"While the concept may look bad at first, this is one of the most addicting games i've ever played."

Harvest Moon is back after a rather successful Super Nintendo debut, and its definitely better than ever.

The concept is simple: You have inherited a a farm thats in pretty bad shape from your late father, and its your job to pick it up and turn it into something that can haul in the cash. While this is the main objective of the game, there is much more that you can do than just grow vegetables and take care of animals. This is where the game really shines, in its gameplay aspects and stunning replay value.

The graphics are nothing to write home about: definitely not the best the Nintendo 64 can do...but its nothing that looks bad. My guess is that Natsume wasn't going for a "Shock and Awe" style of graphics when they made this game.

Its a top down view, similar in idea to Zelda and Link to the Past, as well as the original Harvest Moon. The character designs are pretty decent, though they're a little cartoony, it works for the atmosphere of the game. The best part about the graphics in this game is that its a very colorfully designed game that is pleasing to the eye. Whereas in games like Warcraft III, where the colorful nature doesn't match the atmosphere you're going for (in that case, violence), Harvest Moon 64 hits the spot. Its a very happy game that you can have a lot of fun playing, and it shows it with the character, the screen designs, and the way the town has been designed. All in all, it makes for a very pleasing look.

The sound of Harvest Moon 64 is as appropriate as the graphics are: pleasant, very happy, with an uplifting mood to it. The only problem is that it uses the same track all day, every day, and it can get old and boring. However, its a very catchy tune, and it grows on you. The worst part about the sound, though, is the sounds made in the menu when you move around in it. It makes a high pitched clicking noise which can get pretty irritating.

As for in-game sounds, they're great. They hit spot on with chirping of birds, cows mooing, chickens clucking, the dog barking, etc. All these noises really make you feel like you're actually on a farm, and they add to the pleasing mood the game has opened up for you. Even the sounds made when you use tools and water plants is cool to listen to. Weather sounds are great too...when it rains, it sounds very descriptive. Even in the horse race, you can hear people cheering, bells ringing, etc. Natsume did a great job of employing sensory details for this game.

The gameplay is the best part of Harvest Moon 64. Not only are there tons of things to do on the farm, but you can do things outside of it, as well. There are girls to betrothe, different buildings and animals to buy, as well as other fun extras I'll let you discover for yourself. The opportunity to do so much is what really adds to the experience of the game. There are several animals you can raise, different crops you can grow (and different seasons in which to grow them). All of this adds to a game that is easily worth the money. My only complaint is that the menu isn't quite user friendly, and works very slowly. When you want to load different crops into a bin for selling, you have to pick them all up individually, put them in your pack, and then put them back, one buy one (pressing start and selecting that same crop) into the sales bin. It gets pretty old doing that.

The control is okay, definitely not the best part of the game. It just seems to work pretty slow overall, with the menu, and moving around outside and stuff. Not only that, but the way the controls are, collecting plants and working outside on the farm take up a lot of time. This really adds up when you realize that a full day is about 3 minutes long.

This game never ends. It will go as long as you want it to. Its hard to say whether there's an ending, but for the sake of spoiling anything, I wont say what I think the ending is.

The replay value of this game is remarkable...there is so much to do, it can't be contained in several months of playing.

Final Remarks: This is not a renting game, this is a game you need to buy. Don't feel pushed away by the concept that its a farm game, its VERY VERY addicting to play, and you will continue to play it for hours to come.

Overall Grade: 9.6

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 07/10/04

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