|System: 3DS, DS|
|Dev: Marvelous Interactive|
|Release: November 1, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: N/A||Comic Mischief, Use of Alcohol|
Beyond the friendship issues, Two Towns attempts to draw the game out by providing necessary upgrades at the game's pace rather than the player's. New players to the series may not notice this, but veterans will quickly wonder how to obtain certain needed tools like a hammer and axe, or when they'll be able to start fishing or upgrading their farm. The answer is that the game decides when to add in new elements, and the player won't have access to many features of the game until a special notice is posted to a town bulletin board. It can be frustrating to series veterans who are used to planning ahead in order to, say, gather the materials needed to upgrade a tool. There's no way to even know what will be needed for upgrades until a request is posted, and there's usually no explanation of what invisible requirements need to be met before said request goes up (if there are indeed any requirements beyond a hard-coded date.) This pacing mechanism may be appreciated by players who want to spread out the full game experience over a few years, but others may dislike the amount of control over in-game progression that's been taken from them.
At least the journey will be a pleasant-looking one, as Two Towns has some of the crispest, nicest graphics ever found in a Harvest Moon game. The two towns are lovingly detailed and have great unified looks. The mountain is lush, and, again, full of detail on a level usually not seen in the series. The 3D effect is subtle but looks good, especially the way that the two-dimensional sprites pop up in front of the background during dialog with the characters. The game looks better in 3D than in 2D, but the 2D graphics aren't bad, either. On occasion, a weird visual glitch will cause all the game's sprites to appear to be floating above the ground, but this can be quickly fixed by turning the 3D effect all the way off, then back on again.
The game's sound deserves little more than a footnote. The music is inoffensive and changes with the seasons as it does in all Harvest Moon games. Sound effects are what one would expect them to be. There is no voice acting whatsoever in the game, which might be a relief, considering that the voice clips in these games aren't always of the best quality.
Although the 3D graphics are attractive, the 3DS version of Tale of Two Towns suffers from a glitch in which the game occasionally freezes when the player moves from one screen to another. This is made worse by the fact that the game can only be saved at night before going to sleep, so any day on which the game crashes must be completely replayed. This only happened to me about once per season, but it's still quite frustrating when it does. Players who don't want to deal with this bug should consider playing the regular DS version of the game instead.
Despite some gripes, Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns is the cream of the crop when it comes to this generation of portable Harvest Moon games. It's a solid entry in the series with a strong cast and a lovely setting. Harvest Moon fans should be quite happy with the game overall, and it's a great choice for newcomers to the series. Although it doesn't quite achieve greatness due to some pacing issues and the 3DS version's technical problems, that won't stop plenty of people from having a good time with the game. Series fans and curious onlookers shouldn't hesitate to pick this one up and give it a go.
CCC Contributing Writer