The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
After a lengthy run on portable systems, traditional Harvest Moon gameplay finally returns to home consoles. One would think that Marvelous would take this opportunity to bring in some new mechanics and shake things up. Unfortunately, the formula hasn't changed much. Stop me if this sounds familiar: arrive as the new person in town, plant some crops, raise livestock, mack on some ladies (or dudes), help out with some new-age plot to replant the Mother Tree and bring back the Harvest Goddess, blah, blah, blah.
After a mind numbingly long intro in which you're forced to walk around town and meet every person, you eventually buy some land and seeds and get to work. For some reason, the camera is locked in extremely close to the action. Combined with a surprisingly unhelpful map, this makes for a disorienting start. After running back and forth along the same routes day after day, however, you will eventually memorize the layout of the entire island.
Controls are flexible, allowing for both remote and nunchuk and classic controller use. While you can swing your arms to till earth or water crops, simply pressing ''A'' is still the way to go. Since the motion control can't be switched off, however, it's easy to accidentally cut down your tomato plant while scratching your nose.
An Animal Crossing-style online mode where you visit and help out on a friend's farm would have been great, especially since you can't hire any employees to give you a hand. Instead, multiplayer is limited to a handful of awful minigames, even by Wii standards.
Despite these hang-ups, I still found myself playing late into the night to earn enough cash to buy that coop upgrade or put in another few days until my cow is fully grown. Even though it takes a crazy long time to get there, the ability to start a new game as your kid is a nice touch. Bottom line: if you expect nothing out of Tree of Tranquility except the same old same old, then this will do the trick.
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Nothing comes easily or quickly in Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility. The introductory hours can be grueling as you save up for basic conveniences like cutting boards and calendars, but once your farm gets off the ground, the initial time investment begins to pay off big time. As I watched my plot of land prosper, I became addicted to the routine of tending crops, maintaining relationships with townsfolk, and upgrading my equipment. Like an MMO, Harvest Moon's small rewards obtained over a long period of time add up to a satisfying sense of accomplishment. The minimal guidance and lackadaisical pacing will frustrate gamers who demand more structure, but as far as laid-back farming simulations go, Tree of Tranquility gets the job done.