|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Marvelous||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Natsume||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 30, 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|
The Harvest Moon franchise has been around for quite some time and has garnered the attention of many a gamer through addictive farming-sim gameplay. The latest entry in the series, Tree of Tranquility, features more of the same gameplay that made all the past iterations so enjoyable. Youll have a nice big island to explore, plenty of activities and events to participate in, and, of course, lots of people to talk to. But, I am not so convinced that Tree of Tranquility has enough content to set it apart from other games in the series.
The game begins with the generic fill-in-the-blank story that occurs in every iteration of the series. You are an aspiring farmer, who travels to a troubled land that has fallen out of favor with the harvest goddess. This goddess reveals herself to you, and you realize that your farming skills are the last hope for this troubled land. The travesty this time around has taken place on Waffle Island, which, despite being isolated from the rest of the world, had done quite well for itself before it had fallen out of the goddess favor. The town has plenty of natural resources, and it will be up to you to explore the island and make use of all you find.
Like all the other Harvest Moon games, youll start off by growing a few crops and gathering natural resources to earn money. However, in Tree of Tranquility there is also a welcome money-making option in the form of part-time jobs. Your character will be able to work several part-time jobs in this game and can try their hands at positions like shopkeepers assistant or farm-hand. Of course, the draw-back here is that the more you work, the less you will be able to manage your farm, so I found it easier to stick to planting and gathering natural resources.
After your character has earned enough capital, they will be able to upgrade their tools, add on to the farm, and even raise livestock. In addition to expanding our farming skills, you will also learn to mine, fish, and cook! And of course, after a very long time, your character will be able to find a suitor and get married. You can play as either a male or female, but dont worry; there are plenty of suitors for either gender.
In addition to your day to day activities, the island community will have a festival from time to time. During these festivals you can take some time off from farming and schmooze with the neighbors. You can also play some carnival-style mini-games, which will subsequently be unlocked in a special mini-game mode. However, you wont be able to unlock them all until a whole year has passed because each seasonal festival has certain mini-games that your attendance will unlock.
If you are a Harvest Moon veteran, most of these gameplay facets will sound very familiar, and I have to say that for me it is a little too familiar. The gameplay teetered on boring territory more than once, just because of the striking resemblance to earlier games. Even if you havent played a Harvest Moon title since the GameCube, you still may find that this title relies far too much on the old formula. I was very disappointed with the lack of innovation in this title because the jump to the Wii console was a great opportunity for the franchise to expand and branch out. The lack of substantial new gameplay facets represents a real missed opportunity for the franchise.