The business of making a game over from a past generation is certainly a tricky one. On the one hand, you want to include plenty of new features and updates so the old game doesn’t feel dated. However, you also don’t want to tamper too much with the source material for fear of alienating the fans. There have been several Wii-makes over the Wii’s lifecycle, from the barebones New Play Control: Pikmin to the expertly done Phantom Brave: We Meet Again. The latest Wii-make to come out, Harvest Moon: Magical Melody, is certainly one that fans of the franchise will be interested in. But if you’ve already played this game, you might be unpleasantly surprised with some of the changes (or lack thereof) that have been made for the re-release.
Although the game does include some new control aspects, make no mistake, this is the same game you played back in 2006. Everything from the graphics to the music, scenarios, and characters are identical to the GameCube, and it seems nothing was really gained in the port. In fact, some things were actually omitted from the original for this new release. In the original GameCube title, you were able to choose between being a boy or girl farmer, which allowed you to interact with potential suitors of the opposite sex. However, in the Wii version, for some reason you are only able to play as the male character. This is pretty disappointing, as there were plenty of interesting male suitors which are now off-limits. I really have no idea why the developers decided to put the kibosh on females for the Wii version, but that is only one of the game’s many shortcomings.
As I said before, the game is identical to the GameCube version, and unfortunately that means the graphics are the same as they were three years ago. Even more regrettably, the visuals were considered dated even back then. Sure, the game has the Harvest Moon signature, bobble head character design, and the environments feature lots of color, but beyond that, the game’s visuals have a whole host of issues. The entire game suffers from being very blurry (especially when played on a widescreen television), and there are plenty of persistent seaming problems. If there was one area where this game needed a bit of a modern facelift, the visuals would be it, but unfortunately, they have been sorely neglected in the porting process.
There are also issues related to the copied and pasted Wii controls on the top of the screen. Anyone who has played the original knows that the game has a handy button grid at the top of the screen that shows you what items you have equipped and what button you need to press to interact with them. The Wii’s buttons have been pasted over top of the GameCube button grid for this version, and while that aspect alone is fine, someone forgot to tell the characters that the player is using the Wii-mote instead of a GameCube controller. Characters offering “hints” will tell you to press certain GameCube buttons, which is sort of amusing but also smacks of lazy porting.
The only thing that has been added to this game for the port is some slapped together Wii controls. These amount to little more than swinging the Wii-mote when you want to fish or use other tools, and the game doesn’t even really prompt you to use the specialty controls. The Wii-specific Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility had much better motion control implementation, and I was saddened that this game, which came out a year later, has poorer controls.
Another thing that sets Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility apart is that it offered multiple control schemes. If you didn’t like the Wii-mote controls, you could switch over to the Classic Controller. I would have imagined that since this was originally a GameCube title, there would be support for the Classic Controller as well or at least the GameCube controller, but no such luck. And the more I played, the more I felt like the Wii controls, particularly the thumbstick on the Nunchuk, were not accurate enough for most of the farming actions in the game.
The only aspect of Harvest Moon: Magical Melody that has benefitted from the game’s unchanged format is the audio. The story in Magical Melody revolves around magical instruments that can be created by gathering notes while working on the farm and completing other in-game objectives. Since so much of the game revolves around music, the soundtrack has to be perfect, and, just like in 2006, it is. Although plenty of remakes remaster the sound or generate new mixes, the music in this title was wisely left alone.
Unfortunately, there just isn’t all that much to love about Harvest Moon: Magical Melody this second time around. The three year period between the original GameCube release and this new Wii version has not been kind to the source material, and the new controls just don’t make the re-purchase worth it for fans of the series. Couple this with the fact that the Wii-specific Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility, has better controls and more modern visuals, all you are left with is an outdated GameCube title that comes on a bigger disc in a Wii box.
The only condition under which you should pick this game up is if you have never played a Harvest Moon game before and you want to try the franchise out for the fist time. Magical Melody is still one of the best Harvest Moon games to date, and the $30 price point is certainly attractive if you don’t already have the game.
Still, if you can find an old copy of the GameCube version to play on your Wii (remember, the Wii is still backwards compatible with GameCube discs), you may enjoy that one a little bit more, as you can plug the old GameCube controller into the Wii for better control, and you’ll also have the option to play as a female. This port doesn’t add anything to the core Magical Melody experience, and this three-year rerelease was one of the most unnecessary and poorly done Wii-makes that I have ever encountered.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.7 Graphics
GameCube-level graphics look cute, but they should have been touched up for the rerelease. 2.0 Control
Poor Wii-mote controls and lack of alternate control options make this one a pain to control. 3.8 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Music is the same as it was in the original, which is exactly how it should be. 1.5
This game actually has less content than the original, and with no other improvements, it’s hard to recommend this even at a $30 price point.
2.0 Overall Rating – Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.