling alpacas. ALPACAS, GUYS. It’s great. It’s also a game that is easy to just keep playing. There aren’t really natural stopping points for gameplay. It’s so easy to just keep going, “just one more day…okay, just one more…”
All things considered, though, it’s still not a fantastic game. The controls aren’t particularly intuitive, especially when compared to my earlier, and very similar, obsession with “Rune Factory 4.” You can’t pick something up and carry it. Your character automatically puts it in the bag and you have to open that menu and tell your character to hold it. There is a fast-access button for the tools, but items like fodder and chicken feed aren’t considered tools in this version.
It’s still really fun, though. I might go play for a bit now. Farewell, internet.