Review – Harvest Moon: A New Beginning [3DS]

Posted: October 5, 2013 in 3DS, eShop, Reviews

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Ever wanted to own a farm? Don’t lie, of course you have. The only downside is that it’s a lot of work. Luckily the famous Harvest Moon series has been with us since 1996 and can give us a sense of the experience for a fraction of the work.

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The Harvest Moon series follows a core mechanic of you acquiring a farm and having to literally rebuild it from the ground up. Each year is split into four months, one for each season and each season has specific fruit, vegetables and flowers which can be only be grown in that season. You have a range of tools to do your job, all which drain stamina from you; do too much work and you’ll faint. The best way to last through a busy day is to cook something and replenish your energy, from the crops you grow, find in the wilderness or buy from the general store. Another aim is to find a partner to settle down with and eventually start a family by giving the object of your affection daily gifts and helping out however you can.

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It’s not all watering vegetables though. It wouldn’t be a farm without animals, and Harvest Moon: A New Beginning does not disappoint. Within the first month you’re given a cow with the option to buy more if you can afford it. For other animals such as chickens you’ll have to build a coop. New animal additions come in the form of llamas, alpacas and yaks. As time goes on you can upgrade your tools to more effective and less stamina-draining weapons of crop destruction so you can accomplish more money making jobs without having to worry about not having enough energy to make it through the day.

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As you start a new game you’ll customise your appearance, hair and skin colour to give you that personal feeling of doing the farming. Some of these attributes can be changed by building the relevant buildings as time goes on, such as the salon if you’re unhappy about your hairstyle. There does not seem to be any set goal that has to be achieved in Harvest Moon: A New Beginning, instead you have the vague aim of simply surviving and everything else is just optional, however you’ll want to do as much as you can otherwise it would get boring. Annual festivals are held to motivate you to be the best you can be as you compete against rival farms for special prizes. The added bonus of paying extra special attention to your crops and livestock is the higher price you get for shipping them.

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As spring begins in Echo Village you’ll find that there is not much to do besides tending to your crops and looking after your cow. With each second being a minute of game time this will only take you a couple of hours. So to pass the time you’ll find yourself running through the landscape picking up insects and flowers to sell to gain extra income whilst your crops grow. It quickly becomes pretty mundane until the end of spring when, thankfully, architect Rebecca moves into town and a whole world of customisation opens. Apart from being able to purchase blueprints and start foraging for resources to build new buildings for your farm, you can customise the layout of your farm and even the town, lifting houses with relative ease and placing them in more convenient locations.

Since a certain amount of rocks and other raw materials appear per day, the town restoration can take its time, but this can be made easier by purchasing lumber and rocks from Rebecca’s store. But since the main source of income is farming, the two go hand in hand. It gives you something extra to work for instead of growing crops to get money which you use to buy more seeds to grow more crops.

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To start off with the town only has five houses, and even one of them is uninhabited. As your empire of agriculture improves you’ll be asked to help with the town restoration plan. And by “help” they mean “we’ll sit back and let you do everything”. After daily farm routines it’s back into the wilderness to find more stone, wood and other raw materials to make fully furnished property out of, and receive little more than a mere “thank you” for your efforts. It becomes a frantic dash as you want to have a fully working farm with all the animals and all the trimmings but still have enough time to build the entire town in one day as well as making friends with all the villagers and wooing one of the ladies (or men) that you’ve had your eye on.

A New Beginning is the first game in the series to feature solely on the 3DS, compared to Harvest Moon: A Tale of Two Towns which had versions for both regular DS and 3DS. The 3D is not really used except for some minor draw distance which adds little to the experience as you’re practically playing the game top down. The 3D only shows an effect on days when leaves are blowing and it adds a nice effect but sadly comes at the price of hindering the framerate.

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Harvest Moon: A New Beginning is a game where, like life on a real farm, hard work pays off. You get out what you put in. You could take it at a snail’s pace but you would just be wasting time. If you buckle down and really get on with your work, you can make a load of money, create a family, rebuild a town and make the world a better place. Manage to survive through the first month and the personalisation element rewards you with massive future choices. Dig deep, put in the effort and Harvest Moon: A New Beginning can really bloom into something special.

Pr0’s
A] Can take everything at your own pace
B] New animals added
hmanb_screen_(23)C] Serious feeling of accomplishment rebuilding a village
D] Village customisation feels more personal

Cons
A] The first month drags with tutorials and lack of stuff happening
B] Repetition may put some off

Gameplay 4/5
Playability 4/5
Visuals 3/5
Audio 2/5
Lifespan 5/5

Final Score

7/10

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