Let's Bake a Cake
It's time to get our cake on!
I don't know how spoilery it is to give away the "name" of the endings in this game. Like, "it has to do with cake" is not much of a spoiler it would seem, but the "stories" are pretty simplistic, so honestly knowing the last story was about a horse race was pretty much knowing the entire story...? LOL idk. This is probably not a game that even translates to play diaries very well...
We start our new year off right with... a rain forecast. Hey, we recently had a new year IRL too! But no rain. Well, I'm sure it rained somewhere... but it snowed here? Precipitation?
Uh. Anyway, no matter if the animals were left outside at the end of the last game, when you start your new game+, they're all inside anyway. So we don't have to worry about putting them back in to prepare for what might be a rainy day.
One thing I forgot to mention in the intro post for this story is that in new game+, you also get to keep all your crop as they were when the game ended last time. I guess it was probably something you could have easily assumed, though. Though if you'll notice in the screenshot... there are some dead ones. That's because the last day in our previous game was the day we heard about Nevile winning the race and spent the day partying (?) with Gwen and Bob. And we didn't get to do any farm work at all. And then we saved the game afterward. And yeah, the developers decided the best way to make a new game+ mode was to punish you for seeing the ending on the last day of your last game. And yeah, all the endings are like this lol.
I'm sure it was just an oversight, but honestly did no one test this...? Did they just not care to fix it or were they all using cheats to test NG+...?
Anyway, this also means all our animals went unfed for a day (since the ending cutscene automatically put them inside on the final day, meaning they didn't get a chance to graze or find their own food), so our animals are all unhappy. No eggs to start off the new year... Fortunately none of them got sick. Luna is OK, though, because she had her dog house and for some reason your dog doesn't care if it doesn't get fed.
Since the animals were inside and time doesn't pass while indoors, it doesn't take very long to get our chores out of the way for the first day, especially since we don't have to bring any animals out since it might rain tomorrow. The only thing that really passed time was messing with the crops. Thankfully I had stocked up on a bit of seeds from Lyla's shop, even though I had totally forgotten that getting an ending would make you skip a day of farmwork. I was just getting them for insurance in case I got sick or something. So I had enough seeds to replant our veggies that had died already.
And with little time passed, we head off straight to the Sunny Garden Cafe that sits next to Maple Lake. This place is pretty much going to be the central hub of our quest this time around, kinda how the Brownie Farm was our hub of the last story.
Standing out in front of the bar at the cafe, I guess working as a waitress or something, is Katie! I tried to get a screencap of her doing her little waving motion -- the characters animate when they begin talking, but the text is still scrolling, so I always have to decide between using a screenshot of them mid-animation with the text all cut off or with everyone just standing still in idle pose with the text fully on the screen.
Katie is a super cute character -- when you first talk to her, she starts a barrage of interrogation, asking you your name and age and where you're from and stuff. She seems to really like talking and being a little gossipy. She also introduces herself and lets you know she's 16 years old; I think she's the only character in the game that actually reveals her age at all.
Katie is an upbeat young girl and just so so adorable. I love her bright pink outfit and weird giant buckled-up white boots, and her hair is great, too. Overall, just a super cute design. She appears in Magical Melody as well, where they changed her outfit to all-black, which is a super weird design choice (though I think it's supposed to make her look more maid-like, even though there's already a more maid-like character in that game, and she's a waitress in that game, too, so?!)
Anyway, I love Katie, even though I'm not very good with descriptions, so just... KNOW SHE IS CUTE.
Also, Katie refers to you as "Tony's grandson." I always forget that your grandpa has a canon name in the game. It's pretty rare that someone will ever actually refer to him as "Tony" rather than as something like "your grandfather" or something like that.
Behind the counter, we also meet Wallace, who is Katie's grandfather. He owns the cafe-bar and spends all day standing behind the counter doing the Every Game Bartender Idle Pose of wiping out a cup with a cloth. He also has a giant chin and a long face so he's super adorable too. Basically, the cafe is the House of Cute.
We have a bunch of walnuts saved up from our summer in the last playthrough, so we decide to try giving one to each Katie and Wallace (and Parsley, who is a patron at the moment off in the corner). Everyone just says their generic, "Oh, thanks," message, so walnuts must not be too popular around here. Oh, well. It was worth a shot, right?
Taking it a bit easy on our first day, we head home and go to bed. The next day, we head to take care of the animals again, and I notice that on Urpina's feed box, her "milk status" thing has changed to "S"! This means that she now can give us a small amount of milk. And since we bought all our cows on the same day, that means that all of them have grown to adult size now and can give milk. I feel like this went really fast, though? I don't know if perhaps your animals get a little age boost between game playthroughs, or if they just grow up really fast in this game (most likely the latter, since this game is significantly shorter than other Harvest Moon games). It's been too long since I've last played this and bought cows from the start to really know how long it takes them to grow up, though. I guess it's like... a week? I guess they're almost adults when you get them, then.
Anyway, milking cows is pretty easy. We just equip the 'milker' tool and go to the side of a cow and use it to kneel down and grab for the udders...
A little 'squish squish' later and we have some milk! Actually, we've done this plenty of times before during our part-time work for Bob. But now we don't have to run all the way out there for a single milk, and we can get four milks every day from our own cows!
As the cows' affection grows, we'll be able to get even more milk from them, too, getting larger cans from them than just this 'small' one.
Since our ending is going to be about cake, it seems appropriate we go ahead and buy the kitchen from Woody. We have tons of money from our first year's worth of crops that we can afford to pay for it even after buying four cows and a Super Sickle and a milker and all that...
The kitchen is a pretty big extension -- when you get it, it feels like you're really 'made it' in the game. Of course, we're getting it right at the beginning of our second playthrough out of nine, and we could have easily gotten it before the horse race last time, but I wanted to save some stuff for the next playthrough. I don't know what we're even going to talk about in consecutive plays. I do think making everything possible to do in a single playthrough really wears down on the replayability of the game. Sure, you can get nine different endings, but you can pretty much completely all of the farm progress and everything in your first game, so... it's just more grinding through the rest of the narratives. It's probably the biggest flaw with this game -- a larger variety of activities and more to do to make more progress available between playthroughs would be great. Especially when you can easily clear many of the endings in a very short time that the game is less than 50% of the time you're allotted for a full play...
The blueberries are growing just outside the cafe, so I try giving those to Katie this time. I can't remember if I mentioned before, but each person will only accept one gift a day, so we have to wait a day each time to try new gifts to see if they will like it. I already know some easy stuff that works for Katie, but I want to see what kinds of different reactions she will give to various items. That's one thing that I do like about this game, is that unlike in a lot of the other games, instead of having a few generic reactions to gifts based on the level they like them, they have specific reactions to specific items, so it's fun to experiment with gifts to see what kinds of things people have to say.
Upon receiving the blueberries, Katie giggles and says that the berries make her happy, complete with a little heart icon at the end of her line. Though it's more a sign of her bubbly personality; I don't think blueberries are her favorite or anything.
Wallace doesn't seem to have any particular interest in blueberries, though.
Since we're in the area, we head over to the Goddess Pond, which makes us watch the cutscene where the Sprites tell us how to summon the Goddess again. I guess we'll have to do that every playthrough. We drop a gift in and wish for energy so we can spend more time digging up ores at the end of the day.
Like the doghouse, the kitchen extension completes in a single night. I'm not really sure how Woody and his crew built an entire extension that doubled the size of our house in a single night without waking us up, but... I'm not going to complain. And unlike the doghouse, Woody himself comes out to finish up the work, too. He says it was hard with just three people, but it seems like they did it pretty easily to me...
And with that, we've completed all the extensions in the game. Yeah, there's only two, and one's a dog house...
Again, I really wish they would have added more content instead of trying so hard to make it so you can get everything in a single playthrough. The playthroughs are so short that I think people would have liked this game more if there was more to do, instead of feeling like they ran out of content after a single ending...
Either way, the kitchen is a pretty cool reward. Our main bedroom seems slightly larger now, and there's a door next to the bookshelf that we can enter to head into the kitchen that we added on, which is bigger than the bedroom...
Our house feels so huge now, when it was a tiny little room before! Well, I guess mostly just in comparison, but still. And the place was even furnished for us! It seems Woody gave us a completely functional kitchen with appliances, utensils, and everything! We even got a free refrigerator. It's wild...
The kitchen gives us three cooking amenities: the frying pan, the pot, and the oven. When we approach any of them, we're prompted to insert up to three ingredients from our belongings, and then we can press the Start button to cook with the combination of ingredients that we've chosen. We can't put stuff like seeds into the recipes, but any of the crops, foraged nuts and berries and herbs, eggs, and milk, and anything that is edible pretty much, can be used as an ingredient.
Depending on the combination and which utensil you use, you can come up with different kinds of foods.
For example, putting one egg into the frying pan makes a Sunny Side Up. A bit intuitive! Food items are really great -- they restore a lot of stamina or recover a lot of fatigue (or both!) and it costs no stamina nor does it increase fatigue to cook! Plus, since the cooking is done indoors, time doesn't pass at all, so basically the kitchen is like a giant interactive UI that allows you to craft superior items for free as long as you have the ingredients.
Food is not only great for restoration, but food items make some of the best gifts, too. Most food will work as a good gift for almost anyone, and a lot of characters have favorite foods that will boost their affection a lot if you give it to them.
We can also store extra food in the refrigerator, which will make it so all the various things we cook up in here don't take up space in our inventory. Of course, we can't use items in the refrigerator, so if we want to take something with us, we have to make sure to pull it out and carry it in our bag.
Not all combinations of items will work out, though. In fact, only specific combinations work as recipes -- everything else will result in a "Failed Dish" item, which is this scary-looking blob thing with a big fork sticking out. In one game, failed dishes are called "Flopperoos," so that's of course my preferred name for failed dish items across the entire series.
Flopperoos will actually make your stamina and fatigue worse if you try to eat them, and if you try to give one as a gift, you'll just end up making your friends mad at you and lose affection points. It can be funny to see people's reactions when you try to give them your bubbling blob, though.
We spend a lot of time experimenting with various ingredients (I already know a lot of recipes, though, so we don't make too many flopperoos) to get a variety of foods stocked up into our fridge. Mixing corn or tomato with milk in the pot will make a cream soup. Putting berries together in the pot can make them into jam -- mix multiples of the same type of berry to make a jam of that type (like Blueberry Jam, Very Berry Jam, etc.) or put different kinds of berries together to make a Mixed Berry Jam. Jams in general are great gifts.
Using milk in the pot can create various dishes. Using a single small milk will make a warm milk drink (that stays warm and fresh in the fridge!), while using two will make some yogurt, and three will make cheese. Later when we have different "sizes" of milks we'll be able to get these same things with different combinations, too.
We're able to use that one fish we caught way back when with an herb we gathered in the valley to make a cooked fish dish. And we can make a hard-boiled egg by putting an egg in the pot, which looks identical to a 'plain' egg, so it can be kind of annoying since the item menus are all picture-based (you can of course press buttons to see descriptions of items, but this makes it so it's not easily distinguished from the picture alone).
And with that we've made about all we can make, so our kitchen adventures are over. One of my goals of a "100%" file in this game is to get a stack of 99 of every creatable food item in the game. There's actually just enough slots in the refrigerator storage so that you can have one stack of each food and it will be completely full. This includes flopperoos, too.
In the back of the kitchen, there are two doors that actually lead to a bathroom and a toilet (as in, a literal bathroom for bathing, and a toilet room for bodily excretion lol). There's not really a screenshot of them since all you do is go in the door and it plays a sound effect while you can't see anything, so here's a cake. I am not really sure if these do anything in this game, but in some games, adding a bath onto your house allows you to recover some stamina or fatigue by using them. I haven't really tested it, so they might just be for show in this game, though.
What's cool about that, though, if they do work, is that you can pretty much completely restore yourself without sleeping by visiting your home. Of course, it takes time to walk to your house, so even though time doesn't pass while you're inside, you still have to spend time making the trip. Fortunately in this game, almost any kind of work you can do is done on the farm not far from the house anyway, so it's not too big of a loss. I'll have to test it out with digging up ores some time to see how well it works.
BTW, if you're curious, by the sound effects it seems like you pee in this game. In some games you poop, though. And you can't remove your dog from the game by dropping it in the toilet in this one, sorry.