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After the crushing disappointment of Magical Melody, Island of Happiness sees a return to form for the Harvest Moon series, which celebrates its tenth birthday this year. In short, we love this. In fact, we love it so much we’re seriously resenting having to take time out from tending the turnips, milking the cows and mining for emeralds to write this review. As you may have guessed, we’re suckers for the series and this is as good as it’s ever been.
As usual, the story is inconsequential. But for the record, you’re marooned on a deserted island post-shipwreck, and after a chat with some fellow shipwreckees you decide to make a stab at restoring the island to its former glory. You take occupancy of a ranch and settle down to some seriously hard farming graft. It’s the usual Harvest fare of planting, tending and harvesting seasonal crops, and looking after animals so that they’ll provide you with produce. The more work you put in, the more money you’ll raise – and with that cash you can make improvements to both your ranch and the island itself. The more improvements you make, the more people will be attracted to the island and set up home. It’s a circle of life thing...
Everything from movement to tool use and menu navigation is done via the stylus. It’s all executed very nicely but surely the option for a D-pad-and-buttons control scheme would have been easy to implement? Playing one-handed for any protracted length of time left us with some serious arm cramps. The other main problem lies with storing items. Your rucksack holds plenty of stuff but not all identical items automatically stack. While X amount of the same crop neatly falls into one slot, other stuff, such as chicken eggs, fill one slot each. As such, you spend a silly amount of time fiddling with your sack. But that’s a minor moan in what’s otherwise a delightfully – worryingly – addictive Harvest title. Now, if you’ll excuse us, the cucumbers need watering...
Oct 9, 2008
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