Review by AMoerman
"Cluck...Moo... No, not your average sounds for a Playstation game. But, then again, this isn't an average game, this is a brilliant game, Harvest Moon"
In a way, this game is like human flesh, it is an acquired taste. If you are fortunate enough to have this taste, you are in for some enjoyable eye and ear candy. The story goes that as a young boy, instead of your usual vacation, you visited your grandfather's farm because of your father's job. Although very different from your home life, it was a pleasant change and you found something new and exciting to do everyday. You met a girl, and made wonderful friends with her, you remember singing merry songs high upon the summit of a mountain near the farm. When it was time to leave, you promised her you would meet again.
That was ten years ago. Now, your grandfather has passed away, and you volunteer to rebuild his broken down farm with a dead line of three years. You never know, maybe, just maybe, you'll meet that girl again....
But, in-between now and 3 years time, you have to rebuild the farm to the great lively ranch it once was. Not as easy as it seems, clearing your ranch, planting crops and looking after animals are but a few of the many chores you must consistently do. No, this game isn't really boring or hard work, Natsume have somehow made work fun!!
There are plenty of things to do in your spare time, like woo one of 5 single women in the town, forage in the mountain and mine, fish, find and cook recipes and participate in carnivals like the Horse Race and the Tomato Fight!! The game certainly begins slowly, but quickly picks up speed as you place your jobs and activities into a daily routine. You will soon you find yourself interacting with dozens of characters as the story gets deeper and more involved pulling you into this colossal game.
The game's graphics are suitably cartoon style, but not so much as to detract from the more mature aspects of the game. When interacting with the people in the town, a text box pops up with a cute anime inspired character face depicting their mood, it's little things like this that make Harvest Moon: Back to Nature so special.
Sound wise, you're in for a treat, although quite repetitive, you'll find yourself humming along with the catchy tunes in no time. The sound effects are great, with the mandatory clucking, mooing and woofing, but there is also things like waves crashing, wind blowing and seagulls squawking when you visit the beach.
Natsume have hit the nail right on the head when it comes to lengthiness, this game will allow you to continue playing after the 3 years have finished!! You can woo your women with presents and watch their heart rating soar until the time is right for you to propose, you can have a child once married and if you play after the 3 years, you will find that other couples in the village may get married!! After you've completed the required 3 years and have played well enough to go on, as you continue to play, you will continue to find intriguing twists in the 'story'.
I would thoroughly recommend any gamer, young and old, to purchase Harvest Moon: Back to Nature, I'm sure with it's remarkable character and clever originality, this game will touch hearts all around the world, like it has touched mine.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/18/01, Updated 01/18/01
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