Harvest Moon (JP: Bokujou Monogatari, or "Farm Story") is a farming life simulation game for the SNES and the first game in the long-running bucolic series. The goal of the game is open-ended: the player works on improving their farm, growing the best crops, meeting and marrying the right girl and realizing the perfect rural life. They can take on these tasks in any order, working towards certain targets in any order they choose.
The game was originally released on the Super Famicom in the Summer of 1996 before it was localized for other regions. It saw sequels for the Game Boy and Game Boy Color soon afterwards, which made various alterations to fit on the smaller screen. Harvest Moon would become available for the Wii's Virtual Console in English-speaking territories in 2008, and then again for the Wii U's Virtual Console in 2013.
The game starts with Jack (the default name for the character) taking over care of his grandfather's farm who has passed away. The player is given two and a half years to rejuvenate the farm and turn around its fortunes. At the end of this time period, his father evaluates the player's progress and the game will end, unless the player achieves the best ending which allows the player to continue.
The player is given almost free reign of how to improve their farms fortunes, choosing to either raise crops or animals solely, or a combination of the two.
The game has several different aspects including; farming, husbandry and developing relationships.
There are five basic tools that the player can interact with and upgrade throughout the game:
|Tool||Purpose||How to Upgrade|
Allows the player to chop down stumps into pieces of lumber that can either be used to build fences or to upgrade the house.
The axe can be upgraded to the Golden Axe, which can cut down a stump in one blow. To get the Golden Axe, equip an axe and go to the mountains after the earthquake during the first winter, where a new area with a pond will have opened up. Using the axe on the pond will cause the goddess to appear. Tell her the truth (that the golden axe isn't what was thrown in) and she will give it to the player as a reward for their honesty.
Allows the player to cut down a square of grass or to destroy a crop.
It can be upgraded into the Golden Sickle, which cuts down the six surrounding blocks around the player character in one swoop. To obtain the Golden Sickle, find the tree that falls after an earthquake in the Summer. Visit the gnomes and tell them about the sickle, and they will upgrade it.
Necessary for watering the crops and ensuring that they produce vegetables (grass does not need to be watered).
The Golden Sprinkler (Gross sounding, right?) can be purchased at the tool shop on Day 20 for 2000g.
Used for tilling the soil in order to prepare it for planting seeds.
The hoe can only till one block at a time, until it is upgraded into the Golden Hoe, which can till six blocks in a straight line (6x1). To upgrade the hoe, during the fall of Year 1 or Year 2, a weakened gnome will appear outside the house. Give him a mushroom from the mountain and he will upgrade the hoe the next day.
Used for breaking boulders, destroying broken fences, and removing a block of tilled soil.
The Golden Hammer upgrade allows the hammer to break boulders in one swing. To get the upgrade, allow the carpenter to borrow the hammer when he asks for it. He'll upgrade the hammer out of gratitude the next day.
Using tools depletes the player character's stamina. Once they run out of stamina and attempt to use a tool, the character will get dizzy and collapse, which effectively prevents him from performing any further work. The inclusion of the stamina mechanic forces players to plan out their day and what they plan to accomplish.
Farming takes place on Jack's farmland. There must be a section of farmland cleared in order to start any farming.
To remove weeds, simply pick them up and throw them or chop them with a sickle. To remove rocks, equip the hammer and bash the rock until it disappears (the small ones will only take one hit whereas the big ones will take longer). To remove stumps, equip the axe and hit the stump until it disappears. Destroying stumps will also add lumber to the player's supply. All tools can be found in the tool shed located just beneath the chicken coop.
A good amount of space to clear is enough for a three by three grid. Once cleared, take the hoe and plow the allotted area for the crops. For everything but crops that continually grow like corn and tomatoes, three by three is ideal. For continuous crops, leave a space empty in either the center or a space touching the center. Once plowed, grab a seed bag and stand right in the center of the plowed area and toss the seeds. Seeds can be bought in town. Once planted, grab the watering can and fill it with water (it can be filled by standing by a pond of water and hitting the action button) and water each section with a seed on it. Watering must be done every day until the crop is ready to be harvested. Please note that watering is unnecessary if it's grass. Grass will keep growing on its own throughout all seasons except winter.
To harvest crops, simply pick them up when ready to harvest and throw them in the shipping bin located next to the farm's exit. To harvest grass, use the sickle on the grass and it will be placed as fodder in the silo automatically.
To destroy crops, use the sickle on them. To destroy grass, use the hammer on the piece of grass.
Husbandry can only take place once enough fodder has been stored and enough money gathered to buy either a chicken or a cow. Once those two prerequisites are met, it's time to let the animal abuse begin.
Chickens are relatively easy to take care of. All that needs to be done is to feed them, keep them out of harms way, and take their eggs. To feed them, take fodder out from the silo bin on the left-hand side of the coop and toss it on top of the long row at the top of the screen. For each chicken possessed, only one piece of fodder needs to be placed. Once that is done, take any eggs laid by chickens and either place them in the shipper on the lower left-hand part of the coop or on the incubator on the lower right-hand part of the coop. Once placed in the incubator, the egg will take three days to hatch. Only one egg can be in the incubator at a time.
It's relatively simple to keep chickens out of harm's way if they are kept cooped up. However, if they are kept outdoors on a continual basis, a number of things could happen. First of all, if they are not kept within the confines of a fence, they can be eaten without any sort of way to protect them otherwise. The other thing to worry about is the weather. If it rains, hurricanes, or snows while the chickens are outside, they can get ill and not produce eggs. With these risks, it's easy to question why people keep livestock outside, but the reason is simple: they can feed themselves if they are outside. In other words, it's saved fodder.
If the player gets tired of chickens at any time, they can sell them for a profit.
Cows are taken care of similarly to chickens with a few key differences, which include needing to brushing and talking to the cows. Cows are fed the same as chickens except their food is placed in front of their stalls. Cows can also eat outside with the same consequences as chickens, but with also the benefit of a mood boost for cows. Brushing and talking to cows also boosts their moods and can be done once daily. The better the mood of the cow, the better milk it can produce. Milk can only be taken from a cow when it is an adult. To milk, take the milker, milk it, and place it in the shipper. To produce more cows, give an adult cow a miracle potion and wait twenty-one days for a baby cow to be born. Only one cow can be pregnant at a time. Like chickens, cows can also be sold for profit.
The brush and milking machine can be bought from the tool shop, while the miracle potion can be bought from the livestock dealer.
Attracting a Wife
Developing a relationship with one of the games five potential wives takes place in the town and on the mountains. To woo women, simply talk to them everyday and give her an item that she likes. For example, Nina loves flowers, so give her flowers if she's the one. Do not give a woman more than one gift per day, anything given to a girl after the first item will have little to no effect on their affection.
The best times for building a strong relationship are during the festivals; specifically the Flower, Harvest, and Star Night Festivals.
For the Flower Festival, buy the chosen woman perfume and dance with her. For the Harvest Festival, dance with her. For the Star Night Festival, go to the location where she will be standing that night.
Once women wooing has reached critical mass (it's possible to tell by sneaking a peak at her diary) and it's time to settle down, buy the blue feather of happiness from the peddler on Sunday and propose to the lady. Make sure to have the upgraded house or she won't move in.
Upgrading the House
The player is also able to upgrade the house on the ranch, using gold and the materials collected from chopping down stumps. To upgrade the home, the player must talk to the carpenters in the forest. There are two upgrades available, and other than improving the appearance of the home, there are also other tangible benefits:
|Upgrade One||5,000||250||The carpenters will give the players a clock as a gift, which allows the players to tell what time it is by pressing the 'Select' button. This is required in order to get married.|
|Upgrade Two||10,000||750||The carpenters will provide the player with a crib, which allows the player's wife to get pregnant.|