The Harvest Moon franchise has been running for fifteen years and the key to its continuing popularity is its ability to tweak its formula with each new addition to the series. While Tale of Two Towns shares most of its game engine and graphics with last year’s DS iteration, Grand Bazaar, it adds a new twist to the series by forcing the player to choose to focus on either growing crops or raising animals.
Bio: Erika Lachapelle
- Erika "wolfraven80" Lachapelle
- Basic stats: female, Canadian, late 20s
Let see... I've been gaming since the NES era and my first RPG experience dates back to the days when Dragon Quest I was still known as Dragon Warrior I. I studied English literature at school and after obtaining a nice, shiny degree I now do wordprocessing work. Thrilling stuff.
I'm a fan of RPGs and of writing so this is a good chance to combine the two. When I'm not playing games (or writing about them) I can frequently be found reading, writing, wasting copious amounts of time on the internet, and taking beginner Japanese classes.
Posts by Erika Lachapelle
Read the back of the Fable II box and it’ll promise you adventure and the chance to “experience how [your] choices change you and the world forever.” While the game does provide players with a decent adventure, it fails utterly to show the effect of any choices you make in the world. Fable II offers a big, beautiful world to romp around in. Unfortunately, it’s coupled with weak story-telling, and choices that have only the most superficial effects on the world. It’s a fun game, but it suffers when compared to others offerings in the genre. (more…)
The Harvest Moon series boasts of a long history that hardly requires introduction. While detractors will likely only groan at yet another DS iteration, fans of the series will be tickled by the tweaks to the Harvest Moon formula that make Grand Bazaar a fresh experience.
In 2007, Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords combined gem-matching puzzles with RPG gameplay to create a unique and entertaining experience. Puzzle Quest Galactrix for the Nintendo DS attempts to replicate the experience… and fails entirely. Riddled with control problems, a sloppy port to the DS, and frustrating gameplay, Galactrix is a poor successor to Challenge of the Warlords.
The Shin Megami Tensei series has been around since 1992 and Persona since its 1996 debut on the PlayStation, but it never really took off in North America until the third game. Persona 4 takes up the mantle to build on Persona 3‘s momentum — and does so successfully. Persona 4‘s graphical style and gameplay engine are carry-overs from its predecessor, but the designers have made a number of tweaks and balance changes allowing for less level grinding, better battles, and an enjoyable experience overall that even surpasses Persona 3. (more…)
In 2001 Super Smash Bros. Melee arrived on this side of the Pacific and with it an unlockable character unfamiliar to most North Americans, the Falchion-wielding Marth of Fire Emblem for the NES. Years after its release in Japan, the original Fire Emblem has come to North America, fully remade for the Nintendo DS as Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon. (more…)
It’s been ten years since a quirky game that fused farming with dating sim first appeared on the Super Nintendo. Since then, Harvest Moon has spawned countless games and appeared on just about every system. Island of Happiness for the Nintendo DS, which commemorates the series’ ten year history, brings together a mix of tried and true elements and a few new twists. It also represents a significant departure from the series by giving players very few resources at the outset with the result that the beginning of the game is somewhat more challenging than is traditional. This decision makes the game more interesting in the long run, but it may put off some players who are expecting the easy ride typical of Harvest Moon games. Also, as an added bonus to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Harvest Moon, Island of Happiness offers players the choice of a male of female character (whereas typically the series releases a “girl” version of a given Harvest Moon game after the fact). That choice is a welcome addition. (more…)
Harvest Moon is celebrating its tenth birthday this year — no small feat for any franchise — and Natsume is celebrating that anniversary with their latest addition to the series, Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness for the Nintendo DS. Like most Harvest Moon games, Island of Happiness is quite lengthy. After thirty hours of gameplay I managed to make it through the first year of the game. Since here at RandomNPC we believe that an informed review can only be accomplished by playing a game through to its end, I thought I would offer an impression of Island of Happiness based on the first year of the game, in advance of a full review, which will come at a later date. (more…)
In a period when many developers shy away from trying new things and instead hold to tried and true formulas for RPGs, games that wander off the beaten path are few and far between. Odin Sphere is one of these few. The game suffers from significant slowdown in some areas and a less than original battle system, but it also offers gorgeous graphics and a deep, memorable storyline. It’s a game that’s taken chances, and most of these pay off to create a game that, though not without rough edges, is a breath of fresh air in the genre. (more…)
With six games to its name in North America (five regular games and one spinoff: Suikoden Tactics), the Suikoden series had been a staple of the RPG genre — if a bit of a dark horse. Suikoden V is a solid addition to the series as well as a great place for players who’ve never tried the series to get their feet wet. And while the game may not appeal to those interested in a highly complex battle system, Suikoden V is an absolute gem for story gamers, and offers memorable characters, a rich plot and a chance to experience a conflict that moves beyond the typical black and white save-the-world plot of many an RPG. (more…)