Review by Veinz
"You've got to love a game that makes farming fun."
Harvest Moon 64
You’ve got to love a game that makes farming fun. Harvest Moon 64 takes the tedious life and turns it into an adventure (which I didn’t think was even remotely possible until playing this game). Every day has the possibility for being drastically different from the last, which gives this game lasting appeal that is matched by few games. Harvest Moon combines hard work, leisure, social life, money and love all into one game. Add a rural setting, and you have one of the most addicting games of all time.
In Harvest Moon 64, you inherit a farm from your late grandfather. In his later years of life, the farm became a mess due to the lack of upkeep. There are rocks and weeds strewn all about, and you have very little money and just the essential tools to start with. Your objective is to turn this farm around, and make it a profit generating property in 2 years. After the 2 years have expired, your grandpa’s soul (or ghost or whatever the hell it is) comes back and makes a final evaluation about your success (or failure).
This will be done by means of selling crops, animals, and items made by animals. Of course, some regular expenses will be for seeds, animal fodder, and any other thing you want (you might buy some drinks at the tavern, or some cakes for that special girl). Money can be tight at times, but it’s your key to survival in HM64.
The town is a colorful place that you will have to visit quite a few times through the course of your experience. Some people choose to go to town everyday to make small talk with the villagers and purchase items, while others only go in when necessary. For the sake of the final evaluation, I suggest making friends early and often. That will aid you in the final decision about how well you did. In town there is a flower shop, where you buy seeds for your crops and flowers to make your property look more welcoming. There’s a bakery, where baked goods can be purchased for the purposes of gifts or consuming.
The other buildings range from a library to a tavern to dwellings for the villagers. Townsfolk often roam the streets in random patterns, each with a different thing to say to you. There is also much variety in the personalities of the villagers. You have Ann, a good natured girl who likes the outdoors and Maria, a quiet and kind librarian. There are also many other characters who wander around like the mail man and the mayor, who love to talk. Then there are some characters, mainly all of Karen’s family, who hate social contact. Either way, you will always find the characteristics of one villager differ from the next.
The town also hosts numerous festivals for the town to come together and enjoy. Attending these raises your social status amongst the other town’s folk. These can be games, races or just celebrations for the whole town to enjoy. In some festivals, previous training or experience will help you out. For instance, in the horse race, the more you ride your horse, the faster it will go and more stamina it will have. Hell, even in the New Year’s Celebration, the more drinks you have had at the bar over the course of the game, the longer you’ll last. The festivals are a neat little way to blend in with the villagers.
Farm life is a lot tougher than you would expect. Every day you have the responsibility of feeding your animals and watering your crops, as well as maintaining any relationships you want to sustain. These don’t sound too hard, but doing them day after day after day definitely requires a certain amount of dependability. And when you do not complete these chores, the consequences can be harsh. From animals dying to relationships being torn apart to crops dying, not doing the chores will cost you in the long run.
Another nifty thing that you can do is upgrade your house. You can add different rooms, a deck, a staircase (so you can walk atop your roof…what fun!), and even a baby bed! Although it can be quite expensive, it’s a great deal better than living in that one room hell hole that you start with. It’s also a creative way to spend your money.
Love is not an easy thing as you have (hopefully) experienced, and Harvest Moon 64 replicates it pretty well for a video game. To start the relationship, you must be nice and give her some gifts. To maintain it, you must give her constant attention and many o’ gift before she is truly in love with you. Once you are in love, you can give her the Blue Feather, a token of your love and also sort of an engagement ring. After you’re married, you even give birth to a son. Even though he doesn’t do much (just stays as a baby), it is fulfilling to see yourself starting a family.
After your 2 years are up, your grandfather comes back and assesses how well you’ve done over your two years. He takes into account your number of friends, how many crops you’ve sold and how many animals you have and what their conditions are. This serves no real purpose, however, because it doesn’t affect the game at all. You can continue playing after the final evaluation like it never happened. I guess the evaluation was added to make it seem like you’re playing for something, and give some closure to the game. Either way, you’ll have fun playing both before and after your grandpa comes home.
Graphically, Harvest Moon looks great. It’s a little cartoony, but it still looks great. The crops look like their respective plant and the tools are very nice looking as well. The environments are stunning; the buildings and objects are smooth and look real. The sound in HM64 is also a triumph. There is different music for each of the different seasons, each pertaining to the mood one feels while going through the season. There are also different sounds for your tools when they are being used. This adds a whole new variety to this game.
Harvest Moon 64 has unlimited replayability and is a marvelous game that is definitely worth a try. If you can find it, then please do yourself a favor and check out this game.
Final Score: 9/10
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 03/24/03, Updated 03/24/03
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