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Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life Review

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I first came across Harvest Moon: AWL at my almost-Sister-in-Law’s — she was tending to one sick cow and complaining that her other had stopped producing milk. A few moments later and she was chopping grass and picking weird fungus from the ground while I watched, rather unexcited from what I’d seen so far. How I went from tedium to buying the game, I do not know.

In the game, you play a young man whose father has recently passed away. A friend of your dear departed father, a guy named Takakura, comes to visit and informs you that you’ve inherited an abandoned farm in a place called Forget-Me-Not Valley. You and Takakura have to take on the farm and make it successful over a 30 year (6 chapter) period.

Fortunately, 30 years in the game is not 30 years of your life, although after a few hours of playing it might feel like it. The game takes forever to see any kind of result — if it’s not the incredulously long auto-scenes featuring hard to read white text on a varying background, it’s the crops which have to be watered anything up to 3 times a day and the goat you can’t get rid of.

The game is littered with little mistakes — everything from grapes that grow on trees (no vines?) and “an unique scent” coming from your Goat milk — hardly enough to spoil the game but certainly noticeable (well, to a picky and perfectionist arse like myself).

There doesn’t seem to be any consistancy when moving your items around either. Choose an item you have more than one of to sell to Van and it’ll sell 1 by default, put food in your refrigerator and it’ll try and place them all. Then of course you have to confirm you want to place something on your shelf 2-3 times, and the seedmaker which takes about 6 pushes of your big green button to put things in and take things out.

Overall, the game is mostly repetitive crop-watering, cattle-feeding and chicken-tending. However, there’s something endearing about naming your chicks after they’ve hatched from their fertilised eggs and having your pregnant cow lick your face. Despite its flaws, the game is incredibly addictive and I’ve not put it down since I got it. If you’ve got a long attention span and the ability to remember the last time you milked your cow, this game is for you. Otherwise: stay away.

Jem Turner jem@jemjabella.co.uk +44(0)7521056376

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