Review by strawhat

"I don't know what all this bellyaching is about..."

I have played both versions of Harvest Moon 64 and Back to Nature. I must say, I was impressed with the quality and fun of both games. However, Back to Nature has so many qualities that make it better than Harvest Moon 64, I find it unbelievable that some people think 64 is better.

Story: 7/10
Ok, seriously, I think the story could have been better. However, it is much better than any other simulation game I have played, so I gave it points for that. All it there is is a simple background story of how your grandfather was a great, respected farmer. You visited his farm one day when your family couldn't afford that summer's vacation. You played with the chickens, rode the cows, etc. One day, you went up the hill and found a young girl. You two bonded and became friends. On the day that you were going to leave the farm, the little girl comes up to you and makes you promise you'll come back. And being the typical video game hero dude, you do. Now, your grandfather has passed and you must take care of his once proud farm. Will you become the ultimate farmer? Are you going to meet the girl you promised that you'll come back? Well, play the game!

As you can see, it's not really SO indepth, but it's much better than the Nintendo 64 version! The 64 version only had your father dying and you need to take care of your farm. This storyline, however lacking some may think, is much better compared to the 64 version!

Graphics: 9/10
Not bad, not bad. The graphics are pretty detailed for a Playstation and the background isn't very blocky. It has smooth graphics of the sky and landscape. Trees aren't just lines with green triangles, they actually show individual leaves and blossoms. Each season has a different scenery, each one different. The colors vary, as well as the crops. The houses have detail in them, you can see some vines creeping up the side and windows. I was impressed when I saw this.

Now, comparing with the 64 version. Some people complain that the people are too blocky. What I have to say? THEY LOOK EXACTLY THE SAME. Each character has the same sprite, with some additional new ones. The pictures of the characters in this game are much more detailed. There are more shades of colors, and you can see more of their body. So much better than that one square block of picture that was given in 64. There's also no black space when you get to the edge of a place, except in buildings. The graphics have improved since the 64 version, well, most of it anyway.

Sound/Music: 7/10
IMO, this is the worst part of the game. They aren't really so horrible, but I feel the creators just changed all the sounds to make it different from HM64. All the sounds that your tools make are too over exaggerated and a little choppy. They are like, twice as loud as the music and every sound is different. It's livable, but not pleasant. Some of the sounds are improved though. The cows and sheep now have more realistic cries, instead of just saying ''moo''. I was quite impressed when I first heard it.

The quality of the music in this game has improved. Just like in 64, there is different music for different seasons, as well as other places that you are able to go. It is the same in this game. Unlike in 64, this game's music is softer. The song also doesn't repeat itself when you go inside houses or back out, so you don't have to hear the same beginning of tunes over and over again, which I'm sure made many people angry. The music can be sweet and light, or a little darker and sadder. There isn't really too much of a difference between the two games in terms of music, except everything in BTN is different with a higher quality. But all in all, it's good, so nothing to complain about.

Gameplay: 10/10
This is one of the best factors of HM:BTN. There is so much to do in this game. First, you have your basic priorities of raising a farm, buying chickens, cows, and sheep, planting all sorts of crops, and planting grass. However, there is more to that. You have to make friends with the villagers, improve your house, enter festivals, and even find marry the girl of your dreams. There are plenty of places to go in this game. There's your farm, of course, Mother Hill, Mineral Town, the Beach, and much more! You don't have to just farm, you can fish, find items at Mother Hill, and everything you could possibly imagine! There are of course, a couple of minor bad things. Loading time takes a while, especially when saving. Sometimes, time can last too long. About 10 seconds for 10 minutes. That's a lot more than it seems. I sometimes find myself sleeping at 11 o' clock...AM! The other thing is that the controls take some getting used to. If you can override these things, HM: BTN will be a treasure to you.

There are MUCH more things that you can do in this game than HM64. There are a TON of festivals in this game, much more than the other version. You can raise fish and bees, and more livestock. There are more items in which you can get to please the townsfolk. Everyone has an item they like/dislike, and birthdays as well. There are more things to do in this game than every previous HM Game, no doubt about it.

So, let's have a quick look at why this game it better than the rest, and some pros and cons:

1. The story was much better than the previous games.

2. There are more things to do.

3. More people and festivals, added scenes and events.

4. Longer.

5. Better graphics and sounds.

Now, some pros and cons:

Great graphics
Peaceful music
Many things to do
Excellent Gameplay and Replay Value

Hard to get used to controls
Loading time is too long
Time is too slow

Replay Value: 10/10
Harvest Moon is the King of Replay Value. I myself have been playing this game for over a year without ever getting bored, not one bit! It is awesome in every way, you could have an endless amount of time having fun with this game. I guarantee at least 30 hours of Gameplay, even more if you have loved the previous Harvest Moon games. You can restart games and try things different, and see some missed events from your other games. The fun is endless.

Rent/Buy: Depends.
What? After a large review of how this game is better than the previous versions and improvements have been made, you might now want it? That's correct. If you aren't a fan of non-violent games, then this probably isn't for you. I urge you to still rent it and try, and if you like it, by all means purchase it! If you like the previous HM games, then you'd be missing out on a lot by not buying this. If I haven't convinced you that this is the best version, then rent the game and try it out for yourself. I almost guarantee you'll love it.

This is a great, educational game. It's fun for all ages, and it's something your parents will approve of. You'll spend many hours playing this game, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Have fun!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/07/04

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