Review by nWoStyle

Reviewed: 04/24/04

The Original Small-Town Sim is Back

One of the most overlooked original games of it's time, Harvest Moon has made an impact on players all over the world since the original Harvest Moon was released on the Super Nintendo back in 96. Since it's initial release, it has gained a fierce Cult following, mostly due to it's originality and open-ended game play.
It's concept is simply mind-boggling, who on god's green earth would want to play a game... about working... on a FARM?! but believe it or not, the game play is extremely addictive, repetitive actions and all. Who would have ever know that milking cows and watering crops could be so fun? What really attracted me to the game wasn't the farming, but more of it's equally important focus of living in a small rural town. I loved that! especially in the original one, where you'd get married and raise a family etc. 8 years after it's original conception, the original small town/ farming simulation is back and much more improved!
I've always considered 3 main games of Harvest moon, the game boy ones don't count. the 3 all have a different set of characters, but with the characters in the 2nd installment the more used and popular ones. 1 was the original harvest moon on Super Nintendo, 2nd was the little world where Harvest Moon 64 and it's play station equal existed in. the 3rd has to be Harvest Moon: A Wonderful life.
Graphics: 9
HARVEST MOON IN 3-D?!!!! it's been done before, in the play station 2 incarnate of harvest moon... which wasn't very good.
all it is, is cute characters in the 3rd world that still have this distinct look and charm that all harvest moon characters have. although you couldn't see it in the super Nintendo version, this 'cute' look is what you'd probably envision anyway, and it's done excellently and it blends extremely well into the context and general theme of the game.
some little details should be credited too. Rain clouds can be seen coming in from the ocean as they descend and start raining, it makes the world feel more 'alive'. also the environment changes as seasons progress, like on winter (last day) the song should have been melted already and it should look like spring, or the same in autumn to winter. grass also turns brown during autumn, leaves too. on snowy days in winter, you can see a fine layer of slow gathering in your fields, it's a small nice touch. although some things up close don't look as good as they should. but they're just little tiny minute details anyway.
Controls: 9
the MAIN reason I never bought a game cube ( I still haven't bought one, just borrowing a friend's to play harvest moon) is because of that shoddy looking controller. my first impression was that they had a play station 2 controller and a chimp with purple paint and a screwdriver locked in a room and 24 hours later THIS came out. but THIS, is pretty well suited for harvest moon. the controller becomes second nature in just a few minutes. the HUGE A button is the main action button, and the ''Y'' and x buttons work well too. the C-stick thing is great for camera too, just like Nintendo 64. I never once had to say anything like 'this controller is homo-sexual in nature' or 'this is one ****ed up controller' like I had to in certain cross platform games.
Game play: 10
ADDICTIVE is one word to sum up the game play. sure, watering crops and milking cows and stuff seems boring and tedious, but the things that make up for it is the interaction with the villagers. the Village and it's various stereotypical characters is the charm that makes doing all those menial tasks worthwhile. especially now, since you have a kid to influence. all harvest moons are more concentrated on the people more than the actual farming... except the Game boy ones, I don't know what they were about. Improvements made here are an improved and more 'realistic' animal raising and care taking... but going without income for 3 seasons is pretty bad, especially since you need to get a cow to give birth in order to get milk anyway... like real life. The crop system has been 'improved' somewhat too. also hybrid crops are there. There are more mini-games in harvest moon to occupy you when you aren't doing anything farm-related. like mining, fishing, and the like. Fishing isn't as complex as say... Dark Cloud 2 for Play station 2, but it's still got it's charm.
the main meat and Vegetables for this game revolves around characters...
Story: 10
what a great story for a harvest moon game, never has a harvest moon game gone without a mediocre ending. for the Super Nintendo one, the game just stops when you finish 3 years and evaluates you. in Nintendo 64, it CAN stop in 3 years, then you're evaluated then evaluated some more every 3 years after that. but AWL goes through your character's ENTIRE LIFE. each season is now only 10 days long... but there's 30 years to go through, so it's more of a blessing than a curse. also the game can't be finished very quickly as a 'day' can last 15-30 minutes real time.
The story of your farmer's entire life, the most impressive aspect is that the story is more focused on your child than you. the things you do to influence your child over those years really shows in the ending and it gives you a genuine feeling of accomplishment. the characters this time around are as deep as the Nintendo 64/Play station ones. they all have problems and are like genuine human beings. The Love segments in the game are well conceived too, as each of your potential wives has a story to unfold with you, usually they're depressing stories, but good romantic ones... err, I'm a guy so I shouldn't really say that... anyway, the individual history, personalities, and events you can go through with each other character is a joy within itself and it feels more like you're part of a small community, than just a regular generic farmer. to that extent I'd prefer to call harvest moon a Small-town-farmer simulation than just a farming simulation.
Sound: 8
Well, I can't complain about the music, it's fairly generic harvest moon fare... you can also purchase new music 'records' to play in your 'record player' at your farmhouse ... if you have a game boy advance + Harvest Moon:Friends of Mineral Town. no character voices either... oh well, but the nature sound effects are great... except the sound of waves in the beginning.... it sounds like applause. anyhow, the ambient sounds and general nature 'noises' in the game are fairly good and realistic.
Replay Value: 8
now, here is ONE thing I have with harvest moon games, I usually just go through them once, since it takes so long to finish, I don't have the urge to play it again and start fresh. sure, there's more stuff to do, but going another 30 years... is just... well... I'm losing SLEEP! but that's just me, EVERY game has no replay value to me... except various games that are pick up and play, (For Example: NBA street) Harvest Moon is a long and involving experience and MUST be done at least once... it's almost 200 hours worth of your time, I don't know about you guys (or girls, don't want to get those equality people on my back) , but no matter how good it is, I just can't sit through another 200. after seeing the fate of everyone, doing it again to have a slightly altered result... eh. well the kid has 6 professions you can 'influence' him to pursue, that's the main replay there.
Buy or Rent?: BUY!!!!!! Harvest Moon needs support to stay alive and make sequels! and 200 hours is a long time to rent something. I'd rather Borrow a GAMECUBE than buy one for this game, but I DID buy this game the DAY it came out.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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