Crops, livestock, watering cans, and rival villages have been captivating my free time the past week, and it’s all thanks to Harvest Moon 3D: The Tale of Two Towns for the 3DS. The newest entry in the Harvest Moon series of farming simulators, The Tale of Two Towns features the same tried-and-true formula the series has become famous for along with the new concept of two villages that are polar opposites. Having some experience in the series (I played through several years in Harvest Moon 64) I can say that this one has been shaping up to be a very different adventure in farming, but still charming and unique.
So what exactly is Harvest Moon all about, you may be asking? What is so fun about growing crops and raising animals? If you’ve been deprived of the Harvest Moon treatment until now, let me tell you: You’ve been missing out on addictive gameplay you didn’t even know you wanted!
The Tale of Two Towns (ToTT) starts out much differently than most Harvest Moon games. First, you decide your gender, which does have implications on major parts of gameplay (Which I’ll get to later). Second, and unique to this game, you decide from the very beginning which village you want to live in. Bluebell is centered on livestock and raising animals and features a gentlemanly mayor and English citizens. Konohana on the other hand is very Japanese in look and feel, and focuses on growing crops and tilling fields. Each respective city only caters to their distinctive need, so if you want to raise cows and chickens in Konohana (like I do), then you’ll have to travel over the mountain separating the two cities just to purchase the animals and necessary products live chicken feed to keep them alive. At one point in the village’s long history the two towns were friendly and lived happily, but after years of spite and remorse for the other, the two villages became resentful of each other, and sealed off the mountain pass that allowed villagers to travel between the two towns quickly. Those silly mayors hold grudges like there’s no tomorrow!
Gameplay for ToTT and really any Harvest Moon game is pretty straightforward: You need to make money to upgrade your farmland, take care of your animals, grow crops, and become friendly with the townspeople by talking to them and helping them out with tasks when need be. A beauty of the series and ToTT is that you are given complete control on how you play the game. If you don’t want to raise any animals on your farm, you don’t have to (though doing so means you can’t reap any benefits said animals give). You’ll likely spend each day in the game doing the same few chores: watering crops, brushing and feeding your livestock, and harvesting crops. Be careful though, as you only have so much energy each day to do tasks, and each labor you do reduces said energy by a slight amount. Throughout your lifetime in the game there will be festivals that showcase the cooking skills of the townspeople, or fishing contests, or even animal races that you can participate in (or not), which mixes things up quite a bit. All your actions and work usually result in profitable gains, which you can use to buy more seeds, expand your farm, buy more livestock, and so on.
The most time intensive thing you’ll do in the game involves the townspeople that are living with you. Getting to know them, helping them with tasks, and eventually finding one of them to make your husband/wife makes a large portion of the game. ToTT is nice in that it lets you pick your gender from the get-go. This comes into play most notably during courtship of an NPC: boys can marry eligible girls in either village, and the same goes for girl players with boys. Each NPC likes different things, demands more or less from the player, and will do different things based on their interests, so finding one that you actually want to be with can be somewhat of a challenge. This being the second Harvest Moon game I’ve played I can only say that the choice isn’t easy, but both times I’ve been able to settle pretty quickly on someone I want to woo.
Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns looks much different visually than 64. The art direction has gone very deep into the anime-inspired style of many Japanese games, and that’s not entirely bad. If characters with disproportionately shaped heads and bodies with huge eyes is your thing then there’s nothing holding you back from enjoying the game. Everything also has a very cute touch added to it, particularly the animals (which have become synonymous with the game series itself): cows have super big bodies with cute faces, and chickens lean towards the adorable side more than actual chicks. ToTT is a visually pleasing game with tons of colors and exclusive characters to look at while playing.
In short, Harvest Moon 3D: The Tale of Two Towns is a good entry in the game that tries to offer up something new for the series without sacrificing the same gameplay methods that made the original games popular. Farm work shouldn’t be (and most likely isn’t) this fun, but ToTT makes getting up early to tend to your soybeans and feed your chickens an exciting and rewarding task. Happy farming!