Harvest Moon 64 Review

Though admittedly not for everyone, Harvest Moon 64 is a strangely compelling, original little game that makes hours melt away incomprehensibly.

It's hard not to refer to a game that's completely lacking any sort of violence and wherein your main concerns are planting a farm, raising animals, and finding a wife as "quirky." But "charming" comes to mind in this case also.

Natsume's Harvest Moon 64 begins with your grandfather's wake. He's left you with a farm whose primary crops for the last few years have been weeds, large rocks, and tree stumps. You begin setting the ranch back on its feet by clearing the land and planting a modest staple of potatoes, radishes, and cabbage, but you have many tasks beyond this. You're going to need to acquire cows, sheep, and chickens if you're going to have anything to do over the long winter month (each season lasts thirty days). Your house requires additions such as a bathtub and a greenhouse, and your farm needs a flower garden if you're ever going to convince one of the women from the local village to marry you. Town events - such as harvest festivals, dances, horse and dog races, and group bridge-building - also demand your attention. And then, of course, you can always go fishing. It's as if the developer took every minigame that's ever appeared in an RPG, combined them, and made a game out of it.

The gameplay itself revolves around a set of repetitive actions: You wake up in the morning, check the weather report, feed your animals, clear weeds, water your plants, harvest any new growth, and maybe you'll have enough time to stop by town before the shops close. With some exception, this occurs every day and can go on infinitely since there's no definitive end to the game. But it never quite gets as tedious as it may sound. You'll find yourself going into some strange alpha state where your only thoughts are on the tasks at hand (and maybe getting a new cow). It's very addictive, though not in the way that you'll be thinking about how you'd rather be playing it when you're doing something else. It's just very hard to walk away from it when you are playing. You'll need to know what's going to happen the next day, and you'll tell your friends when you accomplish a goal. "My cow had a calf!" "Eggplants!" They'll shake their heads at you, but will soon understand once they sit down to watch and become transfixed by it, too.

There are several areas in Harvest Moon 64 that could stand improvement. The soundtrack is made up of only a few basic songs that you'll hear more than you'd prefer. Buildings drop out of the world when you visit an area where several structures appear onscreen at once. And you'll wish it were easier to line up your character with the plants when you're out watering the crops. But these problems don't do too much to get in the way of the game's charm though, since it's not the type of title that you expect a lot of flash and bang from. Though admittedly not for everyone, Harvest Moon 64 is a strangely compelling, original little game that makes hours melt away incomprehensibly.

The Good

  • N/A

The Bad

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