Harvest Moon: Mad Dash Review
What do you get when you take Harvest Moon, take out all the RPG elements, add some really simple puzzles and then charge £17 for it? Well, you get Harvest Moon: Mad Dash, and you might well wish you hadn’t.
Here is a game that’s almost entirely the opposite of what Harvest Moon is all about, but with the name splashed all over it and the familiar sprites front and centre. It’ll almost make growing vegetables seem a chore, if you can imagine such a thing.
Here’s it straight: Mad Dash isn’t a good game. Honestly, I’m not sure it’s trying to be. It’s a simple spin-off targetted at casual fans of the series who want a mobile-like experience on console. Nothing more, nothing less. And for all the way it fails to be engaging for those who want more meat on their Harvest Moon, no doubt this will have its fans as well.
Mad Dash in Slo-Mo
Firstly, I’m pretty sure that name was chosen to mock potential buyers. Mad Dash it isn’t. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to move patches of vegetables into blocks. The bigger the blocks, the more points you earn. And what do points mean?
Usually prizes, but in the case of Mad Dash points mean gaining access to more Mad Dash. You must make your way across a mobile game style map of levels to restore the island to its former glory. Each level takes a couple of minutes and is fun enough with friends. Levels are so easy to begin with and the difficulty ramps up so slowly that you’ll have no problem getting the coveted three stars.
Occasionally the developers will add in a new challenge to overcome – maybe there’s a boar stampeding over your crops and you have to move them in time. Man, oh man, the things you have to deal with as a dedicated farmboy. Luckily by the time this and similar barriers are added, you’ve already mastered the skills of moving crops slowly from one location to the other, and so it does little to push you on.
Match crops in too inefficient a way and they’ll wither and die. This would add an interesting layer of strategy if not for the fact you’re given a warning not to add any more crops to a block when they’re about to die. Power through until you’re literally told not to.
Cows need feeding and there are fish to catch too. That adds a little variety, but you’re still effectively just moving blocks from one area to another in a not very pressured scenario.
A long, long journey
Remember that old joke from Annie Hall? Two women eating at a restaurant, one says: “I hate the food here.” The other says: “Yes, and in such small portions.”
That might apply to life, but it doesn’t apply to Harvest Moon: Mad Rush. It is gargantuan. Fans are rewarded with plenty to do. If you have masochistic tendencies, well that’s just another plus point for this title.
There are a lot of levels – more levels than most people could possibly want. Beyond that though, there isn’t a lot on offer. There aren’t other modes hidden away. You finish a level, get your three stars (because I’m not sure there’s any other option) and carry on.
Any game that has local co-op is at least worth a try in my book, and my wife and I did enjoy Mad Rush for what it is. The ‘tutorial’ feel is strong, and there wasn’t enough to keep us coming back for more.
Visuals are nice enough. They’re bright, colourful and don’t get in the way of things. The music is forgettable but, again, not too big a problem. There’s enough to like that if you feel like Mad Dash is for you, you’ll be happy with its presentation.
Mad Dash is a mobile title released on console for more than three times the price. It’s come to Xbox One nearly a year after release on other platforms. It uses the Harvest Moon name, but isn’t a Harvest Moon game by any other descrpition.
With that said, there’s a gentle puzzle game in Mad Dash that will have its fans. If you’re looking for something that won’t stretch your gaming muscle in the slightest but has bright visuals, an almost impossible-to-lose gameplay style and an endless amount of levels to check out, look no further.