Game Review

Harvest Moon 3D: The Tale of Two Towns Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by James Newton

Come a cropper

Marvelous, Natsume and Rising Star Games certainly feel like they're onto a high-yield crop with Harvest Moon; Harvest Moon 3D: The Tale of Two Towns might be the first 3DS entry but it's the eighth HM game in five years. Any concerns that the creative well is running dry are understandable — after all, it's only farming — but HM3D:ToTT gives it the old college try anyway.

The title gives away arguably the game's biggest twist. Upon starting you choose which town to live in: animal-loving Bluebell or crop haven Konohana. The two mayors hate each other so it's up to you to bring them closer together by winning contests and being nice. Although the tunnel is initially blocked, you can freely travel between the two through the mountains to make use of shops and facilities, and at the end of each season you can uproot and move to the other town if you like.

The differences between the towns and their respective farms aren't vast at first, but as your plot grows you unlock town-specific tools and areas, so if you know you want to concentrate on crops or animals pick one town and stick with it. There are other, more nuanced changes: agricultural fans can now till irrigation trenches that let you water a row of crops with just one tip of the watering can, while ranchers have a petting mini-game to raise their livestock's friendliness. While the North American version had widely reported glitches with the petting game, we encountered none in our playtime with the European release.

A split in towns is really the biggest upheaval to the HM formula here; it's still a case of tilling and tending, slowly building up your assets and wooing a romantic interest. If you've played a previous game in the series you'll be right at home, and that's either a comfort or a concern after nearly 20 years. Upcoming release Harvest Moon: A New Beginning looks to be just that; a more ambitious refresh of the basics instead of another tread over the same ground.

There are other important features to note, though. You can only save when you go to sleep, so you have to play a day to its completion before you can record your progress, and a new noticeboard system gives you the chance to do favours for villagers. These are extremely simplistic fetch quests but earn you money and impress the villagers, and can also lead to new tools, so you'll find yourself doing them whether you enjoy them or not. There's also an online mode that lets you and three faraway friends visit a special online field to harvest crops, but it's limited and unsatisfying.

Most telling is that this is basically a 3D-enabled version of Harvest Moon DS: The Tale of Two Towns: while the 3DS release benefits from a wider viewing area on the top screen and a sprinkling of StreetPass item-swapping, the 3D effect is disappointing. There's no coherence to the world, and what should be behind your character often appears in front, or vice versa. Occasionally items protrude far beyond what they should, and if you're after any sort of comfortable viewing you'll play exclusively in 2D mode.

Conclusion

If you absolutely have to have a 3D Harvest Moon game, this will fill a gap. It's hardly the most expansive and engaging the series has offered in recent times, and its central concept is of the take-it-or-leave-it variety, but it still has the potential to enthral if you let it.

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User Comments (36)

Azikira

#1

Azikira said:

I had a little bit of fun with this, but compared to even the SNES original, this one left me wanting so much more.

Flowerlark

#2

Flowerlark said:

The DS version of this is my favourite HM game by far. DO NOT BUY THE 3DS VERSION!!! It's glitched up and laggy, but the regular DS version works perfectly.

I'm currently in year 8. I've never gotten that far in an HM game before. That's just how much I love this one.

Birthday_Boy

#4

Birthday_Boy said:

It's a fun title, but it isn't near as detailed and great as other Harvest moons, like Harvest Moon DS.

Knux

#5

Knux said:

Awesome final review, James! I might get this when it hits the bargain bin.

retro_player_22

#6

retro_player_22 said:

Though I enjoy every Harvest Moon game, I'm more interested in Rune Factory instead. I'll probably skipped this one.

Skotski

#10

Skotski said:

@PikminMonster
A good number say the original SNES one (available in VC as well).
Many say the N64 one.
Some say Friends of Mineral Town (GBA)...
Some say one of the Wii ones (Tree of Tranquility/Animal Parade)...

Personally (and I'm a minority here), I love-love-love the GC one (A Wonderful Life)... There's also a PS2 version of that one, but there's an obvious slowdown in that game that it gets bothersome...

My first was the SNES one. So I'd suggest that one. But if you prefer a bit more character to it - then any of the other above ones are good choices.
But if you want more action: Definitely go to the Rune Factory series... it's a bit daunting for those who already had trouble taking care of a farm while socializing with the villagers (since you also battle monsters and smithy weapons...), but it satisfies the craving of having more than just a simple, happy farm life.

zipmonStaff

#11

zipmon said:

@Skotski I loved A Wonderful Life too!! The SNES Harvest Moon was the first game I remember ever beating, so it's got a special place in my heart. I've always wanted to play the N64 one but it's super expensive these days!

EvisceratorX

#12

EvisceratorX said:

The last review... :,( I'll have to give this one a try. I've never played a Harvest Moon game.

Morpheel

#14

Morpheel said:

I guess I'll keep playing Sunshine Islands.

I personally can't stand the first game but I can't wait to download HM GBC and I hope they remake HM64 or AWL for the 3DS :|

Great good bye review James! Your reviews will be missed!

CanisWolfred

#15

CanisWolfred said:

So glad you got this one in before you left. :) Good review, I'll probably wait on this one since I'm a bit burnt out on HM.

Kimiko

#16

Kimiko said:

Twenty years? And they still don't allow girl-girl or boy-boy romances.. shakes head sadly

Burning_Spear

#18

Burning_Spear said:

Huge HM fan, and a huge fan of this installment. Some HMers may not like this, but I like that the upgrades are spaced out — it takes a lot of grinding to get the goodies. If you're new to the series, you'd probably want to try a game that doesn't make you choose between animal husbandry and farming.

I'm going to miss your coverage of this series, James!

Lobster

#19

Lobster said:

Sad to see you go, James! Good luck!

I really enjoyed this game, actually, and I have the glitchy NA release. It's not my favorite HM (that would be Magical Melody) but it's still pretty good. I'd give it a 7/10.

WolfRamHeart

#20

WolfRamHeart said:

Great review James. I have to say that it just won't be the same here without seeing your take on the Harvest Moon and Sonic games. I never picked this one up because of the negative things I read about the 3DS version. I will probably pick up the DS version though. I have always enjoyed the Harvest Moon series and I am definitely looking forward to playing Harvest Moon: A New Beginning. :)

RevolverLink

#21

RevolverLink said:

Great final review, and good luck at Nintendo of Europe, James!

Anyway, I might pick-up a cheap copy of this or the DS version someday, but for now I'll hold off on getting a new (for me) HM game until A New Beginning comes out.

Tasuki

#22

Tasuki said:

Great final review James. Your reviews will be greatly missed.

What kinda of gliches does the NA 3DS version have? Is the DS the exact same as the 3DS version without the streetpass stuff?

motang

#23

motang said:

I played the heck out of the Playstation version long time ago, this series always has a special place in my heard. :-)

k8sMum

#24

k8sMum said:

@Tasuki

the NA 3DS game sometimes frezes up when crossing the mountain. it seems to be tied to how often you do the petting game; i have heard it's 5 times. it's safest to save and restart the game after every day. otherwise you stand to lose a whole day's worth of chores/requests.

there is also a lag when watering your plants.

i like this game, but i think it could be overwhelming for those new to the series due to running 2 farms, requests, fishing, courting etc.

i can't wait for 'a new beginning' to come west.

Morpheel

#25

Morpheel said:

It is because the petting minigame starts using variables and resources but it never gets rid of them after the minigame and it does again every time you play it, thus filling the 3DS' memory and eventually making the game go kaput.

MrZanctom

#26

MrZanctom said:

I was going to buy this game seeing as how I am so thirsty for a good 3DS game...then I read the review. Now thanks, I think I will just stick to waiting for Heroes of Ruin to come out on Tuesday.

grimbldoo

#27

grimbldoo said:

@Flowerlark #2
I don't know about anyone else, but I would rather save $10 and just get the 3DS version. Just avoid the petting mini-game (which isn't even on the DS version anyway) and the lag only take away 5 frames per second, and it's only if you have a lot of crops or your animals are outside, and even only on the farm.

@Kimiko #16
The controversy...

@k8sMum #24
Yup, I am the one spreading this info around. Only play the petting game (which is only on the 3DS version so if you don't play it, then it's just like playing the DS version, except with more landscape view) 5 times a day, save every night, and restart the system after you have saved.
The lag is only present on your farm and only if you have a lot of crops or if you have a lot of animals and they are outside. If the animals are inside the barn then there is no lag on your farm or the barns.

NImH

#28

NImH said:

I read on a couple of posts that "the DS one is better."
Which DS one? There are, like, 3 right?

Squiggle55

#29

Squiggle55 said:

The snes and the n64 versions were revolutionary to gaming for me. Those were the harvest moons that really kept me enthralled.

ScruffyYoshi

#30

ScruffyYoshi said:

Hi James. Can you please let me know what the control system is like? My favourite handheld version was Friends of Mineral Town on GBA, but I found the Ds Touch screen only version unplayable. Also not half as significantly as important but can you go fishng or complete any other Animal Crossing comparable tasks? Many Thanks

Morpheel

#31

Morpheel said:

@Yoshi: I'm pretty sure you can use buttons to play and I'm 95% positive that you can go fishing, There's also a 90% probability that the game includes various kinds of fish and keeps records of what you have caught in the past.

Burning_Spear

#32

Burning_Spear said:

I'll jump in here to take ScruffyYoshi's question.

This is not Harvest Moon DS. The stylus can be thrown away if you prefer, though it's much better than buttons for certain operations, such as moving items from your rucksack to the shipping bin. I keep the stylus in my hand pretty much the whole time I'm playing, though it's only used on menu screens. Your character controls with the D-pad or circle pad, though I've found the circle pad to be much more comfortable for nearly every task. Huge advantage over the DS version, in my opinion.

Fishing is indeed in the game, and it's there from day one. The game tracks every fish you've caught. At any time, you can check your notebook to see that you've caught 16 carp, for example. When you catch a fish, it tells you how big the fish is and whether it's a new record. And you earn titles and level-ups as you catch more fish. As for Animal Crossing stuff, there is bug catching. I think there are about 60 types of bugs, but don't hold me to that. Most bugs and fish are seasonal. IMO, foraging is a much bigger part of this game than any other HM. You can earn a lot of money selling the items you find on the mountain. There's also a request feature. Villagers post requests on the town message board, and you get a reward for completing them. Like if you can find two blueberries for Laney's recipe in the next four days, she'll give you 200G and a can of food for your pet. The requests are totally optional and can be ignored, but as you fulfill more and level up, you'll find the rewards are much more valuable. And, of course, there's cooking.

I don't know if I'd put this game on a level with FoMT. I have to finish it before being able to make a legit comparison. The characters in FoMT are better and seem more like people from a farming village, IMO. However, if you like Harvest Moon I think you'll really like this version of the game. As I said earlier in the thread, just be aware that it's a long game. The upgrades are issued slowly — usually two per season — so you need a lot of time to unlock everything. Some people have complained about that. To me, it's motivation to complete each season and see what unlocks next.

ScruffyYoshi

#33

ScruffyYoshi said:

Thank you for the in depth reply. I think I'll pick this up now I know I can use normal controls and pursue additional side quests! Ta

Tigus

#36

Tigus said:

Its a great game and rather deep, the only way to prevent the freeze is to NOT do the 3D petting part when the animals have a hand over them it causes some sort of issue in the game. You can play it in 3D just don't do that one portion and its the same as the DS version of the game.

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