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My last association with Harvest Moon was on the Game Boy Advance when I got hooked to 'Friends of Mineral Town'. Recalling my love for the game I decided to return to the series. After reading reviews of the five DS games released since, I settled on 'Sunshine Islands' as it had the highest rating and to be fair, they're all pretty similar.
Arriving into town with little other than the clothes on your back, you are given a ranch and some tools with which to farm. Just like all other Harvest Moon games, the aim is to build up your ranch by growing crops, owning animals, making friends and discovering the secrets, in this case, of Sunshine Islands.
What was once a flourishing series of islands has now been reduced to small cluster; the rest have been sunken and it is your task to find 'sunstones' which can be used to raise them and return the land to its former glory.
The first thing to notice about the game is how similar it is to its predecessors. Graphically, there are some improvements to the three dimensionality of the buildings, and brighter colours, but despite missing out four games, I was able to jump right back in without much difficulty.
The controls on the DS are rather easy to use, although a few shortcuts originally on the GBA are not available on the DS, making things slightly more tiresome. The touch screen is rather redundant as everything can be done with buttons, apart from a few forced minigames with your animals.
The idea of having islands 'locked' prolongs the game and gives you something to strive towards which is often missing in these open RPGs, something I immediately like. My tasks were focused to begin with and then slowly branching out to other areas as I unlock them.
From just a dog, horse and a few animals, Sunshine Islands offers an array of new species, including a new pet cat and pet pig (which can sniff out mushrooms and truffles) to sexy black Silkie hens. A whole new island is also available with rabbits and badgers which can help you find items too!
Other islands include mushroom island, mystic islands, fruit island, volcano island (for mining) and rice island, with more to be unlocked as you go.
One thing I rather dislike but might grow to like is the new 'wonderful stone' system of upgrading tools instead of the former ore upgrade system. Here, different wonderful stones can improve your tools by increasing their usage vertically/horizontally, by power and so on... Obtaining these is also quite difficult and not always in your control.
The townspeople are full of personality in this game but the first thing I noticed were the lack of pretty girls. It was a tough decision who to marry in 'Friends of Mineral Town', but here it took a while for some of these girls to appeal: at the moment Lanna and Natalie jump out... but fear not! New characters can be unlocked by raising islands and completing certain tasks- and boy, those unlockable characters contain some pretty pretty girls! There are also some returning characters which might visit the town, including Karen and Popouri from Friends of Mineral Town which brings back such memories (Karen being my wife in that game). All in all there are 8 potential bachelorettes and 7 bachelors to choose from.
Harvest Moon: Sunshine Islands is sure to promise hours and hours of fun as you build up your ranch, explore the island and raise it back to its former glory, all the while making friends, getting married and starting a family. The openness of the game means that you can do whatever you want to do and focus on tasks which you like- how will you build your ranch?
About harvest moon
Harvest moon sunshine islands is all about growing crops, raising animals, finding sunstones, raising islands, making friends, collecting wonderful ,finding harvest spirits and building your farm up. It has to be my favourite harvest moon to date there's a lot more to it than the other harvest moon although I do find it a bit harder. You can get harvest moon for DS, play station and the wii all of which I've had a go at but definitely prefer the Ds version. This game is really good as if you look down you can see that there is a lot to do on the game, it shows you the aspects f what it might like to be a farmer as you need to earn money grow crops and look after the animals as if you dont then they will die.
In this game you have to collect 100sunstones this happens as you go along in the game, sunstones are what you collect to raise islands there are 10 islands to raise altogether so far I have only raised one as it does take time to get them (I have had the game for 4weeks). this i find quite a long drawn out task to do but i guess this is what keeps you playing as then you unlock the islands.
There are harvest spirits to get as well this can be done by talking to the ones that you already have and getting them up as friends this is done by giving them gifts certain harvest spirits like certain things it's just a matter of finding out what they like. I'm personally not a great fan of getting people up on games as i feel that it takes ages but on here it is good as if you give them a gift each day for roughly 5days you get another harvest spirit.
There are different animals that you can buy from Mirabelle's shop in which she sells chicken, sheep and cows as you go along you can unlock the jersey cow and the Suffolk sheep.
You also get pets as the game goes along these are a cat, dog, horse all of which you have the option of either a white or brown one you also get a pig but I've not unlocked that yet. There are also wild animals which you can talk to which will get you sunstones but you only find the wild animals on a raised island. This is one of the best bits aout the games as i like the way the animals look and the fact that you have to look after them or they will get ill.
Seasons, crops, degree points
There are different seasons in the game like we have spring, summer, autumn, fall and winter all of which you can grow different crops in (apart from winter unless you have a greenhouse) in which you buy from chens shop which is located just outside your farm. growing crops is one of the quickest ways to get money i do do this alot and it does take up some time but it does earn you money. These are what you can grow in the different seasons:
Cucumber (need to unlock)
Strawberries (need to unlock)
Cabbage (need to unlock)
Pumpkin (need to unlock)
Pineapple (need to unlock)
Yam (need to unlock)
Spinach (need to unlock)
Bell pepper (need to unlock)
As I have said you can grow crops in the winter if you have a greenhouse this is obtained by unlocking Greenhouse Island and getting it built. This is something i yet need to do.
The crops that don't have anything next to them are already unlocked at the beginning of the game whereas the ones that have the need to unlock next to them you have to do various things to unlock them some are done by shipping different items others are done by getting crop degree points these are earned by watering crops, tilling the land, shaping a crop, buying seeds, harvesting crops, using the seed maker, thresher or flower mill, planting seeds and even having a bag of seeds in your rucksack these all get you different points. Basically crop degree points are earned by doing anything that will grow crops.
There are many points that you can earn throughout the games including the crop degree points such as animal, cooking, fishing, mining and other., these all help you to progress in the game and help you to unlock things.
You can also grow grains which can be grown any month except winter these are:
Rice (need to unlock)
Wheat (need to unlock)
Soybeans (need to unlock)
Buckwheat (need to unlock)
You can grow a tree which is done by raising Fruit Island if you do not unlock this island then you can't grow them, there are 16 spots to plant the trees. The trees that you can grow are:
Banana (need to unlock)
Orange (need to unlock)
Grape (need to unlock)
You can also cook on the game this is done by upgrading your house as then you go to chens shops and buy a kitchen, now I have to admit I've not managed to learn a recipe or figure out how to cook but once I know I'll update this review.
Wonderfuls and tools
You need to collect these you can do this by participating in festivals in which you get wonderful pieces you get 1 for going 2 for coming 3rd, 3 for coming 2nd and 4 for coming 1st you need 7 pieces to create a wonderful. You can also buy them from Chens shop when they come in. You need the wonderful to upgrade you tools which are used in farming these are:
This will increase what you can use them for example for the hammer it will only break small stones if you put certain wonderful s on it will break the larger ones. There are 7 different coloured wondefuls that each increases the power of different tools in different ways. The seven colours are:
They can be equipped by going to Chens shop and asking Charlie.
Villagers and marriage
You can get villagers up by making friends with them to do this you must give them gifts that they like this is done by trial and error you can get the villagers hearts up the highest being red which does mean that you can then marry that villager. This is really easy to do on this harvest moon which is something i really like as on other harvest moons it can take awhile.
You need to collect wood and stone this will enable you to upgrade your farm to do this you need to go to Gannon's shop which is across the bridge , you do need to collect a lot of wood and it does take awhile and it does cost a lot of money and i find it the longers
This is a very good game with lots of different things to do it will defiantly keep you occupied! i would reccomend it to anyone who like animals and likes a bit of challenge!
Hope this helps.