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Harvest Moon

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Release year: 1996 | Players: 1 player | Developed by Amccus

Harvest Moon (AKA 牧場物語 Bokujō Monogatari, Ranch Story in Japan) was not a big hit when it was first released as a Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) game title in 1997. Yet it spurred the now-famous series popular all over the world.

Harvest Moon is known for its peacefulness and slowness of pace, which was exactly what Yasuhiro Wada aspired for in this role-playing / simulation game. In contrast to the action titles back then, this game provided a change of pace which made it a hit to gamers.

It kicks off by telling players they are in a large countryside estate left to them by their grandfather who has just passed away. They are taking over this estate until their parents come back at the end of the game.

Gameplay is straightforward. Players get to dig up rocks, prepare soil, and water crops like any real-life farmer. If they promptly accomplish their tasks, they can harvest the crops to sell for profit or keep for future use. Otherwise, the crops wilt and players would have to start over again.

Seasons affect a crop’s growth success. When tired from farming, you can raise livestock, hang out in your own cabin or explore the town for caves where you can find items. Additional tasks which involve other village citizens also add to the complexity of the game.

One feature which does this is the ability to create a family. This involves communicating with villagers and pleasing them to increase relationship points. As the player’s relationships strengthen, they can choose which villager to pursue and ask their hand in marriage.

Harvest Moon was all at once an RPG, a dating sim and an adventure game. It could even be described as therapeutic due to its overall ambience and repetitive gameplay.

It has quaint graphics and midi equivalents of the background music which elicits the feel of a countryside. It features whispery sound effects from using tools and items, and the music changes depending on which you are in.

Overall, Harvest Moon is worth checking out if only to appreciate how the now-popular series came about. It is one-of-a-kind among its fellow SNES games and deems honor for surviving as a franchise.

Harvest Moon - Super Nintendo (SNES)
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