Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar (Nintendo DS) Review

Review for Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The Harvest Moon franchise has been sugarcoating the arduous life of the farmer with cute visuals and ever-happy townsfolk for many years now. Since the days of Super Nintendo, the series has taught gamers about living from the earth through addictive gameplay that purposely eschews the fast-paced nature found in many games. In doing so, at a fairly consistent level of quality, it has gathered a large fanbase eager to plough many hours into their virtual farms.

Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar is not a game that can be picked up immediately by the impatient. At its commence it requires careful planning to achieve the smallest of objectives, an adaptation to and tolerance for its quiet monotony. What doesn’t help is that there’s not a whole lot that can even be done in the first couple of hours of play. Players will find themselves putting their character to bed and saving after just one in-game hour each day to begin with, as there just isn’t enough to do in the early stages: it’s a case of tilling the fields, planting and watering seeds and hoping that you’ll be rewarded with a decent harvest. As soon as those first successful crops arrive, though, something clicks and suddenly the repetitive toil becomes as addictive as ever.

That’s helped by this edition’s hook, the titular bazaar. Capping each week is a market within which you run a stall to sell your produce - or whatever you’ve caught or found on the ground. Lay out three items on the stall - the amount you can display simultaneously can be increased later, for a fee - and ring your bell to attract patrons. If they’re interested in your wares they’ll stand in front of the item they’re hankering for and the amount that they want to take off your hands will flicker up above their heads. Completing the sale is then as straightforward as moving before them and tapping the A button the corresponding number of times. Others will bundle up to the table just for a chat, or to try and get a deal on your offerings: interact with them and select the ‘right’ response and your reputation will be increased, leading to improved standing in the community.

The market is also the place to buy items not available in the every day shop of Zephyr Town. Animals, of pet and producing varieties, can be purchased to expand your product range into milk, eggs, wool and the like - and add extra workload to your farming day in taking care of their upkeep. New seeds give you the chance to grow plants or trees otherwise unavailable. Further tools can be acquired to ease your daily tasks, and facilities such as your storage cupboard or field space can be expanded if you flash enough cash.

Not only is the marketplace an opportunity to make money, but it is also a competition. Grand Bazaar’s mayor is obsessed with the idea of building the town’s bazaar into one recognised worldwide, and pushes participants towards this goal by setting a profit level to aim for. The first few times you take part in the market you might think that you’re doing something wrong, so far short of the expected earnings do you fall. This is mainly to do with the time required to build up your farm, however; after a couple of in-game weeks, you’ll have been able to scrape together the money to buy more seeds and animals, which rake in far more money once they have reached maturity than the bits of rubbish on the floor that you might have had to sell at first. Once you’re well into the work cycles, those previously unreasonable-sounding weekly sales targets become more manageable, and the slow start makes it all the more worthwhile. When your stall successfully meets the objective for the first time it’s a fist-punching-the-air moment that would not be effective were it not for the initial strife.

Windmills are another change in Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar. Rather than visiting the blacksmith for those advanced tools, players now place the necessary parts in one of the town’s windmills, select what they want to be made and leave creation in the gusts of the wind. This is also the way to create more complex food products to sell, such as mayonnaise. Blowing into DS’ microphone while outside a windmill helps the process along. There’s also an online mode so that would-be farmers can visit each others’ lands and share the workload.

Outside of the core farming and the market, Grand Bazaar is quite limited, however, which is a large reason for the game’s slow start. When not farming you can wander the town and speak to its inhabitants, but the script is extremely limited, the same phrases spouted back at you ad infinitum. The town doesn’t feel alive as it should as a result. As the game progresses it is possible to marry, though it is difficult to form an attachment to any of the candidates in particular when many of them share such similar sentiments. The regular festivals, held in an attempt to inject life into the town, also come across as too similar, all too often ending in gift giving and identikit phrases of gratitude being thrown about.

Gameplay

Slow to start, but utterly addictive once you’re into it. The lack of life in the town brings it down, however.

Graphics

Harvest Moon’s cute and appealing visual style is here in full force, and small weather effects with the changing seasons impress.

Sound

The music is nice but not particularly memorable; voice clips are repetitive.

Value

Significant hours are required to meet all of Grand Bazaar’s goals, though it much depends on how involved you get with farming. If you want to dance around towns having interesting conversations, this isn’t the game for you.

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Good - Bronze Award

About this score
Rated 7 out of 10

Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar continues to experiment with the franchise, in part for the better. The addition of the market brings a new element to the series and the core farming entertains and addicts as ever, but what lets it down is the lack of town activity. Without an invigorating community environment, though, Grand Bazaar doesn’t quite reach the heights that it should.

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05.11.2011

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Developer

Marvelous

Publisher

Rising Star

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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I only played 1 Harvest Moon and that was on the GameCube. I liked it, except that the most profitable business was not farming but growing fruit trees... Smilie

Oh and I totally went for the hardest-to-get girl. Myarrr �_�

Rob64 (guest) 08.11.2011 07:36#2

The Harvest Moon games just don't seem to progress that much. This looks better, but is basically no different to HM64!

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I think it's one of those games that just *clicks* after a while. I was chatting with Mike (Mason) about this the other night. I'm nearly finished with Rune Factory 3, but it took a LONG time for me to get into it...and eventually it was like I broke through a wall, and suddenly it grabbed me. Harvest Moon is rather similar.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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