I’ve always been a fan of the Harvest Moon series, but I’ve never found one that stood up to the Nintendo 64 or Playstation 1 versions. After hearing a ton of good things and having some spare money, I decided to grab A New Beginning on a whim. So let’s get talkin’ about how it stands up to the rest.
Let’s talk presentation first. The game looks about what you’d expect for a late 2012 3DS game. While I’ll admit that I preferred the older graphics of Harvest Moon 64, A New Beginning does a nice job of making everything noticeable. It’s nothing ground-breaking or absolutely beautiful (although the top of the mountain gives view to a rather pretty horizon), but it works. I’ve only got two big problems with the game as far as the presentation goes, honestly. First, the 3D effect is downright painful, to the point of being blurry on the lowest setting. Secondly, all of the human models, or at least player characters, have this weird, large-headed ‘baby-face’ look about them. You won’t notice it a whole lot during gameplay, as the game rarely goes out of its way to focus on someone head-on, but I wish it was possible to customize your character to have a slightly less massive head.
That leads me nicely into my next point, in fact! Yes, in this game you can finally customize your character to some degree. You can choose either male or female, and also decide on hair style, face, and clothing, to name a few. However, it’s not only your lil’ dude that’s customizable. No, A New Beginning went above and beyond what I expected, allowing you to customize your farm and the entire town. This process is thankfully simple and amounts to going into a special building you unlock about twenty days into the first season, so if you’re tired of that patch of field sitting right next to your barn like I was, just pick it up and toss it elsewhere. I’ll admit to spending entirely too much time making my farm absolutely perfect.
Unfortunately, the gameplay, or at least the pacing, has some issues. The first month is unbearably slow, especially if you’re a series veteran. The tutorial of the first few days takes about twenty minutes to get through, and until the animal merchant moves in and you meet the Harvest Sprites, everything kind of grinds to a halt. I’ve put about three or four hours into the game so far and just now unlocked the ability to customize and build stuff, which I feel is gonna be one of the big parts of the game (especially since you lack a supply shed and chicken coop until you make ’em). Aside from the horrible pacing of the first few weeks, it’s your standard Harvest Moon game: Plant crops, water crops, socialize, raise animals, get married, repeat until bored. There are a handful of tiny improvements, though, such as items not breaking when dropped, a quick-select wheel for tools, and a map on the bottom screen!
The game is definitely not for everyone and newcomers might want to look to a cheaper entry in the series, as A New Beginning is sitting at about forty bucks on the North American 3DS eShop, which is where I grabbed my copy. If you’re a fan of the series and felt like some of the more recent titles haven’t been up to par, then definitely give it a shot if you think you can get through the slog of a first season. If you’re on the fence, maybe wait for a price drop or see if you can’t get a physical copy fairly cheap. Just don’t play with the 3D on for this one, your eyes will thank you. Speaking of which, thanks for reading and have a good’un.