Harvest Moon 64
|Harvest Moon 64|
|Developer(s)||Toy Box Studios, Victor Interactive Software|
|Series||Story of Seasons|
Harvest Moon 64, released in Japan as Bokujō Monogatari 2 (牧場物語2?), is a farm simulation video game developed by Victor Interactive Software and published by Natsume for the Nintendo 64 video game console, and the third game in the Story of Seasons series (following Harvest Moon GB). It was first released in Japan on February 5, 1999 and was later released in North America on December 22, 1999.
The objective of Harvest Moon 64 is to restore and maintain an abandoned farm left to the player by their grandfather. The player is initially given a set of tools to use in order to achieve this goal. Along with restoring the farm, there are a number of other side quests that the player may choose to partake in, including training and racing a horse, selling crops, participating in a variety of town festivals as well as random events, falling in love and getting married, collecting recipes, and collecting photographs from various achievements and events.
The player starts out with the bare minimum features for the farm: A small house, a shipping bin, a barn for sheep and cows, a coop for chickens, a silo, a shed, and farm land. Along the way, the player has the opportunity to upgrade tools, add extensions to the house, fill the barn and coop, and cover his farmland with flowers, grass, and crops. The local town, where most of the villagers spend their day, contains a church, a bar, a bakery, a town square, a flower shop, a library, a tool shop, among other things.
Unlike the original Harvest Moon for the SNES, there is a limited amount of time to work in any given day as well as a limited amount of stamina for work. Many game features, such as character locations and whether shops are open or closed, depend on what time and day it is. Each season lasts 30 days and has different weather patterns, crops to grow, and wild herbs available.
Planting, growing, and harvesting crops is one of the main focuses of the Story of Seasons series. To plant crops, the player must till the soil, plant the seeds, then water the plots. All vegetable seeds can be purchased at the Flower Shop in the village during their respective season. At the end of a season, the crop withers and must be cut down with the scythe. Several crops will yield multiple vegetables throughout the season if continually watered. The crops available to plant include turnips, potatoes, corn, and strawberries. A greenhouse can be built so that any plant can grow anytime during the year.
The player starts with five basic tools to help restore the farm: a hammer, an axe, a sickle, a hoe, and a watering can. After a certain amount of usage, a tool will automatically upgrade (signified when the tool becomes silver and then later gold), allowing the player to do more work faster using less energy. Tools for livestock such as a cow milker and an animal brush can be purchased in the village.
Along with crops planted on the farm, there are also wild growing plants and herbs that the player may pick as he goes through his daily chores. The wild growing plants change from season to season. Unlike the crops grown on the farm, however, they reappear each day. Some of the wild growing plants can cause sickness and some may prevent it.
Taking care of animals is another essential part of maintaining the farm. There are two pets available in the game: a dog and a horse. The player begins with a dog that originally belonged to the player character's grandfather. The dog can participate in a Dog Race; its performance is determined by its relationship with the player. The horse, obtained from Green Ranch the second day of the first spring, can be ridden and used as a portable shipping crate. Like the dog, it can also participate in races. Livestock, such as cows, sheep, and chickens, may also be purchased at the Green Ranch. These animals require food and care in order to produce more valuable products. If a livestock is either unfed or left outside for many consecutive days, it will become sick and eventually die unless the player gives it medicine.
Raising a family
One of the major features of Harvest Moon 64 is the ability to marry and have a child. There are five eligible girls in Harvest Moon 64. These girls have hearts that appear in their speech bubbles representative of her affection toward the player ranging from white (indifferent) to pink (in love). Each of these girls has a non-player character suitor that will eventually marry her if the player chooses to marry another girl or takes too long to woo her.
Other notable features
The player can also visit the carpenter and his apprentices in the mountains to request additional construction for the house and farm. The head carpenter comes by the farm to make an estimate and, if the player has enough money and lumber, will begin work the next day. Construction of all of the house add-ons will result in a photo.
Photographs and recipes are ways to track a player's success in the game. In addition to being collector's items, photographs and recipes are used as guides when the farm is rated during the third year. When the player reaches a certain milestone or achieves a certain goal—winning a festival or getting married for example—he will receive a photograph to remember the event. Earned photographs are available for viewing at any time by checking the photo album on the bedside table. If a character has become good enough friends with the player, he will give the player a recipe in exchange for a certain crop. As the player becomes friends with more townspeople, he will receive more and more recipes.
Festival days are special days that offer the player a break from daily chores and a chance to see events that only occur once per year. Some festivals give the player a chance to interact with the townsfolk in unique ways, like dancing or swimming, and some give the player a chance to make some extra money betting on races.
Aaron Boulding, who rated Harvest Moon 64 for IGN, rated the game at 8.2 out of 10, or "great", stating that "(he) was able to forgive a lot of shortcomings like poor audio and visual elements because (he) found (himself) playing it for hours at a time."
Joe Fielder, who rated it for GameSpot, gave it 7.3 out of 10 and claimed that "although not for everyone, Harvest Moon 64 is a strangely compelling, original little game that makes hours melt away incomprehensibly."
Mars Publishing's Parent's Guide to Nintendo Games gave Harvest Moon 64 the only Parent's Guide Choice Award for a Nintendo 64 game because it met the requirements of a game that "displays imagination, creativity, ingenuity of the first order, while offering a playing atmosphere that is educational and enriching."
Nintendo Power ranked Harvest Moon 64 as the 278th greatest Nintendo game of all time.
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