Harvest Moon DS: Island of Happiness Review

harvest_moon_-_island_of_happiness_coverart

Title: Harvest Moon DS: Island of Happiness
Developer: Marvelous Interactive
Publisher: Natsume
Platform:
Nintendo DS
Category:
Simulation
Release Date:
August 2008
How I got the game:
I got it as a gift years ago.

krismii
I’m usually a sucker for the Harvest Moon franchise — they’re my go-to relaxing games. The older games tend to have a basic story and simple goals, and I feel that the newer games are trying a bit too much in having overarching story lines and encompassing goals. Island of Happiness is one of those games that was in between, still simple enough to be relaxing but with a few gimmicks that, in my opinion, were not needed.

gameplay

Island of Happiness is similar to other games in the Harvest Moon franchise in that it’s premise is you, as the main character, starting a ranch from scratch. One of your main objectives is to raise crops and animals as best as you can while also befriending the villagers in the town. Wooing potential spouses and raising a family are also staple aspects of the Harvest Moon games, and Island of Happiness is no exception.

Harvest Moon games tend to give you free range when it comes to customizing your ranch, allowing you to grow whatever crops you want (in season, of course) and raise whatever combination of animals you wish. Want all chickens? Go for it. Want to have your field covered with tomato plants? You can do that. There’s no one telling you what to raise. Selling the crops and animal byproducts is the best way to earn money for your ranch, and some products are more profitable than others, so most take that into account. Products are also used in cooking dishes and gifts to friends and romantic interests as well.

With that said, Island of Happiness was on the Nintendo DS and, as such, Nintendo thought it would be best to utilize the touch screen as much as possible. It was more of an annoyance rather than feeling innovative. You move your character with the stylus on the touch screen while the D-Pad buttons was used to equip tools. This was rectified in the immediate sequel, Sunshine Islands.

Island of Happiness also had a more complicated method of growing your crops. In early Harvest Moon games, the best way to grow crops was to plant them in-season and water them once a day. Weather plays a part in helping crops grow and, unless there is a storm or blizzard, most days granted enough sunlight to help your ranch. Island of Happiness had some hidden mechanic where each type of crop needed a number of water and sun “points” in order to grow as quickly and strongly as possible. Later in the game, it is possible to build a Greenhouse to help control the weather. However, considering all of the possible crops that are in the game, trying to figure out and remember all the needed points was an unnecessary mechanic.

graphics-music

The graphics of Island of Happiness took a little getting used to. When I first saw the 3D models, I wasn’t too sure of them. However, the graphics grew on me, with the areas of the island being vivid and fun to explore, and the villagers all being distinct (with the exception of the minor NPCs).

Music in the Harvest Moon series was always enjoyable to me, even if the tunes do tend to make me sleepy. They’re relaxing and calming as they play in the background while you farm or explore, being perfect in matching the mood of the genre and game play.
storyIsland of Happiness opens up with your character on a boat heading toward a new land. However, the boat gets caught in a bad storm, resulting in your character and a couple of others being shipwrecked on an island. Worry not, though — your fellow island refugees are a small family that has connections and experience with farming and shipping products.

Your character and the family, consisting of a brother and sister, their mother, and their grandfather, decide to stay on the island and work to make it habitable. You agree to be the rancher while the family runs a shipping business, helping to incite trade between your island and the mainland. Your goal is to really build up and clean the island to tempt other people to move in so the island can continue to flourish.

The more people that move in, the more relationships you can develop. Building up friendships can lead to new events and festivals, new areas to explore and, if you wish, romance that can lead to having a family.

replay-value

Island of Happiness, despite some of the gameplay mechanics, is one of my favorite Harvest Moon installments. Developing the island and luring new characters to move in is enough of a challenge so farming doesn’t become so routine. There’s always something to aim for, which is why this is one game that gets plenty of use.

Harvest Moon DS: Island of Happiness gets…
4-lives
4 out of 5 lives.

Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments! 

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Throwback Thursday: Pokemon Pearl

Happy Thursday, happy last day of Pokemon Month, and happy last day of August!

Wow, now that we got that out of the way…

 

Pokemon Pearl originally came out for the Nintendo DS on September 28, 2006. I can’t remember if I got the game for Christmas or if I bought it myself when it came out.

Whenever I got it, this was the very first Pokemon game I ever beat. I had played all the other Pokemon games before, but I never made it the Champion. This was because a new game would come out before I got the chance or I, for some reason, just wouldn’t make it that far.

Within a week or so, I had completed Pearl, defeating the Champion and all. Since then I’ve spent the most amount of time on that game than I have on any of my other Pokemon games.

I love all the games that came after Pearl, especially X/Y and Sun/Moon. And I know a lot of people didn’t care too much for Diamond/Pearl, but Pearl will always have a special place in my heart.

Which game was the first you completed? Let me know in the comments below!

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The Pokemon Game I Never Finished

Double Jump Kris MiiWhen it comes to the Pokemon core games, they’re pretty much a given when it comes to my gaming wish list. It doesn’t matter what kind of region or how many new Pokemon there are, I will get the new generation and however many versions there are of it.

I was just as excited for Black and White as I was for the previous generations, but… Well, once I started playing it, the fifth generation was not my favorite of the games.

I started playing the Pokemon core games with the first generation, Pokemon Yellow to be exact, and I continued to get the games since then. I haven’t grown tired of the core Pokemon games just yet, and I hope not to. They’re always full of adventure and new places to explore, along with new Pokemon to discover.

With the fifth generation, Black and White, however, I was letdown. I’m not entirely sure why. I remember being amazed at the graphics, at the new areas where we’d see your character surrounded by the giant bridges and cities. However, I believe I wasn’t thrilled with all of the urban settings. I missed more of the forests and caves that came with the earlier generations, and I wasn’t thrilled with the change-up in gaining experience points against wild Pokemon. Supposedly it’s fixed in the Black 2 and White 2 versions, but those annoyed me as well, considering I was hoping there would be an improved third-tier game for the Unova region.

I believe the biggest turnoff for me was the story, though. Team Plasma is probably my least favorite antagonist team. Their motivations make no sense to me — “We’re going to liberate Pokemon while stealing yours and battling you with our own!” — and I just really wasn’t invested in the story. I’m sure the main villain has deeper motivations, but I don’t care.

The main characters weren’t bad. I would have been content with having regular rivals in the form of Cheren and Bianca. They both had great character development through the game, and I wish it was showcased more with a more competent antagonist team.

I recently restarted my White version, determined to at least go through the story properly instead of stopping halfway through. I’m not doing too badly with it, but I am rolling my eyes quite a bit whenever Team Plasma shows up on the screen.

Were there any core Pokemon games that you weren’t thrilled with? Any that you stopped in the middle of playing?

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Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky [Game Review]

Title: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky
Company: Nintendo 
Console: 
Nintendo DS
Release Date: 
September 13, 2007
How we got the game: 
I bought it

I had played the original Mystery Dungeon games for the Gameboy Advance, so when they came out with more, I had to get them.gameplayExplorers of Sky is played very similarly to all the other Mystery Dungeon games. You start off by taking a brief personality quiz and, based on your results, you turn into a certain Pokemon. Then you get to choose who you want your partner to be.

This time around, I was an Eevee and chose Vulpix to be my partner.

Together, you become an exploration team and go on various adventures in the mystery dungeons. Sometimes you’re simply just exploring, other times you’re chasing after criminals or finding a lost item or lost Pokemon for a client.

In the dungeons, you come across enemy Pokemon and battle them. Sometimes they’ll want to join your team or they’ll just faint. Either way, you’ll gain experience points and level up. You’ll learn new moves, evolve, and overall become stronger.

My only complaint was the final boss. No matter how many levels you’ve gained, when you get to that point in the game, you can’t go back. I had such a hard time fighting the boss because I kept dying, so I lost most of my items (meaning I lost my oran berries and reviver seeds) and I wasn’t at a high enough level. It was tedious and frustrating.

graphics-music

 

As a Nintendo DS game, the graphics are really well done. They’re not as good as they are now, of course, but for 2007 (ten years ago!) the graphics are enjoyable.

The music is wonderful. I always tend to get the songs stuck in my head and I hum along as I go through the dungeons. A few of them even remind me of music from Paper Mario, which makes me love the music all the more.
storyThe story begins with you waking up on the beach and your partner looking down at you. After you become quick friends, and you help get your partner’s relic fragment back from a gang of Pokemon, the two of you form an exploration team. Everything you do is done for the exploration team.

Time Gears are hidden throughout the world and they’re being stolen one by one. With each Time Gear missing, time stops in that area and, with all of them gone, time will freeze forever. So, you actually have to race against time in an attempt to stop a certain Pokemon from stealing the Time Gears.

I won’t say too much due to spoilers, but you find out who’s really on your side and who’s not. You also discover interesting things about yourself along the way.

Overall, it’s a great story. It’s corny, but it’s Pokemon, and it’s enjoyable all the same.

 

replay-value

 

I would definitely play this game again. Each time you enter a dungeon, it’s different. So, even though the story is the same, there’s always a chance to play a “new” game.

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky gets…
4 out of 5 lives.

Have you played this game? What did you think? Let me know in the comments! 

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Currently Playing: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky

Happy Thursday!

I haven’t done one of these posts in a while and I’ve been hopping around on different games, but this is one that I love and haven’t played in a long time.

 

The Pokemon spin-off series, Mystery Dungeon, has always been a favorite series of mine. I love playing as a Pokemon with a special partner and exploring the unknown. The games are easy enough to play and I enjoy lurking through the various dungeons, each one being different every time you enter.

I’ve started playing Explorers of Sky not too long ago. This game is the fifth in the Mystery Dungeon series, which was released in North America in April 2009 for the Nintendo DS.

My favorite part of the games is that you don’t choose your own character. You take a quick personality quiz and you end up being a certain Pokemon based on the results. My results were oddly accurate to who I am in real life. I ended up getting Eevee.

I had never played as Eevee before, so I was excited. I love Eevee, but I don’t typically go for the normal types.

When it was time to choose my partner, there were a lot more choices than the earlier games. There were three pages of Pokemon to choose from. There were all of the starters, plus a few extra Pokemon.

I chose Vulpix. I love my fire types and I never choose Vulpix. I thought Eevee and Vulpix would make a good match with one another.

When it was time to name our team, I noticed Vulpix was a girl, so I went with the only logical name: Foxy Ladies.

Yeah, I know.

Anyway, I forgot how long these games could be. I’ve been playing for a while, but I don’t think I’m even halfway through the game yet.

I’m having fun though and it’s a great trip down memory lane.

Have you played the Mystery Dungeon games? What do you think of them? Also, what are you currently playing? Let me know in the comments below!

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