Harvest Moon (video game)
North American cover art
|Genre(s)||Simulation/role-playing video game|
Harvest Moon (牧場物語 Bokujō Monogatari?) is a virtual role playing game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System developed and published by Pack-In-Video (now Marvelous AQL), first released in Japan in 1996, and 1997 in North America. This is the first game in the long-running series of the same name. A PAL version was released by Nintendo in early 1998 for Western Europe and Oceania, with language localizations for Germany and France.
The game was released on the Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console on January 4, 2008 in Europe and on February 11, 2008 in North America and on the Nintendo Wii U's Virtual Console in both regions on August 1, 2013.
The game play consists of daily farm tasks, such as watering crops and taking care of animals. For vegetables to develop, they must receive water each day; lack of water does not kill crops, but prevents them from growing. Animals must be fed once a day to keep them producing. While the only care that chickens require is feeding, cows must be continually talked to, brushed, and milked to retain their health. A cow may become sick if not fed for a day and, if untreated, sickness can lead to death. Chickens can die if left outside, where they can be blown away in a storm or eaten by wild dogs. After dark, the only business in town that the player can access is the bar, where a number of non-player characters gather to drink and talk.
The overworld is humid subtropical, and changes as the seasons and weather patterns do (i.e. snow during winter, rain, etc.). It consists of three main areas: the player's farm, the town, and the mountain. Bad weather, such as rain, forces the villagers and people on the mountainside to go indoors, so the player has to go inside to talk to them.
Seasons and time
Each year has four thirty-day seasons, and each day lasts from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m, when it becomes dark and the clock stops. Unlike in later Harvest Moon games, the player can effectively stay outside as long as he wants without any penalty to stamina. However, when married, the character loses a few affection points with his wife if he comes home after 6 p.m. unless he is married to Eve.
The player can farm vegetables during the spring and summer. During fall, the only things that grow are mushrooms—a normal one and a poisonous one—in the Forest, and the hay grass, and in winter, nothing grows but the herbs in the forest cave, which grow all year round. Crops, eggs, and milk can be placed in collection boxes, from which a shipper will collect them at 4 or 5 p.m. each day, the player being paid the next morning. The player can also gather herbs and wild fruit in the forest, and fish from a small pond.
The player starts with basic tools, such as a watering can, axe, hoe, sickle, and hammer. All these tools can be upgraded if the player completes certain side quests (although the watering can's improvement must be purchased). Only two items can be carried at a time.
At the beginning of the game, the player adopts a dog, though it requires no special care and its only contribution to the game is barking to warn the player that the farm's fence requires fixing. The player must also hug (pick-up) the dog at least 100 times during the game to receive the best ending. In the winter of the first year, the player also adopts a horse, which can be used as a portable collection box.
The barn and henhouse are each capable of holding up to twelve of their respective animals. All cows are purchased from a livestock dealer in town, as is at least one chicken. Additional chickens can be hatched by placing an egg in an incubator instead of selling it. Cows, when first purchased or born, require time to grow before they can be milked; afterward, they grow larger and produce greater quantities of milk. Fully developed chickens and cows can be sold for profit.
There are five young women living in town who the player can marry: Ann, Ellen, Eve, Maria, and Nina. Each girl has her own tastes and preferences, and keeps a diary, which displays her affection towards the player. In order to marry, the girl must have five hearts of affection towards the player, and the player must meet certain requirements. These include buying a blue feather from the merchant, which is used to propose, and expanding their house at least once in order to get a matrimonial bed. After marriage, all girls wear the same blue dress, making them effectively identical (excepting their hair color). If the player returns home after their wife has gone to bed (with the exception of Eve), the wife's affection will drop, and if it drops too low she will leave the player and the player must find her at her parents' house and make up.
When the player has both house upgrades, has been married to his wife for 20 days, and kept his wife's affection high, she will become pregnant, later giving birth in the farmhouse. It is possible to have another baby once the first baby is 31 days old, provided the wife has a high enough affection towards the player.
At certain points in the game, the player has the opportunity to take part in side quests that provide benefits. There are a number of events (some scheduled, some not) that add to the gameplay:
- Festivals - At set dates, the townspeople gather to celebrate an event. Examples include the Harvest Festival (revolving around a communal stew, similar to Thanksgiving), the Egg Festival (which features an Easter-like colored-egg hunt), and the Flower Festival. Certain days, such as New Year's Day and the winter solstice, are celebrated more solemnly. Otherwise, festivals usually allow the player to engage in mini-games and to dance with girls.
- Disasters - During the summer, it is possible that the area will be struck by a hurricane. If this happens, the player loses a day of work while barricaded in the farmhouse, and many of the crops, large sections of the fence, and even cultivated land itself will be destroyed. And while less common (and unpredictable), earthquakes sometimes appear, they have some of the same effects the hurricane does.
- Marriageable Girl side-quests - For each marriagable girl in the game there is an event that can be triggered once her affection toward the player reaches a certain level. This event is always some sort of crisis that the player must resolve. Doing so increases the particular girl's affection rating. These events cannot be accessed once the player is married, regardless of the affection rating of the remaining girls.
Some of the game's special events require natural disasters to allow the player to access it. After an earthquake or lightning strike, for example, the player can meet the "Harvest Sprites" who live in tunnels under the farm. They can also gain access to a pond where the Harvest Goddess lives. Doing these things allows the character to upgrade his tools without paying money.
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In the version of the game released in America, all references to alcohol are changed to "juice," even though anyone who drinks said "juice" clearly becomes intoxicated. While many elements of the game were "westernized" for its American release, some Japanese references were overlooked. For example, townspeople sometimes discuss the church and its religion in Shinto terms, such as referring to the existence of both a "God of the Harvest" and a "God of Business." In several "New Day" cinematics, the character eats an onigiri, a food not familiar to many outside of Japan. The news anchor on TV in the game bows to the audience in a welcoming manner. This is uncommon in western countries.
BS Bokujō Monogatari (BS 牧場物語) was an episodically released ura- or gaiden-version of the original Harvest Moon consisting of 4 unique episodes on the Satellaview. Each episode had to be downloaded by players from St.GIGA (at NikoNiko Ranch on the BS-X cartridge) during a specified broadcast week and during a specified time-window. It featured "SoundLink" narration (radio drama-style streaming voice data intended to guide players through the game and give helpful hints and advice). Due to the nature of SoundLink broadcasts these games were only broadcast to players between 6:00 and 6:50PM on broadcast dates. The game was never released outside of Japan and as with all other Satellaview titles it has never been re-released as a stand-alone title. Online Satellaview emulation enthusiasts refer to the game unofficially as "BS Makiba Monogatari."A single rerun of the broadcasts was conducted in the same weekly format from November 4, 1996 to November 30, 1996 at 5:00 to 5:50PM. The BS-X download location changed to Bagupotamia Temple. The episodes were known as:
- First Time "Outdoor Life" (はじめての“あうとどあＬＩＦＥ” Hajimeteno "Autodoa Life"?) released on September 2, 1996
- Fruitful Land and Mind! (大地と心に溢れる実り！ Daichi to Kokoro ni Afure ru Minori!?) released on September 9, 1996
- We Are All Alive (僕らはみんな生きている Bokura Haminna Iki Teiru?) released on September 16, 1996
- Aim for Ranch Master! (牧場マスターを目指せ！ Bokujō Masuta wo Mezase!?) released on September 23, 1996
According to Natsume's Adam Fitch, the game sold "a decent amount for that time".
- "Harvest Moon Release Dates". Gamespot. Retrieved January 24, 2012.
- "Harvest Moon and Lords of Thunder Now Available on Wii Shop Channel!". Nintendo. 2008-02-11. Retrieved 2009-09-09.
- Kameb (2008-02-12). "スーパーファミコンアワー番組表" (in Japanese). The Satellaview History Museum. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
- "Harvest Moon on Gamerankings". Gamerankings. Retrieved 2009-06-29.
- Lucas M. Thomas (February 11, 2008). "Harvest Moon Review". IGN. Retrieved 2008-02-12.
- Mackey, Bob (20 January 2014). "Retronauts Volume III Episode 14: Harvest Moon". Retronauts (Podcast). Event occurs at 12 minutes 25 seconds. Retrieved 24 April 2014.