|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Marvelous Interactive||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Natsume||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: August 26, 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|
If you do overcome the controls, you'll probably be happy with the amount of content that is in this new Harvest Moon game. One of the big draws here is the ability to expand the population of your island. This adds a great new dimension to the gameplay and a more overreaching goal. There are many more characters to meet this time around, and it is really fun to watch your empty little island grow into a thriving metropolis. The world of Island of Happiness is also a lot bigger than previous Harvest Moon worlds, and it gives you a nice sense of freedom in the game that had been absent previously. Of course, all the old Harvest Moon conventions are here, and you will still need to expand your farm, find a spouse, and raise livestock.
I was actually quite pleased with the new elements of the gameplay in Island of Happiness, but again, the control really got in the way of any substantial enjoyment. Island of Happiness also features several new Internet play options, including online leaderboards and voice chat. The leaderboards are sort of cool and give you a great opportunity to share stats with your Harvest Moon buddies. However, the inclusion of the voice chat ability is just confusing. You aren't able to chat with your friend while you are actually playing the game; you can only talk to your friends while looking at a chat room screen or browsing the different leaderboards. The only use I can really imagine for the voice chat is the ability to talk to your far-away Harvest Moon Pals without paying for any long distance phone charges. But that doesn't really seem much like an actual game feature, does it?
The visuals in Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness are pretty much the same as the visuals in Harvest Moon DS, although there is one big difference. For some reason, the decision was made to give the Harvest Moon characters bobble heads in this title. The look is a little awkward at first, and I can't say I ever really got used to it. But hey, if you just can't get enough of the anime-inspired super-deformed "chibi" style, then you may appreciate the cranial enhancements made to the game characters.
Overall, I was pretty happy with all the improvements that Island of Happiness made to the traditional Harvest Moon formula. However, I had serious issues controlling the game, and it was always a battle to get my character to do what I wanted. The stylus controls just don't work well with the grid-farming system and made this game really frustrating to play. I am certain this game would have been one of the best Harvest Moon titles ever if they had kept the old control scheme, but, as it stands, this title just doesn't live up to its potential. However, if you have a good amount of patience and are a Harvest Moon addict, there is plenty to find and discover in Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness. Plus, you can use it to call your friends!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor