Review by Iris-chan

"People actually get a kick out of farming games... and HMBTN is no different"

Ahhh… here we are with yet another Harvest Moon game. I’ve played since the days of the SNES, and fell in love with the whole concept right away. I mean, where else can you find such and addicting game. The concept of Harvest Moon is fresh and original, and Harvest Moon: Back to Nature is even more of an innovation from the other games. I’ve seen some reviews bashing BTN, stating that it’s horribly inferior when compared to its N64 counterpart.

And why exactly do they say that? BTN is one of the best ones yet, with a cute story line, great subplots that add to the excitement, and nice Harvest Moon gameplay. Ok, so it may be far different from the N64’s version in terms of map arrangement. So what? It’s different from the SNES’s arrangement too. It doesn’t make it a horrible game.

Harvest Moon: Back to Nature is a contender for the series’ best title. With so many new features, a menagerie of colorful characters, interesting subplots, and great gameplay, why shouldn’t it be?

Story- 10/10
I’m all for story line, and BTN offers a cute story line filled with interesting subplots. Ten years ago, as a young boy, you were ready to go your summer vacation with your parents. Unfortunately, your father couldn’t clear up a busy schedule at the office, so they sent you to spend time with your grandfather at his farm instead.

Your grandfather is too busy with his chores to play with you, but he tells you about some friends about your age you can make in the village. With all the fun you have on the farm, you enjoy your trip, but one thing has made it all worth while: a girl you met. You spend so much time with her, and when it comes time to leave, you two make a promise… you will come back one day.

Now you’re older and your grandfather has passed away. He was an excellent farmer, and the villagers loved him. When you step up to the challenge of taking over the farm in the name of saving a dream, you are given a test. If you can turn the farm around from its desolate state, and fit in with the villagers, you can keep the farm and continue living in the village. If not, it’s time for you to get out. Now you own the farm. It’s tough work, but it’s worth every second. But now, can you find the girl you made the promise to?

The story is very cute, and it’s believable. It shows how you come to be a farmer, and gives you motivation to keep working hard. The story is also filled with subplots, such as love, rivalry, loneliness, and other interesting aspects. You even chase after the girl of your dreams, hoping to marry her one day. The story is much deeper than the SNES’s one, and can keep plot-lovers going to see more and more.

Music- 9/10
Many people don’t enjoy the tunes of BTN, but somehow, I find myself humming them everywhere I go. Although it gets a bit repetitious, it’s not the same tune wherever you go. The seasonal music is cute, and fits the seasons. Also, the five girls each have their own VERY fitting character themes, which are possibly the best pieces in the game. Ann has a very upbeat theme, fitting her cheery personality. Karen has a very laid-back theme, and she is a mature, cool type. Elli has a lonely sounding theme, but at the same time it sounds very nice and fits her personality. The song that plays when you agree to the Mayor’s deal is very nice too, fitting the situation.

Overall, the tunes are great. It’s nice that there are more songs than some predecessors, songs that fit extremely well for that matter.

Sounds- 9/10
The sound effects are pretty good in BTN. The livestock sounds cute, and the singing effects are pretty nice. So the cooking sounds a bit generic, no big deal. The footsteps get a little weird and may irk some people after a while, but they aren’t terrible.

Graphics- 8/10
Complaints about graphics seriously irk me. People, it’s not FFX, it’s Harvest Moon. The graphics are not the most important aspect. They certainly don’t stink. I find them very cute, especially the anime artwork in dialogue boxes. I like the fact that the characters show a wide range of emotions, and some of the faces are really cute. It’s really great to see someone’s face light up when you give them something they like, and the face graphics are good hints when looking for girl’s presents. Although the overhead graphics are not the greatest looking (Anna looks like a psycho killer, but that’s another story), the graphics depicting nature are nice. Even if some graphics don’t work, at least they’re not blurry and distract from gameplay.

Control- 10/10
Ok, ok, so the controls take some getting used to. Anyone can adapt in no time. The control layout is very simple, and things such as equipment and items are handled much more easily. As far as controls go, they work, and if they don’t distract from gameplay, it’s all good.

Gameplay- 10/10
Anyone who thinks a farming game is gonna be about as fun waiting in line at the DMV is in for a big surprise. The gameplay of BTN is charming, just like any other HM game. Yet there are so many new aspects that make the game even more addicting. With new status screens, you can constantly keep tabs on how to improve and keep working hard. There are many new festivals to look forward to. Also, dating and getting married only adds to the fun. Even though the chores of farming get repetitive after a while, there are always new things to look forward to.

Replay Value- 10/10
The replay value of BTN is great too. You can try harder next time for a higher farm developmental percentage, get new recipes, and especially this: view new cut scenes if you decide to marry someone different in the second go-round.

Overall- 10/10
When I say 10/10, I don’t mean that Harvest Moon: Back to Nature is the most perfect game on the face of the Earth. I’m not saying that every person has to run out and get it right now or they’ll be eaten by a vicious, killer rabbit. Take it from me, it’s not for everyone. It’s all about preference and taste. You need an adapted taste to like this kind of game. If you’re all for story, and going through a routine to get to the bigger prize, you might like this. If you love the Harvest Moon series, what are you waiting for? You’ll love this one. It’s still retains the simple gameplay of HM, with an innovative touch. I highly recommend BTN to anyone who’s willing to try something new and old HM fans alike. You will not be let down.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 04/02/02, Updated 04/02/02


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