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    mrfredman's Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town (GBA)

    [February 8, 2008 07:30:07 PM]

    So by now its the 23 of Winter in my 2nd year, I've been playing a decent amount today. Winter is the dead month of the game, where you don't have to think about your crops and you can explore other adventures. Last winter I spent most of my time mining gems for money, but I decided that this year I want to take it easy. As usual, days begin with a checkup on my animals. I feed the chickens and take their eggs and then head to the barn to groom and milk the cows (and to groom and shear my two sheep as well). I've decided that I want to use this season to work on my standing in town and to expand my farm. My first task was to harvest enough lumber to expand my henhouse, I've been feeling like 4 chickens isn't enough and I want to take it up to the next level. So I spent the first week or so of winter harvesting all the wood I could find and eventually I had enough to upgrade my henhouse. As that was being built I spent most of my time fishing with my recently upgraded rod, and there were one or two days I headed to the mines. Mostly I'm taking it easy and planning for the planting months ahead.

    I know a big part of the Harvest Moon games is getting married and starting a family, and it is something that I am trying very hard to do. I've had fleeting romantic encounters with a few girls in the town and I'm starting to piece together the way the whole romance mechanic works. Pretty much you just gotta show up in the right place at the right time on the right day of the week to activate the proper cut scene, and all of a sudden your a step closer to marriage. After a few weeks of stalking the girl I was interested in with no progress I got frustrated and turned to a online FAQ for answers. Apparently my house was not suitably upgraded for these particular ladies, my kitchen was lacking a full set of appliances and my bed wasn't big enough. According to internet wisdom, one must own a full set of furniture to even begin to impress the ladies, so my new goals were clear. Become the must fiscally attractive man in town, and seeing as I was the only one in town with free will, Im guessing my chances are pretty good. New priorities in tow I've continued to toil on the farm, now with the intention of impressing the ladies. Wish me luck!


    I've been spending a great deal of time trying to decide why this game is so incredible. The short answer is: the freedom given to the player. The long answer is thus:

    Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town is a completely open-ended game. The game never ends, there are no defined objectives, the gameworld rules are rigidly defined by during gameplay the player can do whatever they want. This is a formula that could define an incredible game, but just because your game is open-ended it doesn't mean its incredible. Harvest Moon just does a lot of things right.

    I think that the main reason I keep coming back to this game is because all of my goals and objectives have been set and chosen by me, not some programmer in Japan, which makes them a lot more personal and important. A very important aspect of gameplay is how quickly you get tired. It doesn't take much more then two hours of hard work to make you exhausted for the day (and while there are remedies they are time-consuming). This means that even as you are working you are gauging how much work you can get done that day, as well as what you will have to do over the next few days. Once the player has worked this out, all of a sudden the game has objectives and forward momentum. It is really up to the player to keep the game moving forward. It is incredibly difficult to design a fun game that makes the player do a significant amount of the mental labor involved in keeping the game going, but the genius of the game is that it really makes you think like a farmer.
    read comments (1) read comments - add a comment Add comment
    [February 7, 2008 12:20:41 AM]

    Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town is the eighth incarnation of the incredible Harvest Moon series. The game is totally open ended with no objectives ever given other than to run a successful farm. Activities on the farm include planting and tending crops, raising and maintaining livestock, gathering resources (wood, precious minerals), and becoming accepted by the town, eventually marrying a local and raising a family.


    I recently got a Gameboy SP for my birthday and I invested in a few games I knew that would keep me busy. At the top of my list was Harvest Moon. I adore games of emergence where the player is in complete control, and along with Civilization and the Sims franchises, Harvest Moon is one of the shining examples of these games. Ever since I got the game about a week ago I've been farming hard, and at this point I am just finishing that Autumn harvest of my second year. Time is a very important factor in this game, and the year is separated into four seasons, each thirty days long. Gameplay is divided into days and there is a constantly ticking clock in the corner to help you orient yourself.

    Let me take you through an average day in Mineral Town. I wake up at 6:00 (unless I've been up late the night before, in which case I wake up at 8:00) and after briefly playing with my dog I head out to work the farm. First I check on the chickens, make sure they are all healthy, feed them, and collect their eggs. Next its off to barn, I check up on my cows and sheep, feed them, and then do any milking or shearing that needs to be done. After that its off to the fields. There are four main tasks to be done in the field; preparation for planting, planting, watering, and harvesting, and what has to be done depends on the state of my crops. At the beginning of the month I have to clear the debris of my field and till it with a hoe to prepare for planting. Then I have to go into town to buy seeds and plant them. Once seeds are already in the ground, most of my energy is spent watering. And by the end of the month, all of my energy is put into harvesting my crops before the weather changes. The amount of work I can do in each day is limited by how much energy I have. I'm not sure of the exact equation but as you do things you get tired, and if you work to hard and ignore the warning signs you will pass out and lose the rest of the day. You can regain your energy by relaxing in the hot springs or eating special food, but mostly the amount of work you can do is very finite and rigid.

    This isn't to say that you have to spend all your time working your field. This is just the routine, that after playing for hours, I have decided is the most efficient. If I were so inclined I could spend my days sitting on the beach fishing, harvesting lumber or precious minerals for cash, or in town developing my relationships. I love the freedom manifested in this game. There are practically no consequences for anything (an animal dying, working to hard, ignoring your crops or friends) other than a scolding, and all of the rewards come from dedication and hard work. Its just like real life without all of the scary and crazy stuff. I really enjoy being able to carry around a perfect personal dimension in my pocket that I can escape to at any time. Few games can really give you that sense of belonging and contentment that Harvest Moon does.

    At this point I'm off to finish harvesting my Autumn crops. When the snows come and I've had my fun, I'll be back to examine the design issues that make this game so phenomenal.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Feb 7th, 2008 at 00:28:24.

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    mrfredman's Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town (GBA)

    Current Status: Playing

    GameLog started on: Wednesday 6 February, 2008

    mrfredman's opinion and rating for this game

    Incredible farming sandbox game. Slow paced, immersive, and requiring tons of dedication, it perfectly encapsulates the experience of running a farm in a video game.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

    Related Links

    See mrfredman's page

    See info on Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town

    More GameLogs
    other GameLogs for this Game
    1 : Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town (GBA) by GlitteWing (rating: 5)
    2 : Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town (GBA) by Tenoshikami (rating: 5)


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