April 27, 2010Summer 1: We Join This Farm in Progress
I love Harvest Moon, and for the life of me I don't know why. In the agricultural town in which I grew up, I could've participated in 4H or FFA, but I had no interest. Why the heck, then, am I addicted to growing virtual veggies and tending to imaginary cows? I suppose the lack of stall mucking helps, but in the end all I can say is I love tending to my little farmer lady's life.
I'm close to the end of Summer 1 in Harvest Moon: Animal Parade, and I've set up a nice little farm for myself. I've got one house upgrade, which will do until after I get married. I have a teensy little barn and coop, housing a duck, a chicken, a sheep, a cow, and a foal. You can ride any of the barn animals in the game, so I've been bounding around on my sheep while I wait for my foal to grow up and provide faster transport.
I've also burned through a fair amount of the main storyline, such as it is. Basically I have to ring a bunch of magic bells to bring prosperity back to the island. The game does a good job of having everyone look kind of depressed at first, and things definitely pep up with the ringing of each bell, so that's pretty neat. I'm now working on a bell that requires me to befriend a bunch of villagers, so that'll take a while.
I'm currently deciding between two choices for my future spouse. I enlisted the assistance of the lovely Ms. Nyx in narrowing down my list of potential bachelors
. The eliminations weren't too difficult.
Wizard: Too inscrutable
Toby: Too lazy
Gill: Too young
Jin: Too serious
Calvin: Too married-him-last-game
Harvest King: Too deific
Julius: Too closeted
Luke: Too... too
That left me with Owen, the adorable teddy bear of a blacksmith's apprentice, and Chase, the cute grumpy chef. I started by wooing Chase and went on a date with him, but he's openly grumpy even about falling in love. I've now switched my attentions to Owen. I've almost got him to five hearts, and we'll see how our date goes.
And that's the news from down on the farm.April 28,2010 - Fall 1
I've been busy playing the villager-molesting minigame. At least, that's what I've dubbed it. If you turn on a second Wiimote while playing Animal Parade, it comes up with a heart-shaped cursor. You can rub the cursor over a villager and watch music notes fly out of them, until they jump for joy (or arm-pump for joy for the burlier male villagers) and a victory tune plays through the Wiimote. Do that a second time and hearts fly over the villager's head with the victory tune playing both in-game and through the Wiimote speaker. This increases their heart level (along with talking to them daily and giving them gifts), which opens up friendship, romance, and quest/event opportunities.
The villager-molesting minigame is supposed to be a fun side thing for anybody who is watching you play Harvest Moon. But really, how many people want to watch somebody else play Harvest Moon? I know my husband sure doesn't want to sit there with a second Wiimote, though he did look over from replaying Warcraft III to make a crack about me molesting the village priest that I won't repeat here (you can imagine how it went). So I sit in front of Animal Parade with two Wiimotes, waggling the second one at all the villagers in the interest of faster affection buildup.
In the virtual romance department, I think I let Chase's heart level get too high. He wants me to meet him at the lighthouse in order to talk about "something". I don't know for sure if I want to blow him off yet, though he seems to be getting sadder and sadder the higher his heart level becomes. Silly Chase, love is a happy thing, don't be sad until I almost-inevitably dump your grumpy butt! I guess I'll just do the logical thing and stand him up, lowering his heart level long enough to score a date with Owen and compare.
Man, I never had this kind of trouble back in my actual dating days.April 29, 2010 - Fall 1
A bunch of my crops just ripened, which means it's payday. There is major profit to be made from crops in Animal Parade, even if you're like me and plant a bit of everything instead of working out which crops are most profitable. My field is a lovely pastiche of varied fall vegetables and flowers, with a grass pasture for my livestock in one corner. I'm currently saving up for a second plot of land in which to plant an orchard. There are three plots of land in total, but the two extra plots are quite expensive. Plot 2 is 70k, and I currently have 5k left over after upgrading my barn. I hope I make a really big profit off my fall harvests!
I went on my first date with Owen, and it was lovely! He talked about how it must be hard work running a ranch by myself, and told me I could vent to him anytime. Take this lesson from Owen and Chase, my friends. You're a far better date if you talk about your companion rather than blathering on about your own hobbies the entire time. Chase, you're so out. Owen, you wanna make some cute red-headed babies with yours truly?
May 4, 2010 - Fall 1
I've been on a mining tear lately, trying to earn money. It's fairly challenging in Animal Parade, which is unfortunate for me, because mining has long been my Harvest Moon revenue staple. In the HM Wii games, you mine up either ore or Wonderfuls, which are proto-gems. When Wonderfuls are refined at the jewelery shop, they contain either valuable gems or worthless glass. In Tree of Tranquility, gem-containing Wonderfuls were shiny when they dropped in the caves, so you could easily pick up a load of nothing but shining Wonderfuls. In Animal Parade, there are no shiny Wonderfuls. You don't know whether they contain anything of value until you refine them. Also, you have to pay 30g per item to refine, so if you end up with a 10g piece of glass, you lose money. I've found that usually 10-20% of my Wonderfuls contain gems, so if I want to make any money, I need to mine up a whole ton of them. It's probably a necessary balance to mining, which was too profitable in Tree, but it seems overdone a bit, especially when crops are crazy profitable and shop prices are high in Animal Parade.
Owen asked me to go steady last night, and I said yes. He gave me a kiss on the cheek and asked to hold my hand, which is downright racy for Harvest Moon non-cgi/emoticons/tounge2.gif It happened just in time for the Moon Festival, so we had a romantic picnic to celebrate.
I'm about halfway through fall now, and I've been playing quite a bit. This game is not remotely fast-paced.May 11, 2010 - Fall 1
One of the things you do during the storyline of Animal Parade is collect the wishes of the villagers once you get them up to three hearts. I just asked the big burly barman for his wish, and he replied, "My wish? Well, I have the bar of my dreams, so I'm pretty happy. Maybe I wish for a face that didn't scare the kids away." Awwwwww.
I've been fishing the last couple days. Fishing is the one activity I don't think they balanced quite right in Animal Parade. It's very tedious to level up fishing skill in order to be able to catch better fish. It feels like I've been at skill 2 forever, and I've still got a long way to go. The rest of my tools level up pretty organically... my watering can and hammer just keep levelling steadily up without me really paying attention, and the levels of the hoe and scythe aren't particularly important. Hoeing is really only done once a season, and it doesn't take much scything to collect plenty of animal fodder. But the fishing pole? Blah.
At least my fishing trips out to Toucan Island give me a chance to befriend a couple of my future pets. There are a bunch of critters scattered around the game world who can be befriended with gifts of attention and food. Get them to six hearts, which isn't difficult, and you can take them home as pets; up to five pets total in the largest house. You can even teach them tricks with an animal whistle. So far I have a big white dog who looks like the kind of dog I hope to own in RL someday. I'm working on a frog (which is slow because it only shows up on rainy days), a penguin, and a baby panda. Haven't decided what my fifth pet will be, but since I'm only on my second level house, that's not a big deal.
I've got about 45,000 gold, so hopefully I'll own a second plot of land and can plant my orchard by the end of the game year.May 14 - Winter 1
Winter at last! The end of fall was pretty busy. I won one of the Harvest Festival contests and placed in several others... bombed the cooking contest, though. Stupid judges. Who doesn't love pumpkin pie? I made enough to buy land for an orchard and planted all the summer-blooming trees in it. I've also been befriending the other young women in town, who have started telling me their secrets, including the "boys" they like. They'll be getting married soon, except for my rival for Owen's hand, of course. She gets dissed until he's safely installed in my farmhouse. non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif
Unfortunately, I didn't make enough money off crops in the fall to be a Harvest Hero, and I'm sure not going to be able to do that in the winter. All that grows in the winter is buckwheat and a few flowers and herbs. I'll be spending the month fishing, mining, and probably getting married.May 17 - Winter 1
I'm such a nerd. I've created a spreadsheet that I can use to track the recipes I've cooked, so I can try to cook all of them. PM me on the forums if you want access to a copy for your own use; I copied the information off Ushi No Tane so I'm not going to make it generally public.
My two best girlfriends in the game are getting married in a couple of game weeks. Soon my town will be populated with more little rugrats, and hopefully the currently-empty schoolhouse will be filled. I feel kinda bad for Chloe, Paolo, and Taylor, the current little kids, what with not having any kind of formal education. I wonder if they'll get to go to school once it opens?
Oh, something pretty cool can happen on a snowy night in the winter. I won't spoil it, but if you're playing Animal Parade, save a carrot from the fall and keep it in your rucksack.June 7, 2010 - Winter 1
I'm back! Had to take a break for a bit. I'm enjoying the game quite a bit, but the days are very very long. So I got my Super Mario Galaxy 2 on for a few weeks, and now I'm ready to tend my crops again. My Level 2 barn is now full, with two cows, two sheep, and a horse. All the sheep you can buy in the store are white, but since I impregnated my white sheep to get a new one, the baby was born a black sheep. This works with cows, sheep, and horses at least, possibly goats as well. It's neat to have some colour variations just like you'd see at a real farm.
I have almost everyone in town at three hearts or more, so I'm starting to see various events involving the townspeople. I just got one that involved Calvin the archaeologist saying, "It belongs in a museum!" I'm also starting my quest to catch the eight legendary King Fish, with the use of a FAQ, of course. Most things in Animal Parade don't require a FAQ, but fishing up the King Fish requires some very specific conditions and locations. No way I'm going to try to figure that out on my own. I've hooked one already, but unfortunately I needed more than the 2/3rds of the stamina that I had to actually reel it in. I'm going to have to bring some snacks along and try to stay near full stamina while I'm fishing for them. Luckily, I have a whole ton of buckwheat now, so snacks can be procured.June 8, 2010 - Winter 1
Every Harvest Moon has its interface bugaboos, and Animal Parade's involve the cooking and milling systems. There is no way to batch-create recipes or mill goods more than one at a time. The recipes I could live with, but oh god the milling. It is winter, so I am drowing in buckwheat. In fact, I have 100 pieces of buckwheat to mill into soba flour so I can sell it. (It's a stormy day, so decent buckwheat turns into perfect soba flour and good or better buckwheat is shining soba flour, which equals mad profit.) The problem isn't only that I have to drop 100 pieces of buckwheat into the mill one by one. It's that after I mill a piece of buckwheat, my character turns around and holds the resulting sack of flour aloft. Thus, I have to turn back around and line up with the darn mill after every. single. piece. of. buckwheat.