A more appropriate title for Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town would have been Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town for Girls. In fact, that's exactly what this feminine variation of Friends of Mineral Town was called when it was released in Japan two years ago. This game isn't a sequel. Instead, it takes the original male-oriented game and switches the genders around. The graphics, the audio, the events (and everything else) are identical in both games, but only now, players control a farm girl instead of a farm boy and court future husbands instead of future wives.
Harvest Moon is a farming sim. You'll till the field, grow crops, raise livestock, and enjoy diversions such as Frisbee throwing and horseback riding.
Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town is best described as a farming role-playing game. One day, your character decides to leave the big city and buy a rundown farm. Your goal is to work it back to abundance. You'll do this primarily by sowing fields, growing crops, and raising livestock, but along the way you'll also interact with the locals, learn how to cook, dig ore and treasure out of nearby mines, and participate in community gatherings. You'll even land a husband and give birth to a child, if you choose to do so.
Managing crops and livestock is at the heart of every Harvest Moon game. The fields need to be cleared and tilled, seeds need to be planted and watered, and animals need to be bought, mated, and cared for. Your character has all of the right tools for getting these jobs done--a hammer, an axe, a hoe, a watering can, a scythe, and a fishing rod. As time goes on and you add livestock to your farm, you'll acquire new tools, such as a brush, a milking apparatus, a fishing pole, and a calling bell. In a traditional RPG, you'd gradually upgrade your character's spells and armor over time. Here, you can upgrade your tools and real estate. Tools gain levels when you use them, which in turn makes them more effective. You can also take the money you earn from selling crops and put it toward the purchase of upgrades to the house, barn, and chicken coop. Enlarging the barn and chicken coop will allow you to take care of more horses, cows, sheep, and chickens. Meanwhile, the house can be expanded and filled with furniture and appliances. There are even multiple window styles and mailboxes to choose from.
Using tools and performing tasks is fairly simple. To use a tool, you press or hold the B button. To pick up an item, such as a head of lettuce or a piece of ore, you press the A button. To drop items into the shipping bin, you walk up to it and press the A button. To talk to people, you also press the A button. About the only time an action requires more than a single button press is when you need to swap items in your inventory or participate in a minigame. There is a running time clock that limits what you can accomplish each day, however. You also have to keep track of your character's stamina level, which drops every time you use one of your tools. If it drops to nothing, she'll pass out for a few hours. Conveniently, you can regain stamina by eating food items.
With the money you make from farming, you can add on to your house and fill it with furniture and appliances.
The time clock is sometimes a nuisance, since it limits how much you can accomplish on the farm each day, but it's also put to good use duplicating the seasons and triggering special events. For every 10 seconds in real time, 10 minutes pass by in the game's universe. At around 9pm at night, you have to put your character to bed, or she'll oversleep the next morning. Time doesn't advance while you're inside of structures or participating in minigames, which is great because you can talk to people, goof off, and grab a few goodies without cutting into your farming time.
How long a single day lasts is pretty much up to you. If you spend most of your time tending the crops, a typical day only takes about five minutes to complete. If you go into the barn to milk your cows, head into town to interact with the villagers, or enter into the mine to dig for ore, you can easily stretch a single day into 20 or 30 minutes of playing time. Each season lasts roughly 30 days in game time, and the kind of seeds you can plant and the events that happen around town vary, depending on what season you're in. Over the long term, the leaves and weather change, and animals will get bigger and grow old. A full year can take anywhere from 10 to 60 hours in real time to complete, which gives the game nearly unlimited replay value since there's no limit on the number of years you can play.