The Ninjabot

Harvest Moon The Lost Valley Review: Don’t Bother With This Crop

Posted on December 15, 2014 at 12:01 am by Victor Chaves

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Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley for the 3DS is one of the worst purchases I’ve made all year. Even though the only Harvest Moon I played besides this was the original Super Nintendo version and Harvest Moon 3 on the Gameboy Color, I can tell that The Lost Valley is a husk of what the original was. There is no town, the progression is terrible, and the act of farming is a pain, among other things. Basically, three strikes and several foul balls.

The First Harvest Moon Without The Original Developers

Let’s address this first and foremost, this wasn’t made by the usual developer of Harvest Moon, which was Marvelous AQL and its predecessors. This was made by the publisher Natsume who only owns the name Harvest Moon. Marvelous AQL and Natsume recently broke up, so if you want a bona fide Harvest Moon by the real developers, keep an eye out for Story of Seasons next year. Interestingly enough, Story of Seasons in Japan is the same name from Harvest Moon, Bokujo Monogatari. It’s why consumers in Japan won’t be confused since the name is the same, but over here we consumers might get confused.

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Knowing that this isn’t the same developer, has Natsume learned from Marvelous AQL? Even though Natsume published all the previous titles, it seems they actually learned very little. Sure, they nailed the general ideas of the series: a game about farming where by selling crops and raising animals the player can grow their farm and eventually get married and have a kid. The problem is that there are a lot of details Natsume missed, a lot of which makes a farming game actually fun and interesting.

“It made me wonder why I’m wasting my time.”

Typical Harvest Moon has villages and mountains and other areas to explore; these mostly serve as places to shop, forage, or even special events. The Lost Valley has none of these, and instead just has everyone from town come on up to the farm at specific days of the week. There is little to no foraging, only fish to catch in a very boring mini-game, and special events are uninteresting moments where you do the same things you’ve been doing already (cooking for example). At least in other titles you could move around town and check out festivals or forage for mushrooms and explore. It’s a real shame that instead of expanding the game, Natsume chose to shrink the scope of The Lost Valley.

Even though it sounds great that you don’t have to leave your farm for provisions, the issue that appears as a result is that you can never leave your farm which is in perpetual snow-armageddon. The story in Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley is that you find a land still covered in snow in the middle of spring, and a sprite asks you to start a farm in order to revive the Harvest Goddess and the other sprites. As you revive them by fulfilling quests (which are just “grow this” quests, nothing interesting), the seasons come back—except the seasons don’t return until next year because you save Spring in the Summer, Summer in the Fall, and Fall in the Winter. So for five months (which is was 26 hours of game time for me), all the player sees is snow, snow, boring snow. I understand these games aren’t about instant gratification, but with how little anything changed, it made me wonder why I’m wasting my time.

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Boring Quests, and Boring Farming

The largest issue I have with this game is that it loves to ask for things that aren’t available to the player yet. For instance, in the first month you’ll meet the merchant who hangs out at your property all day. No seriously, 6AM to midnight. He’ll ask you to grow some sunflowers, except you don’t have the seeds. How do you get them? You need to wait a few months until he decides to give them. What can you do to speed it up? Nothing. A miner shows up in the first month as well and offers the ability to consolidate and trade minerals. Too bad you don’t get minerals until you earn a pickaxe four months into the game. This lack of balance serves only to frustrate and annoy, unlike quests in other games like Skyrim, where any quest given is immediately doable. Besides a lack of balance, the quests are just no fun. It’s all just “get me X flowers/food/fish/minerals”.

Farming is also a pain where since the camera is not locked, camera readjustment is required when planting or watering in a straight-line. Adjusting the camera isn’t actually bad, but having to adjust every five steps makes for an extremely annoyed player. Is it really difficult to have an option to lock the camera at various multiples of 45 degrees? That way a player can farm in a line and not have trouble planting lettuce but then accidentally dig up a rose bush. Of all the features of Harvest Moon to fail at, Natsume failed to make their farming game fun as far as farming is concerned.

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Another feature that falls flat is that the land itself is customizable in a Minecraft-esque manner. Much like the popular game, the player can place and dig up blocks of soil to build the land however the player wishes it to be, but the only reasonable way anybody would build in the game is flat for plants and buildings, then stairs to reach wherever they need to go. In Minecraft at least, there were some intrinsic values to where and what the player would be digging since sand can be forged, rocks can be crafted to pickaxes, etc. In The Lost Valley, the soil you dig up can’t be used for anything else, so why even have this feature? There is seriously no reason to be able to dig in this game, since the action is not integrated into other features well-enough.

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Final Thoughts

Harvest Moon The Lost Valley is like the end message of a game of telephone; you can see how the message was interpreted, but you can easily tell that wasn’t the original message at all. It feels like Natsume read the boxart for a previous Harvest Moon game, and tried to build a game around that. I look forward to playing the real successor, Story of Seasons, next year, but for now I suggest staying far away.

Presentation: 2

Gameplay: 3

Replay: 4

LEGACY SCORE: 3.0

Geek Legacy’s review scores are on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest possible score.

Follow Victor on Twitter @fake_brasilian to see him yell into a crowded room, and be way too happy when someone three rows down looks and gives a thumbs-up. #justtwitterthings

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