The title itself doesn't strike fear into anyone who reads it now does it? But if you had experienced the events that took place in the game that I had, you too would understand why it creeps me out. And why it will surely play a large factor in my decision to play any future Harvest Moon games.
It was like any other weekend, my siblings and I sat together with our family at the dining table enjoying the company of each other as our Oma (grandma) droned on and on about her trip to San Antonio in which she went to participate in some event.
When her visit reached its end she handed us each twenty dollars for our allowance. The four of us were thrilled to have gotten so much from her at once, since she usually gives us ten dollars.
Now we all know how hard it is to save money when you're young, its even harder to do when you're a gamer and you live about five minutes away from a game store, and you haven't stepped foot inside said store in like forever, but now looking back I wish that I hadn't spent my money that day.
It's something about stepping into GameStop that makes my heart race, I don't know if it's the smell of the store or the fact I'm surrounded by so many great titles, but whatever the reason may be I know I never leave that store unhappy, not even when I leave without buying a game!
But on this day I left slightly heartbroken.
My youngest siblings stayed home (my little brother couldn't find his money and my youngest sister isn't much of a gamer) so it was just me and my little sister.
The chimes rang overhead as we entered the store, and my sister made a beeline for the Nintendo 3DS games since she has been saving money on the side for "Tomodachi Life."
I too own a Nintendo 3DS but the game I was really after was "Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue (or Red) Rescue Team," since I had played "Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explores of Time" and "Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explores of Sky," I thought, why not add to the Mystery Dungeon collection with an old game? (since I couldn't afford the new one for 3DS).
But as I made my way to the GBA/DS section I noticed to my dismay that the small shelf was void of all games except one... "Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns."
I wasn't sure if I wanted it or not, I walked away several times but found myself going back to that game. I always loved the series ever since my mom bought "Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life" for the Gamecube and it seemed wrong not to take it home. Besides, I seen it in the eShop on my 3DS and pondered buying it, so might as well, right?
When it came our time to pay I requested the Harvest Moon game, the cashier nods slightly and fetches the game. When he returns he looks a little uneasy but I think nothing of it at the time. He bags the games and turns to me and says in a slightly urgent tone, "You know we have a policy for these games... after three days you can return it if you are unsatisfied."
I found it odd since he hasn't breathed a word of this to any of his previous customers nor has he told this to my sister, so why me? I thank him for the advice as my sister and I leave the store.
Looking back on the situation, I wonder if he was trying to tell me something about the game. And it makes me wonder if he knew something was wrong with it.
Despite what happened in the store I was anxious to play the game, after watching my sister play Tomodachi Life I went upstairs and began to play my new game.
It started as any other Harvest Moon game, a small cut-scene and upbeat music before cutting to the title, displaying the name in typical Harvest Moon fashion with the main name on a wooden panel, and bubble letters of the spinoff name.
When I clicked "A," it gave me the options to "Continue" and "New Game," naturally I proceeded with a fresh start and proceeded with the process of picking my gender, name, birthday, and season.
After which followed another cut-scene of which your character is going down the road to start their new farm/ranch life and has an accident, in which the cart breaks, your horse is hurt, and your character suffers from slight amnesia and forgets which town they wanted to go to. They were later greeted by both mayors of Bluebell and Konohana, both mayors described their towns and I chose Konohana since it sounded like Konoha from Naruto.
After a quick session on how each button worked and what button did what action, I was finally able to play the game.
Unlike the other town, Konohana is well known for growing crops, while Bluebell is known for their livestock.
I had my character, Arekusu, spend the first day exploring getting used to the map of the world. The next day Arekusu was taken down to the town and given a tour of Konohana by the mayor. When we arrived at the tunnel connecting the two towns Arekusu was told that the tunnel was blocked off, making a trip to the other town, a long journey which required going through the mountain.
After what the mayor tells Arekusu, she leaves her at the tunnel, triggering the Harvest Goddess to appear and she tells Arekusu the story behind the blockade. Then we find out she blocked it because she was annoyed with the mayors fighting, and as always she is asking you to solve this feud yourself because she is too lazy.
And we find out that the only way to stop the fighting is to enter cooking contests. Agreeing to this, I finally get to start my freeplay once again, I decided to buy some crops for my farm to start making money and to start preparing for the upcoming contest.
I have Arekusu run to Gobe's (a cute little old man who dresses in traditional asian clothing) house, where the seeds were sold. But when Arekusu reached the building the song that was playing in the background stalled out, playing one monotonous note and a exclamation point appeared over Arekusu's head. I wasn't too sure what to think of this but I brushed it off.
Thinking it was a small glitch in the game I move Arekusu into the shop and walked around, everything seemed normal, the room was styled like a Japanese home with a counter in the center as I had my character walk up to Gobe and talked to the old man. He said, "Go, IT'S waiting." The picture of the old man then shifted to a picture of him laughing.
I wasn't sure if this was just a random comment that he makes, but it made me sit my 3DS down for a moment before continuing. I know from previous knowledge of Harvest Moon games they, the characters, often say random things, but this was kind of creepy.
Deciding to continue the game, I move my character around the counter to talk to Gobe so I could purchase the seeds, but all the text box held was the single word, "Sobbing..."
I was a bit confused so I decided to give up on the seeds and return my avatar home. Upon leaving the shop, the music, I noticed played slowly and the exclamation point returned which soon switched to the ellipses and a text box popping up saying, "I think I'm forgetting something... I should go home."
My screen turned white and when the brightness faded, my avatar was back home. Standing in front of the Chicken Coop, the music stopped, which doesn't happen until the late hours in all Harvest Moon games.
Arekusu walked toward the coop on her own and entered it, the screen faded to black and only one sound rung out and that was the clucking of a chicken.
When the game visual returned I noticed a black chicken in the coop!
I hadn't bought a chicken, because Konohana isn't about farm animals, the village thrives due to its crops.
I sat my game down and did research about the chickens in Tale of Two Towns, what I found was that a lady named Jessica sells chickens to you at a good price, but you can obtain a free chicken if you chose Bluebell as the town to live in. But the chicken I had was only obtainable in the second year.
I thought I was lucky, I didn't have to wait for the second year. I walked my character over to the book that sat on a crate in the coop, I figured it was the animal ledger that all HMs had. I was right, I noticed that they had icons of the animals you can collect and raise.
The animals were Sheep, Cows, House-pets, Alpacas, Owls, and Chickens.
All the animals I didn't own were shaded blue and I wasn't able to click on them, this included the chicken.
I thought that was weird since it was in the coop, I walked my character toward the chicken and clicked "A" to hold it. But as I hit "A" the chicken disappeared with a loud sound which sounded much like a low, distorted scream!
The sound caused me to jump and drop my 3DS, I stared at the screen for a moment and watched as the screen cut to black and more distorted, static-like screams filled the silence before it all ended as my character woke up the following morning.
I moved Arekusu around the house and around the farm to see if the chicken was still there, and I was relieved to see that the chicken was nowhere to be found.
I proceeded to play the game normally but I was still scared that I would have a run-in with the chicken. I decided to try and make money since I knew that is required to expand the house and to help boost friendship in this game.
At one point, I had decided to try and buy seeds again from the old seed farmer Gobe. When I walked to his shop/home, the song began to jump and skip beats before stalling on one continuous note when I reached the stairs, like it had the last time I visited.
Like last time everything seemed normal until I talked to Gobe, his picture showed him laughing but the text box read, "Beware... it comes black..." I was confused by this, I sort of felt like he was referring to the chicken I saw, but I dismissed it.
I bought my seeds for that season and got Arekusu home and began to plant my crops, but each time I planted my crops the sound effect for the seeds being placed looped.
I would have to enter and exit either the barn, my house, or the coop to make it stop. I sent Arekusu to bed after saving, because the whole back and forth with the looping and having to enter and exit buildings was just too much. But when the screen went to black a text box popped up saying, "It's coming." I thought it was the Harvest Goddess talking since she and the Harvest Sprites are known to have little moments like this, where they speak to your character implying they are dreaming.
As the days past in the game, my crops would always die and never grow, leaving me broke and without crops. I thought it was because I was in the wrong season with them but I would always look up the crops for the current season before I bought them.
Frustrated with the failed crops I decided that it was time for a break. I saved the game ignoring the pop saying, "It's almost here..." and turned off my game.
I decided that I'll try again the next day and take a different approach in the game when it comes to making money.
The next morning, I decided to play the game again but when I selected the icon for "Tale of Two Towns," the screen froze, I reset the 3DS and tried again. This time red and blue lines appeared on the top screen and the bottom screen was static, I thought it was the system so I tried one of my apps and it worked fine, I tried loading several of my old games and they worked fine.
It was only when I tried loading the game a third time it finally loaded, and it went to the title screen and the usual cute title was now jumbled symbols, and the dates that show how long the series ran said 1629-1692. I stared at the date and shrugged, not thinking much of it.
I continued to play it and came up with an easier plan to make money, I decided I would be better off just scavenging around the mountain, selling what I had found.
Within a few hours in real life, a few months past in the game. And like before, the mayor had visited Arekusu again and told me about the ability to move to the other town, and that I could always come back to this one if I ever wanted to. I thought it would be a nice change and I would have better luck making money off my animal products, since crop growing failed.
I moved Arekusu to Bluebell that same day and I was thrilled because I was finally able to own animals and sell the products that they produced.
That same day I decided to save and tour the town the next day, but as I saved I got a message saying, "Wretched girl..." I wasn't sure if they were referring to me or to Arekusu. The next morning in the game, the mayor of Bluebell visited, when he visited all that his text said was, "You wretched girl!"
The avatar image of him was the one of him angry. He said nothing more as he turned away from Arekusu and left her home.
Time in the game passed fairly quickly as I had the tunnel slowly cleared out and as I entered the food contests to build up the friendship levels of the mayors and before I knew it I had filled all the hearts for the mayors.
The next day in the game there was a cut scene, the screen was black, and white font appeared saying, "You serve him... we all serve him..." then it faded to white and showed my character in the house where the old lady from Konohana appears, telling me to go to the mountain.
Another cut scene followed and Arekusu was at the mountain, both mayors were at the edge as the villagers from both towns stood nearby.
The son of the mayor from Konohana shouted something but the text was distorted. The mayors looked at one another then to the crowd, when suddenly little speech bubbles appeared over their heads showing skulls.
The crowd then had exclamation points over their heads as the mayors stepped forward, causing the crowd to step backward at this point. No music was playing in the game nor was there any sound, the mayors kept advancing and as soon as they reached the crowd the screen glitched, showing me a red screen.
I was about to reset the game when a soft sound was heard coming out of the speakers, it sounded like laughing but before I could really make out what the sound was, it cut to the credits.
The game was over, and as the credits rolled a slow eerie version of "Ring Around the Rosie" played out, notes would occasionally be skipped and often the sounds of soft faint child chuckles would play would be heard.
The names that were scrolling through I never seen listed before in any Harvest Moon games nor with Natsume or Nintendo.
The names that were listed seemed like old names from long ago, I don't remember all the names but I know that they all sounded familiar, I know I read or heard them from somewhere.
The screen then faded to black and then the text box opened saying, "Continue?" With the option of, "Yes" and "No."
I clicked yes...
The game flashed then crashed with the screen fading to black and it froze on the black screen with the words, "May God bless them..."
I was done at that point. I believe in God and I love Him. For my parents taught us about the holy book but this game seemed evil in a way and I didn't like.
I wanted nothing more than to throw it away and save someone else the trouble of dealing with this game!
I told my friend about it on my DeviantArt account and he said he wanted to film the game to stick on Youtube. I reluctantly agreed but each time we tried to record it the game and system would appear to be off.
We tried with many different cameras and it all resulted in the same outcome.
He told me I should try playing it again and I reluctantly agreed. The game this time around started normally, no freak start ups or mess ups.
In the game it was year two and I had decided to add to my livestock, since my Jersey Cow Annie, my Normal Cow Hanji, and my Sheep Marco were doing so well, occasionally producing gold items.
I decided to add to my chickens because I always needed eggs for some odd reason and Ymir, Tonnie, and Krista were producing a lot, I just needed more.
I had Arekusu head over to Jessica's Livestock and talk to Jessica, instead of her usual message of, "Welcome to Jessica's Livestock," she said, "If they float then they're..." The screen then cut to the livestock list.
I extolled down and was thrilled to see she had a new animal, but I immediately felt dread when I realized what kind of animal it was.
She had the Silkie Chicken in stock. My friend told me to go ahead and buy it, he said he highly doubts it's the same chicken.
I had to agree with that, and I decided to buy the chicken.
I named the chicken "Connie" and made Arekusu go back to the farm. When she entered the barn, Connie had the skull icon above his head, meaning he was sick. I was confused, in previous HM games you are always given healthy animals, heck my other animals came healthy.
I had Arekusu run back to the store and I bought animal medicine, and used it on Connie. The next day in the game, I woke up only to find that Marco, my sheep, had died and that Connie was sick again.
I bought medicine and used it on Connie, I also noticed that everyone I had high friendship levels with had gone down, but I figured that it was like in "Harvest Moon Save the Homeland," how everyone is mad at you for the day, telling you to be more careful.
Well the next day Arekusu wakes, only to find that Ymir had died and Connie was once again sick.
This happened over and over until all my farm animals had died except Connie. Connie was now healthy and would eat and run about.
I noticed that my pets; Erwin, Levi, (big and little dog) Japan (cat) and Kohaku (Owl) wouldn't eat or go outside anymore. It wasn't until the following day that they were nowhere to be found!
It was like the game erased them!
The same thing happened to Cam, the florist, and the character I was trying to marry!
I wasn't sure what to think. I stopped playing the game and went to GameFAQs, and asked them, "Bought a chicken and it was sick, the next day and those that follow a my livestock died except for one my chicken I had bought. My livestock were just a year old. And the bachelor I am trying to marry (Cam) is gone! And it's not the days he out of town."
I never got a response to the thread so I took it down.
I decided that I would sell Connie.
I went to Jessica and she wasn't there, I tried every time, everyday she was just gone!
I decided to talk with Ash (even though he doesn't sell or buy animals) but he was gone too.
I decided to check the entire village, I had Arekusu check all the buildings and all the houses but they were void of people and animals, I then had her run to the other village, but when I got there the screen cut to black and text popped up saying.
"They're dead... with their rings around their rosies and pockets full of posies."
Then another cut scene showing Arekusu, she stood facing the river and the music that was playing stopped. Behind her, Connie appears and walks up before running towards Arekusu, before the screen cut to black.
Only the clucking of the chicken can be heard and the screen says:
"The End, your trial ran from 1629 to 1692."
Written by ThatOnePasta