Harvest Moon: Magical Melody is a game in the Harvest Moon (now Story of Seasons) series, developed by Marvelous Entertainment and translated by Natsume in North America and Rising Star Games in Europe. It was released for the Nintendo GameCube in Japan in 2005, and in America in 2006. A Wii port was developed for the European release in 2008, and was released in America in 2009.
Magical Melody, like most other games in the series, is a farming Simulation Game. It features many characters from the original SNES game and Save the Homeland, all re-deformed into the cartoonish, child-friendly art style of the early games.
The central location is Flower Bud Village, a small town with a few shops that finds itself in need of new blood. To this end, it advertises the Exciting Ranch Plan, a plan for aspiring farmers to move to town, purchase land, and start their own farm. Enter the player character, who moves to town to start a new life.
Not too long after, the player runs into a trio of Harvest Sprites, all of whom are quite surprised that they can see them. The Sprites enlist the player's help to rescue the Harvest Goddess, who has turned to stone out of despair at the unkindness of the world. To save her, the player must collect 50 musical notes, which are granted for various tasks or life events such as attending festivals, getting married, or doing a certain number of a job (like chopping wood or pulling weeds). However, the player isn't the only one collecting the notes; another farmer, Jamie, also wants to save the Harvest Goddess, and seems unusually determined to do it alone.
This game provides examples of:
- 100% Completion: Only 50 notes are required to rescue the Harvest Goddess, but after you save her she'll ask you to gather all 100 of the notes anyway.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: Michael, Ann's father, gets his hair changed from brown to blue.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: The characters lifted from the original game. Kind of to be expected, since the original game was for the SNES and took place in the early 1900s.
- Ambiguous Gender: Jamie, since his/her gender is the opposite of the one you choose.
- And Your Reward Is Parenthood: Get married and you'll eventually have a baby. Unlike other games, your child's gender is never stated, so you're free to assume whether you have a son or daughter.
- Awesome, but Impractical: The upgraded hammer will smash huge amounts of rocks at once without using nearly as much stamina as you would by smashing them one at a time, so you might think using it in the mines would be a great idea. Except that once you unearth items in the mines, you have about five seconds to pick them up before they disappear. The most items you can pick up before all the rest vanish is two, and that's assuming you don't get interrupted by a low stamina animation eating up most of that time on its own.
- Bowdlerise: Natsume removed all references to alcohol, presumably since the Super-Deformed look makes this title even more kid friendly than the previous one. You still drink alcohol but it's referred to as "soda". Coincidentally (or not?) it also makes it more like the first game since it also censored the alcohol references.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Somehow Jamie will always manage to have tons of farm shipments. Including in the winter, when no crops can be grown, or during a typhoon or blizzard which prevents the player from leaving the house at all. Presumably Jamie is stockpiling huge amounts of crops and then shipping some each day in the winter just to outdo you. However since the shipping competition with Jamie has no gameplay consequences at all, this ultimately doesn't matter.
- Creepy Child: Meryl has a tendency to talk about death and not wanting to grow up. This is assuming you can get her to talk to you, as she's incredibly fearful of other people.
- Disabled in the Adaptation: Dia is sick in this title. In Save the Homeland she was just aloof.
- Expy: While most of the characters are lifted from the original Harvest Moon or Save the Homeland, most of the ones that aren't are expies, usually of characters from Harvest Moon 64 and/or Back to Nature:
- Blue is an expy of Gray from 64, having nearly identical appearances, personalities, and having color-based names.
- Doctor Alex is an expy of Doctor from the Mineral Town games.
- Ray is an expy of Cliff, both in appearance and the apparent lack of permanent housing.
- Cafe owner Carl is an expy of baker Jeff from 64, though Carl is younger, blonder, and clean shaven.
- Dan is an expy of Kai, being an Ambiguously Brown man dressed in purple and working at a winery.
- Meryl visually resembles the fortune teller's granddaughter from the first game. She also takes after May from 64 and has a similar sounding name.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: It's possible to get Louis to move to town permanently before you actually see the event where you meet him, and he will act like you're already acquainted. Then, when you attend the festival you're supposed to meet him at, he will act like you've never met.
- Going Through the Motions: The game took a lot of flak for doing this poorly.
- Gotta Catch 'Em All: The 100 musical notes.
- Guilt-Based Gaming: Magical Melody does this the first time one of your animals gets sick. Your character has a dream that the animal dies and Hank yells at you for not giving it medicine when it was ill. Your character then stands before the animal's grave and tombstone while looking miserable before waking up.
- Healthy Country Air: ill girl Dia moved to the country for health reasons, though she almost never goes outside. If you befriend her enough, she reveals that she isn't actually that ill; the main reason she moved to Flower Bud was to avoid her parents' constant fighting.
- A Homeowner Is You: You can purchase multiple homes for yourself if you so choose, and in fact you have to at least purchase a second house to get one of the notes.
- Housepet Pig: This is the first game in the Story of Seasons series to include pigs, but, rather than being butchered for meat, they're a pet like your dog and can be used to sniff out truffles to collect.
- An Interior Designer Is You: Magical Melody was the first game to allow the player to fully customize the furniture in their home.
- Lighter and Softer: Zig-zagged. It's certainly lighter than games like 64 and A Wonderful Life, has a bright and cute look, and lacks a church (though religion is referenced). But it still contains many dark references to things such as death and the characters can still drink alcohol (even if the English versions clumsily censored that).
- Luck-Based Mission: Getting to the bottom floor of either mine requires a lot of luck, as besides the amount of floors your traverse being random whenever you step on a hole, the holes can inexplicably randomly send you up floors instead, losing you progress. And time passes normally within the mines, so eventually you'll just run out of time and be forced back into your home at 6AM, meaning you can't brute force it by just staying in the mines until you get the run of luck required to reach the bottom.
- Mini-Game: A few of them are actually plot-relevant, like the horse race mini game and the mountain climbing one.
- Mythology Gag: Being released for the series 10th anniversary, alongside DS, this game is almost a reimagining of SNES. Most of the stuff is either pulled straight from that game or similar enough.
- Named by the Adaptation: Ann's father and Nina's mother were unnamed in the original title.
- Non Standard Game Over: Marrying Jamie in the English version ends the game. This is because Jamie was not available to marry in the Japanese version. It was added in the English version.
- Parental Abandonment: Inverted with Dia; she came to Flower Bud Village to avoid her parents' constant fighting. Straight versions include Ann's mother, Nina's father, Meryl's parents, and Tim's parents; they all died. If they're not in the actual game they generally aren't mentioned.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Downplayed with Woody, Kurt, and Joe, since you can hire them to do jobs for you; however, you seem to be the only person in town who is actually hiring them, and you don't ever get to see them at work since all of their jobs are completed overnight. They mostly spend their time standing around inside their house. Joe even admits that they don't really do any work unless they're specifically asked to.
- Retraux: The Super-Deformed character design invokes the art style of 64 and Back To Nature.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Soft-spoken and cranky Kurt with cheerful, outgoing Joe.
- Sound Stone: The notes, obtained by doing various tasks around the village. There are a hundred in total, and you have to collect half of them to revive the Harvest Goddess.
- Take Your Time: You're supposed to be competing with Jamie in both the farming business and reviving the Harvest Goddess, which should be creating a sense of urgency with growing your farm's output and collecting the notes to revive the Goddess, but the former ends up just being meaningless numbers on the menu screen that has no real gameplay consequences, and after the introductory cutscene Jamie will never be involved with anything reviving the Goddess. So ultimately you don't need to give a damn about your daily shipping output, and you can collect the notes to revive the Goddess at your leisure, no matter how long it takes you.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: Your horse's heart level determines what race you can enter it in, and you can't enter it in any lower-ranked races. If your horse's heart level surpasses the limit for the race you want to enter, you're forced to abuse your horse to get its heart level back down to the correct level.
- Video Game Cruelty Punishment:
- As usual, hitting your animals with your tools will cause them to lose a lot of affection for you, which in turn means you get less quality products from them. Also in this game, hitting people with your tools (or really, using your tools in their general vicinity) will cause them to lose a whole heart's worth of affection for you, which is quite the hefty amount when it can take well over a week of daily visits and gifts to get someone's affection up by just one heart.
- Littering by throwing trash on land you don't own will cause everyone to lose a tiny bit of affection for you, which is denoted by a loud booing sound when you do so.