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[personal profile] mimulus_borogove
About two years ago, when I was pregnant, Sweety bought me a GameCube game called Harvest Moon: Another Wonderful Life. This is the girled-up second entry in the Harvest Moon line. Basically, it's a farming sim with a tiny bit of plot and a lot of relationships with the neighbors. Oh, and since this is the girl version, you also raise a kid and can buy clothes. Sweety thought I could play it while I was on bedrest, enjoying the progress of root vegetables as our own little harvest gestated.

As it turned out, I couldn't very well play console games lying on my left side with a continual nosebleed. So I just started playing it a few weeks ago. And although I'm enjoying it, it's teaching me some things about how I play games.

I like to do everything right. I also like to figure things out. In games, this usually means that you play them a few million times. However, I take a long time with games, so that means I get to enjoy the fruits of my own incompetence for months at a time before I finally finish and move on to something else.

Take Harvest Moon. I didn't read any walkthroughs, and the in-game instructions aren't great, so my character basically lived on wild herbs for several months while I tried to figure out how to catch fish. I nearly bankrupted myself buying tons of fertilizer. It's the second (of three, I believe) chapters now, and I'm only just starting to make enough money that I may actually be able to invest in some new animals or equipment and get ahead.

But the thing that's killing me is the romance stuff. I always want to play the romance stuff, because it's one of the exciting features whenever it's there. But I never really like my options. I played Baldur's Gate: Shadows of Amn obsessively, but I couldn't stand the smarmy, self-righteous cleric that was the only romance choice for female characters. (Male characters got a choice between the sweet dim thing, the competent older woman, and the hot Drow cleric. Unfair!) Harvest Moon gives you three potential bachelors, none of whom are hugely appealing.

I immediately discounted Rock, a brainless, self-absorbed pretty boy. I sadly tossed aside guitar-playing Gustafa because I didn't want to wed my little character  to a hippie dude wearing a Gandalf hat. Despite being named after a sport fish, Marlin looked like a pretty good deal. He's a farmer, so he should be some help, at least. He's a bit of a clod, but so what. He wasn't as annoying as Rock, nor as annoying as Gustafa's hat.

So, I poured a lot of effort into courting Marlin. Despite staking out his farm, I rarely got him alone and got only one of his cut scenes. (I got one of Rock's without even trying.) But I cooked for him, and I spent far more than I could afford on gifts for him. He always thanked me. I got him up to three hearts out of four. I knew that one of your suitors came and proposed to you if you didn't do so yourself, and that you had to accept to win the game. I figured my Marlin would come for me.

Instead, Rock showed up at my house, asking to freeload off me for the rest of his life because his parents were throwing him out. I said no. My game ended. I rebooted, sure that this must be random. I got Rock again.

How could this happen? I had one cutscene with Rock. I never gave him anything. I tried to run over him with my horse. So now my poor little character is saddled with a useless husband and an adorable wandering kid. Whenever my character goes to buy seeds from Marlin, he gives this funny little confused speech that boils down to, "Are you happy?" And my poor little ponytailed character is slinging heavy farming implements around while her lazy hubby wanders aimlessly.

So I sit there and holler, "Worthless Rock! Stupid Marlin! With the money I spent on you, I could have bought a bull! Then at least my cow would be happy!"

Actually, my cow is very happy. Since there's all this fun relationship stuff, I know exactly where I stand. You know who loves virtual me more than my virtual husband does? My dog, my cow, and five of my chickens.

Yeah, farming. What a relaxing life.
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March 2009

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