Before You Begin...
There are a few things you will want to know of before you start playing Harvest Moon: A Tale of Two Towns. Besides reading the instruction manual, the following tips should help you get started and clear up confusion:
Hearts Colors and Events Have Changed
Instead of seeing hearts on the character's portraits when you talk to him or her, you will see a string of flowers along the side of the conversation dialog box. All characters will have this. The flowers indicate how friendly you are with the person.
Marriage candidates will have colored flowers in white, purple, blue, green, yellow, pink, and finally red. There isn't a "black" or "orange" love stage in this version of Harvest Moon. The four special marriage candidates do not have colored flowers. Regular villagers also have simple white colored flowers.
The Horse Cart is For Storage
You will get a horse and horse cart at the beginning of the game. The horse cart is used as your traveling storage shed. You can access its contents by checking the toolbox in your house or by pressing A when standing at the cart outside of your house. You can upgrade your horse cart buy purchasing new versions from the Pet shops, winning cooking festivals, and completing message board requests.
The lower level your horse cart is, the fewer items you can store. Low level horse carts also decrease an items freshness faster than if you had a better one. There are horse carts that will keep an item's freshness forever.
Collect 10 Old Boots, 10 Old Balls, 8 Ore Stone, and 10 Snowballs
When you are bare-hand fishing, you can pick up garbage items. If you find Old Boots and Old Balls, keep them in your horse cart until you have 10 of each one. In your first winter, Rutger will put the request for the Master Rod up on the Bluebell message board. You will be requested to bring him 10 Old Boots and 10 Old Balls, but the bare-hand fishing ponds are frozen in Winter! If you have the required items before Rutger's request appears, you can get the Master Rod even in Winter instead of having to wait until Spring when the ponds thaw.
If you don't have the required items if Rutger asks for them in Winter, he will put his request back on the Bluebell message board once a season until you complete it.
The Snowballs can be found randomly on the ground during Winter. You'll need 10 of these to complete the Oracle's request that rewards you with the Snowboard. She also wants 10 Elli Leaves, which are a foraged wild flower also found in Winter. Elli Leaves have a star rank and will rot if you try to keep them until Winter of year 2, when the Oracle's quest becomes available. Snowballs don't rot (or melt) so you can collect the necessary 10 and store them in your horse cart until you activate the request from the Oracle.
Ore Stone is a wild foraged item found in the mountain area, needed for bed expansions. You can find it by looking on the ground or foraging in the tree trunks and mountain cracks. If you find one, don't smash it with your hammer to get at it's random contents. Instead, store it in your storage cart until you have a total of 8. After that, you can smash any new ones you find to see what's inside.
The Horse Doesn't Need Attention
The horse in Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns is merely rented to you for a fee. The horse doesn't have any friendship points, there are no horse festivals, and you can swap it out for another horse at any time. You can brush the horse and feed it a Horse Treat, but there isn't any purpose of it. There's no need spending time trying to raise hearts with the horse when it doesn't have any to begin with.
The only uses for the horse is attaching the horse cart to it for a mobile storage unit and riding it from one town to the other. Riding the horse is faster than running.