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    Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness

    Game » consists of 3 releases. Released Aug 26, 2008

    The second installement of the Harvest Moon series on the Nintendo DS, this time around using the hardware more appropriately.

    nintendoll's Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness (Nintendo DS) review

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    A Richly Complex Sequel to the Series

    Before I get any farther in this review, let me say one thing: If you have never played a Harvest Moon game, you will probably not enjoy this at all. It takes game play elements from previous games (watering plants, forging relationships with townspeople, mining, etc.) and exponentially increases the difficulty. I'm a pretty hardcore Harvest Moon player (I own about 10 different versions of this game) so I was pretty excited to see the new challenges. Start off with either the Harvest Moon 64 or Harvest Moon: Back to Nature if you're new to the franchise. 
    Island of Happiness, as the title might imply, brings you off of traditional farmland and leaves you shipwrecked on a small island. Through hard work farming, you can bring more inhabitants (and marriageable folk) to the floating farm and rebuild the island's prosperity. 
    There are some major changes from past games in terms of farming. There are loads more unlockable crops such as grains, soybeans, and fruit trees. Each fruit or vegetable's rank will depend on meeting minimum water and sunlight requirements in the least amount of time possible. You can just water your crops once a day like previous games, but too much water will make the quality suffer and as a result, the price will be lower. 
    In terms of villagers, there are 6 bachelors/bachelorettes (two of which don't have a love rival) 12 main villagers, some visitors from Mineral Town who will be familiar to experience players, and roughly 70 sub-villagers. The more products you ship, the more villagers will move into town.  Similarly the list of recipes, fish, house upgrades, levels in the mine, and items to ship has also been greatly expanded. 
    The tool system has been completely revamped; now you can't upgrade tools by simply using them a lot and bringing an ore to the blacksmith. Each tool has equip slots for items called Wonderfuls, which you earn through reaching the bottom (255th floor) of the mine, winning in-game festivals, or participating in online contests (this I find is the easiest way; since Sunshine Islands has been released there has been a noticeable drop-off in online participants). 
    So that's the description, but are these changes for the better? 
    Well, some are not. The Harvest Moon series has continuously been dumbing down the personalities of its villagers, and this game is no exception. If you play as a girl, you marriage choices are pretty bleak: a pushover, a moody cowboy, a fisherman with a pet crow, a guy who looks like Willy Wonka, a poorly-mannered native, or nice but bland male main character. The choices if you are a guy aren't really much better. The charm of the older games lies undoubtedly with the varied and interesting characters, a trait this game has unfortunately not inherited.  
    However, the rest of the game stands fairly strong. It takes the core elements of the Harvest Moon series and ups the difficulty level, extending the overall gameplay time (though how you do that for a game that technically never ends is surely a mystery). There are so many different goals to reach in the game that people who enjoy collect-a-thons or micro-management will be fully satisfied. It is leagues better in terms of content than its DS predecessor, so if you are a fan of the series as a whole and can cope with the plain vanilla characters, this is a game that's worth your time. 

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