Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar

Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar
Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar Cover
Platforms Nintendo DS
Genre Home grown capitalism
MtAMinutes to Action 5
Keep Playing? Until the bazaar
Buy from Amazon

Like many, I was first introduced to the concept of farming simulation via an obscure Facebook title called Farmville. Not sure if that game flopped or not, but I didn't stick around too long to find out as the idea of caring for crops day in, day out did little to excite me. Sure, I like managing and being organized and earning faux money, but in the end, there wasn't really much to do with Farmville other than pester friends with countless requests and click on the same things over and over. After some time passed, I got the hankering again to water some crops and decided to give Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon a try; unfortunately, despite being a farming simulator with bonus RPG dungeon-crawling elements, I still wasn't entertained.

Scanning the shelves of my local GameStop recently, I noticed a bunch of other Harvest Moon games on the DS. Like, a ton. There were at least three sitting eye-level, staring me in the face, begging to be watered. And I got that itch again. I decided to give the most newest title a chance. Let's see if Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar is different enough to grow into something fun, something edible.

Minute by Minute

00 – We're at the start screen, and I'm told to be a good little farmer and touch the touch screen. After selecting NEW GAME, I struggled with Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar's first major decision: boy or girl character? Hopefully I didn't just ruin everything like how in some RPGs if you select the wrong class and skills you're doomed from the start. Narration speaks about a town nearby that thrives on wind and windmills. A bearded man in a top hat named Felix is showing me Zephyr Town's market section where they have weekly bazaars, which has fallen on hard times. He asks if I'll help bring it back to what it once was. Sure thingy.

04 – Felix then shows me to my farm and asks for its name. Can't get too creative though as we're only given six character spaces to work with. I went with Dorne (y'know, Dorne, the hottest kingdom in Westeros). “Dorne Farm?” says Felix. “That's a great name! Fitting for such a fine farm!”

05 – Finally in control of farmer Pauly. Evidently, he can...double-jump. Not sure why we'll need that ability in a farming sim, but whatever. Maybe at some point the tomatoes turn and we gotta make a run for it. I take a moment to look around my farm. There's not much to see yet.

Harvest Moon Grand Bazaar Lloyd Snark06 – Felix is teaching me how to pick up branches. Thanks, pal. After I pick up an item, I can either throw it or place it inside my non-visible bag.

07 – We're now inside my house, and Felix is showing me more stuff. Gotta love how everything that exists in this game needs to be explained right away. Anyways, inside my house is a storage room where I can drop off items if my bag gets too full. Perishable items like milk and food will last longer in here than stowed away in my bag. No more crying over spoiled milk (::insert rimshot here::).

08 – Finally, Felix leaves! Exploring my house further reveals such décor as a bed, a setting-less table, a kitchen, and a calendar. This place could really use a once-over.

10 – I select “save and go to bed” and do just that. When I awake, I discover that Felix is back inside my house. Dude...CREEPY! He's here to give me a present: a hoe. Together, we head outside to...hoe it up.

15 – Okay, yeah. That was five minutes of farming tutorials. I now know how to till land, sow seeds, water them, fertilizer them, not run or walk over them, and eventually harvest them. Truth be told, I mostly knew all this already from my limited time with Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon. Seems like the only change is that you can now plant individual plots of turnip seeds instead of in 3x3 grids.

17 – I plant a few more turnips, water them, and sprinkle some fertilizer on top. They sparkle with joy. There's a large, blank sign over my farm's field, and I'm told I can write or draw anything on it. Okay, cool. I do like to draw. Naturally, I adorn it with the phrase DORNE RULES and smiley face. Time to try and find the main part of Zephyr Town.

Harvest Moon Grand Bazaar Equipment Menu18 – I meet some people along the way, like Angelo and the cute red-headed Sherry. Picked up some miscellaneous items (flowers, branches), as well as chased away some bugs. I believe that I will, later on, be able to collect bugs, too.

20 – Found the main part of Zephyr Town, and boy...is it kind of empty. The first store I came across is Raul's Shop. Which doesn't have much to show off. However, Pauly did sell some of the flowers he picked up along the way, bringing his total income up to 1,120G. I wonder what the G stands for. Probably gil.

22 –  Met some more villagers and visited the Zephyr Cafe, which did not have anything I wanted. Am I supposed to be doing something at this point?

25 – More walking around, more talking to people and introducing myself. I found the bazaar section, but it's pretty barren and certainly not ready for any action. I believe the weekly bazaars on are the weekends of each in-game season.

26 – Guess I'll return to my farm then. Somehow, it went from afternoon to owl-hooting night in a matter of minutes. I blame this on the fact that I didn't pause the game when I was taking notes for this review coverage, and time moves very fast when you're in a Harvest Moon game.

27 – Pauly puts a toy flower into the vase in his house and goes to bed. Maybe there will be more to do tomorrow.

29 – Watered some turnips and tilled some more land.

30 – The last minute of our half-hour with Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar is spent pulling weeds. One could totally find a deeper meaning in that statement if they tried.

Half-Hour Summary

Minutes to Action: 5

Harvest Moon Grand Bazaar SellingVideo: Graphically, it's a mix of hand-painted backgrounds and polygonal character models. The insides of houses look fantastic, and it's a shame that they are so static, with nothing to interact with.

Audio: Bouncy, carnival-esque tunes make up the majority of what I heard during Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar's first thirty minutes. It's safe music, just what one might expect. Some of the characters Pauly talks to have tiny soundbites, too. Unfortunately, Pauly makes these weird grunts when you jump or double-jump, forcing me to walk more often than not or turn the volume down.

Story: You're the new kid in town and are suddenly asked to restore the fan-fav bazaar back to its former glory. That's it, pretty much, but it does seem like there's a few miniplots to deal with in terms of wooing love interests.

Gameplay: Daily routines of farming (tilling, sowing, watering, harvesting, rinse and repeating), and then when you're done doing that, you can gather up trash or flowers, sell stuff in the town's shop, and converse with villagers. Right now, until more unlocks, that's about all there is to the gameplay. Looking forward to more things to do, which leads us to...

Challenge: The game's main challenge, at least for me, is keeping me invested. It requires a lot of patience: waiting for crops to grow, waiting for shops to open, waiting for the bazaar to happen, waiting for cool features like fishing, bug collecting, item crafting, and so on to unlock.

Nintendonly on the DS: Seems like the only true usage of the touch screen is for decorating your farm's sign. I know there'll be some fishing and recipe crafting later on, but kind of doubt that will be stylus-only types of activities.

Would I keep playing? Yes. I at least need to last long enough to see what this weekly bazaar is all about. That will probably be the key deciding factor if I keep up with the game or not. Hopefully it gives me some extra incentive to play.

Beyond the first thirty minutes: Well, I've now witnessed an entire season and am currently enjoying summer weather, bugs, and crops at Dorne Farm. At this point, I've worked four to five bazaars, and, thankfully, they do at least give me a reason to leave my in-game house every morning. At the bazaar, which runs from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm, you set up your own store with whatever items you want, ring a bell to draw in customers, and try to make a pretty penny. Each bazaar has a desired amount, and if you reach--or surpass it--you'll win a prize. However, currently, the goal is around 15,000 G to 20,000 G, and I've only been able to pocket around 6,000 G each time due to my lack of cool and many-starred items. You can also take a break from selling wares to buy items like new tools, special seeds, or even animals for your farm. This has definitely helped give me something to look forward to each in-game week, but it's still a slow, tall, and grueling uphill crawl as everything is so expensive and takes forever to buy. Still haven't earned a fishing pole, and I can only make one item (out of like 89) in the windmill. Heck, even earning villagers' love and friendship moves at a snail's pace. Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar is just like farming, with all that waiting. I'm still playing, and probably will at least play until I've experienced fall and winter of my first year, but hopefully Exciting Stuff starts to happen sooner than later.