I’m not sure if anyone who casual games is familiar with the Harvest Moon series. Originally a Super Nintendo game, it was the first farming sim. It was about a boy living on a farm for two years, having inherited it from his grandfather. Along with this farm, he also has to get used to the rural life; be friends with everyone in town, learn to forage in the forest, meet a nice girl, expand the house, get married and have babies. There were many sequels, each of them on a new Nintendo platform (aside from an original for the PS2 and a port of a Gamecube game for the PS2) ranging from the handhelds to the consoles. It was a cult hit.

Alice Greenfingers has been compared to Harvest Moon by many fans. Alice Greenfingers is NOT Harvest Moon. Not by a long shot. It has zero depth, zero goals, and really not much going for it aside from accessibility and cutey graphics. Sure, the farming aspect is there, and selling of produce – but there is not much else in the mix.

There are 4 activities, technically, in Alice Greenfingers. You can farm for produce and flowers, which involves dig, sow, water, and harvest. Once you get a sprinkler for each 5×5 plot, there is no need to water. Also, every plant regrow after harvesting, so after a while you’ll just be harvesting.  The second activity would be to have chickens, and the chickens will lay eggs. If you collect the eggs, once in a while somebody will call and buy them. If you leave them lying around, the eggs will hatch and make more chickens. So having chickens is limited to just collecting eggs. As for the remaining activities, you can have cows and sheep. Cows and sheep are no more than pictures of cows and sheep sitting on your map, since you don’t have to do anything with them. Just leave them standing around and the farm automatically collects the milk and wool. Once you collect something, you can sell them, which is no more than opening up the shop page and sitting around while things sell. During this time, the farm time is paused.

So, after about a few “months” of being on the farm, you’ll be actively doing one thing: harvesting. Be it produce or eggs, that’s all you’ll be doing. You’ll be running around from flower to blueberry to strawberry with a basket, collecting anything that’s ripe, and hauling the lot to a warehouse, then clicking on the sell button, then sit there while your stuff sell. Not really that exciting, is it?

While we’re at it, let’s think about this for a minute: there isn’t much point to doing that, either. You’re not obligated to harvest. You’re not obligated to sell a certain amount each day. There are no goals to be met. Sure, Harvest Moon was “open ended” but there is a certain requirement to be successful after two years. What made that certain farming Sim so interesting is that when you meet certain requirements, other opportunities open up that made the game more interesting. Alice Greenfingers get duller by the hour, and makes you regret having played it when you realized that all that’s left to the game is harvesting.

The graphics in Alice Greenfingers is retro at best; slightly blurry around the edges, running at a measly 640 by 480, and very much substandard in the world of cell shaded 3D. Produce have a few stages of “animation,” chickens tend to do very little, cows and sheep do even less. The only really animated character is Alice, and she moves like lightning across your field. As for the music, it’s soothing elevator style – it’s not something you’d notice very much. Sound effects range from the grinding (the sound of something talking to you on the telephone) to charming (the sing song sound of something growing) so it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

Alice Greenfingers has a lot of the addictiveness of a farming sim in it, but doesn’t have enough depth to keep you interested past a few hours. Try to avoid this one and save your money for better things – like a copy of Harvest Moon for your Nintendo DS.

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