A fun game with minor annoyances that keep it from being "Great".

User Rating: 8.5 | Bokujou Monogatari: Hajimari no Daichi 3DS
Harvest Moon has been around the block a few times. It's seen plenty of success and equal parts failure. A New Beginning leans towards the former then the later, but there are still a few nitpicks that keep the game from being great.

Let's start with what the game gets right. I always feel like I'm striving towards a goal. I love being able to move (just about) anything in the town and on my farm to suit my desires. There are plenty of crops if you like to farm and plenty of animals if you prefer to ranch. The stamina bar is limited in just such a way that it can be easy to over tax yourself if you aren't careful, but not so difficult to deal with that I feel like it's chained me from completing a reasonable amount of daily chores.

There. We've got that out of the way. Now on to the bit's that can frustrate you.

First, and foremost, the tutorial. I can appreciate the subtleties of ensuring your target audience can play the game you've developed, but a drawn out tutorial can also turn off the crowd in a pinch, and there are precious few games that can hold the trophy for that glory the way Harvest Moon: A New Beginning does. The tutorial is roughly 1 game month long. You are oh so slowly given access to new things to do from spring 1 all the way up to summer 1, and when you start, it feels like there is nothing you can really do. My first game week or two saw me running through the forest foraging for a few hours, talking to the two or three villagers I had access to, followed by jumping into the bed to sleep for the day. It wasn't until spring was half over that I'd gotten access to planting crops, and it WAS the end of spring when I got access a majority of the gameplay.

Second, the cut scenes are unnecessary. It's really frustrating to find myself in the middle of town at 10:00 in the am because both Neil and Rod like to cinematically stroll into town and setup shop at that time, and the only way to skip it is to not be in town between 10:00 and 10:15 am. The do not go into town approach does work mind you, but only if you religiously exercise the option. That can sometimes mean planting your crops or feeding your animals or doing anything that resembles spending money in a shop for later in the day. You get another cut scene on your farm when you use pets to automatically move your barn animals to graze. Again, this isn't something you can skip. If you're nearby when it goes off, you're stuck watching it.

Third, if you don't visit the villagers, they get cranky and you start losing hearts. Just like the last two mentions, this one is a bit nit-picky. It's easily enough managed by attending festivals and picking one day out of each week to make the rounds and talk to each person at least once, but my problem stems from the fact that there's already enough to do without having to worry about something so…small.

Do not let any of that deter you though. I love this game and I play it all the time. It's fun, it's addicting, the graphics aren't too shabby (reminiscent of Tree of Tranquility and Animal Parade) and overall, putting the game down can sometimes be a chore. I mean, if you think about it, if all I have to really complain about is the length of the Tutorial plus some minor annoyances, the game really can't be all that bad, right?