Review by buruburu1

"A little bland in presentation, but loads of fun"

Graphics (20/30)- Unusual among N64 titles, Harvest Moon utilizes a primarily 2d graphic engine that attempts to recreate an isometric 3d game, using sprites intermingled with limited polygonal environments. The result is a mixed bag, at times cute, often blurry, and mixed with a 3d-ish landscape with blurry texture. As well, the game is not huge in visual scope. One of the nicest aspects of the visual package would be the character portraits, which are well-drawn and full of, well, character. Though the game features rudimentary weather and seasonal effects, it's a shame that more couldn't have been done to dress up the world a little more, especially given how provincial the town and farmstead are. If anything, it makes the game feel isolated, like you're living in one of the most forgotten small villages in the world.

Sound:FX/Voice (7/10: Pleasant sounds all around accompany your farming, mining, and animal raising activities.

Sound:Music (10/10): The music is very sentimental and somewhat nostalgic, but ultimately is quite excellent, memorable, and sets a great mood for the game. From the beginning, the music is a huge motivator to play, although its often poignant tone can start to impair your ability to play for hours on end; I found it often made me feel wistful, a strange feeling while playing a videogame.

Gameplay:Length (15/15): The game has a set period of time to accomplish goals, and the game officially “ends” at that point. You may be surprised by how soon the credits roll, not that it's actually quick, but more that you most likely will not be anywhere near done with the game at that point. However, the game calendar continues beyond that, probably into infinity. I definitely played it far longer than the established length. Unfortunately, this game suffers what many games do which have no official ending—they eventually grind down to where the last few hours, inevitably, are boring. That's why you eventually stop playing, and it colors your last memories negatively, despite the many, many hours you'll enjoy playing this.

Gameplay-Story (3/5): The story is fairly simple overall, but plays itself out decently through getting to know your fellow villagers, and as you take branching paths on the road to getting married.

Gameplay-Game Design (27/30): Very fun for what it is, and this score reflects the state of the series at the time—many Harvest Moon titles have since been released, and some fans may prefer some of the changes implemented since this game's release. That said, this game has about as much gameplay as the GBA Friends of Mineral Town, for comparison's sake. If you haven't tried a Harvest Moon game, this is a fine place to start, as it is a basics-driven entry in the series. There are a lot of activities to partake of, many of which are mandatory, many which presage Animal Crossing's calendar. Farming on its own is strangely addictive, which is good since it's the main thing this game is about. Then there is the mining, town interaction, and festivals. Item collection, and getting married round out the game—the marriage aspect is something that is considered perhaps tied with farming as the game's point, and in it you will find a rather basic dating sim where you woo one or more of the local gals until they fall in love with you, at which point you can earn yourself a wife. The only thing that might've made this game perfect would have been some longer-term goals. When you hit the wall, you hit it fast and suddenly find there's little else to do, and you become bored. Having some final uber-goal would've been a great thing, even at the expense of infinite replay. Or perhaps some sort of life goal—like a certain level of business success coupled with meeting a family size, or perhaps getting your child to the age where he inherits the farm—something to lend the game inertia all the way through to an actual end.

Final Thoughts- Despite some of these drawbacks, this ended up being one of my top 5 N64 games.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 07/28/09

Game Release: Harvest Moon 64 (US, 11/30/99)

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