Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon
Harvest Moon Cover
Platform SNES
Genre Slow-paced Farming Simulator
MtAMinutes to Action 10
Score 2  Clock score of 2Gameplay: 4
Fun Factor: 2
Gfx/Sound: 2
Story: 1
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Harvest Moon was a Super Nintendo sleeper that proved to be unique combination of gameplay and originality that received a small, but devoted following. Natsume released numerous sequels over the last 10 years trying a few different formulas, but the original has always worked the best. Harvest Moon is definitely not for everyone, however. The game moves very slow, and does not introduce the player to the core concepts very well. The player has to conduct much trial and error to figure out many things, and the weak translation doesn't help either. Let's see how the first hour of Harvest Moon progresses.

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)
00 - I hit Start and the timer starts. I'm presented a diary screen, which must be my saved games. Only two save slots, I'm annoyed by games which offer so few save slots. I can see how it was limited back in the day of EEPROMs, but now we have huge memory cards and hard drives! Anyways, I choose a diary slot and input my name "Greg". All is well and the "opening scene" starts. My blue overall sporting character is standing in front of a small house and a man walks up. He introduces himself as "the shipper". Nice to meet you too. He says he'll bring me into town.

01 - We take his pickup truck into town. Nice wheels. He sets me loose in town (I suppose it has no name?) and I start out. I have no direction or no idea where to go so I head up.

Harvest Moon Truck Intro Cutscene

02 - I go into a flower store and meet Nina, a pink haired beauty, though she looks rather young... Her mom (more appropriately aged for a bachelor-farmer like me) gives me a watering can. I'm not sure if I actually get it or not as it just disappears off the shelf.

03 - I walk over to the church and meet Maria, a blue haired nerdy looking girl. Meh.

04 - I break into mayor's house (at least that's what it feels like in RPGs) and then head to the town square. It's completely empty except for one bum hanging out. I head down and head for the local watering hole. This is the place to be, as a blonde bombshell named Eve. This is more like it.

05 - Too bad the bar is closed though.

06 - Next to a tool shop is Ann, who has orange hair. I'm noticing a trend here, where's the brunette? I receive some grass from the cow dealer and once again it disappears from the shelf. Where do I pick up this grass pops?

07 - Now for the oddest building yet, a fortune teller. Does a town of 10 really need a fortune teller? It's like Kakariko village in A Link to the Past. There's also a Star of David behind her. A Jewish fortune teller? And she won't even read my fortune!

Harvest Moon Jack Fortune Teller

08 - I head back to The Shipper and we leave town in his truck. Greg wants to sleep right away when he gets home, fine with me.

09 - I wake up and explore my very small house. The TV says it'll rain tomorrow. My only channel is the weather? Crappy reception. A note says I have 300G. It's the 2nd of Spring and I head outside. A dog runs up to me, and a brunette asks me to keep it. I have no choice so now I'm stuck with a little puppy. I name him Dog.

10 - The girl's name is Ellen. Five girls, five hair colors. I get to explore the farm for the first time and it's a complete mess. Rocks and stumps all over.

11 - I direct Greg to the tool shed. I can carry two tools at a time, just like {{/first-hour-review/halo" >Halo. I grab a hammer and ax, as these will probably help the most in clearing the land. The barn and chicken coop behind me are totally empty. Whoever gave me this farm left me nothing!

Harvest Moon Jack Tool Shed

12 - I'm going to head into town. There's about 20 feet in between my farm and the town. Did we really need to ride in The Shipper's pickup truck for this?

13 - I buy some potato seeds, only 100g left. How do I make money? The game has not made it clear except for saying to chuck things in the shipping bin.

14 - The bar is still closed... I head north into the forest.

15 - There's a bunch of creepy lookalike forest men living in a tree. That's kind of odd. Short on sprites? Just lazy? Or trying to make a statement on mountain men? We'll never know.

16 - I head into a cave, seems to be a few weeds or herbs in here, I'll pass as I can only carry one thing at a time. I keep heading up the ridge and run into an outdoor bath, nice! I jump in and rest for a moment. It starts getting dark out.

17 - I arrive at the top of the mountain and get a great view of the landscape. It's dark out for sure now.

Harvest Moon Jack Mountain Top Starry Night

18 - Think I'll head to the bar, see if it's open. I pick up a wild grape for the lovely Eve just in case.

19 - My preparation paid off. Eve loves the drink (I think, she never mentioned it...) and then she gives me a drink. No doubt "cider" or "soda" but it still makes me a little tipsy. I think I'm in love.

20 - It seems to be perpetual night after it gets dark, so I think I'll work on my farm for a bit and clean it up.

21 - Chop up my first stump, it takes six hits of my ax.

22 - I accidentally move after the fifth hit of another stump and have to start over. That's kind of annoying. Am I fatiguing at all, do I have limited strength?

23 - Greg wipes sweat off his face, I guess so.

24 - I find a "Secret Garden" at the north end of my land. I think I should explore my property before I go to bed.

Harvest Moon Jack Secret Garden Farm

25 - Besides a few trees, it's just stumps and rocks, it'll be a lot of work to clean all the farm land up. I think I'll head to bed now before I faint.

26 - Day 3, it's raining today. My dog looks bored, does he do anything besides mope?

27 - I guess I can make money by shipping items from the forest, so I'll head into the mountains and gather fruits and herbs. The shipper stops taking stuff at 6pm (when it becomes dark and time freezes). There's no music while it's raining, kind of weird.

29 - Time and gameplay mechanics work against me. How much money did I make? I delivered a grape, an herb, and maybe another grape? Couldn't tell because that's when it got dark. I'll plant my potatoes now.

31 - I sow the potato seeds, it's up to nature now (and my watering can).

Harvest Moon Jack House

32 - I spend a few minutes and widen my fence. Looks like chopped up stumps give me six pieces of wood. The rain actually causes slowdown in the graphics. This game must be too graphically intense for my Super Nintendo.

33 - I head to bed. Day 4 now and sunny out. I have 500G, it looks like the mountain supplies brought in 400G. Think I'll go get more and buy more seeds.

35 - I deliver some grapes and then buy potato and turnip seeds.

37 - It's dark and I'm holding a grape so I head to the bar. Eve seems to appreciate it a little more this time.

38 - I check Eve's diary in her bedroom, a heart! I hope it's for me.

Harvest Moon Jack Eve Bar

39 - I need to water my seedlings and then plant my new bags of potato and turnips.

41 - I nearly collapse while watering my turnips. Time to hit the hay I guess. Watering is pretty monotonous.

42 - Day 5, 410G, sunny. Not as big of a haul today. Guess I'll just harvest the mountain more? Nothing else to do besides watering.

44 - I deliver three grapes by sundown. Really, are the days only three minutes long? That seems way too short, ignoring the forever darkness of course.

45 - The Shipper arrives and he informs me I made 450G today. That means 150G per grape. Good stuff to know.

46 - Watering is getting very tedious, please rain more! I plant my grass, does it need watering too?

Harvest Moon Jack Potato Turnip

47 - Time for bed, that was a pretty quick day. Day 6, 910G, sunny. My turnips are popping up already!

48 - I seem to be okay for money so I just grab one grape from the mountain. Time to start watering.

49 - I realize I can't water my inner turnip. That sucks. Back to bed, an even shorter day.

50 - Day 7, 1060G, sunny again. The game is becoming monotonous in almost every aspect.

51 - I water everything right away as I'm sick of heading into the forest.

52 - Decide to go to church as it is a Sunday. See how busy the town is on a weekend.

Harvest Moon Jack Church Maria

53 - I check the events calendar on the front pew, the 23rd of Spring is the Flower Festival. Too bad it's only the 7th, seems like the most fun in a while.

54 - Day 8, 1060G, and it's raining! Finally!

55 - Eight turnips are ready to harvest! I chuck them one by one into the shipping bin, this has been the most exciting moment since... I started 55 minutes ago! I head to the mountain to rake even more cash.

56 - I deliver two more grapes before dark, should be a profitable day, grass is coming up too.

57 - I made 780G today! A new record! Since that's basically four packs of seeds from the flower shop, that's like what? Two dollars?

58 - Day 9, 1840G total, sunny again.

59 - I don't feel like running around anymore so I just water and head to bed. Day 10, 1840G, still sunny.

60 - Last minute, and my potatoes are ready! This is the Harvest Moon equivalent of fighting the Colossus boss in {{/first-hour-review/god-of-war-2" >God of War 2! Just two measly taters left in the middle of each patch. I finish on my hour on day 10 with 3180G! Not a bad first hour, in terms of profit.

Let's see how the first hour of Harvest Moon turned out, scores are out of 10.

Harvest Moon Jack Harvested Picked Farm

First Hour Scores

Minutes to Action: 10

Gameplay: 4
Harvest Moon is such an original game, it's hard for me to give it a low score, but it's the truth. The game is basically a modified SNES-era RPG with farming elements, which isn't necessarily a bad thing by itself, but there's really not much else. The game revolves around the day/night sequence, but the days are so short (around three minutes), that you're constantly repeating the same thing over and over again. My ten days I played consisted of me waking up, going up to the mountain, watering my plants, and heading to bed. The first day was exploration day and I went into town two or three other times, but there's really nothing else to do.

Fun Factor: 2
The first hour of Harvest Moon is really not that fun. I'm sure it picks up later when you can court the girls more, expand your house, and experience different seasons, but the game just does not start out well. The world is very small compared to other RPGs, and there's reasons behind that, but how much more fun will this game really become? The game is a constant fight against time and odd gameplay mechanics (you can only carry one item at a time???), not a great combination, unfortunately.

Graphics: 2
Half-Life 2 this is not, but of course this is a much older game on an older platform. But still, the graphics are drab and uninspired. There's absolutely no creativity in the characters and environments. Remember the family of woodsmen who all look exactly alike? Ah well, it's the gameplay, right?

Story: 1
There's a story? I somehow am in possession of a rundown farm and it is the first of Spring.

Overall: 2
Harvest Moon for the Super Nintendo was obviously a gamble by Natsume, but they really blew the first hour of it. There was a lot of potential for at least a tutorial on how to farm, but they didn't even bother with that (and the instruction manual isn't that helpful either, if you're wondering). Instead, Natsume leaves you out to dry and you have to figure out everything yourself. This works for a game like Super Mario Bros., but definitely not an agriculture RPG. Luckily, Natsume learned from their mistakes and really improved on everything in the next iterations of Harvest Moon. Too bad the first hour of Harvest Moon doesn't leave that kind of impression.

Harvest Moon Jack Hot Spring Towel