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Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar Review

Still no giant chickens in barns, but this latest Harvest Moon's a hit

Annoyingly, if your Harvest Moon birthday happens to fall on the same day as the village's flower festival, there's a good chance nobody will bother breaking out of their scripted flower festival subroutines to wish you a happy birthday. Just like for the one-three-hundred-sixty-fifth of the population born on Christmas Day, the culmination of a celebration of something other than you invariably takes precedence.

But that's fine, you've got work to do anyway: You've got to tend to your crops, raise and care for your animals, run your windmills, scavenge for items, maintain a reputation, cook, discover new recipes - the list goes on, and you've no time for self-congratulation.

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As per every Harvest Moon game ever made, you're a farmer who's inherited a small plot of land and a huge responsibility to lug some fortune back to the local town. Daylight is limited, as you jump out of bed every morning at 6am and attempt to cram all of your activities in before you hit the hay.

Where Grand Bazaar departs from the series is in its titular market. Rather than chucking your produce in a money-generating basket at the end of each day, a weekly market is held.

Here, you've got until the day's end to shift all the veggies, dishes and assorted junk you've accrued or produced since the last bazaar. With prices at the bazaar higher than those you'd get at the local shop, storing up all of your goods throughout the week becomes the best way of earning cash.

Running your market stall is a mini-game in itself, as you furiously ring your bell to attract the attention of punters before tapping the A button to dole out the requested number of items. The aim, aside from raking in cash, is to meet the income goal and improve the market's popularity in the region. You're also able to browse the bazaar yourself, and it's here that you'll find livestock and the exclusive tools and items required to progress and improve your farm.

This seven-day cycle of activity lends a satisfying sense of pace to the otherwise meandering feel of most Harvest Moon games, crystalising your farming efforts with bigger weekly payoffs.

Plough Your Own Furrow

Cooking and developing recipes to produce dishes - which sell for more than raw veg - is a matter of experimentation at first. You can chuck anything you like into a pot to see if it works, but buying grub at the local café will reward you with the relevant recipe.

Pulling together ingredients from every corner of your farm, from your livestock and your crops, to form a high-quality dish is one of the most satisfying experiences Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar offers.

Socialising is still important, with the ultimate goal being to subtly court the affections of a member of the opposite (Harvest Moon is still rather traditional) gender. It's a weirdly systematic affair, as you dump flowers on your honey until such time that they agree to marry you. Reaching that point requires that you talk to them twice daily, for weeks on end.

It's enough to drive a farmer to a bleak life of resentful and wretched solitude.

Animals offer some company if you can't be bothered with humans, and they operate in much the same way as they always have. Chickens, sheep and cows need to be brought outside to graze on dry days, and fed indoors on wet ones.

Interacting with animals increases their affection for you, which in turn increases the quality of their eggs, milk and wool.

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3 comments so far...
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  1. Dertdood Thursday 29th Sep 2011 at 16:48

    I think I will get the first 3ds HM.

  2. TomMc92 Thursday 29th Sep 2011 at 18:00

    Looks good its been a while since you rated harvest moon over 80%. I'll buy it for sure but im more interested in rune factory 3 which i preordered will you be doing a review for that id like to know what you think onm?

  3. pockybis Thursday 29th Sep 2011 at 20:22

    The translation work for the harvest moon series is sooooo slow! I wish they can come out at the same time. I have played Grand Bazaar back in 2008 :/

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