Harvest Moon: Magical Melody
Two years ago, you could find Harvest Moon: Magical Melody for GameCube on the shelves, except if you lived in Europe. The game just wasn’t released over here. To make up for that, we get a port of the game for the Wii. Of course, the question is whether the game is still worth it after all this time. Especially if you know the new and official Wii version Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility is planned for the summer of 2008.
If you don’t know the concept of Harvest Moon yet: you get to be a little farmer at the beginning of his career. Cultivate crops, socialising with the other inhabitants of your town, fishing or looking for treasures in the mine. Life isn’t so bad. However, if it’s your ambition to get some animals on your farm, you will have to work hard. Not only the animals, but also the barns and stables are pretty expensive. To earn money, you sell your crops and animal products. Besides that, you need to invest time in seducing a local beauty to make sure you get an inheritor.
The subtitle Magical Melody refers to the novelty in this game: do what you have to and you will collect musical notes. In a way, you can compare it to Microsoft’s achievements. Your first sale? The ‘first shipping note’! Been cooking for the first time? The ‘cooking note’! Worked for ten hours nonstop in the sun? What do you know, the ‘sun note’! Even for being stupid you can receive notes. Just stand still without moving the controller or not talking to anyone for a whole day are examples of that. In total, you have to collect fifty of those to revive the Harvest Goddess.
A port of a game is always a dangerous thing to do, as it happens, only few games work well on the new platform. Unfortunately, Harvest Moon: Magical Melody is absolutely not one of those. Maybe we can forget the fact that the game is graphically the same as the GC version. However, we can’t do that for the controls. They are just transferred to the Wii-mote and nunchuk without having a look where the buttons are. For example, the two things you do most in Harvest Moon are getting your menu out to pick an object and use it. To do this, you have to use the buttons Z and C, not really a logical choice. It gets even worse when your townies start talking about pressing the R button. R? On the GC controller yes, but nowhere to be found on the Wii-mote/nunchuck dear designers!
What about the typical Wii controls? Aren’t you able to swing your Wii-mote to use your hoe, hammer, etc.? Yes, you are, but why would you want to do that if it takes you more time and effort than just pressing the corresponding button and it’s not even fun? In other words, there is a possibility to move the Wii-mote around, but it’s completely optional and it doesn’t add anything so you’ll end up not using it.
If you attend festivals, you can unlock minigames. That sounds fun, but it’s not. You have to keep in mind that the minigames are also GC and by now we’re spoiled with Wii minigames. The standard is pretty high, set by games like WarioWare and Raving Rabbids. Moreover, we notice the fact that – like other games in this series – this game isn’t really friendly for novices. If you don’t know what to start with to earn some money, then you’ll get nowhere. As it happens, there is no form of guidance, something that would be very welcome to some (especially young) players.
Our opinion is very clear: forget this Harvest Moon and wait for the official Wii version. Normally, it will hit the market this July. Only real fans of this series without any Wii expectations will have fun playing this game.