Review by HRahman

"The Legendary Harvest Moon Returns... Right on Time!"

Story: 8/10
Well, there was a young man that visits his grandpa’s neglected farm in Mineral Village. Then he knows that his grandpa is already passed away. When he was a kid, his father sent him here for a holiday and he met his granpa here. He plays alone with the farm’s animal, went fishing and then he met a little girl. When it’s time to come back home, the little girl asks him to promise her to return to the village again.

So, the young man came back to the village. The village’s mayor welcomed him and offers to rebuild the farm. He gives the young man three years time to make it a good farm, and the young man accept it. The mayor asks him to befriend with people here too. And then, his Harvest Moon: Back to Nature daily life starts.

When you get into the game, there are lots of events that gives you way more interesting stories, and you definitely want to know them all. Some event will reveal the villagers past; some will show you conflicts between villagers and so on (I will not spoil them anyway!).

The characters of this game were ‘recycled’ from Harvest Moon 64 game. Their appearance and name are all the same, but their job, family and background story was changed. Not quite good job by Natsume. Some HM64 player will be might feel unsatisfied about this thing. And is it that hard to make new character? Seems like Natsume is in hurry or something when they’re making this game.

However, the story is still good. It can be touchy sometimes, and one more thing, there aren’t any violence in this game. And that is good.

Graphics: 8/10
Natsume has made a well graphics here. The environment is pretty much detailed, the colors are bright as it is considered as the best graphics of all Harvest Moon series so far.

All the characters (including livestock and crops) are pre-rendered in their appearance. Yes, they’re deformed, but I think that’s the way people look in this game. When you interact with people, their emotion will appear as a hand-drawn picture right above their text box. It’s kinda like Xenogears or Valkyrie Profile. It’s pretty much fun watching the people’s reaction in certain happenings or when you give them something.

One obvious weakness is that this game is in 2 and a half dimension. You can’t change or rotate the point-of-view. Sometimes you will find some trouble when you’re trying to see what’s lying in the corner of the room, or when you put behind a wall and became unable to see the character. Yes, a “you-are-here” pointing hand icon will appear, but it doesn’t show you the exact place where you are standing. Trust me.

Sound: 7/10
People have no voice here, and when they speak some annoying weird sound appears along the text. The sound of your boots when you’re walking is weird and not realistic too.

The music is quite ear-catching, but they’re not pretty good compared with another game such as Final Fantasy and so on and so on. Some places and events have their own music, but they’ll repeated all the time. Different time will gives you different music too. It’s pretty silent in the night, but when the sun arises, the music turns into some energetic theme again. The season seems like having their own music theme, but the theme of winter is so slow and can really makes you get bored.

The sounds of the nature are pretty good. You’ll hear your hen waking you up and sometimes some birds are singing their song too. Your horse will neigh and your dog will bark when you call them. Baa and moo are the usual sounds from your livestock when you’re talking or brushing them. You’ll hear a real funny sound when you hit (coincidentally or not) your livestock and pet with your tools.

Sometimes you’ll hear the sound of the wind, especially in late night. The sound of the rain is quite realistic too, but it stops in certain time and then played again. Seems like Natsume wasn’t made a quite long record of that sound. Same as the beach’s sound too. If you go to the beach, the sound of waves and sea gulls will welcome you. But they also stopped and replayed again. Not to forget the sound when a typhoon or snowstorm happened. Well they’re quite realistic, actually.

Controls: 7/10
The controls aren’t quite good. You can only move in 4-directional way. You might get stuck in a corner without realizing it. And sometimes it’s pretty hard to pick up something, such as eggs and weeds, when you’re not standing in the right place. However, the buttons are used effectively. You can easily use your tools or take an item from your bag in one touch of button. Each button has their own purpose that will really helps you thorough the game.

But one touch button system has some disadvantages too. These are some of them:

Tools that are equipped aren’t showed directly. They just appear when you use them or look at your rucksack menu. Crop seeds are considered as tools too, and sometimes you will equip them without realizing it. And then you press square (too use tools), and voila, a bag of seeds is wasted. That’s happened quite often to me and it could be annoying sometimes.

If you’re holding something and try to give it to someone, you must stand pretty close to them or it will wasted away on the floor. One more things, while you’re holding something and trying to open a door, sometimes it won’t work and you’re wasting away the thing in your hand. Same as if you’re holding your dog or chicken. They might be trapped in the door without any chances of escaping!

Gameplay: 9/10
This is a farming simulation game, obviously, and you might think that all you have to do is planting, watering, harvesting and repeat them all the time. Well, yes, that’s the basic of the game, but there are many elements are added here. You can be a farmer, a psycho who chopped all the table in your neighbor’s house, or even a boozer that spent all day long with bottles of wine etc etc. But I believe that most of you will be a good farmer anyway.

You’ve got lots of things to do. Take care of your plant and animals, go mining or fishing, woo the girls, etc. You’ve got limited time, and that’s the challenge of the game. This game is quite hard, but if you could be patient and enjoy your works, that would be OK.

And there are lots of fun too. You can enter many kinds of festival that are funny, challenging and quite nice sometimes. And not to forget the romantic one. It will sometimes refresh your mind after several boring days of farming and working.

Replay Value: 9/10
Well, first of all let us all know that this game is endless. The main goal is to rebuild the farm within three years, but you can still continue the game after that year.

There are lots of reasons why you would like to replay this game. One, you can only marry someone once (am I spoils it?) and there are 5 girls in this game. So you might want to have different saved files when you marry different girl in the game.

Especially if you’re a perfectionist one. You might think that your relationship with villagers is bad. And then you want to make a better one in earlier time too. Or you think you didn’t have a quite satisfying farm. That’s another reason to play again.

Overall: 8/10
Yes, this game has it own good and bad things. But you when you get into it, you’ll see what’s special in this game. For me, yes, this game was special.

Buy or Rent
If you have play another version of HM before, and you like them, then you should obviously buy this game.

But if you’re new in this kind of game (and that’s includes me), it’s better if you rent it first and decide whether you like it or not.

That’s all, thank you very much for reading.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 03/17/01, Updated 03/17/01

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