Just as the sun rises over the horizon, your eyes open and you awake to a brand new day of responsibilities. Without any delay, you fix up breakfast and set off to work. Normally, this would be the time you hop into your car and drive off to the office or whatever soul sucking job you were able to land. Instead, you head down a dirt path into a small wooden structure. As the door opens, you are greeted by the excited clucks and bleats of the inhabitants. This is how your day begins in the peaceful, relaxing, and fulfilling world of Harvest Moon.
Harvest Moon has seen numerous entries in its decade of life; add the many spinoffs and you’ve got a series that pretty much any gamer has at least heard of. I was introduced to the series through its first incarnation on the SNES and was hooked immediately. Ever since, I’ve been farming and raising livestock with almost every release. It’s safe to say that the latest entries haven’t really captured the same magic as the early titles but Harvest Moon will always have its place in my heart as that different game that I can play when I want something different and slower paced.
Today’s gaming world is divided into many different conflicts but none are greater than “Hardcore” versus “Casual”. I’ve always classified myself as a Casual Gamer simply because I don’t play for the competitive reasons others do, I simply play to enjoy the game. Harvest Moon would easily fit into the casual category so I can see why not every one may like it. Of course, I’ll be the first to admit that it IS a farming game; quite obviously, that is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. That leaves the question, “Why play it?” First and foremost, as I stated above, Harvest Moon is basically an escape from traditional gaming. There are no high scores to beat, no terrorists to counter, just crops to water, chickens to feed, and a town to explore.
Games offer many new worlds to explore and lives to lead. I’m never going to be a farmer for quite a few reasons. Harvest Moon offers me a taste of that life without any of the draw backs that reality would come with. As farfetched as it sounds, feeding chickens, milking cows, and making money from crops you grew with all of your hard, digital work is quite enjoyable. If this was where the game cut off its playability then I might not be as big a fan. Luckily, once all the chores are done, your digital self can mingle with the towns folk and even meet the girl or boy of your dreams. Later entries even include side jobs the towns people can give you and even main quests such as aiding, now bear with me here, the Harvest Sprites in their journey to awaken to the Harvest Goddess who has been slumbering ever since one of several scenarios including a witch cursing her or mankind’s mistreatment of nature.
I am eager to see what the newest game, A New Beginning, brings us. Only a little bit of information has been released but what has been said seems promising. New animals will be available along with a mode that lets you actually build and place buildings and such. It has been a long time since a Harvest Moon title has captivated me as much as either the SNES version or the picture of perfection that was the N64 title but I’m hoping that this latest one at least comes close. Of course, if it doesn’t, I still have to delve deeper into the world of Rune Factory. That story, though, is for another day.
The title is a line form the song Harvest Moon by Neil Young