Harvest Moon: Frantic Farming was released for Nintendo DS in August of 2009. The popular Harvest Moon games are a cutesy, unpretentious series rooted in a cross between farm simulation and a role-playing game. In those games, characters interact with neighbors, grow and maintain farms while working against the clock. This has worked out well for the franchise since its inception in 1996, but Harvest Moon: Frantic Farming takes a different road.
The game is set on Sunny Island, previously featured in Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness. This title keeps you on the farm – and racing against time in some cases – but takes away the farm-monitoring aspects that are synonymous with Harvest Moon. In their place, the game pits you against puzzle after puzzle to grow and harvest crops, rack up points and save the island. Rocks, time and competition make things even more interesting. Though this isn’t a traditional Harvest Moon game, it’s full of addictive fun.
The game’s Story Mode explains the situation on Sunny Island, and lets you puzzle your way across the island in search of answers. This mode is first accessed through main character Mark, but later playable by up to 12 characters unlocked along the way. As each character completes their version of the storyline, another is unlocked. These unlocked characters each have a slightly more difficult time completing the storyline, making for a scaling difficulty level as you familiarize yourself with the game’s little tricks.
More features and game modes also appear with newly unlocked characters. In addition to Story Mode, there’s a race-against-time puzzle of increasing levels in Score Attack Mode and logic-based Mission Mode for solo players. If your friends or family also have a copy of Harvest Moon: Frantic Farming, you can square off in Multiplayer Mode. Each mode allows you to play as any character you’ve unlocked, making for lots of unique combinations. Having these modes and add-ons as part of extra bonus content takes the unlocking feature from a simple novelty to a key part of the game.
Harvest Moon: Frantic Farming is a good fit for the Nintendo DS. At each stage in the game’s various modes (which typically take only a few minutes each), the game auto-saves, providing a good stopping point whenever you’re ready – no waiting 20 minutes to reach a save point. The drive to beat your own personal scores and unlock more and more aspects of the game make it hard to put down, however. Like so many of the cuter titles released by Nintendo, this is the kind of game you’re embarrassed to love. Try out Harvest Moon: Frantic Farming if you love puzzles, or if you’re looking for a fun quickie game to pass the time.