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Harvest Moon Frantic Farming
Harvest Moon Frantic Farming for the Nintendo DS is the latest addition to the Harvest Moon series. It is their second puzzle game - the first being Puzzle de Harvest Moon which was boring and had no real skill or content to it. Frantic Farming does not follow in the footsteps of their usual walk around farming games.
I have always been a fan of Harvest Moon on all platforms including the Super Nintendo, Gameboy Colour and the Wii. My first encounter was on the Gameboy Colour. I was young and so instantly hooked on the game that I sat playing it for 8 solid hours and I still wanted to play more but by this time I was feeling quite nauseous and dizzy!
Frantic Farming is a little like the puzzle game Bejewelled. You are able to choose from two characters at the start of the game. Each have their own special skills, Mark's is his pet dog who runs around the outside of the vegetable patch fertilizing all of the produce he passes. You are able to choose from a variety of different stages including jungle and farm, each one changes the size and shape of your vegetable patch.
The aim of the game is to position your crops strategically using the DS stylus on the vegetable patch for your Harvest Sprite to Harvest. As in previous Harvest Moon games the same rules apply. Most of the crops start out as little seedlings, when they are watered once they turn into a bud, when they are watered a third time they grow into a small fruit or vegetable, the fourth time they are watered they can be harvested by the Harvest Sprite. When your Harvest Sprite harvests a crop he will water the square above, below and to the left and right of the crop. The crops can be moved around so that the same type of each crop can be harvested together and this forms a chain which results in a higher score than if they were harvested one by one. If your sprite comes across a golden crop it will germinate all of the ungrown crops into fully grown ones. There is a skill bar on the right of the bottom screen, this can be activated once it is full and will allow you to use your special move. The game ends when you either run out of time or your Harvest Sprite runs out of crops.
It is easy to pick up and play without having to read the instruction manual. Tutorials are available in the start up menu - these give you a step by step guide of how to play the game.
There are many different ways to play the game. You can opt for score attack where you try to achieve your highest score possible before your time runs out or alternatively in multiplayer you can choose to harvest a specified quota of crops and the player who reaches this first wins. Up to four players can compete in multiplayer mode and you only need one copy to the game to do this. There is also Story Mode, Free Play Mode and Mission Mode.
There are a lot of unlockable missions and items. You can unlock additional characters by playing score attack 10 times. There are 12 characters in total which is a lot of gameplay before you unlock everything. Once you have participated in score attack 120 times you unlock the best character - The Witch. Mission Mode is available once you have completed story mode with three characters and free mode when you complete it with four.
This game offers unlimited hours of gameplay and is hard to put down. The graphics are colourful and quirky - just what I would expect from Natsume - the creators of the game. The music and soundtrack is cheerful but quite repetitive. When you are in the 'zone' you don't even notice the music.