By DallyDoll 1 Comments
So, after playing Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness (DS) for a while now, I have to say: THIS GAME IS FREAKING IMPOSSIBLE!
My main gripe is that there is NOTHING intuitive about this game AT ALL outside of the basics of : eat, sleep, farm. You want proof? Ok, how about this: In order to gain access to the rice paddies which are blocked by a huge boulder on your property, you have to equip a yellow Wonderful stone to your hammer. BUT NO ONE EVER TELLS YOU THAT YOU HAVE TO DO THIS!
There are three ways in which to get Wonderful stones - get one as a prize for winning one of the contests held each season, buy one at Chen's shop (but he sells them only in the Winter and only if you have a certain Farm Score), or get one on every other visit to the bottom of the Mine. Oh, and by the way - the color of Wonderful you get at the bottom of the mine is determined by your Farm Score - WHICH YOU CAN'T EVEN SEE. Yeah. It's calculated internally by the game's nonsensical tallies of how many times you've done how many actions. So, OK, you've got your Wonderful attached and now have access to the rice paddies. Time to farm, right?! SURE - if you want to kill your stamina every day.
Of course, tilling the ground, planting the seed, and watering all take stamina. And unless you've got a LOT of stamina, you're going to be exhausted from just doing your crops. That means you've got limited energy to take care of your animals (which is necessary to get them to produce good quality eggs, milk, wool, etc) and go chat with your fellow villagers. Well, who cares about social links with your villagers - you're not here to make friends, right? NO. You still need to talk to everybody to build your social link because that will help your Farm Score AND help plant the seeds for romance with one of the town bachelor/ettes whom you can marry. (Heh. Plant the seeds of romance. See wat I did thar?) But wait - there aren't that many people on the island. Talking to the same people every day is lame, especially since they all say practically the SAME STUPID THINGS EVERY DAY. How are you supposed to play the field? (Heh. Field.)
Oh, didn't you know? Shipping a lot of crops will boost your island's reputation and attract more people to live there. Unlocking these new villagers will bring cool stuff to your village like an inn, a hotel, a church, a diner, a cafe...OHMYGODSOMUCHTODO!! Yeah, hold on there bucko. You have to ship A LOT of crops. Like, 100 of each crop that is available to you during the respective season. So, good luck trying to keep yourself energized enough to water 9 plants, never mind one-freakin-hundred!! BTW - if you DO get villagers to move there, but you don't talk to them often enough, they will move away. WHAT?! Yep. Sorry.
Hey - did I mention that in order to advance in the game you'll also have to spend your hard earned money on building roads, upgrading your house, and building new buildings on your property!? Also, did I tell you that in order to turn your eggs, milk, and wool into more profitable items (and learn all the cooking recipes) you'll need to buy some new machinery which costs a hell of a lot of money AND certain gems from the mine?! Oh, did I forget that in addition to all this other shit you do you have to MINE FOR STUFF and that certain gems are found on only certain floors and that the whole process of getting to those floors and mining is another huge stamina suck?! My bad.
So how did I get so far in this game? Cheats. I've got max money and the max stamina and fullness bars. I could have it so I have permanently full stamina and fullness, but that is too much cheating. See, I like to accomplish things in games by my own skill. I LIKE working to earn new things and unlock new stuff. But this game...oh, this game is impossible without cheats. I know you can't earn money without spending money, but you can't get that money unless your farm your ass off, and you can't farm your ass off if you don't have a lot of stamina! And to revist the point about the game's intuitiveness - EVERYTHING I've written about here I had to learn from reading guides online. There is NOTHING in the game that instructs you that X-amount of crop will unlock A, B, and C. There is nothing that says you need X-Wonderful equipped to Y-tool in order to perform Z-action. There is nothing that says "you have to talk to your love interest between 1:00-5:00pm on a cloudy day when s/he is outside in order to increase your relationship score" - BUT THAT IS THE KIND OF LOGIC THIS GAME IS BUILT AROUND!! Without a guide to tell you everything you need to know about the game, you are just left to suffer through each repetitive, soul-crushing day trying to make the rounds on your animals, villagers, crops, and property. I have no idea how anyone could get enjoyment out of this game by playing it without cheats. It makes no sense. It. Makes. No. Sense.
Yet I keep playing it. What gives? I guess I'm just a sucker for accomplishments. I WANT to complete the recipe list. I WANT to ship 100 of each crop. I WANT to get first place in all the animal contests. That's just the type of player I am. And I guess at the heart of it, this game is challenging, and I enjoy a challenge.
TL;DR: Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness is the most frustrating, irritating, rage-inducing game I've ever played and I wouldn't wish it on anyone else, but I like it.