Anyone who has followed the Harvest Moon franchise since it burst on the scene in 1997 (1996 in Japan) knows the many ups and downs it has endured. The odd thing about Harvest Moon games is that even when they’re not that great they are still incredibly addicting. Depending on what aspect of the games you like to focus on, you’ll enjoy certain titles more than others. Personally I like to mix it up and do a little bit of everything, not pigeon hole myself into one type of task or chore. Here are my personal highs and lows for the Harvest Moon series.
HIGH: Harvest Moon 64
The first three-dimensional game of the series was my personal introduction to the series. It was strangely addicting and incredibly enjoyable, having rented the game at least 20 times over the course of my childhood before buying it a few years ago. Harvest Moon 64 still holds up to this day, so if you have the chance to pick it up on virtual console or even get your hands on an original N64 cartridge, I’d definitely recommend it
LOW: Harvest Moon DS: Island of Happiness
I can’t say Island of Happiness is a horrible game, but the awful touchscreen controls definitely took a large portion of enjoyment out of the game. The concept of being on a deserted island was really cool, but even the smallest of tasks felt like massive chores because of the control scheme. Thankfully the next installment on the DS, Sunshine Islands, did it right by letting the player choose whether or not they want to control the player with the touchscreen or the D pad.
HIGH: Harvest Moon 3D: A New Beginning
Fittingly titled A New Beginning, this installment personally felt like the most complete Harvest Moon game yet. Until the release of A New Beginning, I always thought that the franchise needed to add more customization, which ANB delivered. Not only could you customize the look of your character, but you were also able to customize the entire village. Like most Harvest Moon games, A New Beginning was a bit of a slow starter, but it was definitely one of the best games of the series.
LOW: Harvest Moon 3D: The Lost Valley
So far I’m about 7 hours into the newest installment of the series, and I can’t say many good things about it. Natsume took a big risk and focused a lot on terraforming (trying to capitalize on the popularity of Minecraft perhaps.) but stripped away so many other features that made Harvest Moon so great. Harvest Moon games are notorious for being slow starters, but I’d have to say The Lost Valley takes the cake. I’ll go into much further detail in my Lost Valley review, so check back soon.
HIGH: Harvest Moon: Save The Homeland
My all time favorite Harvest Moon game to date. In this Harvest Moon title you are in charge of stopping a village from being turned into an amusement park. What made Save The Homeland so great was it let you play however you want, and rewarded you with 9 unique endings. After completing the game you could continue over and over and try to get all 9 endings while keeping all of your money and items.
LOW: Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley
Hero of Leaf Valley was the successor to Save The Homeland, and I actually purchased a PSP just for this game. Once again you were in charge of rescuing a village from being transformed into an amusement park. While it had many of the same features as it’s predecessor, Hero of Leaf Valley had frustrating controls and just wasn’t as enjoyable as STH.
The beautiful thing about the Harvest Moon series is it allows players the freedom to do whatever they feel like. Fans of the series are divided based on which features of the game they enjoy most. If you prefer the farming lifestyle grow crops and raise livestock. If you like hunting and gathering, grab a rod and explore the forests. If you prefer to play as more of a simulation, get hitched and start a family. Certain titles in the series may feel more special to certain players because they excel at these different aspects. What kind of player are you? Which Harvest Moon titles did you enjoy most? Feel free to join in the discussion in the comment section below!