MediaWise® is the movement for everyone who cares about kids. It explains what media are doing to our children and youth and what we can do about it. MediaWise is an initiative of the National Institute on Media and the Family, a non-profit organization. MediaWise
KidScore® Game Reviews
Tools and Resources
MediaWise Columns
Facts and Tips
Research and Reports
Video Game Reviews
Movie Reviews
Email this page
MediaWise Online
Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town

The Basics:
Platform: GameBoy Advance
Developer: Natsume
Price: $39.99
ESRB rating: E-Everyone

Summary: Harvest Moon is a rewarding but challenging role-playing game. While the game reinforces patience, dedication and determination, some players may be off put by the repetitiveness of some tasks. Playing as a female main character adds an element of change from previous Harvest Moon games.

Families who play this game may want to discuss what parts of the game they feel are fun, and why. For example, is it the building up of the farm, getting more advanced tools, or forming a relationship with the townspeople? Is the introduction of a female main character surprising-why or why not?

Further Breakdown:

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Best for ages: 8+
Playability: Challenging. The game requires a lot of strategy and persistence.
Graphics: Acceptable.
Entertainment value: Very Good. A lot of re-playability.
Educational value: Good. Learn the value of friendships, work ethic, persistence.
Reading Level: 7+
KidScore Rating

Ages 3-7: Yellow
Ages 8-12: Green
Ages 13-17: Green
Fear: Green
Illegal/Harmful: Yellow
Language: Green
Nudity: Green
Sex: Green

Although the idea of farming serving as the basis for a role-playing game might seem odd, it has provided a bumper-crop of success for the long-running Harvest Moon series. Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town continues the theme of the earlier games: players start with a run-down, abandoned farm and attempt to build it into a thriving family farm.

One of the main differences between Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town and previous Harvest Moon games, is that the main character is female. She starts out as a frazzled businesswoman, tired of the stress from her city job. She sees an ad in the paper for a farm and decides to buy it. Much to her surprise, the farm is from being operational and even further from being profitable. It looks like a lot of hard work is going to be required to make this a successful venture.

A lot of hard work is an accurate way to describe Harvest Moon. The game progresses rapidly in ten minute increments, and even with getting up at 6:00 AM the day goes by quickly. There is a lot to be done, much of it every day. Fields need to be cleared, seeds planted, and crops watered. All of the animals, which can include sheep, chickens, cows and horses require feeding, brushing and a daily "friendly chat" just to keep them happy. And if this weren't enough, there is an entire town to explore with many people to meet, talk to, buy things from, give gifts to and woo to be your future husband. As the seasons progress, the tasks change, and inevitably the player will end up with even more animals, crops, challenges and upgrades. All in all-Harvest Moon isn't child's play-it's a tough game to play and an even tougher game to beat.

There are a lot of things to like about the game. For one, the concept continues to be a refreshing change from the many other swords and sorcery role-playing games out there. Since violence is virtually nonexistent, many of the challenges come from time and relationship management. Instead of personal gain and power, a lot of positive social behaviors like honesty, loyalty, friendship are reinforced throughout the game. Finally, the game offers a challenge to even the most dedicated of role-playing gamers. With so much to do and so many different paths to take, the game offers a lot of re-playability.

The only real pitfall of the game is that some of the tasks can get repetitive to the point that they are frustrating. At some point, watering every single plant in your field (with a watering can of all things) seems more like real work than real fun. Other minor things to watch out for include some alcohol references, and the occasional translation/cultural gap between the U.S. and Japanese version.

Overall, Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town offers an opportunity to play a role-playing game with more substance than typical games of the genre.

Jeremy GieskeJeremy Gieske has been an avid game player since the days of the Apple II+ and Karateka. Recently, however, his interests have developed beyond simply playing the games, but also trying to understand the historical, social and cultural impacts of video games. He recently acquired his Masters degree with distinction from the University of Salford in Manchester, England, where he conducted research on videogames. Jeremy has a background in design and marketing, and has worked with several Internet and publishing companies. Recently, he has written articles for DIGA-the Digital Game Archive and has worked with the Computerspiele museum in Berlin, Germany.
©2005 National Institute on Media and the Family.