Harvest Moon: Sunshine Burden
This DS version is closely based on the ‘Island of Happiness’ game starring the same two characters, Chelsea and Mark. As expected the graphics are better and includes two additional characters: Lily and Will, to fall in love with. Most of the characters are on the island during the start, rather than having to unlock them all as you would’ve in IofH.
I’m always happy when I am given a gender option in Harvest Moon games, not that I didn’t enjoy being a guy in the previous ones, but trying to pull the ladies all the time and having the reputation as the village ‘pimp’ was beginning to get me down.
To be fair I feel I should point out I always start these games quite grumpy, because my farm is vast and yet covered in crap, I have no animals, I’m poor and no one likes me. Harvest Moon has always given a harsh life lesson, like friendship and love cannot be obtained unless you give the person copious amounts of their favourite gifts, daily.
So the basic ‘storyline’ is I’m so obsessed with being a rancher that I end up on an island in the middle of nowhere while this bald man who predicts the weather with his wisdom tooth teaches me about farming.
Almost immediately (well a week into the game) I then become harassed by Harvest Sprites all the colours of the rainbow who are willing to use their powers in the interest of being good neighbours to help out with the farming, animals, fishing, mining and increasing friendships.
Before anyone gets excited their ‘assistance’ isn’t noticeable until you are bffs, which takes bloody ages. They are all unique and have various favourite gifts, most of which are inconvenient to get until you have become a millionaire.
Suddenly my mission in life is to obtain sunstones and raise the several islands that mysteriously sunk.
A majority of these sunstones can be ‘found’ once you give at least five gifts to one of the villagers…yeah, I see right through them. These people will do anything for attention. So as you raise these islands gradually more people hear rumours of your daily gifts and other people start to occupy these islands.
This is burden I face everyday and I imagine ‘Chelsea’ who I renamed ‘Tiger’ wakes up every morning wondering ‘is the life of a rancher really worth it?’
One thing that bugged me was that you can’t even gift villagers unless you have been talking to them on a daily basis for at least a week. This village is filled with sensitive, insecure people whose friendship levels actually go down if you have the cheek to not talk to them for a day. Um….clingy!? It’s bad enough that my animals get lairy and sometimes die because I forget to feed them. These villagers are so dramatic, I’m surprised they don’t leave me suicide notes for not talking to them for a day. I don’t see anyone visiting my farm or giving me gifts…Except Mirabelle who gives me a free cow….and chicken…and dog, then a cat. But I’m not moaning about her. I’m moaning about the overly sensitive yet unsensitive villagers:
Another problem I had with this game is that it took years to make a profit…literally years. I never made much of an income until autumn crops came along, and that’s because thanks to their quick regrowth my whole farm was dedicated to growing yams. By the time I had finished watering my crops and feeding my animals it was the evening and my stamina was nearly at 0 despite constant topups.
In fact I wonder if this game would’ve been more manageable if my stamina wasn’t completely depleted after watering a small fraction of my farm. I’m almost certain that this depletes faster if you are working past ‘bedtime’.
Don’t get me wrong, I am aware there are two ways of making this stat higher, but they involve either winning a festival which means you win a wonderful which may or may not be the green one required or digging in the mines for rare ore so some brat can make you jewellery.
The mines shouldn’t even be attempted if you don’t have enough cooked foods in your bag as there are holes everywhere, and most of the time you fall down one you end up passing out and losing a day.
It’s not all moans though! The festivals are pretty good….when I win.
Although I get bored and forget to feed them the only part about taking care of the animals that I enjoyed was the rare occasions when a hand appears above your animals, and you need to use the stylus in the time to make it blush and frolic surrounded by hearts and stars. There are also random mini games for milking cows and clipping wool.
Once you’ve raised Animal Island you are able to befriend wild animals as well and when they like you enough (after more gifting) they have a happy spazz attack whenever they see you and find you items, which vary depending on the species of animal you have fed.
Once their heart levels are high enough this is actually very useful, but until then they will find you crappy stuff.
This isn’t foolproof though, currently my badgers are nearly maxed…and they STILL get me weeds. The most hurtful part is that they do it when I’m right beside them.
So why do I keep playing these games? I’ve been playing Harvest Moon since the ye olde Playstation days when I was a nipper, and I can’t resist falling in love. Awwwwww.
In fact I’m actually at the point now where I can pick my husband and I don’t know where to start.
Will, blonde, beautiful and rich…approached me on a white horse.
Denny lives in poverty, my hard earned wealth could give him a better life with a real oven, not that giant campfire he has in his house.
Vaughn, the cowboy who tells me to leave him alone and likes it when you give him pet food.
Pierre, the midget cook…I avoid him as I’m not convinced he’s legal.
Mark, the alternative choice at the start of the game if you want to play as a boy. Finally someone who understands my farming dream!
Shea…the barbarian who speaks broken English and resists killing my animals….kinky.
…then there’s Elliot….the timid geek. I ignore him and his pathetic existence.
I’ve fallen in love numerous times before…but was met with bitter rejection.
Although I can’t help but find it weird that some of these Harvest Moon games have your spouse in a separate bed and yet he still manages to knock me up. Not only can I continue my harsh farming up until the end of the pregnancy, but I’ve had a sneak peak and the baby comes out all creepy and egg-shaped. Oh well, at least the husband will cook everyday.
This game is genuinely fun, but sometimes things feel so slow and repetitve that I find myself rushing through it and skipping duties. I sort of wish there were more friendship and heart events to keep me interested. But overall this game has it faults, and many may have frustrated me at the time but it is also what makes this game so quirky! It’s kinda funny that the townspeople don’t accept your gifts and some of them like you more if you give them petfood!
I wont waste much time complaining about the gifting system which limits you to giving one gift per day, as this is the direction the Harvest Moon and Rune Factory seem to be heading.
Instead I will just nostalgically look back at the days when I could give Popuri a limitless amount of her favourite weeds and watch her heart soar to red in a few games days. Popuri also makes an appearance in this game which made me very happy…except she doesn’t like weeds anymore.
If you are desperate and don’t know how to cope with this game, go here
It is a geyser of Harvest Moon knowledge.