Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Harvest Moon Skytree Village, Fun But Boring

I love the Harvest Moon games. One of the first Harvest Moon games I ever played was Back To Nature for the Playstation 1. Who knew a farming game could be so much fun? It wasn't just about the farming though. You played as a boy who returned to your grandpa's farm to take over and start running it yourself. There were also the interesting townspeople, seasonal festivals, and different girls you could talk to and romance and choose to be your wife. There were all kinds of neat upgrades for your farm too like a greenhouse so you could have things like pineapples all year long.

The last Harvest Moon game I played was A New Beginning and I loved it. It was a little different, but in a good way because in this one you could choose to play as a boy or a girl. There were the interesting townspeople and one of them could do magic. There were the fun seasonal festivals and of course the farming. In this one though, you could have new animals like llamas and alpacas and make yarn with a yarn making machine. You could also pick a boy or girl to woo and get married. It was a lot of fun and I still pop it into my DS and play it.

I was genuinely looking forward to playing Harvest Moon Skytree Village when it was released because as I said I love the Harvest Moon games. The story explains that the land you're in is known as the Oasis of the Harvest Goddess. There were many people living in Skytree Village before and it was once lush and green, but the power of the Harvest Goddess waned and the land became dry and parched. It's up to you to help the Harvest Goddess by reviving the seven skytrees which will give the Harvest Goddess her power back and restore the land back to being lush and green again.

I started playing and you can play as a girl or a boy in this game. I chose a girl. I immediately noticed how different it was. Different is not necessarily a bad thing, but the tutorial did not need to be as long as it was. It's a bit slow and clunky and sometimes the camera angles aren't that great. You can turn the camera at least so you can get it to where you want it, but sometimes it looks very blocky and feels like you're playing Minecraft instead of a Harvest Moon game. The land you're farming can be a bit uneven, so you have to dig and move the soil around so you can have a flat surface to work with which can be a bit tedious. Once you get it to where you want it, you can till the soil and plant the crops for that season which is Spring when you start the game. There are also Harvest Sprites (servants of the Harvest Goddess) who can help you with your farming endeavors. One can help to make your crops flourish while another can help you water all your crops. They can only help once per day, but it is a nice bit of help to have.

Work those fields, honey!

 There is a small village in this game. It starts with only a couple of townspeople and as you progress with the farming and reviving of skytrees, more people move into the village. Even after that, you only have a small group of people, about 18 of them and that's it. The villagers can give you requests like growing a certain type of flower or catching a specific type of fish in the river. For fulfilling those requests you get rewards like money or in one villager's case a recipe for grilled salmon. Some of these requests were fun for me (I loved growing all the pretty flowers), while others were an exercise in frustration. The fishing requests alone were a bit of a pain because you catch different types of fish at different times of day. So if I wanted to catch a Tilapia or a Perch, I had to know exactly what times they showed up in the river in order to catch them and fulfill the request. There was a lot of experimenting with this. The one good thing that came out of it is my fishing skill increased a lot. 

 The village itself is rather small and it feels like it's just there so you have something to explore and break up the tedium of farming. There really isn't much to explore in this game which for me was disappointing because I loved the exploration in A New Beginning and all the things you could do. It's sadly lacking in Skytree Village. You can upgrade a few things to your farm and you do have cute farm animals that add to the fun. There are a couple of mines in the game where you can find minerals and upgrade your farm tools which is pretty neat. I just wish there had been more to explore besides my farmland, the village, and two mines.

Making a run into the village.

This Harvest Moon game does have the option to romance a girl or boy to marry as well. You have to do different requests for them to increase their affection towards you. Once that is done, it's back to farming and reviving the skytrees. This isn't to say that Harvest Moon Skytree Village isn't fun because it is, but it is a little boring in places which is a little disappointing. I found myself playing for short periods of time and then saving my game so I could go do something else where as with New Beginning, I would play and play because I was having so much fun with it. For what it is Skytree Village is a nice game, but there are moments where it just doesn't feel like a Harvest Moon game and that's really too bad because I do like the series a lot. 

Hug your cow today!

*Harvest Moon Skytree Village is available to play on the following platforms: Nintendo 3DS

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Last Guardian, A Beautiful Disaster

I had been waiting for The Last Guardian to be released so I could play for what felt like ages. When I got my copy, I was ready to get started. The opening for the game is quite pretty and the introduction of the boy who was mysteriously kidnapped and left in a mysterious castle called the Nest and the beast he befriends called Trico is interesting. The boy notices spears in the side of Trico's body that he removes. He also removes the chained collar holding him there. This gives you a quick tutorial of the games controls before you start your adventure.

The boy and Trico meet.

 The boy and Trico must work together to escape the castle. Much like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus there are a variety of puzzles to solve ranging from climbing to jumping. This is where commanding Trico comes in. The boy can have Trico stand up on his hind legs so he can reach high ledges or ride on his back and have him jump across broken bridges. It's all about teamwork throughout the entire game.
 The environments in The Last Guardian are beautiful as well as the game itself. Everything appears like a lovely painting and the musical soundtrack complements the elements of the game as well. Trico is very cute and his budding friendship with the boy is quite endearing. That is why it is so disappointing that The Last Guardian is a beautiful disaster. I need a game to be more than pretty. If the controls are terrible to the point of making the game frustrating, that sucks the fun out of it. The big thing was the camera. Many times the camera angles would be terrible and there were times where it would suddenly spin uncontrollably depending on where I was standing or moving. For the first time, I actually got motion sickness from a third person view game. I had to take frequent breaks from playing because of it. 

Trico gets stuck and looks cute doing it.

 The controls themselves are terrible. It kills me to say that because I did like the story and the characters, but when the controls are this clunky for a game it detracts from it. Sometimes the controls are slow to react when commanding Trico. I didn't mind that it took a few tries to get Trico to listen; he is a wild animal after all. I did mind that the controls were so difficult to deal with that at times I would miss a jump, or mashing all the buttons was a solution. It lacked finesse and I found myself incredibly frustrated often. Clunky controls and a bad camera made The Last Guardian suffer as a result. 

A touching moment with the boy and Trico.

For all the struggling with the camera and the controls, there are a lot of great emotional moments in the storytelling. The friendship with the boy and Trico is a wonderful thing and I did enjoy the mutual bond that grew between them as they worked together. I stuck it out until the end and I'm glad I did because the story itself is a good one. I just don't feel that playing through it again is an option. One round of frustrating game play is enough. I wish I loved the game because I waited for it for so long and the artwork and music are beautiful, but the execution is lacking. There are some people who might like the game and there are some who may want to try it out.  Everyone is different, but this game was not for me. If you do try it out, wait for it to go on sale because it is not worth paying full price for.

I want to make one thing really clear, because a couple of people have mentioned it. I have played a ton of games in my life. I love gaming, it's something I enjoy a great deal. I love talking about games with fellow gamers and Mother Gamer is something I am proud of because it is something that is a labor of love for me, celebrating things I'm nerdy about and the biggest is gaming. I try to be conscious of sticking to talking about my gaming experience in every single Mother Gamer post I've ever written. I will never tell anyone that they should or should not buy a game no matter if I liked it or not. I may tell you that a game is worth having in your gaming collection if I love it or tell you to wait for it to go on sale if it wasn't as good as expected, but that is all I would do and it is all I do. Ultimately, it's up to you dear readers to decide if you want to check out a game or not. I've played a couple of games that I have really not liked and written about that others have played and loved. As I said when I first started Mother Gamer, these are just my opinions based solely on my personal gaming experience, no one else's. I made a promise to myself that I would never lie and say a game was good if I personally felt it wasn't because there's no point in writing a great review for a game I did not enjoy. I write this blog because I love gaming and I enjoy sharing that passion with other gamers. I know some may not agree with every single review and that's okay, because we're all different. That's what makes gaming so much fun. There are a variety of games for all types of gamers and it gives us a lot of options to explore and enjoy. That's a wonderful thing. Until the next blog post, happy gaming everyone!

Trico splashes in some water.

*The Last Guardian is available to play on the following platforms: Playstation4