Harvest Moon The Tale of Two Towns: The series is back on familiar territory

A solid 3DS debut that's light on big changes...

The new issue of Nintendo Gamer is on sale now.

We're imagining the trailer for anall-action, high-budget blockbuster The Tale Of Two Towns movie. The gravel-voiced narrator chews his way through the script: "For centuries, two towns have been locked in battle over who's got the best chefs. Only one hard-working farmer and his cookery skills can stop the conflict and unite the warring factions. This summer, the heat in the kitchen just reached BOILING POINT!"


All of which is a silly way of telling you that while the familiar tropes of farming, cooking, fishing and wooing remain, this is one of the most plot-driven Moons we've seen, and farming has almost taken a back seat. At the beginning you choose which of two towns to live in, and that dictates what sort of farm you run. Live in Western-ish themed Bluebell and you'll deal in livestock, while it's crops all the way in Oriental-inspired Konohana.

With just the one style of farming to occupy you on a relatively small smallholding, and with days being far longer than we're used to in a Harvest Moon, you've plenty of free time to explore the generously-proportioned mountain region that divides the two towns; perform a multitude of errands for fellow villagers via each town's Request Board; attend the many local festivals; and concentrate on your cookery.


And it's cookery that's the key - ahem - ingredient in the game. There are weekly cook-offs between the two towns, and entering the contests helps heal the rift. As such, it's essential to strike a balance between selling your wares to make cash and holding back some produce to use in recipes, while foraging around the mountain will get you ingredients you can't farm yourself.

While there's more variety of stuff to do than in previous outings, you couldn't say that Harvest Moon's 3DS debut is stacked with innovation. Fans of the series aren't in for any surprises, although the horse and cart is a nice touch as it allows you to carry more stuff while you're travelling about, and also helps you to travel faster. Oh, you can also go on dates with prospective partners you wish to woo rather than just presenting them with dishes. See you in the bushes behind the blacksmith at dusk?


As for the 3D, it certainly doesn't add anything special, but does give a pleasant sense of perspective in the multi-tiered mountain region. Or should that be "NOW PRESENTED IN GLORIOUS 3D!"