Well, I might have been able to get some impressions up over the weekend, but my local gaming shop had a distribution snafu so I didn't even get hold of the game until Saturday evening.
I've played probably about 5 hours so far, and I'm loving it.
It was a bit tough to get started, not the least of which was due to apparently some trouble the game had reading my controller's X button properly until I swapped to a different controller. Five years on a controller before it ran into trouble? No biggie to me.
The game starts off a bit slow, making you plod through some (to me at least) very uninteresting story bits with these little gnome guys and the Harvest Goddess, who is apparently so distraught that she's decided to turn herself into stone until enough magical musical instruments are brought into her presence to cheer her up.
Fortunately, that whole Harvest Goddess deal is not the main focus of the game. It makes for an interesting diversion occasionally if you care to, but from my experience so far, you can wait until you've acquired all 100 musical melodies and take them to the magical gnome spring of acid-tripping all at the same time.
What are these melodies? These are very much like Achievements on 360 games; there are 100 various accomplishments you can make in the game which, upon doing so, each earns you a magical melody (hence, I assume, the game's subtitle). I've already earned around 11 of them, and there's a submenu where you can view the ones you've earned as well as little blurbs about the ones you have yet to earn, which give you hints as to what to accomplish. For instance, I worked a couple of days in a row at first without talking to any villagers, and received the "Lone Wolf" melody for my isolationary habits.
Speaking of working so much at first; let's just say that you'll be in a time and stamina crunch each and every day. Much like the original SNES Harvest Moon, I'm finding that I'm planning my days out about two in advance, though plans can easily change with the weather! I take advantage of rainy days to either head to the cave and mine for ore/gems, or go fishing all morning and cook up enough food for meals over the next few days. On harvest days, I usually will end up fishing or chopping wood in the afternoon, since between harvesting and watering my morning and half my stamina are gone by the time I'm done.
I've been working on clearing and cultivating my little plot of land, and am nearing enough cash and wood to purchase another plot and hopefully a chicken coop.
The game is NOT easy, and that's great! I'm finding myself, much like in Animal Crossing, trying to keep up with everyone and trying to keep them all happy with me. Like in previous HM games, each villager has different likes and dislikes that you have to figure out, as giving them the right gifts is important! However, I can't meet everyone every day, or even every other day, and still get my farm work done, so I've been picking a few villagers to focus on raising their happiness level with me.
I'm nearly through the first Spring right now, and am looking forward to playing more. This game is a blast if you enjoy the Harvest Moon games at all. The graphics aren't quite as bad as reviews seem to have been indicating, but they're certainly not as good as they could be. If I have one chief gripe, it's that there's so little variety in the soundtrack that I can see it getting grating before long.
But the farming stuff is rock solid, there's lots of variety in the crops and livestock (as well as the ability to purchase and utilize advanced livestock tools such as a churn to turn milk into butter and raise the sale price), as well as multiple upgrades per tool (I've only upgraded the watering can so far). Having a rival to try to outsell is also a great motivating aspect, though they start with a huge head-start which makes that feel rather daunting.
Highly recommended for those who like previous Harvest Moon games, or who liked a lot of the aspects of Animal Crossing but wished for some more goal-oriented play; I know there are some out there that ran into that problem with AC. I do at times, but I still enjoy AC a lot.