I’ve always really enjoyed Harvest Moon. Learning to manage my time to care for my farm can be stressful, but once I have a routine down, it’s actually relaxing. Feed the chickens, grab the egg, feed the cows, milk the cows, brush the cows, brush the horse, harvest, water. Then I get a little bit of precious free time to go up the mountain or talk to a girl. The dating simulator aspect of the game is also fun although simple, reminding me of the system from Azure Dreams. Sadly, I’ve never finished a Harvest Moon game.
The first I played was Harvest Moon for the SNES. When I picture Harvest Moon in my head, this is the version I see. I played it quite a bit for a while, and I remember talking to William about it while he played it as well. I tried the PlayStation version, Harvest Moon: Back to Nature as well which was 3D and ugly. Some people liked it more, but I just couldn’t get into it. I did have a friend, most likely Shaun, who used to play it at my house, but I passed on it.
William let me borrow Harvest Moon 64 for the N64, and that was much more enjoyable than Back to Nature. It was also 3D but just seemed more pleasant. Harvest Moon 64 featured a greenhouse, allowing me to grow plants even in the winter. Even though Harvest Moon is a single player, I really enjoyed talking to William about this game while I played it.
Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town came out in fall of 2003, my senior year of high school. William and I each bought a copy. This was the first time I played Harvest Moon on a portable, and it was great to have it with me wherever I went. I talked to William every night about how far we were and what was happening. In this version, sprites lived around the farm. After I befriended them, they did various work around my farm for me. This version seemed really amazing, and it was by far my favorite. Unfortunately, I lost the game and never did find it.
In my second year of college, I purchased Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life. This was just too stressful for me. I kept having to check FAQs to make sure I didn’t miss things, and I didn’t want to play like that. However, I didn’t want to progress in the game only to find that I was unable to get something because the opportunity passed. I ended up giving up pretty early. Maybe the previous versions also had things I could miss, but I just didn’t know. A Wonderful Life was also the first time I played Harvest Moon without discussing it with William frequently. Luckily, gem played it too so I talked to her about it!
I think it’s time to play Harvest Moon again. On the DS there’s Harvest Moon DS and Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness, and in November Harvest Moon: Sunshine Islands will be released in the US. There’s also Rune Factory and Rune Factory for the DS which feature dungeons and action-RPG elements. Rune Factory Frontier is also on the Wii. Rune Factory seems to be pushing the 3D a little bit too far, leaving the game looking ugly. I’ll start with Harvest Moon DS and see how I like it. Perhaps I’ll finish it this time!