IGN Preview of Harvest Moon: Frantic Farming
It's no secret that I did not like Puzzle de Harvest Moon when Natsume released it to market more than a year ago. The game was baffling in concept and not very fun to play, and featured far more maniacal touch-screen scribbling than any puzzle game should be subjected to. At the very least I hoped that Natsume took the criticisms of the game to heart just in case the company wanted to do a proper Harvest Moon-based puzzle game. Apparently, that's exactly what happened: Harvest Moon: Frantic Farming is, in our early hands-on, a far more engaging puzzle title that's so far removed from the original Puzzle de Harvest Moon that this feels like a second try. Sort of like Ed Norton's The Incredible Hulk to Ang Lee's Hulk.
Harvest Moon: Frantic Farming is still a touch-screen exclusive design, but instead of scribbling at the screen as fast as your stylus can handle, you're now using the stylus to strategically position crops of various stages around a plot of land for a Harvest Sprite to maneuver around.
The rules of Harvest Moon still apply: crops start out as seedlings, which then bud after a spray of water. After a second spritz, they're fully grown and ready to harvest. In Frantic Farming, your Harvest Sprite will work his way through your tile field plucking up harvestable crops, after which he'll spray the surrounding tiles with water and move on. The strategy is to slide the crops around in such a way that the Harvest Sprite continues uninterrupted, as well as group like vegetables in a string so you can secure valuable combos that'll cause beneficial effects all across your playfield.
It's a much better design because it's a puzzle that's easy to figure out and understand. The developers extend the core mechanics in a variety of ways: you can work for score or specific crop quotas, and in the "Mission Mode" you have to figure out how to slide specific layouts in a limited set of moves. There's also a multiplayer mode for up to four players to compete in, and you'll only need one copy of the game to start a multiplayer match.
Forget the existence of Puzzle de Harvest Moon – in my hands-on play with Harvest Moon: Frantic Farming, I've had far more enjoyment out of this one. Watch for a release of the game sometime this summer.
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