Review by _____Cait

"The Moon still shines as bright as ever!"

Harvest Moon, the farming game. It was one of the most anticipated games on the GC for some people. Natsume delayed this game for MANY months. Just when the release date was coming, it was delayed! But now we finally have it, and the wait was worth it.

Harvest Moon never had a very big story, and neither does this one. But the more you get to know the town residents, the more you get out of the town's history and it's people, which is usually how HM stories go. There is somewhat of a story, though at first. Your father and his friend ran a farm many years ago. Your father couldn't work on it any longer, and his friend tells you to come and run it with himself. And thus, your story begins. During the time you play, you'll make friends, get pets, and even get married and raise a baby from childhood to adulthood.

The control is weird at first, but at about the second in-game day, you'll get used to it. Control stick rotates the character, and the X and Y button control your items. I don't really like the camera though, but I just don't like the C-Stick myself. =P You can move it with the C-Stick, or put the camera in front of you with the L button. The camera never really gets in your way though, so it barely bothers me. Plus, items become transparent when you go in front of them, so you don't have to worry about the old ''Getting stuck in front of a wall'' trick.

The graphics are really something different. At first, it looks like a realistic anime, but then it starts looking like it's cel-shaded. Screenshots really don't make the game look nice, but when you see them move, it's really nice. The best part of the graphics though, are the landscapes and shading effects. While exploring the town, you would think your watching television and the camera is panning around a small forest-like village. It has beautiful tees, grass, and even dirt, if you can call that nice. The sky changes as the day rolls along, and you can see the dramatic reds and yellows at sunset. It surprised me, as I didn't expect the game to be too much of a graphical one.

The sound is okay in some parts, and not in others. The cow for one, doesn't sound as good as the one from HM: FoMT for GBA. Others sounds are nice, like milking the cow, walking, or working in the field. Music is catchy and nice, with what sounds like guitar playing softly in the background. I'm humming one of the tunes in my head right now, as a matter of fact. There are other tracks you can listen to also, if you obtain them.

Harvest Moon is mainly about this part. It's probably the most complicated HM game to date. Right when you start the game, it seems almost overbearing all the tasks you have to do, but in about 1 in-game day, you'll find it's just as normal as other HM games. You can still work on your crops, but it's a bit harder. You have to water twice a day, and some fields have better soil than others. Also, cows need to be milked twice a day, and you can only sheer your sheep very few times a season.

The marriage system changed a little, too. This time, you MUST get married within the first year. You only have 3 choices for your wife, which disapointed me, but the decision really affects your game, which makes up for it. For instance, if you marry Muffy, your child will probably turn out happy and ''giggly'' like her. Marrying Celia will give you a ''down-to-earth'' baby. The baby can also be effected by the friends you make. By being best friends with another character, your child may take influence on him. It's up to you to raise your child the way you want, just in case you can't run the farm anymore yourself.....

The game runs in chapters, going through important stages of life, like pre-marriage, and what not. The game spans 30 years, yet you only play 10 (Some years are skipped in between chapters to speed things up). You age as the chapters go on, as does your child and maybe some others. The game changes like I said, depending on who you marry. You can see different events, have different babies, and live a different life with different wives each game, so experiment, and learn what is your favorite playing style!

The game lasts a long time, and with the three different wives, and many baby combinations, you won't get bored for a long time. Plus, you can hook the GBA to the GCN and get extras, like recipes, character to move in, and special vacation houses (In the GBA FoMT game). It's like living a real life, it takes a long time!

If you want to have just a fun time playing games, this is for you. There is pretty much no action-like elements like shooters, and there is no puzzle solving. Just real-life simulation gameplay. If you want to relax, get this game. If you rarely play games often, I'd say rent it to see if you would like it. Overall though, it's a WELL made game, that was MUCH worth the wait!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/18/04

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