|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Marvelous Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Natsume Inc.||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 24, 2010||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 Andrew Groen
If someone had told me in advance how much I would enjoy the latest Harvest Moon game, I don't think I would have believed them. At the very least, I would have been skeptical that this worn out gameplay style could engage me. But, inexplicably I might add, it has.That's not to say it has completely knocked my socks off, but in many ways, it's a surprising game that has a great understanding of pacing and carrot-on-a-stick gameplay tactics.
I was skeptical that a series as old as Harvest Moon could still have tricks up its sleeve, and I had assumed it had played all of its cards long ago. However, the mechanic of the Bazaar has given new life to the series.It must be noted, that the game is still mostly comprised of the same gameplay this series has regurgitated repeatedly since the original game debuted on the Super Nintendo over fourteen years ago. This is one of over twenty Harvest Moon games that have been released, and there are precious few elements to distinguish it from its long lineage.
This amounts to a single fact: if you enjoy Harvest Moon, then you will enjoy Grand Bazaar. Conversely, nothing is going to change your mind if you didn't enjoy previous games in the series. In some ways, this is a good thing though. Over the years, Natsume has paid close attention to the desires of its fan base and it is due mostly to that fact that Harvest Moon survives with such a loyal group of followers as it does.
This Harvest Moon begins like many of the other games in the series. You're given a kind of mission statement and told you are to help achieve this specific cause with your farming prowess. In this case, we're told that the town's weekly market has recently fallen from grace. Since there are no more farmers in the town, customers have stopped coming there in as great of numbers, and so you are given a small stipend to start your operation. From there, it's a test to see how much money you can raise.
The main way you'll do this is by raising crops. You'll start with the humble turnip, but that will soon blossom into more interesting and more difficult plants to grow. A turnip only takes four to five days to grow, whereas a cabbage might take up to two weeks. They wont just grow themselves either. Every morning, you have to wake up and water each plant individually, and if you're especially concerned about the quality of each plant, you can spread fertilizer on them.
As with previous games, this can get tedious. However, there is a certain type of gamer this greatly appeals to. Some people simply respond well to keeping things in order, as evidenced by the massive community around the Facebook game Farmville, which has a similar mechanic. Still, watering and fertilizing all of your plants can take several minutes, depending on the size of your crop, and all you'll be doing is pressing B then stepping to the side and pressing it again, ad nauseam.