You arrive in an unfamiliar town, nearly abandoned after an economic downturn drove the inhabitants to seek out greener pastures. Inheriting the farmland once tended by your parents, you are approached by a strange but helpful man who sees your arrival heralding a revival of this once prosperous village.
Starting with creating your custom character (a first for the Harvest Moon
series) Harvest Moon 3D: A New Beginning
tasks you with both making a living from the farmland youíve inherited as well as attracting new residents to the town. Over the many initial hours of play, youíll encounter countless tutorials that laboriously explain how to interact with the world and hopefully get you on your way to a successful and profitable farm. While some tutorials can to be skipped, the sheer amount of tutorials and how much they are spaced out make the initial 10 hours or so feel laborious.
As mechanics are introduced so slowly, the first season can feel like it goes on forever. Youíll wake up, water your crops, harvest any that are ready and then wonder what else to do apart from go back to bed at 11am and do it all again the next day. The tedium of the first few hours are made worse by the clunky interface. Switching out farming tools is a chore, and can make maintenance and harvest in your farm less than enjoyable. The interface feels stuck in the past, with very little of the streamlined interaction gamers have come to expect today.
You may just find though, after some perseverance, that your daily grind becomes bizarrely addictive. Fertilising your crops in hopes of winning the Harvest Festival, taking care of your livestock, crafting useful new items for your farm or the town and discovering gifts to woo the lad or lady of your dreams suddenly makes this daily grind feel like it has some meaning. You can find yourself saying ĎOh, just one more dayí until suddenly itís 2am. The core of Harvest Moon
is definitely still present here, and is even augmented by the extra features like town building and basic wilderness exploration. If youíve been hooked on Harvest Moon
before, itís reasonably safe to say that the mechanics could just grab you once again.
Itís a real shame though, that these potentially engaging game mechanics are all hidden under a technically deficient game engine. The gameís frame rate slows to a crawl in almost any outside areas, which happen to be where you will spend the majority of your time in A New Beginning
. It can be quite jarring with the entire scene juddering with every movement. The models and scenery in the game are all rather simplistic, and the 3DS can definitely push much nicer graphics than this game offers. Itís hard to pinpoint anything happening in the game that would cause this, apart from maybe just inexperience working in 3D on the part of the developers.
The audio presentation is hardly impressive either. The soundtrack is full of whimsical but generally uninteresting sounding tunes, and the same music plays throughout an in-game season, which can begin to grate. The sound effects you will hear while tending to the farm fare no better, I actually find myself turning the sound off rather than listening to that awful watering can sound 28 times while I watered my crops. Overall, youíll not be missing much if you play this game entirely without sound.
Harvest Moon 3D: A New Beginning
puts itself into a strange position. It seems intent on doing everything it can to deter new players with sub-par presentation, outdated interfaces and a lack of graphical polish, but all of these issues mask a potentially enjoyable game underneath. All of these concerns make A New Beginning
difficult to recommend, and youíd probably be better served finding an older Harvest Moon
if you ever feel the urge to keep your own virtual farm.