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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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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Character Spotlight: Phoenix Wright

Rachel Mii Double JumpHappy Tuesday!

The end of the month (and the year!) is coming before we know it.

So, here’s the Character Spotlight for December!

Character Spotlight: Phoenix Wright

I swear I didn’t pick Phoenix to be this month’s spotlight because of that news article I found a few weeks ago.

Anyway…

Phoenix Wright is a defense attorney in the hit series, Ace Attorney, from Capcom. Phoenix first appeared in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney in 2001 for the Nintendo DS. There were two more games in that trilogy where he played the main character.

He returned in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney in 2008 for the Nintendo DS, but not as the main defense attorney. He returned as a defense attorney again in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies in 2013 for the Nintendo 3DS and then again, most recently, in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice in 2016 for the Nintendo 3DS.

Phoenix is pretty popular and famous among all the games he’s been in.

What I love most about Phoenix is that he isn’t a hard-ass like most portrayals of lawyers are. He does his best and doesn’t rest until justice is served. Yet, he doesn’t do all this without complaining.

He keeps his friends close, but his enemies closer. The relationship he has between Maya, his assistant, Trucy, his daughter, and Apollo and Athena, his collegues, is wonderful. He takes care of all of them as though he were their older brother or father.

The dynamic he has with the other prosecutors, especially Miles Edgeworth, an old friend, is great as well.

No matter what happens, they all manage to work together to find the truth.

Phoenix is just one of those characters who I would love to know in real life. What he does is amazing and he’s always looking out for others.

Plus, he has witty and sassy internal dialogue that just makes him all the more realistic.

What do you think of Phoenix Wright? Have you ever played any of those games? Let me know in the comments below! 

Professor Layton and the Curious Village

Professor Layton and the Curious Village Game Review

Title: Professor Layton and the Curious Village
Company: Level-5, Nintendo
Console:
Nintendo DS
Release Date:
February 2007
How we got the game: 
We bought it

krismii
Rachel and I have been fans of the Ace Attorney games for a few years now after buying Trials and Tribulations on the Wii’s Virtual Console on a whim. When Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright came out, we played it mainly for the ace attorney, but we were definitely charmed by the gentleman puzzle master. It prompted us to try out the Professor Layton games, and Curious Village was our second dive into the series, after Miracle Mask. So far, we’re enjoying the ride.

rachmii
Being the first game in the whole Profess Layton series, I thought it wouldn’t be as good as Miracle Mask. In fact, I thought it would be easier. Well, it was just as good as Miracle Mask and if I’m going to be completely honest, I would say that it was harder than Miracle Mask.

krismii
There were too many damn math problems, haha! We prefer the logic puzzles and riddles rather than puzzles like, “If next year I’ll be twice as old as my sister, but last year was only three years younger, how old are we?” kind of things. Not only did Curious Village seem to have more puzzles than Miracle Mask, I don’t think the story was balanced as well with the puzzles as Miracle Mask had done. It seemed that everything we clicked on was a puzzle, which usually is fine, but not when we’re trying to investigate a kidnapping or murder.

rachmii
I agree. I hate math. The puzzles were more plentiful and more difficult. Plus, we seemed to have a hard time finding hint coins. I don’t know if there just wasn’t that many around or if we were terrible pointing the stylus at the screen. The story itself was easier. We figured it out almost instantly and were a little crept out by it as we anticipated what was going to happen next!

krismii
I dislike using hint coins, but when it’s getting later in the evening after I spent a day at work dealing with math, they definitely came in handy for those kind of puzzles. While we did figure out the story and, yes, were crept out by it, it was definitely an interesting twist to a video game! I enjoyed the story quite a bit.

Rachel Mii Double Jump
I don’t like using the hint coins either. There are those tough puzzles, though… Like that one where we got the answer right but we just typed it in wrong. It was a date and you wrote “04” for April when they were just looking for “4.”

krismii
Those were the worst! It reminded me of the first time we played Trials and Tribulations, though. We knew the answer, we just weren’t sure how to reach it. Despite those little mishaps, though, the game itself was good. The characters, especially Layton and Luke, are all colorful and unique, both in design and personality. While we guessed the ending to the story and half of the mysteries, it was still enjoyable to help Layton solve them.

Rachel Mii Double Jump
This game definitely seemed to be more about the puzzles than the story itself, but it was good fun all the same. The village was curious, indeed. (Sorry, but not really.)

Professor Layton and the Curious Village gets…
4 out of 5 lives.

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

Pokemon Platinum

Rachel Mii Double Jump

Another month has come and gone.

We’re getting closer to the release date of Pokemon Sun and Moon as we wrap up the Sinnoh region.

 

Pokemon Platinum Double Jump Game Review

Title: Pokemon Platinum
Company: Nintendo
Console: Nintendo DS
How I got the game: I bought it

My Review:

Graphics

After Diamond and Pearl, this game was the first Pokemon game to be released on the Nintendo DS. So, at the time, I was amazed at how well done the graphics were. Sure, your character was still a tiny pixelated sprite, but the backgrounds and colors were still an improvement compared to the games before it.

Controls

Platinum gets a one up from the other Pokemon games mainly because the DS became a thing. Now that the touch screen was invented and used for the game, Pokemon battles became a little faster with just one touch. They used the touch screen in a great way for the battles and chose a unique way to use it when you’re not battling, by giving your character the Poketch, a Pokemon watch with various apps on it.

Story

The story is more or less the same as the other Pokemon games. The only difference is that you’re up against a different group of bad guys and you’re in a different setting battling with different Pokemon. But, the story is what makes Pokemon Pokemon.

Overall

Pokemon Pearl was the first Pokemon game that I completed all the way through. So playing Platinum, despite the minor differences between the two games, was like taking a stroll down memory lane. I absolutely love using the touch screen as a means for battle and I don’t know about any of you, but the step counter was always my favorite app on the Poketch. I don’t know why, but I just loved watching the numbers go up; especially when you’re on the bike trying to hatch an egg.

Pokemon Platinum gets…
5 lives double jump5 out of 5 lives.