In some respects, Harvest Moon DS flounders. Two things prevent the village vibe from succeeding: characters just aren't likeable or charismatic, and the buy-by-phone item approach eliminates a real need to hit up town. One DS improvement, however, is that each of the missing harvest sprites is found through completing a mystery task. This encourages you to branch out from your comfort zone and really investigate what the game has to offer.
A not-so-welcome surprise is the game's production values. These are some of the ugliest visuals seen on the DS to date, and are just a hair sharper than the three-year-old Friends of Mineral Town for GBA -- making the visual bar this game sets low enough for an earthworm to crawl over. After all, the DS has shown its capability to produce gorgeous 3D graphics. The music is lukewarm at best, hopping between elevator-esque fare or belonging on a Gummi Bear carousel.