|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Natsume||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Natsume / Marvelous||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 26, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda Kondolojy
Harvest Moon is, admittedly, one of the most unlikely successful game series to be successful. You wouldn't think that a game based on farming would really be a hit with most people. But the series has lived on for nearly 10 years and spawned over 20 games. It's amazing what such a little idea can do if given the proper attention.
And the good news is that this series is still getting all the attention it deserves. Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility looks like it will be another excellent entry in the series. All the classic gameplay will be there; you'll be plowing fields, tending to livestock, and all the other farm-based activities that you've come to expect from the Harvest Moon series. But the real twist on the gameplay for Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility is pretty cool, albeit predictable. See, if you weren't content with the immersive feel of your farm experience already, you'll now be able to really experience your farm-sim with the added addition of Wii controls! Now you can milk your cows, water your plants, even plow the field by moving your Wii-mote around! You can tilt it to water plans, swing it to harvest crops; there are just so many ways to incorporate the motion sensing that you just may think you're really doing those farming chores!
But aside from the new twist on the classic gameplay style you know and love, there will also be a new path to follow in Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility. You will start the game as a self-named character, and this time you can decide whether you're male or female (unlike in this year's previous Harvest Moon: Innocent Life). You then find yourself in Waffle town, which is a city on the aptly named Waffle Island. You begin as an area newcomer, but you soon find yourself with a new part time job and a whole bunch of people to talk to. And since you're single, there will be some special attention given to you by the opposite sex. In fact, townspeople you talk to will sometimes display little sparkles around their heads to show you that they're ahem interested. But romantic capabilities aside, you'll eventually learn all the farming basics at your part-time job, and upgrade to having your own plot of land to hone your farming skills.
As you play the game, you'll come to realize that you aren't just farming for the sake of farming, but indeed to save Waffle Island. There's some definite weirdness going on, and it all has something to do with a Spirit Goddess who has hit a bit of a rough patch. But don't worry because you'll be there, farming to make it all better. Sure it may seem like a far-fetched kind of story, but for the farming chore goodness that is harvest moon, we'll deal with it.
Visually, the screens that are available look really good, and show that the Wii is capable of some pretty decent graphics. Your little character looks like a combination of a Nintendo Mii and an anime-stylized person, and can only be described as "too cute." Environments also follow the "too cute" scheme and feature puffy cutesy landscapes and vibrant colors. So don't expect to find any extremely detailed environments or scenarios. Just exciting colors with pretty graphics. And what more could you ask for?
Even though Harvest Moon has been somewhat a handheld darling in recent years, it's good to see it back on a console, and on one that can do the series such good justice. The inclusion of the classic style of gameplay with the new Wii-mote controls and additional story options makes this one one of the most highly anticipated Harvest Moon titles to date! So swing your Wii-mote high with Harvest Moon: Harvest Moon, coming early next year!!
CCC Freelance Writer
Note: This game is known as "Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility." A mistake at E3 2006 made people believe the game would be called "Harvest Moon: Heroes;" that was just a misunderstanding. This game is called "Ranch Story: Tree of Serenity" in Japan.