A New Beginning is the latest in a long line of Harvest Moon titles, and it does not disappoint. It takes the basic premise that most games in the series share — Echo Village needs to be revitalized, and it's up to you and your farm to do it — and changes the way everything works.
You play as a boy or girl, a fully customizable avatar for your adventures in the game world. You can chose his or her hair style and color, eye color, looks, clothes, everything. Then you can visit the tailor or stylist in town and change it all again. Organize your farm as you like, picking up your barn, coop, house, even your fields, and moving them wherever you desire.
The town is just as much yours to do with as you please. Build street lights and park benches to pretty up the place, plant trees and flowers, place shops and houses wherever you want. You know that pretty girl who lives across town but you'd like to get to know better? Move her house next to your farm, so you can visit her easier. Even the name of the town is yours to decide. Time doesn't pass while you're in edit mode, so take your time making the town everything you want it to be.
In fact, almost all the building is done yourself. You find or purchase blueprints, collect the ingredients, and create whatever you can. No more trudging to the blacksmith for a new watering can; just build it yourself. Build the house upgrade you need, so you have room for a kid or a mechanical panda car to get around town faster than a horse ever could.
All your favorite animals will be make a return, including the alpacas from A Tale of Two Towns, with the addition of a yak from whom you can collect milk, and a llama with a fantastic Elvis pompadour that you collect wool from, like the alpacas. Also new are fish traps, which you can make back at your farm; they allow you to catch fish while you're busy collecting bugs or feeding your chickens. Just check back later to see what you've caught.
With the move to the 3DS, A New Beginning takes full advantage of the handheld's controls. You can zoom your camera in or out and pivot it around as you like, giving you a wider view of an area or a close up on an important object. The 3-D is also well utilized, with a clarity and depth of field that many of its titles lack.
All in all, A New Beginning is the Harvest Moon game fans have been awaiting. It manages to stay true to the series while being completely different at the same time. It may even, finally, justify the purchase of a 3DS, for those of us who have been putting it off for "the right game." Harvest Moon: A New Beginning has been out since February in Japan, with a North American release planned sometime late this year.
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