Harvest Moon: Magical Melody Review
Harvest Moon: Magical Melody box art
System: Wii Review Rating Legend
Dev: Marvellous Entertainment 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Natsume 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Aug.25, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

The business of making a game over from a past generation is certainly a tricky one. On the one hand, you want to include plenty of new features and updates so the old game doesn't feel dated. However, you also don't want to tamper too much with the source material for fear of alienating the fans. There have been several Wii-makes over the Wii's lifecycle, from the barebones New Play Control: Pikmin to the expertly done Phantom Brave: We Meet Again. The latest Wii-make to come out, Harvest Moon: Magical Melody, is certainly one that fans of the franchise will be interested in. But if you've already played this game, you might be unpleasantly surprised with some of the changes (or lack thereof) that have been made for the re-release.

Harvest Moon: Magical Melody screenshot

Although the game does include some new control aspects, make no mistake, this is the same game you played back in 2006. Everything from the graphics to the music, scenarios, and characters are identical to the GameCube, and it seems nothing was really gained in the port. In fact, some things were actually omitted from the original for this new release. In the original GameCube title, you were able to choose between being a boy or girl farmer, which allowed you to interact with potential suitors of the opposite sex. However, in the Wii version, for some reason you are only able to play as the male character. This is pretty disappointing, as there were plenty of interesting male suitors which are now off-limits. I really have no idea why the developers decided to put the kibosh on females for the Wii version, but that is only one of the game's many shortcomings.

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As I said before, the game is identical to the GameCube version, and unfortunately that means the graphics are the same as they were three years ago. Even more regrettably, the visuals were considered dated even back then. Sure, the game has the Harvest Moon signature, bobble head character design, and the environments feature lots of color, but beyond that, the game's visuals have a whole host of issues. The entire game suffers from being very blurry (especially when played on a widescreen television), and there are plenty of persistent seaming problems. If there was one area where this game needed a bit of a modern facelift, the visuals would be it, but unfortunately, they have been sorely neglected in the porting process.

Harvest Moon: Magical Melody screenshot

There are also issues related to the copied and pasted Wii controls on the top of the screen. Anyone who has played the original knows that the game has a handy button grid at the top of the screen that shows you what items you have equipped and what button you need to press to interact with them. The Wii's buttons have been pasted over top of the GameCube button grid for this version, and while that aspect alone is fine, someone forgot to tell the characters that the player is using the Wii-mote instead of a GameCube controller. Characters offering "hints" will tell you to press certain GameCube buttons, which is sort of amusing but also smacks of lazy porting.

The only thing that has been added to this game for the port is some slapped together Wii controls. These amount to little more than swinging the Wii-mote when you want to fish or use other tools, and the game doesn't even really prompt you to use the specialty controls. The Wii-specific Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility had much better motion control implementation, and I was saddened that this game, which came out a year later, has poorer controls.

Harvest Moon: Magical Melody screenshot

Another thing that sets Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility apart is that it offered multiple control schemes. If you didn't like the Wii-mote controls, you could switch over to the Classic Controller. I would have imagined that since this was originally a GameCube title, there would be support for the Classic Controller as well or at least the GameCube controller, but no such luck. And the more I played, the more I felt like the Wii controls, particularly the thumbstick on the Nunchuk, were not accurate enough for most of the farming actions in the game.

Screenshots / Images
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