Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns

Settle on your farm and bring the two towns together again
SeriousGamer - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

Alcohol Use: Character can buy and make alcoholic drinks.

Violent Implications: Animals can be struck with farm tools, animals shown unharmed.

Spiritual Content: Harvest Goddess is seen, building is a church, priest mentions Harvest Goddess, Oracle character brews potions through alchemy.

Sexual Humor: Character is implied to be gay for laughs.

Scantily Clad Women: Harvest Goddess wears revealing outfit.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times…oh wait, that’s the wrong tale.

We’re definitely not talking about two cities in this game. When a game has the words Harvest Moon in the title, you can be sure that urban life is not high on the list. From the very first title, people have been heading back to a simple time. It was a time when things probably went a bit slower than they do now. Of course, the games aren’t that slow, at least not right away. People took a little time out, although I doubt work was put off to the side, especially on a farm. That’s one thing that’s pretty much true to life about this series

Despite the working nature of the game, people seemed to like owning and running their own fake farm because more titles keep coming. Now, in 2011, the next Harvest Moon title hit the shelves for both the DS and the new 3DS. That title was The Tale of Two Towns.

Plot

The Tale of Two Towns begins very much like any Harvest Moon game: with you. You step into the shoes of a character on his or her if you prefer way to start a new life in one of the game’s titular towns. So we find you traveling by horse and cart to your destination, but along the way, you decide to take a little tumble. Actually, you didn’t really decide, but it was either that or become the first person in the series to invent road pizza. Don’t worry though; no animals or humans are harmed in this game.

When you finally come to, you find the mayors of Bluebell and Konohana standing by your side. Since you can’t remember where you were going, they decide to give you the first Harvest Moon real-estate pitch, asking you which of the two little towns you would like to call home. This is where your tale begin. You decide to make a new life for yourself, settle down, raise crops and livestock, perhaps a family, and maybe even resolve a little feud going on between the two towns.

Gameplay

If you’ve ever played any of the old Harvest Moon games, especially one like Friends of Mineral Town, you’ll be in good shape here. Action takes place on the top screen of the DS. The bottom screen is where you can use your stylus to open your sack, changes clothes, look at equipment, and so on, although, for most things, you can use the DS buttons. While the controls may sound confusing at first, you can pick this up pretty fast.

Each town has its own little features. Bluebell is a modern European style town with an emphasis on raising livestock. Konohana on the other hand is a rural Asian style town where the people pride themselves on growing crops. Aside from that, the choice of town is really no big deal. Besides, if you get tired of life in one town, you may move to the other and back again.

No matter what town you live in though, time passes the same way. You have four 31-day seasons each year. Speaking of time, if you’re used to the old titles where time stops when you go inside, you’d better learn to forget it.

Offensive Content

Alcohol Use

Every Harvest Moon game, at least that I’ve played, features some form of alcohol, and this one does too. You can receive wine as a prize in the contests you enter, and you can also drink it. Later on, if you live in Bluebell or have the equipment built there, you can even brew your own wine and beer. You can’t get drunk off of it though, even if you were to drink lots and lots of it. Of course, it doesn’t work that way in the real world.

Violent Implications

Some of the tools you can use are a sickle, hammer, and axe. You can accidentally hit animals, both wild and your livestock, with it, but nothing happens. The animal just runs away with an exclamation point overhead and gets mad at you. Of course, the thought alone is a bit disturbing, so it’s worth mentioning.

Spiritual Content

For every Harvest Moon title, there is a Harvest Goddess. It’s uncertain whether she is the deity of the two towns, but it is likely that she is. She is portrayed as powerful and it seems the residents of both towns feared her anger. Bluebell also features a church with a statue of the goddess, but the building goes largely unused. If anything, it’s probably there for the architecture of the town.

At some point, a priest will move into the church. When you speak to him, he will usually mention how the Harvest Goddess is with you or some other statement that sounds spiritual and makes him sound quite devout.

Later on in the game, you will meet a character called “Oracle.” She doesn’t appear to bear any resemblance to a fortune teller, but she does specialize in alchemy. She will brew potions for you if you bring her the ingredients. These potions usually are special fertilizers for your farm, but this still seems to have some small resemblance to magic.

Sexual Humor

I have to say this was the most surprising element I’ve ever had to write about, especially for a Harvest Moon game. Some previous titles have had a few eligible ladies with outfits that were somewhat revealing, and while that wasn’t quite friendly for the discerning gamer, this one blows the females right out of the water.

In Bluebell, the cafe owner is a large man who is clearly in touch with the feminine side of things. He wears lipstick, has a little beauty mark on his face, and has a tendency to act very effeminate. He also lives in a pink room above his cafe. I’d say most of this is played for laughs as the game gives no explicit indication about whether or not this character is, in fact, gay. In the plus column, you cannot engage in gay relationships, but the subtle nod at the lifestyle is pretty clear.

Scantily Clad Women

Almost minor in comparison to the girly man I just described, at least by Harvest Moon standards, but the goddess shows quite a bit of skin. She wears a short bikini-style top that shows her navel and a bit of cleavage as well. I don’t condone her outfit, but for those who have played some of the older titles, this should come as no surprise.

Commendable Material

In each town, you can take requests to help the people living there. While you may do it for a reward, I’d say it helps bring about a neighborly quality to the game. In previous games, you didn’t have to do much for your neighbors, except give them gifts. This time around you can actually help people.

Most of the story in the game involves getting the mayors of each town to get along with each other. When the game begins, they are both stubbornly against each other over a petty disagreement, and the game presents the disagreement as just that: petty. So, I would say that swallowing your pride and putting aside minor disputes are two themes presented here.

A solid work ethic is also given a thumbs-up in this game. You have to make the effort to tend to your fields and your animals. Your crops need to be watered, and your livestock needs to be fed. Sounds a bit like the game’s way of saying if a man doesn’t work, he doesn’t eat. Of course, that’s been a bit of a theme in every Harvest Moon title, and I’d say it works well in the real world also.

This game also gives a thumbs-up to marriage and also to the unborn. Your character can’t mess around with other girls (or guys if you’re playing as a girl) after you tie the knot, and the romantic aspect of the game is really handled well with the kind of restraint we just don’t see anymore. Also, when either you or your bride finds out that a baby is in the future, it’s treated with excitement. In this day and age, it’s nice to see a bit of the old-fashioned way of life, even in a video game.

Conclusion

I came to the Harvest Moon franchise pretty late, but I’ve enjoyed each title I was able to get my hands on. I began with Friends of Mineral Town, and since then I enjoyed the fun of farming for as long as it lasted. Let’s face it, these kinds of games have the habit of wearing out. Still, it’s pretty fun to play.

When I heard about The Tale of Two Towns, I wasn’t sure what to expect. After playing titles like Tree of Tranquility and Magical Melody, I was a little skeptical of what this one would have. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed both of those titles as well, but I found the food themed locations of Tree and the cartoony graphics of Melody a little too much. Then when I plugged in Two Towns, I thought they were really getting back to the old style of Harvest Moon.

They didn’t really stay that way though. I mean the use of wine and the Goddess’s skimpy little top were pretty familiar, though still a bit unneeded, but the effeminate, and possibly gay, man of Bluebell really seemed to push the envelope. Harvest Moon always seemed to mean a return to a simpler time; at least it did to me. Now, even the games are trying to sink their teeth into this sort of issue. So, Two Towns really made an effort to capture the charm of previous games, but it seems to leave a little to be desired too. Still, if none of the above proves too big of a problem to the discerning gamer, I can recommend this tale of two towns to fans old and new.

tag, , , ,





Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.

About this game