Why I Love: Harvest Moon 64

Labor of Love

You know what is strange about Harvest Moon?  Playing the game as a younger person who hasn’t done heavy farm-related labor.  It’s weird then that we enjoyed playing Harvest Moon so much.  It’s like pretending to work, and I guess that really is why these kinds of simulation games are so fun.  There’s all the reward in doing well, but there’s no major threat if you do not succeed.  

Harvest Moon is a farming game.  For the longest time it was the farming game.  The SNES was very good, but it was the N64 one that really put it on the map for me.  Lifestyle simulation games tend to have the core gameplay loop of working to earn money to buy better tools to work more efficiently.   I think it was this game that really introduced to me the gameplay in video games where we set goals for ourselves in order to become better versions of our video game selves.  The independence in what we’re allowed to focus on to earn our money gave freedom in what little we could do as youngsters.  I could choose to plant specific types of plants that I enjoyed eating in real life, or I could focus on growing a ton of animals.  I can talk to townspeople and gain a better relationship with them.  

I liked the progression of almost everything in the game.  I like how your person gets better tools as they use certain tools over and over again.  In the beginning your farm is pretty much a mess and you have to clean it up with what little you have, and you don’t have a lot.  You’re just a young man who inherited a farm.  That sort of building up experience is something I always enjoy.  I mean, I guess that’s how it is for a lot of these games.  Hm.

In Harvest Moon 64 there’s also a weird sense of exploration as you try and find out how much things are sold for or other strange mysteries you can find around town.  I think a lot of simulation games that have a little bit of the supernatural or fantasy always have a lot more character to them.  They can always add their little twist to things and makes the wonder of what is out there that much more satisfying.  What I suppose I am trying to say is that even if we know a lot about the thing the game is trying to simulate, there are other things it can surprise us with.  

The graphics are also very appealing.  The smooth little, almost claymation-looking, characters are always fun to see, and the animations are run in a way that is very smooth.

I have one personal complaint.  I feel like the days are really quick in this game.  Perhaps it’s because when I was a kid I was a lot less organized with my in-game time, but it felt like I could barely squeeze in all I wanted for the day.  I suppose I’m still not the most organized, but at least I knew my limits and how to maximize my time.  Hm, if you’ve played the game, what do you think?

I admit that a lot of the reason why Harvest Moon 64 makes this list is because it was my first major step into simulation games, but it really is a fantastic game by itself.  A game that can make work so fun surely deserves something. This is a game that can make nearly every loop of it’s grind to get better at farming enjoyable, and that is a huge reason why this game is on this list.

And that is #126 on the ULTRA.  I admit that there is a ton of bias on Harvest Moon 64’s spot on this list, but that is why this is the Ultimate Loosely-Thought Ranked Analysis.  Much of this list is based on game design, but it’s also emotionally close to me.  That’s how it was set outright, and I think it would be right that your lists also contain things that you are just really close to personally.  I’ll see you next time on “Why I Love!”