I didn't want to play Harvest Moon: Another Wonderful Life. I really didn't. Upon the realization that it was just A Wonderful Life with a girl as the main character, I had already written off the game as just another way to milk unsuspecting simulation fans out of their hard-earned dollars. However, seeing it on the shelf in all its country-fied glory...well, I couldn't resist.
I can't say that I've been completely converted -- in some ways, I still believe that this is still a rehash of A Wonderful Life, a way for you as a publisher to drag in their hardcore farming fans like myself. Thing is, you added just enough needed tweaks to the formula to appease those very fans, and newcomers to the series will (if they let themselves) just be sucked in by the simple charms of the game.
What can I say? Once again, I've fallen in love, despite what my brain tells me is right.
It's nice playing as a girl for once, let me tell you. In all my years as a gamer, I've had to suck it up and figure out a good masculine name for my giggly self. With the exceptions of sports games with create-a-character modes and the occasional RPG, I found myself just accepting the fact that there just wasn't enough demand for female leads that weren't action superstars on the side. Of course, being a girl, there's a mirror right next to my bed in which I can gaze at my lovely visage and eventually get narcissistic enough to warrant a change of clothes, something that I always had hoped you guys would put in there someday.
When I left Twitter Farm with Takakura, I was still feeling that deja vu from my first playthroughs of A Wonderful Life. Everything looked the same, because it literally was the same town that I'd lived through as a boy, but as I was touring Forget-Me-Not Valley, I quickly realized that playing as a girl gave the game a very different dynamic. Upon arriving at the Inner Inn, Rock was standing there between his parents, the owners of the inn, and both his father and he sprouted a little heart over their heads. As I went from building to building, the reactions that the villagers gave me were slightly different (as well as their demeanors in general), and I found that Marlin, the farmhand at Vesta's place, was my second love interest.
It was when I was walking with Takakura out toward the beach that I realized who my true love was: Gustafa, the traveling minstrel. The way that his song just floated on the breeze to my ears... oh. I thought that the not-quite-introduction to him was extremely well done, and it just warmed the cold recesses of this gamer's soul. At that moment, you had me. I was sucked in, and I wasn't letting go.
When I was able to gain control of my character (as well as my heart), I began running around town to see what was different. In all honesty, it's not much. I mean, the recipes are the same, the activities are rather similar. You did put in a couple of minigames to pass the time with, which is a nice addition, but they're just minor differences in the whole scheme of the game. The biggest change that I noticed straightaway was that I wasn't alone in my quest to get hitched before the end of the year -- I had rivals for these men and their affection. Whereas I found myself wooing Nami in the original game, this time I had to subtly shove her aside while I batted my eyes for Gustafa. Although the execution of the rivalries could have been a stronger point, I'm just glad that it was included in the first place.
Other changes that were most welcome were the lower prices of seeds and fertilizer, the actual pasture and its upkeep, and the fact that you could actually train your dog to do more than just exist. You really don't know how happy it made me to look in my diary and see actual details about my affection levels, my stamina, and other farm information. It makes my heart all a-flutter just thinking about it. The game isn't nearly as glitchy as its older brother was, so I was pleasantly surprised with that as well. I had assumed that, since it was most obviously the same areas, that only minor changes had been made and that all the same faults from the first title would still be there. Thanks for proving me wrong.
I guess what I'm trying to say here is that first impressions aren't everything. When I first heard about the game, even up to the point when I was watching the intro, I had already decided that it wasn't for me. Really, though, it's not for everyone -- either someone'll like a Harvest Moon title or they won't -- but I will admit that through living life at Twitter Farm, you won me over. You may not have had me at hello, but in a sense, your excellent work at fixing something that I didn't even realize was broken made me realize that Harvest Moon: Another Wonderful Life and I really were meant to be together.