Review by Gauntlet Man 99

"Do not base your opinion of Harvest Moon around this game!"

After I saw that a Harvest Moon game for the Playstation was coming out, I decided to buy a brand new PSX just for the game. I waited for several months, putting up with the Playstation’s terrible games, when finally, harvest Moon: Back to Nature was released. I drove out to EB as soon as it opened and bought one. When I got home I opened my PSX and jammed the CD in. After waiting through an agonizing 3 minute “Loading” time I was greeted by an earsplitting tune. It sounded nothing like the other HMs. When I started playing I sat through many long loading times, and bad graphics. I played for about an hour (longer than I should have) and despite however many times I told myself that it would get better, it never did. Read on to find out more about this “game”.

Graphics- 3 out of 10
Ugh. The graphics in Harvest Moon: Back to Nature are one of the “strong” points of it. Sure, some people say they look just like the Nintendo 64 version’s, but they only appear that way in the screenshots. When you play it, everything is choppy is and blurry. Nothing looks like it should. For example: You’re walking along your farm, when all of the sudden, you realize that you have stopped. Five minutes later you say, “Oh, there’s a fence there! I thought that was part of the ground.” Really, nothing is colored right, and it’s all whacked out looking.

Good points-
*At least the screenshots look good.

Bad points:
*Everything is choppy and blurry.
*Things are unrealistically colored.
*Poorly colored

Sound- 2 out of 10
What happened to all of those good old Harvest Moon tunes? These songs literally _hurt_ your ears to listen to. Throughout the game there are about 10 different songs, and all of them are bad. When you’re on your ranch, which is where you’ll spend most of your time, one of the worst songs plays. Aside from that, the music doesn’t have a thing to do with the area where it’s played. Besides that the sound effects are slightly below average. For the most part they go along with they’re used for. But all in all, they’re nothing special.

Good Points-
*TVs have “Mute” buttons

Bad Points-
*The songs hurt your ears
*Lack of music variety
*Lack of good sound effects
*None of the original HM songs are in this game

Play Control- 1 out of 10
The play control is terrible too. Not only is the PSX control setup badly, but the controls are too complex with all of the buttons. Another reviewer (who shall remain nameless) stated that the rucksack is easier to use than the HM64’s. The reason he says that is because the cursor moves faster. But he left out that it moves way too fast and that causes difficulty when you’re trying to select an item. Getting around is no different. It’s hard because you’re character moves way too fast, and you often hold the joystick or D-Pad too long and pass up your goal. Now it’s time for another example: After struggling with the controls in the mountains for a couple of minutes, wasting your precious time, you find a rare item that you can sell for big cash. You run back to your ranch, and forget where the shipping bin is thanks to its inconvenient location. When you find it, you subconsciously pull your treasure out of your “easy- to-use” rucksack. You unpause the game, and run towards the shipping bin. You push the joystick too far, and because of your speedy character, you accidentally go too far. Not thinking of your fatal error you press the release object button. Your rare item falls to the ground and disappears. Later, you find out that that item is only possible to find once, and you could have sold it for 30,000 gold. As you sit in despair, you curse Natsume for making the controls so bad.

Good Points-
*Uhh…hmm…lemme think for a minute…NONE!

Bad Points-
*The “improved” rucksack
*Your character moves way to fast
*All of the NPCs (Non-Playable Characters) move much faster than you do, making it hard to socialize and give gifts
*Too complicated controls
*PSX control setup is bad
*Controls are unresponsive

Game Design- 4 out of 10
Harvest Moon: Back to Nature was very poorly made. Sure, it’s an HM game, and that got it a few points, but it’s the first ever bad Harvest Moon game. And the only reason it’s called Harvest Moon is because it stars Jack (the farmer) and it involves planting crops. Despite that, there are some (but very few) really cool parts. One of those is the annual Town Tomato Fight. It sounds like some Mario Party mini-game, but it’s actually pretty cool. In fact, it’s probably the neatest feature in the game. Besides that, you can actually cook the recipes that you find, unlike in Harvest Moon 64, but that’s the only part in this game, that’s better than the N64 version.

Good Points-
*Cool sub-plots
*You can cook recipes
*Bears the Harvest Moon name

Bad Points-
*Lack of variety
*Not enough recipes
*Very few tools compared to other versions
*Ranch is poorly designed, along with everything else

Story- 1 out of 10
Basically, the story (for lack of good words) sucked, but here it goes anyway: Ten years ago you had to go on vacation to your grandpa’s farm. It ended up being pretty good for you. Each day you found something new to do, and you met a girl that you liked. When you had to leave, you promised her that you’d come back. Now, ten years later, grandpa finally kicked the bucket. You inherit the farm for his sake. And that’s it. Whatever happened to the girl? Where the heck do the cutscenes take place? They look like some of them are on the ranch, but the ranch looks *VERY* different. And why is the story so bad and undetailed? All of these questions go unanswered in this so-called “game”.

Good Points-

Bad Points-
*Very incomplete
*Makes little sense
*Too short
*Not enough details
*Despite how short the story is, it still takes way too long to show you it

Replay Value and Challenge- 5 out of 10
The best part of Harvest Moon: Back to Nature is the challenge. Mainly the replay value was terrible. I played for about 3 hours, and then I got sick of it and stopped for a week, but it is better than the game “The Sims”. Even if you loved all of the other HMs, which I do, BTN won’t hold your interest for long. The challenge is pretty good though. The hardest task takes place all the time. If you’re wondering what it is, it’s moving around to where you want to get. But still, Back to Nature managed to keep one of the HM aspects good, and that’s the challenge.

Good Points-
*Very hard

Bad Points-
*Won’t hold your interest for long
*Very boring

Overall- 2 out of 10
Overall, Harvest Moon: Back to Nature is a complete waste of money. The only reason you should buy it is if you have all the other Harvest Moons and you want to complete your collection. It has terrible music, bad reply value and graphics, pathetic play control, and the worst story I have ever heard. Let’s just hope that Harvest Moon: Restoring the Homeland for the PSX 2 is much better than this, but knowing Sony, it won’t be. Unfortunately, it’s rated “E” for Everyone by the ESRB rating board, so everyone has an equal chance of blowing 40 bucks.

Good Points-
*Hard game
*Because the price is so high, Natsume gets more money to spend working on their next HM

Bad Points-
*Terrible story
*Bad play control and graphics
*Almost no replay value
*A Harvest Moon 64 wannabe
*Everything else about this game

Reviewer's Rating:   1.0 - Terrible

Originally Posted: 07/05/01, Updated 01/18/02

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