Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life and Harvest Moon: Another Wonderful Life are two Gamecube games in the Harvest Moon series by Marvelous Interactive, the latter being a gender-swapped version of the former. An Updated Re-release of the first game exists as a PS2 port, with an additional bachelorette and the ability to have a daughter, though this version has slightly worse graphics.
It's somewhat darker in tone than the rest of the series, themes of adultery, divorce and loneliness are approached quite seriously, though nothing "child-inappropriate" is explicitly referenced. It's also the first game to realistically imply your cows mating, though Takakura seems to try to hide this fact from you, which is odd considering your character's old enough to have their own children.Each game has three eligible marriage candidates, except for SE, which has 4. A marriage candidate must be chosen by the end of year one, or the game will end, though the marriage candidate with the highest affection will propose to you at the end of the year if you didn't get around to doing it. Each season is 10 days long, and most crops can only be harvested in one season.The game is something of a black sheep for the series, as it's the first to subvert many of the series' ancient constants. Unlike every previous game, time does pass inside buildings, characters age, marriage is a necessity to continue playing, there are no festivals, none of the previous characters made appearances, and the main character doesn't wear a hat.
Aborted Arc: There's an event in the game you can come across where the sprites lament that the harvest goddess is asleep, but maybe if they find nice things she will wake up one day. It's the only time they ever mention a harvest goddess in this game, and afterwards the topic is never brought up.
If you don't marry Nami, a few chapters later if she's still around town, you can witness an event where she's talking to Cody with an implication she might have feelings for him. This is dropped in ANWL where instead she's your romantic rival for Gustafa.
All Love Is Unrequited: Daryl has a crush on Flora that he unfortunately goes about expressing in a very awkward way. Lumina has a crush on you in the original game; she runs off crying at your wedding. Celia doesn't ever seem to notice Marlin's feelings for her. Muffy repeatedly gets dumped or cheated on by every guy she dates.
Arranged Marriage: Celia is apparently in one, although it doesn't get any mention at all if you don't see her heart events, and regardless she never actually seems to get married.
Art Evolution: There's an early version of the boxart that looks different from the final product. Nami's hair was also very straight in the first game, while later games have it being messy (to be fair some official artwork had her with messy hair early on).
Baleful Polymorph: Mukumuku's character profile from Friends of Mineral Town states that he was once human, but was transformed into what he is by his long life in the forest.
Bishie Sparkle: Wally, who literally has a twinkle in his eyes at all times.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Samantha, who seems to be so controlling that her husband avoids returning home from work as long as he can every night.
Bittersweet Ending: You die suddenly, leaving your spouse alone and never being able to see your kid delve into adulthood. Still, you lived a happy life with many friends, an awesome family, and doing what you enjoy.
"Blind Idiot" Translation: There are several blatant typos and mistakes, plus a few glitches in the game. And the transition of Lumina as a love interest in the playstation version was a tad sloppy; some scenes refer to her as Muffy. There are fewer typos in the girl version, though.
Your son occasionally calls your husband his mother.
Break the Cutie: If you break Celia's heart, then she, Vesta, and especially Marlin will never forgive you.
You make this happen to Lumina if you play as the boy character, due to her Precocious Crush on you. She gets over it though. Muffy has this happen to her a few times, both due to you and not.
Brilliant, but Lazy: If you marry Nami, your child will have generally high strengths, but generally low interests — meaning he (or she, in SE) could be good at almost any career, but requires a lot of pushing from you to actually try.
Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: Can be seen with Marlin and Celia, although they are not an official couple in this game. Their descendants in DS/DS Cute are, however.
Darker and Edgier: Darker, at least. The DS installments based on this game are Lighter And Edgier, oddly enough.
Decade Dissonance: At first glance the games, especially the male one, seems to take place in the early twentieth century. However you have characters like Rock and Griffin who embody The Sixties, a (rather retro looking) TV, and relatively modern fashions on certain characters. If you watch TV you'll notice references to cellphones. Tim implies airplanes aren't even a thing in the protagonists country. It's worth noting that Mineral Town looks more modern and it's literally just a few miles away.
The girl's version is especially more confusing, as the skinny jeans, miniskirt, and t shirt worn by the protagonist is much more modern than the more typical farmer's gear worn in the male game.
Delivery Not Desired: The framing device is the player's mentor figure/farm hand writing a letter to the player's deceased father about the farm's progress, the player's growing family, and how much has changed over time.
Dumb Blond: Rock, who is possibly slightly more so in Another Wonderful Life. And Muffy, to a much lesser extent.
Dummied Out: The locked shed on your farm is never unlocked. Neither is the one on Romana's property. The former was meant to be a horse shed.
Your dog was meant to herd animals and be taught tricks. In the final product he's little more than a Living Prop, though Another Wonderful Lifeadded the tricks and made him more interactive.
The circus from DS was to originate in A Wonderful Life but the characters were scrapped.
Your daughter was supposed to take after the mother, not Mark, but they couldn't implement the designs due to time constraints.
Dying Town: Forget-Me-Not Valley can't honestly even be called a town. With only a handful of families living there with all of them save the farmers commuting out for work, no form of mayor or leadership whatsoever, and the closest thing to a store they have is a single wandering merchant who passes through twice a month. By the end of the game, the town has essentially turned into a senior citizens community with only three or four youth who may just skip out to the city when they grow up.
Earn Your Bad Ending: It's possible to get a Non-Standard Game Over by neglecting your farm sales in the second year, but actually getting this ending is difficult if you aren't trying. You basically have to deliberately run your farm into the ground and then repeatedly give very rude responses to your wife when she questions you about it.
Education Mama: Celia really wants to see her son grow up to be a scientist.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: Any crops you plant will remain the same if the story jumps to a few years. If you plant a crop such as a tomato and the game sets off 3 years later, it will look the same at it was 3 years ago.
Made even more obvious because younger bulls, who cannot breed yet, seem confused when you try to "milk" them.
As the Darker and Edgier black sheep of the franchise, it has a lot of mature references when it comes to romance, especially when it comes to Muffy. In Japan Lumina was bumped from fourteen to sixteen for Special Edition but in the west she was bumped to eighteen due to a Values Dissonance.
Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have: All of the young women in the town still retain their looks when they become old, they just have grey hair and a few wrinkles added. Nami and Muffy in particular aged very well.
Guide Dang It: One of Nami's heart events requires you to enter the bar when only Muffy, Griffin, and Nami are present. Getting it basically requires stalking Nami around the valley until she enters the bar and then following her in and hoping no one else is in there.
Happily Adopted: Rock has literally no resemblance to his parents whatsoever. It's implied that they might have adopted him and simply never told him.
Hobos: Murray, who is some kind of subhuman manchild hobo. Takakura seems to see Gustafa as this, describing him as just some weirdo who set up a tent in the middle of town.
Ill Boy: When Marlin was younger he was really sickly and weak. It's why he moved out of the city and into the valley. He's still rather fragile though.
Jerk Ass: Marlin, if you get too close to Celia. If you marry someone else though you become good drinking buddies.
It's implied she has mistaken her romantic feelings for a sibling affection or that her feelings changed over time. In the original game she runs away crying during the wedding scene.
Limited Wardrobe: In the original AWL, everyone wears the same clothes all their lives, save for a hand full of people who get palette swaps in their older years. In ANWL, your character can purchase more outfits for themselves. And in SE, everyone changes the color of their outfits based on the seasons.
Living Prop: A lot of the citizens in town sort of just exist. There's no events or items you get from talking to them, and so you end up sort of just ignoring them completely. Like the fire work makers.
Lonely Rich Kid: Lumina, who in SE is happy to marry a farmer and leave her giant manor on top of the hill.
Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Muffy, at least in ANWL. Every year she is seen crying on the bridge because she broke up with another slimy man. Either he had a woman on the side, or she found out that she was the other woman on the side.
Maternally Challenged: Nami is... not exactly fantastic as far as mothers go. Her frequent visits to the bar, long walks through town, and arguments with her teenage son are signs she may not exactly have been cut out for this.
Thank God her toddler son is smart enough to go to bed on his own.
May-December Romance: Muffy is a bit older than your character, being in her thirties. Your son might grow up to have a crush on Kate, who was around six years or so older, or Lumina, who is so much older that in some versions you could marry her.
Lumina is at least 14 years, probably 16 to 18 years, older than your son.
Mood Whiplash: When you ask Nami to marry you, she becomes surprised by this and takes the Blue Feather. Cue her asking if you care about the paperwork.
If you break Celia's heart by seeing all her heart events and then marrying someone else, she and her family will forevermore give you angry messages when you talk to them...but then they'll cheerfully ask you if you want to buy seeds, and if you talk to them enough times their original dialogue can show up as well.
In the last chapter you get a cute scene between you and your significant other.. Then you die.
Mythology Gag: Nina's hairstyle, name, and fascination with flowers all seem to be this to Nina of the first game. Considering Harvest Moon 64 featured a senior Ellen who shared a similar fate, she could be an aged version of Nina.
Instead of the usual Hearts appearing beside the name the girls have hearts in their hidden diaries. The original Harvest Moon was the same way, with each girl having a diary beside their bed with their heart levels in it. Celia is also a bit of an Expy of Nina, with a smudge of Ellen mized in, and Muffy is one of Eve.
The general "vague era" feel of the game is similar to the original Harvest Moon, which seemed early 20th century but had a fair share of Anachronism Stew.
If you aren't engaged by the end of the first year, whichever bachelor/bachelorette has the highest affection for you will come to your home and propose, and turning them down will end your game.
If you neglect your farm in the second year, your wife will question you about it one night. You can express regret for your actions and promise to work harder, or you can rudely tell your wife you don't care about what happens to the farm, which causes her to take your child and leave you forever.
In the special edition and AnWL, you can end the game in the first cutscene by simply telling Takakura you don't want the farm.
Oddball in the Series: It's one of the only games to have everyone in town grow old, and having so much focus put into your child growing up. It also deals with some darker themes, like death and divorce, that most of the rest of the series doesn't.
Off Model: Nami doesn't look anything like her concept art.
Celia doesn't look past her early 20s for much of the game. Lampshaded in ANWL.
Plus Lumina, who looks to be at most, 12. However, according to the booklet for Another Wonderful Life, she's actually 18.
A meta version. The Japanese site for the original game states she's fourteen but all games afterwards use the same model. Somewhat more justified in Japan where she's sixteen, not eighteen.
Nami is 28 but could pass for someone in her earlier 20s.
One Game for the Price of Two: Links to Friends of Mineral Town to unlock content in both. Another Wonderful Life links to More Friends of Mineral Town in the same way.
Platonic Life Partners: Everyone in town apparently gossips about how Flora and Carter have been sharing a tent together for years. But if you speak to them, it's clear that a relationship with each other has never even occurred to them. However, their descendants in DS and Cute are paired together.
Possibly all of the potential non-main-character "couples" count as this, as none of them officially get married (except in DS/Cute).
Precocious Crush: In AWL, Lumina seems to have a crush on you in the first chapter. In SE this isn't quite as precocious considering she is a marriage candidate.
Scary Black Man: Subverted with Cody, who certainly looks the part but is actually just introverted and quiet.
Unkempt Beauty: In the first AWL game Nami has neat smooth hair, but in AnWL, her hairstyle is shaggier and messier. She keeps the latter style in every other game she appears in.
Her hair style has changed frequently. It was at most shaggiest in Magical Melody but was combed down a bit for the Wii Ware title.
Updated Re-release: Another Wonderful Life may just be a distaff counterpart, but it also added a lot of other new content to the game. Minigames to train your dog, the ability to change your outfit, a mirror by your bed, added difficulty in getting fodder, and making the special tools have different effects while farming. Some of these additions were included in the PS2 special edition, but not all of them.
The PS2 edition was supposed to be a sort of Updated Re-release, but it got a lot of flack for its ridiculous loading times and lowered graphics quality.
Urban Legend of Zelda: There were tons of rumors spread about the game. Like there being a way to unlock the mysterious abandoned shack, or how to get into Romana's shed, or getting every single tablet in the game will give you the chihuahua found next to the dig site. All of these rumors were completely false.
Besides the chihuahua, there are several other animals roaming around, including a raccoon on Vesta's farm, a bandaged lizard in the forest, and a large turtle by the pond. None of those can actually be acquired, but try telling that to the countless people who insist you can.
Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can see all of a girl's heart events and then marry someone else. Be prepared for said girl to hate you forever. Especially Celia; if you do this to her, she and her family will never forgive you.
You don't have to feed your cat, dog, or horse. You can just let them starve and leave them in the rain.
And then there's the infamous goat, which stops giving milk after one year and thereafter just wastes a space in the barn. Most players resorted to murdering the goat by starving it and making it sick in order to free up the barn slot. Another Wonderful Life added in the option to sell your goat back to Van.