Review by MissingNo_2

Reviewed: 02/04/05

Harvest Moon is a great game with tons of charm, fun, and lastability.

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of Harvest Moon, as it’s one of the most predominant series of video games. You take role as a farmer and slowly build your farming empire by getting money from animals and crops. A Wonderful Life on the Gamecube is the newest Harvest Moon game so far, and for me it was a first into the series. If you’re also new to Harvest Moon, it’s a good idea to jump into it right now and find out what makes this farming simulation so great.

This game starts out with the narration of a man named Takakura talking to your father (or seeming to be; Your father never appears in this game) about how you, his son, has inherited his farm. Takakura comes and tells you that you have a lot of work to do and starts you off my introducing the main things in your farm and also everyone in town to you. So it’s up to you to buy cattle, plant crops, etc. and fulfill your father’s wish.

The game takes place in Forget-Me-Not valley, a pretty small place for spending the entire game in. You can see the whole valley with the map, but by the 2nd year you will know the village like the back of your hand. Oftentimes I have felt trapped because I’ve run out of things to do in the village, and it would have been better if Natsume expanded the place a bit.
The game spans 10 years (as in the game ends after 10 years), each with 4 seasons, each season with 10 days. Every day is about 17 minutes of play time; one real second equals a game minute, and you have to sleep 6 hours (or 6 real minutes) of the day. Confused?

Gameplay 10/10
Farming is not so simple in A Wonderful Life. This game took me a very long time to get the hang of, and for a while I had to stop playing and look at the message boards and FAQs for help. Takakura tells you about your places in the farm, and you can also get additional info my reading the notebook in your room. But these simple, in-game explanations only scratch the surface of Harvest Moon’s gameplay. (Plan on having a hard time with your cows’ pregnancy)

First of all, the main goals of the game are to make us much money, get a wife, and later influence your child’s career path. There are many different ways to get money. You can milk cows, plant crops and trees, fish, find items and sell them to the merchant Van. You take this money and use it to buy more cattle, etc. to make more money. I love this style of gameplay because you get a real sense of progress when you start getting rich. The beginning starts off slow, confusing, and hard, but once you get past the first few seasons you’ll get the hang of it. I am hooked on the game, so I give this category a 10.

Graphics/Sound 7/10
This game feels and looks pleasant and fitting. Although the graphics are not as stunning some other games( Metroid Prime, SFA, etc.), I have no complaints in this department. I was impressed with the weather effects. The rain in Harvest Moon is by far the most realistic in any GCN game, and I love it when it rains in the game. Some things could have been polished up, though, especially the movements. It’s almost funny when things just randomly disappear when they are supposed to move.

The sound department in this game is okay too. They should have put in more sound effects and music. Every animal makes about 2 sounds, and they can get very annoying, just like the music, after hearing them over and over and over again.

Replayability 10/10
Look at all the other reviews on the internet and try to find one that didn’t give this game a 10 in this category. Not many, eh? I’m no different, and there’s a reason. Flat-out said, Harvest Moon will last you a very, very long time. Although A Wonderful Life has a finite play time and ends after 10 years, you will find this length quite long enough. Do the math and the play time for the 10 years comes out to be about… 120 hours! And frankly, the game is monotonous enough to make it seem much, much longer. So if you’re looking for a LONG game, here it is.

The Pros and Cons
+Will last you a long time
+A different style of gameplay that many will find charming and addicting.
+It’s consumed many weekends from me
-Can get boring, tedious, repetitive many times
-Some control and glitch issues
-Poor translation
-Not enough sound effects

Final Recommendation 9/10
There is no other game on the Gamecube, or any other system, that comes close to Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life’s unique and fun style. There is something in this game that you can’t get out of fighting and shooting games, but even if you only like those kinds of action titles, it wouldn’t hurt to try something different. What other game allows you to name, care for, love, and get money out of adorable animals? A Wonderful Life has left me a bigger and more lasting impression than any other game I’ve played for the past few months. I’m not a salesman, but I can fully recommend you to buy this game, for only $20.00 with a free plush doll cow too! So if you can get past some of the problems in the game, I’m sure you will enjoy Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life as much as I do and find it innovative, charming, and rewarding.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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