The lights are on
I've never envied the life of a farmer.
Early mornings alongside tending crops and raising unpredictable animals
doesn't exactly scream "fun." I still can't remember what drew me to rent the
first Harvest Moon game. Perhaps it was boredom or the cute anime art style,
but little did I know that would be the day an unexpected addiction was born.
That summer of '97 I beat the game four
times – all in the name of seeing what various marriage candidates were like.
The thrill came from being thrust directly into the American dream: Leave home,
make something out of nothing, have a family, and continue to grow (literally)
your success. I remember how magnetic the world was when I stepped in, just
knowing I could hang out at the bar with the locals, spend my night fishing, or
head to the forest and relax in the hot tub. Shaping my story and performing
simple tasks, like buying my first cow and that opening up new possibilities
for meals (hello, yogurt!), make the game what it is. Each individual piece of
the Harvest Moon puzzle is so miniscule, but building around each of those
provides something dazzling.
The satisfaction of nailing down
strategies to woo marriage candidates, maximize my farm profits, and mating my
cows for different breeds is what keeps me coming back. In addition to the
townspeople, who always have their own quirks; I never miss an opportunity to
chat them up. Their back stories are intriguing - like a daughter watching over
her alcoholic father at the tavern or seeing the subtle flirting between the
junk shop and flower shop owner.
I often get sucked into the world and
daily routine, and can't get enough of seeing my little farm grow from a few
crops to full fields and animals galore. Adding in the all the upgrades gives
me something to look forward to and watching the house expand with a significant other and
child is confirmation that I've made a life. The Harvest Moon games are all
about routine, something tiresome in real life, but here it hooks you with the
I've played other simulation games like
Theme Park and Animal Crossing, but none of them had the heart, soul, and
personality of Harvest Moon. Rather than managing a business or town, Harvest
Moon makes me feel like I'm living a life unlike many of its competitors. Part
of why it works so well is it's not a single gimmick. Harvest Moon has the
business challenges, but at the same time, also offers a warm atmosphere where
a calmness envelops me as I strive for new personal in-game goals.
It should be no surprise that since the
first iteration, I've gone on to play almost every entry; from the SNES all the
way to the 3DS, this series has been with me. The fact that I haven't tired of
games that stick so close to the same premise says something. Harvest Moon, though,
is that franchise I play, but rarely talk about – a guilty pleasure, indeed. It
doesn't make any huge leaps, but remains enjoyable to sit down, relax, and
unwind with. I don't want to let go of something that's been like comfort food
for the past 16 years, and why should I if I'm still having fun?
Here's where the
guilt festers: I'm nearing two decades with Harvest Moon, and yet I still feel
embarrassed to admit my obsession. As if I'm not cool if I admit a farming sim
can dictate my life. So today, I've finally mustered the courage to let the
world know. Yes, I adore these games, and I'm fine simply imagining my life as
a farmer. Because I don't like the smell of manure, but I sure do like
maximizing profits and winning over virtual denizens in a vibrant landscape.
Email the author Kimberley Wallace, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
I feel the same way, I'm still embarrassed to this day about playing them haha. I had A wonderful life when I was younger and loved every minute and I actually just bought a new beginning for the 3ds last week, it's still really fun
I love Harvest Moon! It's a guilty pleasure for me, too. Most of my gaming friends don't even know what it is, so when I try to explain to them this amazing 'farming simulator' game they all think I'm crazy.
I haven't played in years, since the PS1 days, but recently I got HM: A New Beginning for 3DS and couldn't put it down!
Why should enjoying Harvest Moon be considered a guilty pleasure?
If videogames are no longer about providing fun, or entertainment....
......why should anyone play them?
I have been more a fan of rune factory myself but harvest moon since the snes has been enduring
I loved the SNES one. So many weeks spent in '97 trying to come up with different endings and strategies to put in place so my avatar could live his life differently in each play-through. I played the PS1 version but I actually missed almost every other release until the Wii games came out recently. I had to stop playing NGC/PS2 because of a certain ex of mine, and I was a very late adopter of a DS.
The thing I love about the series, is that they will try to do something new/different in each one to make it feel more 'real' in it's own way. A tale of 2 towns had that interesting twist in which you had to work with 2 towns that were feuding (Or whatever) with eachother, Isle of Happiness put the series in a completely different environment from before, and I quite enjoy the quirky tale in Animal Parade, which just has so much to do. It almost feels like a different franchise from what it did when I was young, but maybe that is what keeps me coming back.
:) And luckily, my wife has memories of this from when she was young as she owned the Gameboy version of the first game. We had alot of fun playing the Wii ones together and just being able to play the game our own way and see what came of it.
Hell yeah, be proud! I wasn't sure I liked you as an editor but this alone changes my mind and lets me know you can't be all bad! Harvest moon is such a wonderful experience and the way you worded it was really great, a very enjoyable read. I wish I could convey my deep love for this series as well as you have here. Harvest Moon is a guilty pleasure I am afraid to talk about with friends as well, it is so cutesy and silly, a farm with a dating sim from the outside. But when you get into it you realize it really is much more and that cute warmth will keep you coming back for more no matter how many times you play a Harvest Moon game.
This was a great article! I love Harvest Moon too. My first Harvest Moon was A Wonderful Life on the Gamecube. I would spend Friday nights playing it till 3 in the morning :)
I always preferred animal crossing, and yes i know the two games have nothing in common.