Overgrown vegetable gardens harvest immense fun.
Will the Harvest Moon islands ever get it right? Each game begins with some debilitating disaster out to ruin the island and be the death of its loving inhabitants. This time, the tower is radiating a foreboding light, signaling the Harvest Goddess's unhappiness with the island. In the blink of an eye, the characters find themselves surrounded by an overwhelming abundance of crops that need to be harvested and brought to the tower.
One of the best things about this Harvest Moon-themed puzzle game is that the elf moves by himself, so you can focus on setting up combos and getting higher scores. Just use the stylus to tap the elf waiting at the edge of the vegetable garden, and he'll seek out the closest harvestable plant to dig up then move on to the next one that's closest to him. If he only has buds growing around him, he'll send out a distressing "Help!!" Your appropriate response would be to use the stylus to slide a harvestable crop to him, and then he starts again. Plants grow by being next or adjacent to the harvested crop.
Once the Harvest Goddess has her fill of crops, which takes less than an hour, the game is over. At the end of Story Mode, another character is unlocked, giving you a choice of two more stories to follow. This continues until all twelve characters are unlocked. While the premise of the game is the same for each character, every story brings you deeper into the mystery of the glowing tower. Additionally, each character has a different special ability. For example, one character enlists a bunch of chickens to run across the screen and make certain crops grow faster.
There are also various play modes. Aside from Story Mode, there is Score Attack, Mission, and Free Match. In Score Attack, the objective is to get the highest possible score. Each character has three objectives in Mission Mode, such as harvesting all of the eggplants in only two moves. Free Match is a versus mode against the CPU, useful for honing in on your multiplayer skills to beat your friends in single-card multiplayer.
For a puzzle game departure from a slow-paced simulation series, Harvest Moon: Frantic Farming really does deliver. It brings a unique puzzle game and pairs it with the charm and mystery of a Harvest Moon dilemma, creating a game that is part puzzle, part adventure.