Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar is part of the Harvest Moon series of games, which focus on farming and friendship. At the start of the game, you inherit a farm, and get tasked with helping out with the local weekly Bazaar, a market which has been doing increasingly badly as time goes on. As the newbie in town, it's up to you to help turn it around, and make it into the best Bazaar in the region, by selling the crops you manage to grow.
Farming in the game's easy enough, as you plough your fields, and sow your seeds - and luckily, there's no requirement for children to check in at least once a day to water their crops. Time in the game doesn't pass in real time - it only passes while you're playing, meaning your child can go days in-between playing, and still have a field full of healthy crops.
There's more to Harvest Moon than just farming, too. For starters, there are regular festivals, which set you little challenges, like giving out as many flowers as possible - and when you get bored of those, there are dozens of people to talk to, with the intent of building a relationship, and eventually getting married, and starting a family.
The controls are rather straightforward, and you can choose to use either buttons or the Touch Screen, or even a mixture of the two. Basically, the + Control Pad moves your person, the A button makes your character jump, and the B button interacts with people, objects and uses your equipped item. You can access your inventory with the X button and bring up a quick list of stuff you can equip with R.
What may present more of a problem than the controls is the large amount of reading involved - everyone you talk to says several lines of text, and there are no voice overs, so you'll need to be a confident reader to handle this one. "So is it your job just to wander around the town?" and "Our once world-famous bazaar has now just become a small market" are a few examples of the sort of thing the villagers say - while not overly hard to read, reading is definitely necessary to fully enjoy the game.
As a cutesy farming game, Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar has nothing in the way of violence, swearing or sex - it's as clean as a whistle. While you do get to start a family, there's nothing more to this than getting married, and then deciding to have children, where your character will be pregnant for a short time before a baby magically appears.
Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar does come with multiplayer - although up to four players will each need their own game cartridge, either for local play or online. The multiplayer mode just lets you all work together, helping out on one of the players' farm as well as talking to townsfolk, fishing and pretty much all the other stuff you can do in the single-player game. There's also the opportunity for snowball fights between friends in winter!
Format Reviewed: Nintendo DS