(Game Boy Color)

Harvest Moon (Game Boy Color)

Game Review

Harvest Moon Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Mike Mason

Under thresher

The Harvest Moon series has always promoted the ideals of hard work and patience over the instant gratification found by more recent prods at gaming agriculture like Farmville. This attitude is even more apparent in Harvest Moon on the Game Boy Color than other iterations, as the handheld game crops the series down to its very roots – this is all about the farm and nothing else.

Your late grandfather has bequeathed his old farm to you. In spirit form, the old man appeals for you to take his land, restore it from its state of disrepair and become a master rancher to continue the family legacy. Oh, and he'll visit each year to check up on how you're doing. No pressure, then.

Harvest Moon starts slowly and maintains a gentle pace throughout, making it a great game to idle away time. After choosing to be a boy or girl and selecting a cat or dog pet, you're dumped into the farm to make your own way. The first task is to clear the land of the rubbish that has accumulated – luckily, granddad has left behind a shed of tools too, so you don't have to buy the axe needed to chop down tree stumps, the hammer to smash up rocks or the sickle to easily slice away weeds.

With little money on your side and a bare farm, your first days are spent scrabbling around to get your place in a semi-workable state, breaking up obstacles and tilling the land with your trusty hoe. You can just about afford some seeds for grass and some basic crops, but plants take a few days of watering to grow and you can't purchase any animals until you have enough grass for fodder.

Thankfully, there's a little secret to this farm; a family of friendly gnomes lives underneath the tool shed, and they're only too happy to share anything they might grow — two mushrooms a day — in exchange for a bit of food every now and then. You promptly exploit them by picking their food and selling it for your own profit: during the crucial initial days, you're sustained only by selling the bounty that the naïve little imps offer up.

Once those first sprouts have poked up through the ground, it's fairly easy to get into the cycle and start making some real money. You can purchase chickens and cows to sell eggs and milk respectively, and there are two types of crop seed available for each of the four seasons. As you go on you get the opportunity to earn golden tools which help you plough through tasks more efficiently.

The problem is, extra elements such as marriage are not present in the Game Boy version, so days on Harvest Moon's farm can become repetitive – you wake up, water the crops, feed the animals, collect anything to sell and then hop back into bed. There's no actual town to explore either, so essentially you buy seeds, tools, animals and food through menus presented by pretty sprites.

While these cut backs don't harm the compelling core farming mechanics – though the small number of crop types and animals might for some people – there is a lack of variety that limits the appeal compared to other games in the series. Random events — such as a girl visiting looking for a missing bird — occasionally break the flow a little, but they're rarely substantial. In addition, you can only carry two tools at a time, so you have to trot back and forth from the tool shed quite often to complete all your daily duties.

Harvest Moon's looks still hold some appeal, despite slightly lacking animation; the animal and character sprites are big and have a whiff of personality about them. The audio is similarly whimsical, but it does suffer from repetition. Each season has a single music track, which restarts whenever you enter or exit a building. After a couple of hours, when you're going in and out of barns and sheds on a regular basis, this gets quite irritating.

Conclusion

Harvest Moon is a reasonably addictive, concise entry in the series that throws out any chaff, but that's also its downfall: there's not enough variety to keep it interesting for huge stretches of time. If you're after nothing more than a simple farming simulator with repetitive-but-satisfying mechanics, this could be worth several of your hours – but you'll be disappointed if you expect anything more complex.

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User Comments (37)

Flowerlark

#3

Flowerlark said:

Loved the HM series since I started with Mineral Town. A New Beginning is my most-played game on my 3DS at over 300hrs so I'm really looking forward to tasting some of the earlier entries.

Geonjaha

#4

Geonjaha said:

I'd say that's fair. Compared to the other GBC ones this one is definitely down to basics. It's one of those games that you'll either love or hate.
Cant wait for Harvest Moon 2 (GBC) though, that one is basically this + Animal Crossing. :D

However I haven't found a harvest moon game that I've really enjoyed since those on the GBA. The graphical style became worse and the games just weren't as good. :/

Burning_Spear

#9

Burning_Spear said:

It's obviously not anywhere near as deep as any other HM game, but it's a good game for HM fans to have saved to the console. The days pass pretty quickly, so you can knock it out a little at a time.

Dpullam

#10

Dpullam said:

I'd probably prefer to get one of the newer iterations of this series since I would prefer it to be a deeper experience. This looks okay though.

HawkeyeWii

#11

HawkeyeWii said:

I want Natsume to reboot the series. Remake the first game but in 3 dimensions for the Wii U or 3DS.

SLiM

#12

SLiM said:

Harvest Moon 64 was my favorite of the series. I haven't touched any more of the recent ones, since I was kinda disappointed with "A Wonderful Life" on Gamecube. If they could make another one on Wii U just like HM64 I would snatch it up.

twistedbee

#13

twistedbee said:

Harvest Moon has been one of my favorite game series ever since I picked up the SNES version and thought it was the dumbest thing I'd ever seen. 8 hours of nonstop playing later I realized I was wrong and HM has been very dear to me ever since. I've played it over and over throughout the years and about February this year the battery in it died. So I'm excited that it's coming out on 3ds and can't wait to play it again! PS, my favorite HM of all time is Back To Nature.

Burning_Spear

#15

Burning_Spear said:

^^^^ Actually, A Wonderful Life almost always places second, after HM64, in fan polls. More appropriate than calling it a black sheep would be to say that it's off the beaten path of HM games. It focuses on the element of raising your child and slightly de-emphasizes the core elements of the series. But a lot of people think it's the best HM game.

Tasuki

#16

Tasuki said:

The only two HM games I played at extensive lengths was the first one on SNES and one on PS2 called Save the Homeland or something like that. I might look into this one though.

Omega

#17

Omega said:

Why is this in the Virtual Console section of NL? I thought the "Virtual Console" section is for Virtual Console games on the Wii?!

TourianTourist

#18

TourianTourist said:

It was my first game in the series, I played it up and down. More so the SNES counterpart. But the later games in the series repelled me by being too complicated.

russellohh

#19

russellohh said:

This was my first game in the series. It was either a gift, or two month's allowance. I missed the marriage and town I knew was in the SNES version (which I also own) Now, it takes maybe 10 minutes at work to afford the download.

I'll be getting this at 1:00 pm sharp, as soon as it is available in America.

ueI

#22

ueI said:

I didn't know this game was so minimalistic. Thanks for the review.

Taya

#23

Taya said:

The SNES version of Harvest Moon is really great for how simple it is. This one is a little too simple, but it's still fun and I'm going to get it when it comes out here, even though I own the original black-and-white Gameboy game.

For those of you who haven't played a Harvest Moon game in many years, Animal Parade for the Wii and A New Beginning for the 3DS are both really great. The bests in the series for sure.

Burning_Spear

#24

Burning_Spear said:

@Taya I owned the GBC version and had just changed out the cartridge battery when Natsume announced that the VC version would be released.

Mason

#25

Mason said:

@Ark_Sin Unfortunately Harvest Moon: A New Beginning isn't out in Europe and still isn't planned for release over here as far as I know, so I can't right now!

@Omega , @Bass_x0, you'll notice that this was fixed — just human error.

As for the A Wonderful Life debate — I love that version. :D

TimoteiWest

#27

TimoteiWest said:

I absolutely hammered this version of the game every time my family went on holiday to France when I was a youngster. I think my mother was whistling the tunes by the end of each fortnight. It turns out that French cathedrals and architecture aren't as appealing to pre-teens as a Game Boy, who knew?

It's very simple, in fact SNES version owners will note that it's the same as its 16 bit cousin with many of the features stripped out, the village being reduced to a menu screen for example. It's even missing the dating element of the Harvest Moon experience.

Probably the better version to have on the move I suppose, but the SNES version, closely followed by Rune Factory Frontier, will always hold higher places in this aspiring farmer's pixelated heart.

RetrogamerFan

#29

RetrogamerFan said:

I've not played any HM games, but put a massive amount of time into Rune Factory Frontier (Wii). I thought it was a fantastic game - up to a point; I really enjoyed the farming aspects of that, much more than i thought i would, and it was a nice balance to the dungeon crawling sections. Having said that i eventually got a little overwhelmed by all of the tasks, i literally didn't have enough time in a day to cope with everything. The game just throws more and more at you especially once you start having to manage the Runeys, this takes up takes up so much time and needs constant tinkering to keep your crops prosperous.
The simple nature of Harvest Moon sounds like it will be a nice antidote to that and i'm looking forward to trying it out.

Mason

#30

Mason said:

@Omega Ah, that's odd — it's in both 3DS eShop and VC section but has the correct eShop heading. I'll look into it.

EDIT: Fixed now, it had an incorrect tag on it. :)

HaNks

#32

HaNks said:

really fond memories of playing this to death on the GBC, won't be forking out to play it again though.

Zellybeanie

#34

Zellybeanie said:

Loved this. The SNES version was my favorite though (even though I was sad when the game ended).

Been thinking of snagging the 3DS version. Might grab this too.

Squashie

#36

Squashie said:

I love the Animal Crossing series, so I'll be picking this up as soon as my eShop card arrives!

Undead_terror

#37

Undead_terror said:

Having fun with this, might pick up a new beginning but that would come after getting animal crossing new leaf.

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