Friday Favorites: Simulation Games

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Friday!

One of the last few game reviews Rachel and I did was for Game Dev Tycoon, and it reminded me of how much fun I have with games in the simulation genre. This Friday celebrates some of my favorite simulation games and franchises.

frifavessimulation

Harvest Moon

The Harvest Moon franchise was probably my first foray into the simulation genre. Valuing hard work and fostering healthy relationships with the community are key aspects in the game, and I enjoyed the virtual farm life with the animals. I definitely prefer some of the older games to the newer games, but the Switch’s Light of Hope seems to cater to some of the more nostalgic story and controls from the older titles.

Stardew Valley

Another farming simulation game, Stardew Valley is similar to Harvest Moon but with a few fantasy twists, such as defeating monsters in the mines, along with the ability to date whoever you want regardless of gender. The co-op mode is another plus to this game! Rachel and I are looking forward to giving it a go!

Game Dev Tycoon

Game Dev Tycoon is so much fun! The strategy needed to develop good games against the clock with the story events constantly evolving makes the game addicting. It’s a game I’ll keep going back to, and I’m on the hunt for more business-like tycoon games, if anyone has any suggestions!

The Sims

The Sims franchise is horribly addicting. Every time I turn the game on, it’s hard to want to do anything else in my free time. Recently, I’ve been testing the newer Sims 4 Seasons expansion pack, and I’ve been having a good time. With the expansions and free reign to act out whatever kind of stories you want, the Sims probably won’t be getting deleted from my computer anytime soon.

What are your favorite simulation games?

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[Review] Harvest Moon: Light of Hope

Double Jump | Video Games | Nintendo Switch | Harvest Moon | Light of Hope | Review | Game Review

Title: Harvest Moon: Light of Hope
Developer: Natsume
Publisher: Natsume
Platform:
PC, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4
Category:
Role-Playing, Simulation
Release Date:
May 29, 2018 for Switch/Playstation 4 in NA; November 14, 2017 for PC
How we got the game:
Bought it for the Switch

krismii
Harvest Moon has been one of my favorite franchises since I was introduced to Friends of Mineral Town for the GameBoy Advance way back when I was in… I dunno, the beginning of high school? It was a long time ago, let’s just say that. I feel as if the older titles in the franchise better capture what Harvest Moon is supposed to be about, and I think that Light of Hope recaptured that.

gameplay

Harvest Moon: Light of Hope operates in a similar way to the majority of the other games in the franchise. As one of the main objectives of the game, you spend much of your time cultivating a farm, growing crops and raising livestock. Fishing and mining are also two activities that you do in order to help improve both your farm and the island itself.

The controls for Light of Hope are, actually, fairly simple. With the Switch controls set up the way I had them, usually in the Switch’s handheld mode, you move your character with the left analog stick and the A button on the right Joy-Con was your main action button.

A cursor — usually a little leaf or a green square if you were by a farming spot — showed you where you could make an action. The green leaf was used basically to indicate who you could talk to, while a green square would indicate what tool you could use. There is no switching tools around in this game. Instead, the game is smart enough to know what tool you need based on what you were facing. If there’s a tree in front of you, you’ll automatically use the ax to cut it down. You’ll swing your hammer if you meet a stone. And if you were facing a spot where you can grow a crop? Just stand there and hit A as your character automatically tills the spot, plants your preferred crop, water the spot, and toss on some fertilizer.

Of course, sometimes this hiccuped a little (yes, I know I patted and brushed my cow already, can you please just automatically milk it now?), such as if you suddenly moved your character and they’re tilling the next spot of grass instead of watering the potatoes, but it works well enough for me.

While you’re improving your farm and completing the story, you’ll also be making friends and wooing potential spouses, as you do in most Harvest Moon games. Talking and giving gifts to people improve your friendships, potentially unlocking further activities or pieces of the story. Many of the NPCs are in charge of shops on the island and you can sell products that you grow on the farm directly to them rather than stuffing them in the shipping bin. Some stores will pay you more for certain goods — such as the restaurant for fish or the flower shop for, well, flowers — than you would receive when shipping them.

All in all, the game play and controls are pretty smooth on the Nintendo Switch.

graphics-music

Light of Hope’s graphics were rather charming. Full-bodied sprites moved fluidly across the Nintendo Switch screen, and the animated expressions while characters were speaking to each other definitely amused me!

I almost always enjoy the music in Harvest Moon games, and Light of Hope was no exception. The seasonal music is always relaxing, especially in winter. Most of the tunes are updated versions of music from past Harvest Moon games, which just makes me enjoy them all the more.

storyThe protagonist of the game washes ashore a mostly-deserted Beacon Island in the middle of a storm. After being rescued by a couple of the last remaining inhabitants of the island, the protagonist decides to stick around and help draw back citizens to the island by farming and rebuilding the shops.

Beacon Island is home to a majestic lighthouse whose eternal light has vanished, the catalyst as to why many people abandoned the island. The protagonist vows to figure out why the lighthouse went out and to restore it once again.

The story reminds me of a cross between Animal Parade and Sunshine Islands. Restoring the lighthouse’s light comes down to finding the the lighthouse tablets. The game itself pretty much carries you through the story, so there is no literal searching for the tablets. NPCs will guide you through the chapters, giving you hints (or just outright telling you) what items you need in order to proceed. The story can take as little as 10 hours as long as you are able to find and/or save the necessary items you’ll need in order to find the stone tablets.

After the tablets are replaced in the lighthouse and the light is restored, the story ends. The protagonist is now able to continue raising their farm, expanding their house in case they want to marry an eligible candidate, as well as unlock special livestock and crop seeds.

The story itself isn’t much, but the many interactions between the player and the NPCs were cute. The only thing I found odd about the story was at certain parts where NPCs would “wait” in an area for the player to return with specific items to help move the story along, even if it took the player a couple of seasons to find the items.

replay-value

Most Harvest Moon games have plenty of replay value if one considers the different spouses one can woo and the multitude of ways one can arrange their farm. There are three save files per profile on the Switch, so if you’re the type to try to marry every potential spouse, go for it. Light of Hope also has multiple farms on the island as well, allowing you to experiment with different plants and crops.

It’s a charming, relaxing game that has plenty of potential for multiple play-throughs.

Harvest Moon: Light of Hope 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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Friday Favorites: Beaches in Games

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Friday!

Being June, it’s supposed to be warmer, the perfect weather for a day at the beach. Considering where I am is kind of lackluster at the moment, with the weather ranging from the fifties to the eighties in Fahrenheit degrees rather than being consistent “summer” temperature, I’m going to visit some in-game beaches and pretend I’m there.

double jump | video games | nintendo | beaches | summer

 

Lurelin Village from Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Breath of the Wild boasts a gorgeous open world for you to explore while on your quest to save Hyrule from Calamity Ganon. One of my favorite places to go was Lurelin Village, a small town near the southern end of Hyrule with plenty of spots to watch the ocean water reflect the sunset. It also had a pretty decent shrine puzzle that was fun to figure out!

Harvest Moon Beaches

The Harvest Moon games that I’ve played tended to have nice beach areas. Back when More Friends of Mineral Town was the main installment I played, I always enjoyed the shift in the music and the ocean sound effects whenever I visited the beach. I’ve been playing Light of Hope on the Switch recently and I’m enjoying that beach area as well. It’s great to dig up shells for easy cash!

Seaside Town from Super Mario RPG

Not exactly a “beach,” per se, but Seaside Town was the place right next to the ocean, right before you dove underwater to confront a pirate on a sunken ship for a Star Piece. The town is first filled with impostors who spout out ridiculous lines and reveal themselves to be a challenging boss after you resurface from the pirate ship.  The music is also one of my favorite tunes from the game, too!

Slateport City from the Pokemon Gen. 3

The Hoenn region of the Pokemon games is one of my favorites generation-wise with the Pokemon and locations. The beach at Slateport City was great when I first encountered it, finding the soda pop shop a cute idea and enjoying the battles on the beach. Running around and leaving footprints in the sand always amused me as well.

What are your favorite beaches in video games?

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Friday Favorites: Harvest Moon NPCs

Double Jump Kris MiiTime for another weekend!

Per Rachel’s and my last debate — Harvest Moon vs Animal Crossing — this Friday is dedicated to my favorite NPC characters of the franchise, minus the characters that are eligible to marry.

frifaveshmnpcs

Felicia from Island of Happiness/Sunshine Islands

Felicia is one of the “moms” of the setting in these games. She has a sweet disposition, helps with the shipping so you can turn a profit and, in the case of Island of Happiness, treats you like family almost immediately due to being shipwrecked together. Being one of the first available NPCs, and with such a kind nature, helps ease you into the game.

Hana from A New Beginning

Hana is the little old lady who runs the General Store in A New Beginning. She’s adorable and is quick to become friends with you. If you find and talk with her on rainy or stormy days, her dialogue is cute as she mildly scolds you for being out in the rain just to check on her.

Bo from Animal Parade

Bo is the quieter of the two carpenter apprentices, and his chill personality is one reason why I like the NPC. The other reason is that I find it funny how exasperated he can become — going so far as to even apologize for — the antics of Luke, the other carpenter apprentice!

Gotz from Friends of Mineral Town/More Friends of Mineral Town

The carpenter from the Mineral Games, Gotz is a bit gruff, but softens up once you befriend him. Like many of the other Mineral Town characters, he has a deeper backstory, one that I enjoy learning about whenever I play these games, as sad as it is.

 

Have you played any Harvest Moon games? What are your favorite characters from the games?

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Harvest Moon Vs. Animal Crossing [Debate]

Debate: Harvest Moon Vs Animal Crossing | Nintendo | Video Games | Gaming | DoublexJump.com

krismii
Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing are both wonderful franchises that we find relaxing with life simulation-like goals to improve our towns, relationships with others, and our protagonist’s life in general. Harvest Moon is my preferred franchise. While the main point is to work hard and improve a farm from a sad, desolate piece of land, you set your own other goals and live as you like.

rachmii
Meanwhile, I’m a bigger fan of Animal Crossing. While you don’t have a farm to take care of, you can work on your house. Decorating it, expanding upon it, and even bettering the shops and museum in your village. Plus, you meet a plethora of animal characters, building relationships with them, and overall living life.

krismii
I feel as if the main difference between the franchises is that Animal Crossing focuses more on the house while Harvest Moon focuses on the farm. Bettering your farm allows you to raise whatever crops and adorable animals you want, selling the produce to earn money to invest further into your farm and the main village itself. Bettering your house in Animal Crossing allows you to… pay back your debts to a raccoon.

rachmii
Bettering your house allows you to become an interior designer, duh. While the farming is cool and all, I like being able to collect various styles of furniture, objects, and other collectible items to fill my home with. I can mail items to villagers in my town and they can send me items back. It’s a win-win. Plus, there are new items in the shops every day and there are bugs and fish to collect to sell and put into a museum.

krismii
Hey, plenty of the Harvest Moon games allow you to better your house as well. It’s usually a requirement, actually, to build a bigger house if you want to get married and have children. Some games have the ability to change the wallpaper and flooring, to decorate your house as you see fit. It’s limited, of course, but when you’re busy getting rich off your farm, it’s something that takes a backseat. If you like collecting, try finding every item you can forage, growing every crop you can, and completing the little produce checklist.

Rachel Mii Double Jump
In Animal Crossing, I can get rich easily off of fishing. I can collect fish, bugs, paintings, and so much more. I get my fill, sure enough. And yeah, you can marry and have children in Harvest Moon, but it’s pretty slim pickings. While you don’t get married in Animal Crossing, there are over 300 villagers to meet, become friends, and collect their pictures. Trying to meet all the villagers and getting them all to move in your town adds a lot of replayability.

krismii
Don’t you have to kick out villagers from your town in order to get new ones to move in? What kind of neighbor are you to do that? Besides, over 300 villagers would be annoying to keep up with. The Harvest Moon games have fun casts to grow relationships with. If you want replayability, try shaping your farm differently during each play through. Harvest Moon games allow you to pass time more quickly than Animal Crossing as well. If you want to go to the next day in Harvest Moon, you just save and sleep in your bed. Animal Crossing makes you a slave to its real-time mechanics, especially when it comes to the shops.

Rachel Mii Double Jump
While some people kick their villagers out, I wait until the villagers move out on their own. And yes, the real-time can get a bit annoying, but most people just change the clock on the handheld or console. Plus, in New Leaf, they added ordinances where you can make your town an early bird or night owl allowing the shops and villagers to wake up and go to sleep either earlier or later, respectively. This was great for me since I typically play in the evening and was able to keep the shops open until well after I actually go to bed in real life. But I guess we’ll let everyone else decide.

Which side are you on? Let us know in the comments below!

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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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Best Games To Bring On Vacation

krismii
We’re going on a relaxing vacation next week, one where we just rent a cabin to lounge beside a lake. It’s the best kind of vacation for hanging out with family, reading books and, of course, playing video games. Aside from a suitcase full of books, our 3DS systems are always packed with plenty of games whenever we go away.

rachmii
I always tend to bring more games than I plan on playing. I never really have a specific game in mind when I go away, but I tend to bring as many games as I can. I mean, I’m not really a light packer anyway.

krismii
I try not to pack too many, especially since we don’t take the cases for the games. Rather, the games all get shoved into a little Ziploc bag before going in the suitcase. I’m paranoid that I’m going to lose a game or two! That fear doesn’t stop me from always packing certain games, however. Whenever we go away, I need to bring one or two of my favorite Harvest Moon games. There’s just something about a relaxing farm game that goes hand-in-hand with vacation.

rachmii
Meanwhile, I always tend to bring a Pokemon game. I always plan on starting a new journey and beating the game before the week ends. That usually never happens, but one vacation I beat HeartGold from start to finish. I also tend to bring Pokemon Conquest, but I beat that a long time ago. I don’t know if I’ll bring it this time.

krismii
Pokemon is another good franchise to bring. One of my old favorites that I used to bring all the time was Sonic Battle for the GameBoy Advance. It always had great replay value, because the little robot character could mimic moves from all the other Sonic characters, letting you customize its fighting style however you wanted.

Rachel Mii Double Jump
I don’t remember that game. I don’t think I’ve ever played it. But going off your Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing is a great game to bring as well. It’s calming and relaxing and the perfect thing to wake up and play right away.

krismii
Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing do seem like the perfect vacation games, don’t they? When I want something with a little more adventure and strategy, though, I tend to reach for Fire Emblem. Awakening will probably be the one to come on vacation with us! There are also a couple of games that I’ve had for months but haven’t had the time to try playing them, like Monster Hunter Generation. I’ll have to bring that and give it a try!

Rachel Mii Double Jump
There are just too many games. In addition to these games, we now have the Nintendo Switch. We’ll see how much of our time is taken up by that.

Which games do you bring with you when you go away? Let us know in the comments below!

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