The Harvest Moon series is one that I've always met with a bit of reservation. I can pick up the game and play it with relative ease, it's not hard to figure out what's going on or what you have to do. It's just hard to get past the fact that it's a videogame about farming. What was I farming for? Why was I farming? To be the best farmer? As a result my relationship with the game is a little touch-and-go, and as each title tries to think of a new way for players to farm it's hard not to wonder if perhaps they're out of ideas.
Don't get me wrong, Harvest Moon DS: Grand Bazaar sounds kinda fun. I get to farm up my property in hopes of being able to make some exotic things to sell to suckers so I can make my farm even cooler. The greedy capitalist in me can resonate with that. Bringing commerce back to a town that desperately needs it sounds reasonably fun, particularly since filling the town with goodies means that I can take advantage of its new exotic shops. It's just hard to see where the 'fun' comes in with these multiplayer options.
Harvest Moon is not a game I can imagine sitting down and sharing with a few close friends. In fact, the way most multiplayer games work opening up my farm to others sounds like the worst kind of idea. Showing friends what a digital farm looks like only has so many thrills. If anyone wanted to show their friends the farm so bad couldn't they just hand over the DS for a bit? I suppose if there were a few minigames to play there could be something there, but unless the multiplayer aspect of the game is present constantly and open to all why even bother putting it in?
Running the in-game store also has a curious property to it. What can you sell, and more importantly to whom? There's a bit of potential in being able to have friends purchase goods that you've taken the time to cultivate, but at that point why not encourage trading rather than 'selling'. It's hard not to wonder if multiplayer made its way into the game completely based around the success of Farmville, and if so maybe they would have had better luck simply making an online version of Harvest Moon.
Considering that Harvest Moon isn't the type of that game rapidly evolves perhaps a multiplayer element is just the next slow step of progression for the series, but it's not much to hope that developers could come up with something new and different. Though to be fair, there's only so much you can add to the series without having the farm run itself. Maybe it's time for the series to start letting player run multiple farms at once, or get some sort of farming rival.
Either way multiplayer seems like the weakest of all possible options for the game, and unless something grand is unveiled at E3 this year I don't think the series as a whole has much life left. It would be wonderful to be proven wrong, but I get the feeling that the developer isn't quite sure what this series needs to stay fresh.