Harvest Moon: Back To Nature (牧場物語～ハーベストムーン～ Bokujō Monogatari ~Hābesuto Mūn~, lit. Ranch Story ~Harvest Moon~) was the first title of the Harvest Moon series to be released on the PlayStation. The game is rated "E" by the ESRB, and is further rated as depicting use of alcohol. It was released on December 16, 1999 in Japan, on November 20, 2000 in North America, and on January 26, 2001 for PAL Regions.
Though many of the characters are taken from Harvest Moon 64, they have somewhat different personalities, families, and occupations, which led to minor controversy among fans as these altercations were carried over to Harvest Moon: DS and ultimately became the final canon of said characters. Unlike any other game that takes place in Mineral Town, it applies more 3D graphics and many features that can't be found in the Game Boy versions.
As typical of many of the Harvest Moon titles, you come to inherit a farm after your grandfather's passing. However, in this game, it has been decided by the residents of Mineral Town that you can only inherit the farm if you restore it to its former glory and fit in with the townsfolk within three years.
At the end of the three year time period, Mayor Thomas will come and view your progress, similar to how the player's father evaluated Pete at the end of the third year in Harvest Moon 64. If the farm's condition is acceptable at the end of the third year, the player will be able to keep playing.
The Mayor of Mineral Town asks you to enter a name, a date of birth of the player's choice, and to name your dog and your farm. On your farm, you're allotted a sizable amount of land for planting crops, flowers, and/or grass. In addition, you have a coop for the chickens, a barn for cows and sheep, a horse stable, a fish pond and an apple tree in addition to your tiny farmhouse.
It is your goal to work the land and care for livestock, just as in any other Harvest Moon games. At first, you are given a hoe, a sickle, a hammer, and an axe in order to clear up and work the debris-cluttered land. Later on, you can upgrade your tools and obtain more in order to do tasks more efficiently.
Aside from farming, you are also expected to interact with the townsfolk and have a family. Talk to villagers, give them gifts they like (especially on their birthdays), and learn more about them with the myriad of events you can come across during the course of the game. There are several events that need to be witnessed with bachelorettes in order to marry them as well.
Besides restoring your farm to its former glory, you should get married sometime during the game as well. Out of the five young ladies in town, you can eventually find one you want to marry.
In order to get married, you have to expand your home twice, raise her heart level to red, and purchase a Blue Feather (either from Jeff's shop or from Won at a ridiculous price). Then you can propose, and if you're lucky, you'll be married after a week.
Bachelorettes In order to woo a girl, you must give her gifts that she likes. Her heart level, represented by the heart underneath the portrait you see of her while she's speaking, ranges from Black (acquaintances) to Red (love).
As you get to know the girls more, you will get to see several events in which you have to answer questions she might ask you. Answer them correctly, and she'll come to like you even more. Also, give her gifts she likes. Each girl has different tastes, but jewelry, though expensive, makes a great gift as well.
- Ann - She works at the Inn along with her father. Once Cliff comes to town, she ends up doing her best to befriend him. Give her spa-boiled eggs.
- Elli - She's the nurse at the local clinic, and she has an upbeat, kind personality. A few years ago, her parents died, and she's been raising her little brother and caring for her grandmother ever since. Right from the start of the game, she has a crush on her boss, the Doctor. As far as gifts go, she loves receiving all sorts of flowers.
- Karen - She lives with her parents, Jeff and Sasha, behind the Supermarket. Rick has been her childhood friend since they were little kids. Her hobbies include dancing, singing, and hanging out at the bar and drinking. She has expensive tastes such as wine, sashimi, and truffles.
- Mary - Runs the town library, even though it's rare that she gets visitors. However, Gray has come to enjoy reading at the library, something Mary's happy for. Though she is shy and soft-spoken, she'll open up to you with interesting things to say. She enjoys writing, and some of her favorite gifts to receive are poisonous mushrooms and bamboo shoots.
- Popuri - She is a slightly childish yet perky girl. She often quarrels with her older brother Rick about her responsibilities around the Poultry Farm and her interest in Kai. She enjoys sweets and flowers.
After about a season of marriage, the player's wife will mention that she is not feeling well. Take her to clinic. Once there, the protagonist will find out that she is pregnant. After another two seasons, their son will be born. However, the son will stop growing when it starts to walk.
Wooing a girl is not exactly easy. Every girl has another guy who's interested in them as well. If you don't marry any one of the girls, one of these guys will marry her instead.
- Cliff - A young vagrant who's recently found himself in Mineral Town. He usually stays in one place for a while until he runs out of money, and then heads to the next place. However, you can get him a job at the Winery, thus getting him to stay in town. His love interest is Ann.
- Doctor - The serious young man running the Clinic. He's very much absorbed with his work, though he tries to do his best for everyone in town. However, he often feels that not many people like him. Pastor Carter is one of his only friends. Even though Elli has taken an interest in him, it takes him quite a while to notice this.
- Rick - Interestingly enough, Rick is the only one of your rivals who is native to Mineral Town. Along with his mother, he tends chickens at the Poultry Farm. He is an extremely high strung but hard-working young man who is faced with the responsiblity of being the man of the house in his father's absence. Often, he has conflicts with his younger sister, Popuri, though he tries his best to be a good older brother to her. He feels she should not be dating Kai. His love interest is Karen.
- Gray - As a former city dweller, Gray initially does not take to the idea of living in the "boondocks". After meeting Mary, he looks at things a bit more optimistically, though he still struggles with his grandfather, the blacksmith Saibara. He is his grandfather's apprentice, though he complains that his grandfather never praises him for anything he does.
- Kai - He knows how to charm the ladies, yet he always seems to rub men the wrong way. Every summer, he visits Mineral Town and runs a snack stand (The Seaside Lounge). The rest of the year, he goes down south since he's not a fan of cold weather. He often faces off against Rick, who in turn can't stand him. After a while, he will take up an interest in Rick's younger sister, Popuri.
- Character List
- Cooking Recipes
- Calendar of Events
- TV Shopping
- Guide to Affection
- Power Berries
- This is one of the few Harvest Moon games to allow players to give more than one gift per day to increase the NPC's friendship and love points.
- Many characters are from Harvest Moon 64, however, Doctor, Pastor Carter and Won (not counting the Harvest Sprites) are the only unique characters.
- Interestingly, the farm was once known to be a great farm, where many chickens were shown in flashback. However, when the player acquires the farm, none of the barns are upgraded.
- The red mail box located between the Supermarket and Hospital serves no purpose and acts as a decoration. However, unlike other decoration in the game, the mailbox can be interacted with the text "mother and father?” It is unknown what its purpose is, but it is believed it was planned for an event.
- In the girl version, the text says "Where is this place?"
- Through hacking, an unused "mail" sprite is seen. This may reinforce that the red mail box may have originally had a role in the game.
- Zack's house is the only house in the entire game that cannot be entered.
- Around the time this game was released, a famous rumor occurred where if all the bachelorettes were married, a girl named Elizabeth would move into town.
- In Winter 30, you can watch the television and watch the Weather Forecast. The Weather Forecaster will say "Expect a comfortable balmy winter day."
- In Spring, the Harvest Sprites have a Tea Party but you can make them work for you by talking to them five times.