Harvest Moon (牧場物語 Bokujō Monogatari, lit. Ranch Story) is a video game released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in Japan on 9 August 1996. It was released in the US by Natsume on June 15, 1997, and was the first installment of the Harvest Moon series available in North America. It was released in many European countries on 29 January 1998.
The player takes on the role of a young farmer, default Pete, whose parents left him in charge of his late grandfather's farm. Over a two-and-a-half year time period, the player must develop the decrepit, weed-choked farm into a money-maker, and if possible, get married and have children.
At the game's end, the player is evaluated on a number of factors to determine his success or failure. The player's farm is evaluated by the player's father at the middle of the third year.
There are three different areas the player can go to: his farm and its buildings, the local town, Neighbor Town and its houses and shops, and the local mountain forest, where the carpenter lives. Further north of the forest is the mountain's peak.
The house can be upgraded twice. Additionally, wood can be used to construct fences around the crop areas. While rain releases the player from having to water crops by hand, it usually damages the fence. After winter, no matter how well the player takes care of the land, much of the cultivated land and fence is destroyed.
After dark, the only business in town the player can access is the bar, where a number of game characters gather to drink and talk.
The player progresses by:
- Preparing the fields using tools. Before any crops can be planted, numerous weeds, rocks, and tree stumps must be cleared from the ground. Then the player must till the soil before it can be cultivated.
- Planting crops (turnip, potato, tomato and corn) on cultivated land, watering it, then harvesting the vegetables and selling them for profit.
- Raising livestock. In this version of Harvest Moon, only chicken and cows, which produce eggs and milk are available. By planting grass and harvesting it into hay, the player can feed these animals.
- Enlarging the farmhouse. By using the axe to gather wood, the player can chop up enough tree stumps to build a larger house. This requires money as well as wood.
- Getting married. Five girls in town are potential brides. By giving gifts, visiting on the correct days, and fulfilling specific requirements for each girl, the player can get married and have his wife move onto the farm with him.
- Having children. Within the game's time frame, it is possible for the player's wife to have two babies. One child will develop into a toddler given enough time.
Each year is divided into four seasons of thirty days each, and the player only has a set amount of time each day before it becomes dark. However, the clock stops at 6 p.m.; unlike in later Harvest Moon games, the player can effectively stay outside as long as he wants without penalty, as long as he doesn't run out of energy.
As mentioned above, there are five unmarried young women living in town who may be married. To get married to a girl, you must propose to them with a blue feather.
Each girl has her own tastes and preferences. All have their own diaries, in which the player can regularly check to see how attracted the girl is to him.
After marriage, aside from their hair color and particular phrases, they tend to look alike, and the player's activities are severely curtailed - he is expected to come home by a particular time, and not doing so may result in the wife leaving the player temporarily (it is not possible to divorce permanently).
If the player arrives home at the proper time to go to bed with his wife, she will eventually get pregnant, and the baby is later delivered in the farmhouse.
- In the censored version of the game released in North America, all alcoholic beverages are referred to as "juice," even though anyone who drinks said "juice" clearly becomes intoxicated.
- While many elements of the game were Westernized for its American release, some Japanese references were overlooked. For example, although the church is presented as presumably "Christian-like" due to the cross, townspeople sometimes discuss the church and its religion in Shinto terms, such as referring to the existence of both a "god of the harvest" and a "god of business."
- This in term does not label any religion in the series, but draws influence from them.
- In the Japanese version, the title is made from planks of wood nailed together. For all other releases, this was replaced with a 3D-rendered sign.
- Fences are rendered superfluous and outright useless in the first iteration of the series; broken fences attract wild dogs, rather than keep them out.
- The bachelorettes will wear a blue dress with aprons after they are married to the player. Their hair will be tied in braids (The only difference is Ellen, whose hair is short, but will grow long and be tied up as well).
- It was the first game in the series to feature the protagonist's parents but they only appear in the opening and ending of the game.
- The characters from this game are reused in the 2005 game, Harvest Moon: Magical Melody. Their parents' names are revealed as well.
- Harvest Moon SNES release dates
- Harvest Moon Instruction Booklet © Natsume Inc. 1997
- Title at Moby Games
- Title at Gamefaqs