Genre: Simulation / Role Playing Game
2000 Natsume, Victor Interactive Software. Screenshots and images courtesy of Amazon.Com.
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Your grandfather dies, leaving behind what used to be the greatest farm to your knowledge... Used to be... The farm is now in its shabbiest state and the Mayor gives you three years to turn things around—back to how your grandfather used to run it. On top of this, you also have to think of marriage and settling down. So how are you going about this tremendous task?
Farming Made Fun >>> by Rowena Lim Lei
Harvest Moon: Back to Nature is probably the most enjoyable non-fighting based simulation on the Playstation. Fun is the word that describes HMBTN. The plot is simple, your grandpa passed away and left you his farm. You have to get it back in tiptop shape within 3 years or the villagers will kick you out.
Aside from getting to grow different crops and take care of various farm animals, you also have a choice of five cute girls to woo. Get your dream girl's heart rating red and she'll marry you at the drop of a feather (literally). It won't be easy though as you also have a rival guy for each girl, and you have to find out what the girls like and give them presents, etc. You can also enlarge your house, cook up different dishes, watch TV, go fishing or mining, and have a baby when you get hitched. Tools can be upgraded as well. If you are nice to the villagers, they'll also share some of their secret recipes and other types of info. There are also a truckload of mini-games to play (with benefits to your game if you win)... the mini-games range from chicken sumo to cooking contests.
There are a lot of things to do, so variety is never a problem. My main gripe was getting over the routinary jobs on a daily basis. I mean like any real farmer, you have to feed your animals, water your plants, etc. every single day. But then I reached a point where I had over a hundred crops and about 20 animals... Luckily, you can enlist the help of harvest sprites or get tool upgrades to make the job faster. Or you can just pray for rain... ^_-
Graphically speaking, HMBTN is cutesy in style but you'll find that it fits the premises of the game. The character portraits in the dialogue boxes are very nicely drawn, and the sprites are rendered in semi-3D. The music is also quite charming. The learning curve is moderate but you have sort of a built-in tutorial in the form of a TV show entitled "Life on the Farm". This show teaches you everything you need to know on a daily basis.
I've never really been interested in farming but Harvest Moon: Back to Nature just makes it irresistible.
COMPLETION TIME: ??
HIGHEST LEVEL ACHIEVED: N/A
RATINGS: Gameplay 9; Battle N/A; Story 8.5; Visuals 9; Characters 9 Sounds 8.5; Replay Value 9