Harvest Moon: Frantic Farming is a Puzzle Game Spin-Off of the Harvest Moon series and a follow-up to the less-than-well-received Puzzle de Harvest Moon. In it, you play as one of twelve characters from the Island of Happiness branch, dealing with a sudden outbreak of vegetable crops sprouting everywhere, threatening to overrun the island.
Story Mode is split into five parts, which intersect at various points. Which part of the story you get depends on which charcter you're playing as:
- As Mark or Natalie: You're seeking out the Harvest Goddess, trying to get her help (or an explanation) as to why crops are sprouting everywhere.
- As Chelsea, Shea or Vaughn: You're gathering vegetables for Wada, so he can complete a ritual that should rid the island of the runaway plants.
- As Elliot, Julia or Sabrina: You're seeking out special shining veggies on behalf of the Witch Princess for a special potion that should rid the island of the runaway plants.
- As Denny, Lanna or Pierre: You're gathering crops so Pierre can whip up a special feast for the island.
- Complete Story Mode with all eleven charcters, you unlock the Witch Princess and find out what really caused the crop outbreak.
Game play is... hard to explain. The game is played on a 7 X 7 grid, with crop types (corn, tomatoes, etc.) taking the place of traditional colored blocks. You can "harvest" (remove) fully grown crops from the board one at a time or in groups. Every time you harvest a crop, the crops around it are watered and grow a level closer to ripe. The more you harvest at a time ("chains") the bigger your point total and crops will be watered over a wider area. You also have special crops: Big crops can't be chained, but will fully grow any crops touching it when harvested. Shining Crops can be picked individually, clearing the board of all crops of that type or placed at the end of a chain, acting as a point mulitplier. In addition, each character has a Special Skill that can be used once your Skill Meter has filled.
In addition to Story Mode, there's also Mission Mode (puzzles that must be solved in a set amount of moves), Score Attack (play until you run out of time or moves), Vs Mode (play 1-3 CPU opponents) and Multiplayer via Wi-Fi.
Frantic Farming contains examples of the following tropes:
- Artificial Stupidity: Your CPU teammates sometimes get arbitrarily useless, leaving you to do all the heavy lifting.
- Bizarre Puzzle Game: The game is impossible to put into X Meets Y terms.
- Demoted to Extra: If a character wasn't a marriage candidate in Island of Happiness, they're a cameo at best here - with the exceptions of Taro, who runs the Tutorial Level and Wada, who is a major part of Chelsea, Shea and Vaughn's sections.
- Difficulty Spike: Once you get past Mark and Chelsea in Mission Mode, you will be reaching for an FAQ within minutes.
- Flanderization: Several characters sport exaggerated versions of their personalities from the main series: Elliot is a ball of nerves, Lanna goes from The Ditz to full on Dumb Blond, and Julia giggles A LOT (*tee-hee!*)
- Limit Break: Special Skills
- Mana Meter: Skill Meter.
- "Rashomon"-Style: Each branch of the story (save the Witch Princess') is told from multiple POVs, varying slightly depending on who the player character is.
- Schizophrenic Difficulty: See Artificial Stupidity
- Super Move Portrait Attack: Invoked when triggering Special Skills.
- Trial And Error Game Play: Most Mission Mode stages rated higher than "Easy".