What do you get when you combine agriculture, farm animals, friendly townsfolk, and video games?
If you guessed Harvest Moon, 10,000 Internet points for you!
The Harvest Moon series is one of my favorites; I love it and can’t seem to get enough! All in all there are about 25 Harvest Moon games and spin-offs, so chances are if you play video games you’ve maybe run into one or two at some point in your gaming career. If you are a weirdo like me, you own most of the games.
In all of the Harvest Moon games, you play a character that moves to a new town and has decided to start a farm. There are many different story lines, from your grandpa dying and wanting you to take over the farm, to you needing to save the town from extinction.
The original game, titled ‘Harvest Moon’, was released for SNES in 1997. Though I have played it, sadly this is one of the Harvest Moon games I don’t own (it’s pretty pricey and my dad won’t give me his SNES).
The next game, and the one many more people have actually played, was ‘Harvest Moon 64’ which came out for the Nintendo 64 in 1999. This version of the game is often a fan-favorite because it involved interesting townsfolk and dating! Your character (a male) could woo the girl of his dreams, marry her, and have a child.
Farming and raising livestock has always been a major part of the game-play. Interacting with the townsfolk is another staple in the series. In some of the spin-offs, the ‘Rune Factory’ series, you can fight monsters, which you can also capture and raise on your farm!
My most recent acquisition was ‘Harvest Moon: A New Beginning for the 3DS’ (which I will probably do a review of once I’ve put in a few more hours of play-time, but so far I like it).
I’ve been thinking a lot about what it is exactly that makes these games so addicting and enjoyable for me (and, I’m assuming, other people like them too since they keep making them). I mean, basically you are doing chores the entire game and there’s a lot of repetition — what’s fun about that?
I had a friend once who told me he liked to play Harvest Moon because it was so relaxing. That idea really stuck with me and I’ve come to realize that I felt the same way. Harvest Moon games always take place in peaceful village where life is so simple. It definitely is a form of escapism.
There’s also a very strong feeling of gratification when you accomplish something in a Harvest Moon game. You spend two weeks (in-game time) to grow a crop, then you finally get to ship it and make a profit to buy a cow. Then you raise that cow, feeding and brushing it everyday, for at least a month (in-game time again) until one day you can milk it! These small accomplishments can make you feel happy for the rest of the day (IRL).
I also really enjoy the interactions with the townsfolk, bachelors, and bachelorettes! Again, it takes a lot of in-game time and dedication to get these people to like you, but it’s fun to unlock special cut-scenes, and conversations as you get to know different characters better.
Harvest Moon is a happy world, where happy thing happen (most of the time) and it makes you feel good when you play it.
But, perhaps I simply love Harvest Moon because I’ve been playing it for so long. When my brother and I were kids, he was helping me pick out a Gameboy Color game at Target one day. He pointed out ‘Harvest Moon 2 GB’ through the glass display case and said, “You’d probably love that game, there are cute animals in it.”
And boy, he was right on the mark.