Harvest Moon is no stranger to handheld platforms, and Sunshine Island represents the latest step for the series on the Nintendo DS. The core is the same as always: try to run a farm while balancing an active social life. However, Natsume has tweaked some things and added a few new features that should appeal to fans of the series.
Right off the bat, we noticed that the map displayed on the top screen revealed that the world was divided into a series of islands. Each island is home to a unique feature that enables you to perform special activities, such as mining ore, encountering unique animals, or putting the local harvest sprites to work on your farm. However, not every island is available from the get-go; instead, some serve as a reward for finding something called sun stones, which are awarded for helping the local villagers with their daily tasks. The game also features competitions, such as a Frisbee-catching contest, that you can enter your pets in to earn special prizes, such as upgraded tools to improve your farming efficiency.
Perhaps most importantly, Natsume has listened to the touch-screen-based complaints of the last DS game and enabled the main character to be controlled with the control pad as well, though touch-screen controls remain for those who prefer them.
It's difficult to gauge how much the added features will enhance the experience, but we're curious to find out when the final version hits the Nintendo DS this July.