Review by Westen Shelton

"*Hugs pillow* Oh I love Karen so much! I think I'll ask her for marriage tomorrow..."

Guy gamers are notorious for not being able to get the girl. Why is this though? Mostly because sitting around playing video games all day is really LAME compared to, oh say watching movies all day. It makes perfect sense! Also, I guess women find it unattractive to see men get up, scratch their bellies, get some bean burritos, then proceed to play games all day without doing anything hygiene oriented! Either way, Natsume has been coming out with games to satisfy the lonely gamer for quite a few years. The Harvest Moon series has always been famous for being one of the best “love simulation” games around. Oh yeah, you get to do a little bit of farming while trying to woo the ladies, but only because it turns them on so much.

Not to mislead anyone new to the series. Harvest Moon 64 is all about farming. Your main character starts with a run-down farm, and has to turn it into a money making machine.

How the hell could farming be fun?

How about goals, and diversions. One of the best things about HM64 is that you always have a goal, and there are plenty of diversions from farming. As mentioned, one of those diversions is the ability to marry a girl. You have five girls to choose from (ROOOAR) all with their own personalities. Because of this, one of the girls should have a personality similar to your own. This is nice because you can pretend the girls are real, and that you finally found your true love! Not to mention the extremely soft-core sex you get to see when you go to sleep late at night. The whacking material alone was worth the buy. With the way HM64 is though, marrying is only optional. You can choose to be a bachelor the whole way if you want.

While marrying is a nice diversion, one of the best diversions are the festivals. Every ''season'' in the game there are four or five festivals. Each one is unique, and fun in its own way. Some of the festivals even require you to prepare ahead of time by taking good care of your animals. For example there is a horse race. If you don't brush your horse every day, and ride it some you probably won't win. Another entertaining thing about the festivals is there are no festivals where you just button smash as the challenge. Your goal is always to press ''A'' enough where you go fast, but not so fast where you or your animal get tired and go slower. This is one of the main reasons festivals stay fun, and fresh.

Indeed, the festivals are fun. It's the goals that keep you going during the farming time though. There is so much to do, and save up for in HM64 you are always working. You have the option to upgrade your farmhouse with several extensions. You can buy more cows, buy new plants. There is a lot to save for. While farming you will always have that next house upgrade, or that next item in your mind. This motivates you to keep going. Your items also upgrade after so much use. This makes using the items fun, and motivates you to work.

The farming itself is simple. You take out a tool of some sort, and use it the appropriate way. Each day is relatively routine, but thanks to the goals and diversions it doesn't get boring. You aren't farming all day though. You obviously get to try and woo some girls as well as some other addictive activities. Fishing is one example. You can go out and catch fish that can restore stamina and sell for money.

That is one of the great things about Harvest Moon 64. There isn't anything in the game that is ''worthless''. Everything has some sort of purpose. Either for your own enjoyment, or for your character's well being. For example, buying an ocarina brings yourself enjoyment because it allows you to participate in a certain festival. The fish though, is for your character's benefit since it can get him money. With diverse gameplay that has goals and diversions to keep you going, you can't go wrong with HM64.

Part of what brings together the gameplay is the wonderful graphics. They are vividly colored, and just look darn pretty the whole way. It's just a joy to see. One of the best parts of the graphics comes in the “dating” in the game. When you do things with the girls, their facial expressions will change, which adds a lot to the dating system itself. When you do something dumb she'll get mad, when you do something she likes she'll smile, and if you do something she really likes she'll have a huge smile. It really brings together the whole ''dating'' experience, and makes it seem even more real. This also makes it easier to fantasize about the girls you are dating. You can really imagine their smile, imagine them in your arms...

The lovin' keeps on going too with infinite replay value. The game never technically ends, so you can keep on farming for a long time. You might get tired of it after 40-50 hours or so. There is still motivation to replay though. There are different things you can do in a replay of the game, mainly marrying a different girl. It's fun to explore each girl's personality. It's also exciting to approach the farming in different ways on each time through.

There is something for everyone in Harvest Moon 64. Anyone who plays it will most likely be swept away by its unique, deep, and enjoyable gameplay. If someone had told me I would have fun with Harvest Moon 64 before I played it I would have smacked them, and then went to piss on a copy of SimFarm. I will not be pissing on HM64 though, as it is easily one of the best experiences to be had on the N64.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 02/01/04, Updated 03/16/04

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