Console gaming has become somewhat dangerous in my house. I’ve got limited time to play on my PS2 these days. I can play for around 1 hour at home before my mom comes back. If I get caught playing, I’ll have to hear an endless rant about how my school sucks because I’m not doing homework. Yeah, I don’t have enough Goho-Ms to return any time in case of emergencies (BTW I’m on “her” dungeon, Heaven. The BGM is really nice, and the design is pretty <3). Since I was desperately in need of a new DS game and forgot that Professor Layton came out today (which I still didn’t pick up, but it’s OK since Prof. Layton never runs out), I picked up Harvest Moon: Grand Bazarr on Friday. I actually wanted to get Sunshine Islands for the challenge, but the EB I went to didn’t have it.
For those who don’t know, the Harvest Moon games are a series of farming simulation games. The player is usually given a run-down farm and has to earn money for upgrades. Most of the games are endless, but some games and spin-offs have storylines that can be completed before unlocking free play. The game progresses by days, and there are many activites available such as farming (growing crops), fishing, mining, and cooking. There are also villagers that can be befriended, and you can get married in most of the games. Grand Bazaar is the ninth Harvest Moon game for handhelds, and also the most recent release in North America.
For those who are used to Island of Happiness, Grand Bazaar can be very different. Compared to IoH, GB is actually a lot more relaxing and slow, despite the fact that time passes indoors. I was disappointed to find out there is no mine; you can only get the breakable ores by jumping into the river. Previously, one seed could grow 9 crops in a 3 by 3 square of tilled land. Now, one seed is one crop. Ouch, talk about harsh. The sun points/water points system from IoH is removed in GB; instead, you can water crops twice a day and use fertilizer to make them grow faster. Bugs can be caught with bare hands. It’s not really profitable as they sell for very little, but several villagers (including most bachelorettes) like certain types of bugs. On Saturday (Sunday if there’s a festival on Sat.) of each week, the Bazaar takes place. At the bazaar, you open your stand and can put 3 items for sale at once. Then you press B to ring the bell to attract customers. Items sell for more at the bazaar than to the local shop, so it is recommended to hold your stuff until the weekend. There is no shipping bin in this game. Other than selling, you can also buy at the bazaar. In fact, the bazaar is the primary place for shopping in this game as you get your tools, animals, material, etc. there. The regular shop only sells one type of seed and fertilizers.
Selling at the bazaar is sort of like a mini game. When a customer wants to buy something, he/she will stand in front of the item with a number above his/her head. That’s how much they want, so you just go stand in front of that item and press A according to the number. I found it to be the most fun part of the game, and watching your cash stack up is quite satisfying. The regular part of the game isn’t all that exciting though, and is definitely slower than IoH. There also aren’t as many goals to reach, making GB a newcomer-friendly, relaxing game. There’s also the ability to jump, which is rather amusing. Since there isn’t as much stuff on the floor in GB, you’re more likely to get items by jumping into the river. Word of warning though, your stamina depletes pretty quickly when diving, and you can only save when you go to bed.
I like the art style for the bachelors/bachelorettes. I actually find all the marry-able girls really attractive (which is usually not the case for me), and the bachelors are pretty good too. My favorite girl is the kuudere Antoinette, followed by Freya. There isn’t anyone I dislike, since I find all of the character designs really good. The gift system is standard process. I can’t decide who to marry as of yet, so I’m going for them all at once. Muahahahahaha!
I haven’t really done enough to make a judgement, as I’m only finishing up the first spring. GB is a fun game with a slow start, worth looking into if you like the HM series or want to try. It’s quite easy, and most of the stuff is unlocked for you or will be unlocked automatically through time.