Review by _____Cait

"It's funny, how I can't stand farming in real life..."

I'll be honest. I had never heard of Harvest Moon until a few years ago. I thought it was the geekiest sounding game out there. I mean, a game about farming? HAH. Who wants to simulate a farming game?

A few years later I discovered I did. Go figure.

I'll get this part out of the way first. There is somewhat of a story, but nothing like an RPG storyline. It's more like how real life works. Different events happen each day usually, like how our lives work out. There isn't a plot like ''Save the world'' or anything, it's just observe life, and live your own. Along with this, you get to see special events with villagers, such as cute ''dates'' with the local girl and boy, or a drinking contest and so on. It's pretty fun, and the whole game has a comfy campy feeling to it, thanks to this, and you can't help but grin when you see these.

Another thing to move aside, that doesn't matter TOO much (Although I shouldn't have said that about the story)... Imagine Mario RPG graphics meet the overhead Pokemon view and movement idea. The graphics are good, and you can tell the chickens from the cows easily (Although it would be funny if you accidentally milked a chicken...). The only complaint is the difference between plants and stuff you find on the ground, since they look the same, and you might accidentally eat a poisonous one, if you don't read its description. The character portraits are VERY nice. EVERY character has his or her own portrait. They are done in anime style (Which I usually don't flip out over, but enjoy in this game, surprisingly). The girls look very cute (Not in a perverted way, so don't look at me like that >.>) and go along with their personalities. The guys look pretty cool too, but I highly question the food judge's artist...

The controls are a bit hard to get used to, actually. I've thrown away many items that I didn't mean to by accident. But once you play for a few hours, you get it all down perfectly. I won't go into details on how controls work, since I'll confuse you more, most likely. Movement is pretty easy, although a diagonal movement would help GREATLY...

The music is happy and bouncy, and although the game has maybe... 5 tracks that you hear often, they haven't begun to bother me yet. The sound is okay, and doesn't get annoying. Harvest Moon isn't really a noisy game, so the sound isn't really even needed, so feel free to listen to something else if you can't stand happy-bouncy-land music.

And this is where Harvest Moon shines, and sorry for that cliche line. I'm so surprised at how much was fit into such a tiny cartridge, but they did it. At first, you can't do much, as you only have the tools you came to town with, but you get more things later. You wake up each morning, and have as much time as you want to do chores, talk to friends, or just play around Mineral Town.

I'll give an example of how a day is usually carried out. You wake up in the morning, and watch some TV. The programs come in many forms. Some are just little soap operas that continue every few days. Some forecast the weather, and some are shopping networks that let you order items from the phone. After you do that, you go and take care of your crops. This is a very important part, because it's probably going to be your main source of income. You can buy seeds and what-not at different stores, and plant them. You need to water them EVERY DAY, except when it rains. It's nice to have all those extra hours without having to water crops. Then you feed and take care of your animals. After that, (I) usually go to the mines and get stuff to sell, and upgrade my tools with. You need ore from the mine to upgrade items, and to buy stuff for the ladies. After that, you might decide to go to town, and chat with the locals. Each character has his or her own special personality, which makes them a lot more fun than flat characters in any old RPG.

There is much more than that, though. You can make friends with the Harvest Sprites so they can do your work for you. Then there is trying to upgrade your house, learning cooking skills, breeding animals, making friends, and best of all, getting married. That's right, you can court the girls in this game. Let's say you want to become friendlier with Karen. You could talk to her every day, give her presents, go through special in-game events with her, and more. Soon enough, you can propose to her, and start a family!

I'm not gonna sugar coat this. Let's just say it's like real life. It doesn't end... Well, I don't think you can DIE in this game though, so..... It's not exactly like real life...

This is one of the best GBA games you can own! It's not often that you an find something so deep on a portable system, so I suggest you go and buy this now. Renting won't do you any good, as you can't get all of this game in a week.

I'm ashamed I ever called this series ''That geeky farming game''...

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 12/28/03

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