[Editor's Note - "Seth" is currently 11 years old.]
In Harvest Moon: Magical Melody, you play the role of a farmer, either a boy or a girl. You come to a village on an "Exciting Ranch Plan." Theodore, the Mayor of FlowerBud Village, then greets you. You're then given a choice of 3 plots of land: one in the middle of town, one at a riverside, and one next to the ocean.
The land in the middle of town is convenient as it is next to many of the shops, but is so small it can only support your house. The riverside plot is fertile and its location makes it easy to fish, but too small to support animals beyond chickens. The ocean plot has poor soil, but it is big enough to support livestock. The Oceanside plot is also a good place to fish, and there is always a place to plant.
After you choose your plot and go to your house to sleep, there is a cut scene. A pointy-eared girl appears and is turned to stone. Some small elves despair, and a girl/boy (depending on your gender) named Jamie comes, sees the stone, and sits down. She promises that she will save the Harvest Goddess (the pointy-eared girl).
You then wake up, stretch, and think about your dream. A noise outside prompts you to go and investigate. You see three elves outside your door. You rub your eyes to check and make sure you're not seeing things! When you realize that they're real, you talk to them until they take you to the Harvest Goddess Spring. There they show you the stone goddess.
After you talk with the elves they give you a pedometer. You take a step away when a musical note pops up! Startled, you run back to the elves. They explain what the note is. The musical notes are like achievements. They are required to complete the game. When you gain five musical notes you can go to the Harvest Goddess Spring where the elves transform them into a musical instrument. Ten instruments are needed to release the Harvest Goddess from her rocky prison.
After that random encounter, you return to your house, sleep, and wake up again. Time to work! You begin with a fishing pole, hammer, sickle, axe, hoe, fire kit, some seeds, and a watering can.
These tools are used to farm, fish, cook, and mine. In the mines you find valuable ores and gemstones. These can be used to upgrade tools and have jewelry crafted for others. Better tools allow your character to work longer and more efficiently. Jewelry can help woo a spouse, which earns you one of the musical notes needed to release the Harvest Goddess.
I farmed by using my hoe to create a 3x3 box with a hole in the middle. I then stood in the middle and planted my seeds. I did this because when the plants grow too high you can't walk through to water plants behind other plants. The fruits and vegetables you plant depend upon the season. Anything that is still growing when the seasons change will wither away and die. Some examples are strawberries, which grow in summer, tomatoes which grow in spring, and sweet potatoes which grow in fall. In winter, nothing grows except grass for fodder.
I often used my fishing pole to fish at the river, because I choose the Riverside Estate. Fishing earned me about $1000/day. Soon, I had enough money to buy a chicken coop. A season later, I bought my second plot - the Oceanside plot. I bought some seeds so I could ship produce and earn extra money every other day. After I earned enough money, I bought a barn. About ten days later, a pig hid behind me and its owner came looking for it. After a short talk, the owner of the pig gave it to me.
As you earn money, you can buy other animals like horses, cows, and sheep. You can sell the byproducts that you can get from the animals and create things like milk, mayonnaise, and dyed wool. The horse is only for riding and contests. The cow obviously produces milk and the sheep can be sheared for wool. The animals also can give birth but you have to use a potion to allow them to have an offspring.
The pig is the second pet I gained because I already owned a dog. As I was playing the game, animals like monkeys, rabbits, and sparrows wandered around for me to meet. Some animals are special, like the mole that destroyed my crops and the dolphin that took me to a special island after it had about three hearts. The hearts indicate how much an animal or person likes you. An animal with a lot of hearts will probably come and find you during the day, and a person with five or six hearts is available to be married.
Every season there are four or five festivals. These festivals can be contests, such as animal judging or food tasting. Others, like the horse racing contest and Moonlight Bay, have mini games that you can play for fun. At the festivals you are able to meet other citizens and people from outside of town who move in as you advance through the game and build up your farm. The only thing I did not like about the festivals was that if you were already at the festival and you forgot something, you could not leave to get it because if you did the clock chimed six and the festival ends.
As you earn more and more money you can go to the Junk Shop (a "general" store) and buy kitchen appliances and furniture for your house. I bought a lot of tools for my kitchen. I usually cooked the food because cooked food put in the shipping bin in front of your house to be sold earned much more money. As you buy the appliances, recipes for that specific tool will show up in your recipe list. The only tools you begin with are a cutting board for making sashimi (strips of raw fish) and the fire kit which can be used to roast fish, corn, and chestnuts.
Throughout the game you will meet people that enjoy or are good at things other than farming. At the horse racing contest I met the daughter of the person who owns the Junk Shop. She decided to be my rival at horseback riding because that was what she enjoyed and was best at. Your rivals are still your friends and they will help you grow better but will still try and beat you at a contest.
I enjoy this game because it is unlike most games - how many games have you played where you are a farmer? It is a little easier than the other Harvest Moon games. It is fun to earn notes but also exciting when I come upon them upon them randomly. I also think that the game looks better than the other Harvest Moon games, is very fun and cool.