When it comes to Harvest Moon, you might say I am just a tad obsessed. I have played every game to date – from the original for the SNES, to the newest one for the 3DS. Today, I will share my thoughts and opinions for each game.
Released on August 9 1996 in Japan, Harvest Moon was released from the SNES. Since then, they have made over 15 versions of the Harvest Moon games, not including the spinoffs. (Innocent Life, Rune Factory, etc). Now, being as obsessed as I am, I have indeed played the spinoff games as well. I will cover that and the portable Harvest Moon games in a future article, but for now I will take you through the console versions of the Harvest Moon series.
First up, we have the previously mentioned Harvest Moon SNES.
This game is popular with retro gamers such as myself. I enjoyed this game, but it only holds your attention for so long before you long for more. The story starts out where your character moves to a pretty rundown farm to build up to its former glory. After that, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Plant crops, buy animals, get married…and you only have two and a half years to do it!
The concept of this game is pretty much the same for every Harvest Moon game, but as more titles were released, so were new features.
Next up, we have Harvest Moon for the Nintendo 64.
Out of all the Harvest Moon games, this is one of (if not the most) popular one.
The game starts out similar to the previous game, except in this one, your grandfather has passed away, and you decide to test your wings and take over the farm. You have an extra 6months in the game to run the farm, grow crops, get animals, get married, etc, and after 3 years, your father will come to grade you and see how you’ve done. No pressure or anything!
This game has a few more features compared to the SNES one. When talking to your future bride, you can now see what I call the “Heart System”, which they use in the Harvest Moon games to follow. When you’re well liked, the heart by her picture will change color (gray being worst, red is best). There are also more festivals, and a bigger town to explore.
Though this game is well loved…let’s face it, it’s a 64 game, and though 64 graphics and games are viewed as a classic for some people, others might say that they do not hold a candle to the future titles.
Harvest Moon: Back to Nature.
This is basically just a rehash of the 64 version, though slightly different…emphasis on slightly. If you haven’t played the 64 one, this game is enjoyable, but…it’s just the same game. When I played it, I was just tempted to turn it off and return to the former one. The characters are the same, but they just gave them different jobs.
They also released a “Harvest Moon: Back to Nature For Girl” which is the same as Back to Nature…except the main character is a girl. This was the first time you could play as a female character, which is cool, but the Back to Nature games are not some of my favorites.
Harvest Moon: Save the Homeland.
As the title states, in this game you gotta save your homeland from becoming a fancy resort. Construction starts in a year, and you have until then to save the homeland.
Sound fun? It did to me – but I quickly realized that this was a disappointment to the Harvest Moon series. Sure, there are a lot of new characters, and there is a lot to explore, but the major downside that kills the game is that it resets itself…after one year. To me, this butchers the premise of the game.
What’s worse, it’s like a bad Twilight Zone episode…because after it resets, any and all relationships you have made with the townspeople are just gone. It’s like you never existed. Yes, there are 9 optional endings…but that didn’t save this game from being a flop.
All in all, this game was not very popular with gamers, and you can find a used copy for very, very cheap.
Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life.
I believe it was this game that I realized I was addicted to the Harvest Moon series. I would play this one nonstop, and even after my memory card got corrupted, I played it again, having to start all over. It was that good.
A Wonderful Life had much better graphics than the PS version. You can now run a small shop, there are a handful of new characters, you can plant fruit trees, there are new animals (ducks and goats), and you can actually raise your son into adulthood, while your character ages himself!
The downside is that there are only three bachelorettes to choose from, but that is only a small setback, and doesn’t take away from the fun of the game at all.
This game had two spinoffs of it’s own, but I won’t really cover these because they are only slightly different.
Harvest Moon: Another Wonderful Life is pretty much the same game, except you play as a female. Other than that, the chapters of the game have been reduced to one year, your character can run a bit faster, and a few characters have added dialogue. Like I said, it’s basically the same game, the only big difference is that you play as a female character for the first time.
Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life Special Edition is pretty much the same A Wonderful Life, except that it was released for the PS2. The only difference in this version is that they have a chapter entitled “Heaven”, where you can play forever once you’ve completed the game.
Harvest Moon: Magical Melody was released for the GameCube. This title has some really new graphics for the HM series, it was more of a “cutesy” or “chibi” style compared to the other ones.
In Magical Melody, it opens up with a rather long (dare I say dragging) cutscene. Basically, like a CareBears episode, the townsfolk have forgotten “how to love” and thus have unintentionally turned their dear Harvest Goddess to stone…and it’s up to you to save her!
In this game, you have a rival named Jamie who you will compete with on a daily basis as to who earns the most income on different areas of the game.
You also have the option to play as male or female, there are 100 quests to complete (once you earned them all, you will save the Goddess), you can arrange where to put your buildings, you can customize the inside of your home, and there are 11 bachelors and 11 bachelorettes to choose from. That’s quite the improvement from the previous 3 in A Wonderful Life.
As good as this game was, a lot of people (including myself) were a bit put off by the style of these graphics, and the character moves rather slow…also, if you marry Jamie, your game will end…so stay away from her!
Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility
Many Harvest Moon fans waited excitedly for this one to be released, and when it did, it was not a disappointment.
In Tree of Tranquility, you can play as male or female, there are over 35 new characters, you can explore an island, dress up your character, have a part-time job in several stores, and so much more.
Once again, your mission is to rescue the Harvest Goddess. (Thankfully this time, she is not turned to stone.)
Out of all that I have played, I think that Tree of Tranquility definitely holds a spot for one of my favorites.
And last, but not least, we have Harvest Moon: Animal Parade.
You can play as a male or female character, but for the first time ever you can choose from one of two styles for each. (You will recognize the second style option as the ones from Tree of Tranquility.)
You can now grow coffee bean trees, have two kids, there are even more characters (quite a few are familiar from Tree of Tranquility), there are more pets than ever before, and a new feature allows you to take photos! This is definitely the most feature packed Harvest Moon game to date.
The only complaint I have with Animal Parade and Tree of Tranquility is that whenever you walk into someones house, or walk to a new place, the screen goes black and you get a “LOADING” message. After a while, you may become accustomed to it, but it can be really quite annoying at times.
Still, with that put aside, the game is very fun and offers for many hours of game play.
Well, that about sums up every Harvest Moon game for a video game counsel. I hope my insight was interesting and helpful to you, and really…when it comes to this series, you can’t go wrong. Each game has its own pros and cons, but I’ve found that the pros outweigh them!