|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Marvelous Interactive||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Natsume||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: August 26, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Harvest Moon is definitely what I would refer to as a "niche" franchise. You either love it, or you don't really care about it. It may be hard to believe, but this farming sim has been with us for more than ten years, and it shows no signs of slowing down any time soon! But what many longtime fans of the series have begun to notice is that even though we're nearly guaranteed a new Harvest Moon title every year, all of them have seemed to run together, and the Harvest Moon series has done very little to move the series forward, at least until last year's Innocent Life: A Futuristic Harvest Moon.
The newest Harvest Moon title, Island of Happiness, also does a lot for the series in terms of moving it forward, but unfortunately, there are a few elements of this title that really hold it back as well. One thing that has changed in Island of Happiness is the storyline. You play as a boy or girl who was involved in a shipwreck that has left you marooned on a deserted island. Luckily, many of your shipmates are with you, and a small village is soon formed. You have been given the task of farming, and by creating agricultural products for export, you will attract more people to this little island. The story actually feels a lot like the standard Harvest Moon storyline with a little bit of the Lost in Blue series mixed in. But as someone who was getting tired of the old story, any innovation was welcome.
Once you get past the new story, you run into what I would say is this game's biggest problem: the control. Instead of having the button-based control with some touch-screen elements like those in Harvest Moon DS, Island of Happiness has switched to exclusive touch-screen controls. While this might not sound like a bad thing at first, once you start farming, you'll really start missing the buttons. You move around by dragging the stylus in front of your character. This part works fairly well when you are trying to walk around town, but when you are trying to reach a certain plot on your farm grid, this control method is extremely imprecise.
To make matters worse, the tools are also controlled on the touch-screen in a counter-intuitive way. Instead of touching the plot you want to work on, you have to walk using the stylus and line up a rather ambiguous blue square with the plot that needs work. Then you need to tap the tool (not the plot) you've equipped in order to engage it. If this sounds complicated, trust me...it is. Working on the farm in this Harvest Moon is much harder than it should be and makes this aspect of the game close to unplayable.