One thing I like about this game is that it's much easier to raise friendship and romance levels. There are quests that you do for others that raise your levels and usually earn you money or special tools/items. You can start the second generation within a week in real time, if you're in a hurry, and choose to play as either a boy or a girl. Playing as a boy gives you an extra romance choice or 2, but other than that I don't think it makes a difference. One of the things that I find interesting is that you have to raise your own mother's friendship level. I like to think that she's depressed and I'm just cheering her up.
So if you've played the first Rune Factory (which is also an amazing game) take everything from that and improve on it 2 times. This game was done exceptionally well and it's extremely addicting. They didn't go too far from the original formula but there were a few new additions. One of the new features is the request board in town and that alone adds a good amount of depth to the characters. With that you really get to know the townsfolk (and the rewards are sometimes very very nice). The game really picks up after you have your kid and build him/her a school. What else is there to say? I highly recommend this game to all Harvest Moon fans... If you liked the first, you'll love the second.
When I got this game I was expecting a good game; and that's what I got. This game is pure fun. It's almost just like the first one with a new story line and a new person. Although there's fighting it's not that bad, so it's ok for kids. I love this and hopefully everyone else who has tried it will love it too