Review by Yami Shuryou
"You mean this game isn't about fighting some undead dude?"
Are you tired of all those games where you walk through dark, shadow-cast hallways, silently hunting out the boss of the area while dispatching his various and overpowered minions who have the misfortune to discover you sneaking around?
Well, here’s the game of Harvest Moon 64. But you may be asking, Wait a minute, Harvest Moon sounds like a horror game, with the moon and all that, and I bet that the 64 just represents the amount of bosses in the game or something! If you think that, then you’re wrong. It’s nothing like that.
Your grandfather, the owner of a farm a far-off unknown and isolated town, has just recently passed away. When your father is able to visit, you, the main character, tell him that your grandpa has already passed away, and that you want to inherit his farm, and farm it. With only a little debate, everyone in town and your father agrees to allow you to take over what was formerly your grandfather’s farm.
To aid you in the laborious and backbreaking work required to clean up your farm, you are left with a variety of tools, some that you acquire at the start of the game, others you buy. The ax helps you cut up stumps for extra lumber. The watering can waters your crops. The bottle holds medicine, wine, or water.
Over time, the skill gotten from using the tool will make it be upgraded. Instead of taking six hits to break a large rock, you could literally ‘power up’ and break it in one smashing BANG!
Of course, you don’t want to live in that crappy one-room dump of yours, now do you? With the excess lumber surplus you create for yourself from all that woodcutter, the local carpenter will, for a fee of money and wood, build additions for your house. Whereas the kitchen helps you keep a track of your Power Apples and recipes besides refrigerating food, the greenhouse allows you to grow crops in a time-vacuum even during winter.
Of course, it’s not all work. Many festivals throughout the year dot fun and games, such as the Flower Festival, a feisty time when the blossoms bloom and young men dance with the passions of their heart, to the Firelight Festival, a sending off of Firelights to honor the soul of your ancestors.
Out of 64 characters contained within this game, five of them will be your main attraction; the teenager females of the town, ranging from the stubborn and lonely Karen to the kind and peaceful Elli. Dancing with them, filling their hearts desires, your goal to swoon them will eventually end in marriage with the one whom you believe to be the cream of the crop.
On the farm, life is tedious while doing the daily chores. Problems arrange themselves perfectly; you might have a full two weeks of good, bright, shiny sunlight, and suddenly, you’ll be forced into a rush to get all the cows, sheep and chickens indoor for a rainy day tomorrow. Or, a hurricane may have swept through, blowing off your greenhouse, leaving you poor until you can rebuild. However, it is all made worthwhile, as the crops that you slaved over sprout, and your cows produce their first carton of milk.
While trying to charm your love and making friends with the villagers, events will happen around town, and five male rivals will race against you to get their girl to marry them first. Eventually, though, some of them will prevail, and since it’s an unwritten rule that you can’t have concubines in small villages, four of them will marry.
The aesthetics of this game are par for the N64, though in my opinion, there is a lack of sprites in my opinion, and the whole game covers only a few buildings and areas. Also, the pixels are oftentimes a bit distorted, scratchy to the eyes. However, a sunlight effect produces many shades of shining light over the town, from early dawn to late night. Also, down to each strand of grass, different shades are visible, and the colors of the vegetables are bright, filling one with glee at their newfound harvest.
The sound of this game has its pros and cons. Whereas the sound of the bar is one of a comforting atmosphere, and the tunes for the town and farm are light-hearted, the music that comes with the night sky gets annoying somewhat after a while, and the most downright frustrating thing in this game has to be the annoying squeak of the random birds at your front door – and unfortunately, they come around too often for my liking.
Now, one would ask, to rent, or to buy? If you can find this game for as much as 35$, then I definitely recommend buying it. With 4 game saves, and many different ways to play through the game, whether it be for friendship, love, or money, it will be addictive, and it will last a wholly long time.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 03/13/04
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