Harvest Moon (known as 牧場物語, Bokujō Monogatari in Japan, lit. "Ranch Story") is a series of Simulation Games based on farming developed by Marvelous AQL (formerly Pack-in-Video, then Victor Interactive Software, then Marvelous Entertainment, due to a long line of buyouts and mergers on the Japanese side) and translated by Natsume in North America and Rising Star Games in Europe. The original game was released for the Super Nintendo in 1997, and since then there have been over twenty Harvest Moon titles released for a variety of different consoles. The plot line, such as it is, is much the same for almost every game: the protagonist, a young man (or woman) just starting life on his or her own, inherits or buys a farm. Sadly, its previous owner was unable to keep up with chores on the farm, leaving it in a significantly dilapidated state... and now it's up to you to fix it!Gameplay is generally fairly simple. The player must clear his/her fields, plant crops, raise livestock like cows, sheep, and chickens, care for pets like horses and dogs, and gather materials from the countryside to help improve his/her house or sell for extra cash. However, the "business" aspects of play are not nearly the full scope of the game; the social aspect of the series is one of its biggest draws.In addition to making money through a variety of means, the player is generally expected to integrate himself or herself into the community. Players can make friends with various townsfolk, attend festivals (which range from paralleling real-life holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas, to pseudo-religious ceremonies, purely social occasions in the community, and competitions where the player can compete himself or herself or enter his/her livestock or pets to compete), woo the local girls (or guys in later versions where you can play as a female farmer), and eventually get married and have children.There is a distinct flavor of the spiritual in the Harvest Moon games; the player can typically meet a variety of imps, sprites, spirits, fairies, and even the Harvest Goddess, most of which are friendly and will help you out if you give offerings or make an effort to befriend them. Though a game that revolves around doing farm chores might sound ridiculously boring, somehow they managed to make an entertaining, stylish, successful game franchise around the concept. Not to mention ridiculously addictive. Although the series has never achieved massive sales numbers, it enjoys an extremely loyal cult fanbase.More recent games have included an Unexpected Gameplay Change or two; Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon for the DS has a fantasy setting and some RPG-style elements, such as the ability to fight monsters (and with the releases of RF 2 (DS) and Frontier (Wii), has become a full-fledged Spin-Off Series), while in Innocent Life: A Futuristic Harvest Moon for the PSP, the player character is actually a Ridiculously Human Robot.In the majority of the games, there is a certain time limit (usually between two and three years of game time) built in, at which point some event (such as the character's father visiting the farm) occurs and the player is "graded"- but it's almost always possible to continue playing indefinitely even after you've received your "grade".As with most popular series, it has a wiki.In early 2014, Natsume lost publishing rights for the game in the west to XSEED Games, itself a division of Marvelous AQL. However, Natsume still owns the rights to the Harvest Moon brand. While this move means a big improvement to the translation (and perhaps, punctuality) of the releases, whether it marks the end of the western releases bearing the Harvest Moon name, or if XSEED can buy the name off Natsume, remains to be seen, as the first title that will be released under XSEED will lack the Harvest Moon branding. However, Natsume still seems insistent on using the name for unrelated games.Don't confuse for the Neil Young song, although it could make one good soundtrack for the game, or the Blue Oyster Cult song which would make a decidedly less fitting soundtrack for the games.Compare and contrast with Hometown Story and River King, the former being by the creator of the franchise and the latter being Harvest Moon's sister series.
The games in the series (North American releases) include:
All in a Row: In the Wii games, you can have your spouse, your pets, or one of your children walk with you. They follow obediently behind you in this fashion, and you can create some amusingly Benny Hill-esque chains. (Farmer chased by little boy chased by penguin chased by, OH GOD, A BEAR!)
All-Natural Gem Polish: In most games it's played straight, but it's notably averted in Animal Parade—all the gems you find are uncut and require Mira to appraise and cut them before they're worth anything. And she has a decent chance of failing, too.
Anachronism Stew: Most games will include very modern items like TVs or refrigerators, maybe even DVD players, but there will never be any industrialization of the farming industry. For the most part, most of the games released up until A Wonderful Life had fashion resembling the early 20th century.
Artificial Difficulty: Later games (especially Island of Happiness and Sunshine Islands) make certain goals hard to achieve by simply ramping up the amount of game time it takes to reach them. (Ex. Your child takes three to four in-game years to reach the "walking and talking" stage, where in other games, it would take a year and a half at the most)
A Wonderful Life would have the number of in-game years per chapter increase over time, causing you to spend four years with your teenage son but only one trying to marry a girl in town. The girls' version and special edition cut the number of years down to speed the game's progress.
Despite being released in 2012, A New Beginning averts the amount of time needed to do things increase as it goes on. It's fairly reasonable with the requirements to advance, providing the player doesn't use the online feature to get every item required. A New Beginning also requires one to water his/her farm twice a day instead of only once, or risk crops growing slower. This of course means more time wasted on cooking food to keep your stamina up, and twice as much time spent on watering plants.
Several magical items throughout the games which do exactly what they say but aren't worth the time needed to use them or the effort needed to gain them. Not to mention - particularly stamina/fatigue recovery items - are simply inferior to readily purchasable or makable items.
Similarly, in many games there is one crop that is significantly more profitable than all the others (e.g. strawberries in Magical Melody, Blue Mist Flowers in Animal Parade), and planting this crop in great numbers for an entire season can easily make you rich. Similarly, many games have "money tricks" that allow you to make loads of money in a short period of time. However, since one of the chief goals of the game is to make money, using these methods can make the game quite boring.
Babies Ever After: One of the primary goals of most of the games; if it's not mandatory, it will at least be required to get 100% Completion. Find a suitable match, fall in love, marry them, and have a baby with them.
"Blind Idiot" Translation: Since the games are Japanese, every game in the series contains various errors and quirks in the English translation, some worse than others.
Natsume misspelled their own name on the title screen of Harvest Moon 64, among tons of other mistakes, as well as at least one character who doesn't even speak English in the translated version.
In Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life for the Gamecube you can get a "Mae" sheep.
In Another Wonderful Life, Muffy's response to receiving an ore is literally an error message.
Sometimes if you talk to Gotz in DS Cute, his dialog will suddenly turn into Japanese characters.
In Friends of Mineral Town:
Sofa is misspelled as "sopha." It's the old word for sofa but... really?
Zach's dialog will suddenly turn into Japanese characters on occasion as well.
Carter will sometimes speak German. Keep in mind that this is in the North American English translation.
Animal Parade actually does quite well in this respect, but there are some occasional minor translation errors, though the ones that stand out the most are the PC's children being referred to with the wrong gender pronouns. Often they're referred to as "it" regardless of sex, and don't be alarmed if your daughters get referred to as "he".
A New Beginning has some issues. A few typos are scattered about, at least one prize given from completing a contest has its name in Japanese when it's given to you, being congratulated for winning the beginner cooking festival when you won the intermediate one, and giving the Harvest Goddess an item she likes causes a scripting error an has her say the mood change her portrait should do instead of it actually changing.
Boring, but Practical: In many games, fishing is one of the best ways to make money, especially early in the game, but it can get highly repetitive. However, many games make catching every kind of fish a sidequest which can be rather enjoyable.
Bowdlerise: Natsume has done this several times. They've changed references of alcohol to "juice" and "soda", taken out the thinly veiled Gay Option in one game, taken out religious references in a few games.. They've changed lines in a few games, especially in the Wii games. Gil had an infamous line about wanting to lock you in a basement, which was changed in the translation.
Marrying the Harvest Goddess—by the time you're capable of marrying her, you've usually done everything else but get married. She doesn't even live with you—you still have to give her a gift in her pond if you want to talk to her.
More Friends of Mineral Town also had the Gourmet. You can only talk to him one day out of the year. You have to cook every food available. And once you marry him, he doesn't even stick around—he only comes home for family events, and otherwise, he's gone.
The Harvest Goddess (and Harvest King) as purely Bragging Rights Reward candidates is averted in Animal Parade. To woo them, the only thing you have to do is beat the main storyline—and that's hardly anything at all with regards to 100% Completion. They still won't live with you, but there's nothing special you have to do to win their favor. (Well, aside from the usual showering them with gifts, but even that's not too difficult, as their favorite items can be easily purchased.)
Marrying Alisa in The Tale of Two Towns. She's the last of any marriage candidate to be unlocked (Fall of Year 2 at the earliest), the requirements to woo her are totally different than everyone else's (ex. You have to go on at least 100 dates with her and she has no special heart event) and when you finally manage to wed her (Late Winter, Year 3 at the earliest), you don't even get to have kids with her. Not to mention you have to use the Wonderfuls to wish for permission from the Harvest Goddess to marry Alisa. There's a good chance the option to ask won't come up.
Marrying the Kappa in More Friends of Mineral Town. It takes at leastfive in-game years to marry to him, the number of requirements to do so are absolutely insane, and once married, the reward is extremely underwhelming. He does not live with you, only visits for family events before disappearing again (how the PC becomes pregnant by him is unclear), and he has ridiculously little dialogue (90% of his speech consists of ellipses). The PC's dialogue when he leaves her immediately after their wedding pretty much sums it all up: "...Why did he marry me?"
The Witch Princess can become this in a A New Beginning. Both getting the blueprint for her house (made of three randomly found pieces) and the materials (that include five units of a rare spawn from the most exepensive vacation spot) can drag on for quite a while if you're unlucky enough.
Broken Bridge: Areas are sometimes blocked off until certain story events; in Harvest Moon 64, there's a literal broken bridge that leads up to the mountain peak that isn't fixed until near the end of the first year- though a clever player can find a detour around it before then. (You can get back down by pressing A along the cliff next to the tree to jump back down) there are at least two blocked off areas in Tree of Tranquility, more than you can count in A New Beginning, and in a Tale of Two Towns a blocked off tunnel is the main focus of the plot.
Karen and Rick in Friends of Mineral Town and More Friends of Mineral Town. If you choose to marry either Karen or Rick [depending on your version], the one left over will be an Unlucky Childhood Friend; if you choose to marry someone else, the two will eventually get married, and they'll be a Victorious Childhood Friend.
The latter happens in both versions of Back to Nature, where the childhood friend in question is revealed to be whoever the player marries. Harvest Moon 64 is also an example, but any of the bachelorettes could end up like this if their Relationship Values are high enough, in which case the girls the player doesn't choose as a spouse become Unlucky Childhood Friends.
Chocolate of Romance: In recent games, you get delicious homemade goodies on Winter 14 (if you're a boy) or Spring 14 (if you're a girl). This, however, only happens with marriageable characters who are at a certain number of love points.
Christmas Rushed: People generally assume this is why Harvest Moon 64 was released at the end of November, with so many on-screen typos in the in-game English-language text.
In IoH and SI, you're told not to leave your animals out overnight. As long as you have them in an intact, fenced-in area (with grass to eat for your cows and sheep) and the weather is calm leaving them outside is good for them. Not to mention this advice runs counter to what every other HM game tells you ("Leave them outside as much as possible").
In A New Beginning you're told by the seed descriptions for cotton to harvest using a sickle. Nope, they're harvested by hand just like other crops.
In the Japanese version of Harvest Moon DS, linking it with a copy of Friends of Mineral Town that had linked with a copy of A Wonderful Life will make the grave of your Wonderful Life character appear as DS is set in the same town as A Wonderful Life but 100 years in the future; the English version just makes the grave belong to your Mineral Town character. Perhaps they didn't want the player to buy three games just to unlock an incredibly minor thing in one. This is possible in the English version, too. It's just a really bad idea.
Another example is that in Animal Parade, it is mentioned that in the past, during the Flower Festival, a girl from the village would be voted to be the goddess of the festival. That's what was done in Harvest Moon 64. In the same game, Elli and Gray appear in their long-forgotten Harvest Moon 64 roles.
Chelsea has the exact same get-up as Sara however she wears her bandanna rather than having it around her neck.
Convection Schmonvection: The Volcano Island mine in Sunshine Islands. In Animal Parade, you can go so deep in the mines that you reach an area with some land platforms surrounded by a sea of magma.
Crystal Dragon Jesus: Harvest Moon games tend to have a church with a clearly Catholic priest, including worship services on Sunday mornings and marriage ceremonies performed as necessary, but they actually worship the Harvest Goddess. If you can get past the idea of goddess worshipnote or Catholicism, whichever might offend you more, consider that this is one of the few games in which a church is played up as a positive, appreciated part of life. In Back to Nature, for example, the priest is pleasant, kind, and not above a good laugh, and he gives decent advice now and then; also, at one point you round up the kids in town and take them to church, and from then on they go to church almost daily, are happy to do so, and even discuss a bit of theology (something about confession ("apologize from the heart")).
Darker and Edgier: A Wonderful Life. The character development is notably more serious than most of the franchise, giving it something of a darker mood. The passage of time is also more evident than most Harvest Moon games; the game doesn't end until you die of old age!
Disc One Nuke: In order (note, most of these require extreme precision, some luck, and a lot of planning on what exactly you buy and when):
First off, fans have done the math on the crops of all of the games, making it ridiculously easy to maximize your profits. In addition, many secrets, such as power berries, are possible to get immediately (with no reliance on luck or skill) if you know where to find them, making it simple to supercharge your farmer well before you would have been able to via legitimate exploration.
The SNES version had the game clock stop at 6 PM, meaning you can clear the entire farm (which is unbelievably big compared to later versions) and fill your lumber shed on the first day, by using the hot springs bath every time you're about to faint. You can't sell anything at night, but you can safely ignore all your other chores until then. Also, if you want to romance Eve, you can talk to her in the bar at night an infinite number of times, maxing out your hearts in one night.
In Harvest Moon 64, glitches allows you to immediately bring Karen to max affection (by repeatedly showing her your dog) and level your tools to the highest quality on the first day.
Back to Nature has the first mines just a few steps away from the hot springs bath, which restores both stamina and fatigue fully within 1 hour 10 minutes of in-game time. This means you never have to sleep, and the short trip to the mines makes it easy to get several thousand dollars by the second day.
In A Wonderful Life it's possible to get a crop-to-seed converter for free by befriending the local Mad Scientist. If you plant some trees, harvest their fruit and turn them back into seeds, your money problems are over because the tree seeds are the most expensive seeds in the game and sell much higher than the actual fruit.
Harvest Moon DS has pretty much the most ridiculously exploitable mines ever. By using savescumming techniques, it's entirely possible to (on the first day of the game) get all of the cursed tools, any (or all) of the cursed accessories, and a huge amount of rare gemstones that can be sold for massive profit. By the end of the second game day, it's possible to have the legendary sword, several million G in the bank, and accessories that give you infinite working potential and twice as much time outdoors to work. Generally players are expected to take several game years to get this sort of bankroll and equipment spread.
In Magical Melody, if you get insanely lucky, you can make several hundred the first few days finding random things on the mountain to sell.
In A New Beginning due to the often generous nature of the players in Multiplayer, people frequently can get Silkie eggs well before Neil has one for sell, or seeds that are otherwise unobtainable at that point. Between those and the ability to gather wool and milk can set a player up with quite a lot of money early on.
Distaff Counterpart: Several of the games have a "For Girl" version, which is pretty much the same except that the playable character is female and a few features are added, altered, or fixed.
Divine Parentage: In Animal Parade, if you marry the Harvest Goddess or the Harvest King, the game really doesn't make a very big deal out of it... and the implications of your children by either of them being the children of an all-powerful deity are never addressed. They don't inherit any special personality traits or possess any divine abilities. Strangely, no other characters seem to be aware that you are the husband/wife of one of the HM universe's central deities, and apparently nobody ever wonders about who the father/mother of your children is.
Animal Parade plays this to a tee. Helping the Harvest King and finishing the story comes with a terrible price: your character is forced to give up one of his/her very own children. Forever.
A Wonderful Life/Another Wonderful Life ends with you dying of old age and leaving all your friends and family behind. Could be considered more bittersweet when you consider that your kid is at least going to grow up and have a good career and everything.
Drama Bomb: Sweet little old ladies in the series have a habit of dying, just to keep you from becoming too complacent in your relaxing farm chores. Ellen in 64 and Nina in AWL/DS, in particular.
Dub Name Change: DS changed all the Identical Grandchild characters' names to those of their predecessors. In the original, for example, that wasn't Celia, it was AWL Celia's granddaughter Serena. They also changed Retasu to Leia, probably because naming the obvious expy after the original is a little risky, but also probably because nobody actually names their kid Retasu.
Getting kicked off the farm in the SNES version takes a conscious effort to achieve. Ditto marrying the Witch Princess in Island of Happiness (for certain values of "ended").
Then, of course, there's an ending optional in HMDS involving bringing a level 100 poisonous mushroom to the Harvest Festival and putting it into the stew, thus killing off the entire valley and causing the credits to roll. It would be hilarious if it wasn't so difficult to grow such a mushroom in the first place.
Getting the "divorce" ending in A Wonderful Life takes a conscious effort to achieve: Ignoring your wife and child to the point where she leaves and takes your son with her. Originally, it was thought you could only get this with Muffy or Nami, however further experimenting has proven that Celia too, can be divorced if you put absolutely zero effort into both your family and farm work. This includes not shipping or selling ANYTHING, giving Celia gifts she despises, and being rude and cold in general.
Eternal Sexual Freedom: Averted, because it's heavily implied that getting... too serious before marriage is frowned upon in the HM universe. This is most apparent in one scenario in More Friends of Mineral Town; the Kappa is the one bachelor who will never live with the player character if married, but as with every other marriage candidate, the PC becomes pregnant very shortly after the wedding. Every other husband will notice the PC seems unwell and take her to the doctor; the Kappa, however, just appears in the PC's house one day and says "You, pregnant," and then disappears again, prompting a "..." reaction from her. Then she goes to the doctor and finds out it's true. All the doctor says to the her is "You're going to have a baby" when she shows up at the clinic pregnant and with no husband; no "Congratulations!" like with every other spouse, and Elli is completely silent. Ouch.
Excuse Plot: Most of the games don't flesh out much beyond the simple premise that you've either purchased or inherited an old farm, and now it's up to you to fix it up and make your living as a farmer.
By far the worst is "The Harvest Goddess was punished for calling the king bald. He's to lazy to undo his own curse, so you go fix it"
A side quest, but it still counts- In Animal Parade, you cannot purchase Hibiscus seeds from Samson right away because his wife and daughter keep arguing, and he just can't bare to sell the seeds in that type of environment. Seriously?!
Magical Melody is one of the few that actually has the player trying to achieve a specific goal. The Harvest Goddess turned herself to stone because the townspeople no longer appreciate life like they once did, or her existence; the player must get her back to normal by collecting magical music notes (received by doing a large variety of things in life), and bring the village back to life (so to speak), because he/she is the only person besides Jamie who can see the Harvest Sprites.
Expy: It's a common thing in Harvest Moon, especially the handhelds. Character archetypes are used very often to the point where it's a ritual to some fans. The (usually) hot Asian doctor, the baker, the antisocial quiet guy, the player, the Tsundere, the Bokukko, the Meganekko, etc.
Quite a few of the Magical Melody "original characters" have designs and roles parallel to the Flowerbud characters in Harvest Moon 64. The most obvious being Blue, a carbon copy of Gray with a new name.
The AWL games have a more subtle version. A blond bartender with romance issues and a brunette Friend to All Living Things? Are we talking about Muffy and Celia or Eve and Ellen?
In some of the games. The Witch Princess especially is fond of these, especially those with a touch of Elegant Gothic Lolita.
Prince Amir wears a male version (a Fairytale Wedding Suit) in A New Beginning, as he dons an appropriately princely garment to get married in.
Fake Longevity: A New Beginning forces this onto the player if s/he refuses to go online to get the required materials to complete tasks faster. Most egregiously, one particular task in Town Restoration Plan 4 requires you to ship 30 potatoes and 30 yams. By the time you get to TRP4, chances are it would already be the end of year 1 fall, and yam seeds are not sold until fall of year 2. Even if you have the maker shed and yam seeds now (won from the Fall Crop Festival), you need to wait until year 2 summer to be able to get the blueprints for a greenhouse. And if you don't go online to get your parts, you'll be stuck waiting for year 2 fall to complete the plan. In other words, game delays you one whole year if you don't plan ahead or use Nintendo WFC, or 3 months if you do plan ahead but not use WFC. The quickest way out? Go online and beg for 30 yams to ship.
Fishing for Sole: All of them. In Animal Parade, one of the townspeople actually operates his own recycling service so you can get RID of that junk.
Fishing Minigame: One of the main ways of making cash is by catching and selling fish.
Fission Mailed: In most of the games since Back To Nature, getting married triggers the credits. But the game goes right back to normal after they finish. One of the exceptions is Tale of Two Towns, where the credits come after the tunnel is fully reopened. The other exception is A New Beginning, where you get the credits after you complete all five Town Restoration Plans instead, but again, you go right back into the game once the credit finishes rolling.
Flanderization: The series is extremely prone to this. If someone pops up in another game, expect this to happen to them. It's especially bad in Harvest Moon 64 to Back To Nature, where everyone became more one-dimensional or changed dramatically. For example Popuri became an Woman Child, which got worse in DS and Island of Happiness, when originally she was just a bubbly ditz.
Four Is Death: For various reasons, many HM games do strange things if you perform specific actions at 4:44 AM/PM.
Frothy Mugs of Water: Used inconsistently. Some games replace alcohol with 'soda' or 'juice', while others rather explicitly use alcohol.
The PAL version of Back To Nature could not be advanced past your new bride picking your nickname. The North American version of Tree of Tranquility actually has a marriage candidate, Calvin, incapable of being wooed due to a bad freeze during a required marriage cutscene.
Later versions of Tree of Tranquility had the "Calvin" bug fixed, to the delight of many, many female players. (For reference: This◊ is Calvin.) Fortunately for owners of the original, you can (or at least could) exchange a bugged version for the fixed one, albeit through the dubious method of mailing it to the company with a note and return address.
Animal Parade has a very nasty one where your children can disappear entirely except for certain events. This guide has more information.
Harvest Moon DS has a nasty one where the game will sometimes save improperly, leading to the save becoming corrupt. It is far more common when using a sprite team (especially the fishing team, which is the source of a bug that can make you a billionaire in a night).
Tale of Two Towns' 3DS port has plenty of issues, which ranges from lagging to deleting your save. That seven years you went through? All gone, simply due to bad programming.
Averted; though counterparts exist to woo your possible mates if you don't, you can't pursue same-sex couples, except in DS Cute, in which you can only get some of the original haremettes and only in a Romantic Two-Girl Friendship situation- only in the Japanese version, though.
In A New Beginning, through customization, you can make it appear to be a same-sex relationship, even if you can't really do it.
Generation Xerox: Technically, DS is set 100 years after Friends of Mineral Town/A Wonderful Life, but everyone's lives and history are utterly identical.
If you accidentally try to milk a bull in A Wonderful Life, instead of being annoyed (or nothing happening), it responds with a green heart.
From the same game, one wonders why they even bothered to continue saying "miracle potion" in a game that included bulls in the first place. When you decide to use a "miracle potion," a cutscene occurs wherein you are advised to leave the barn, followed by a sound of loud mooing. The next scene shows both cow and bull looking very happy.
The "Wonderful Life" sub-series is given the "Adult Situations" rating, unlike the other Harvest Moons.
DS/Cute has some, uh, unusual events too. One event in Cute has your friend, Mimi, telling you how she envies you. She married for convenience, whereas you married for love. She wishes she had as nice and romantic a man as your husband. What's so odd about that? She decides to rectify this by announcing that she's going to have an affair with your husband. Your character performs the Heroic Mime equivalent of giving her three "Oh-no-you-di'—n't!" snaps, and she tries to cover herself by claiming she was joking. And this isn't the only adultery joke in the game, oddly...
In (More) Friends, when Zack delivers the large bed to you, he wonders out loud what you're going to do with a bed that big (as in most HM games, the bed upgrade is a marriage requirement). He does so with a large toothy grin.
Another event in Cute features Rock asking you if you would like to hang out with him at the beach. You are married and he is not. When he realizes that you and him are the only two on the beach, he begins to get a few ideas...but quickly decides against it since he doesn't want your husband angry at him for the rumors about you having an affair that could get around.
In Animal Parade, rather than just making you or your spouse pregnant, you actually plan to have children. But when you do so, your spouse makes comments along the lines of, "Well, if we're going to try to have kids, we've got our work cut out for us! <3"
The Japanese version of Cute got away with lesbian marriage in an E game by simply slapping the phrase "Best Friend" on everything, even though everything romantic is left intact.
In "A Tale of Two Towns", one of the date options for Hiro is "Hiro's Room".
A post-marriage line for Mikhail in To TT is "At night, your voice is like a serenade to my heart." and he adds that it's his favorite time of the day.
A Tale of Two Towns also zigzags the animal issue. On one hand, there's no more miracle potions, the livestock trader simply takes the animal off your hands for a couple weeks before returning them along with a baby. On the other, this makes complete sense: it's quite clear what goes on at a stud farm.
A New Beginning has the Harmony Day events. You can still give treats to the bachelors/bachelorettes even after you get married. And on their corresponding holiday, they'll still come into your house to give you treats. A few of the bachelors even specifically say what a shame it is you're married and then proceed to hit on you anyway.
In A New Beginning, if you marry Soseki, he will sometimes say that the pleasant weather makes him want to take a nap... and that he's hoping you'll join him.
The Sprite Casino in DS. Also joked about in DS on the "TV 3]]Shopping" station: If they're not selling real items you can use, they're selling items specifically for Harvest Sprites, which use the Sprite currency, Korobos. The sprite who runs the station says, "If you use a different currency, sorry."
Also, the Super Lucky Lotto in Grand Bazaar. You have to use bronze, silver or gold coins you find or make. It's the only place you can get the stamina-expanding Magic Water (which also happens to be Emiko's favored gift).
Going Through the Motions: Usually avoided by using character portraits rather than models or sprites, but Magical Melody used it, and used it poorly, to great annoyance. Tree of Tranquility does the same thing but with a little more subtlety.
A notable recurring example is Gourmet; hence why many find it very, very squicky that you could actually marry and have a baby with him in More Friends of Mineral Town. The fanbase almost universally considers him and Kappa (from the same game) to be most unattractive potential spouses in the entire series.
For A New Beginning, Sandra. For the records, This is Sandra. Describe Sandra here, because I'm at a lost for words.
Harvest Moon 64 had one of these, up to and including the fact that the distributing company spelled their own name wrong on the title screen. Strikes a few of the other games to varying degrees as well.
The names of the DS characters were changed to match their original names, since the Japanese ones had new names for plot related reasons.
There are an awful lot of babies in the games, and very little actual baby-formation.Eggs will hatch if they're placed in an incubator, even if you only have one bird—suggesting that Havest Moon chickens are hermaphrodites capable of self-fertilization. There generally aren't any bulls, rams, or billies—just "miracle potions" for the different animals, which get them pregnant with no muss or fuss, and their offspring are always female as well. Finally, even your own character is capable of having a child, but you or your wife simply wakes up one day feeling sick and then finds out they're pregnant, with nothing else mentioned of it. However, you do have to keep your spouse's Love Points next to maxed-out for at least a season or more to see the pregnancy event, which does have some... er, implications about the state of your relationship.
General exceptions: The two Wonderful Life games and Harvest Moon 3 on the Game Boy Color, which had gendered animals. Breeding was still nothing explicit, however.
Heck, the "Best Friends" in DS Cute's Japanese version still had this! One day, the Harvest King would decided to randomly make either you or your "Best Friend" pregnant. Nothing else necessary.
The Wii games seem a bit more conscious of where babies come from, especiallyAnimal Parade.
Well, the Japanese name for Miracle Potion is Ushi no Tane, AKA Cow's Seed.
Green Rocks: Materia Wonderfuls in IoH/SI and Grand Bazaar.
Just let an animal die. For some reason, people get angry at you if an animal dies of old age... In the more recent games, this has been rectified so townspeople won't get a bit upset when a animal dies naturally. They still get upset if you are the cause of death however.
A Wonderful Life also loved to rub it in your face if you were ever a Jerkass to the townspeople, especially if you went through the trouble of romancing a bride only to dump her and marry another girl at the last minute. Let's just say it's hard not to immediately hate yourself after ruining Celia's life at the altar..
Magical Melody does this the first time one of your animals gets sick. Your character has a dream that the animal dies and Hank yells at you for not giving it medicine when it was ill. Your character then stands before the animal's grave and tombstone while looking miserable before waking up.
In Hero of Leaf Valley Bob and Gwen will take care of the sickness for your livestock and your dog respectively for the first two occurrences. The first time, they give you a friendly warning to take care of them better. The second time, however, they hit you in the face, calling you out on letting it happen again due to bad care-taking/negligence and telling you that it's the last time they are willing to care of your animals for you.
Guide Dang It: Some of the Scripted Events (as mentioned below), can turn out to be these, often requiring your character to be in a specific place at a specific time and/or day and/or season. A popular one ("popular" as in "one of the most commonly asked about events") is Ann and Cliff's Blue Rival Heart Event in FoMT. To trigger it you need to enter the church between 11 am and 4 pm on any Spring or Summer day that's not Saturday when it's raining while Ann has a heart level for you that's less than blue. That's already pretty bad, but a lesser known detail is it can't be triggered if Cliff already works for the Winery, meaning it's limited to any rainy Spring or Summer day that's not Saturday in the first year. You can accidentally miss this one just because the game decided to give you a long string of sunny days.
Healing Spring: Hot springs in some of the games will rapidly restore stamina.
Hello, Insert Name Here: In the past, you had no default names and must pick a name yourself. Starting with Rune Factory and Innocent Life, you started getting default names, a practice continued in Island of Happiness and Tree of Tranquility.
Heroic Mime: In most games. In More Friends Of Mineral Town, your character has an Inner Monologue, and in the DS games, he or she just talks outright.
Honest Axe: Used straight in the original SNES version
100% Completion: Generally not defined by the games themselves, leading the fandom to create their own requirements for the different games. The most infamous is definitely HM64's Party Picture, the requirements of which are so stringent that it took over a decade after the game's release to figure them out.
Hyperactive Metabolism: More justified than most examples; eating food simply restores stamina, rather than healing wounds.
Hyperspace Mallet: A rare semi-justified version of this trope, Claire uses the Hammer tool (a giant mallet) on Thomas when he admits that they knew the farm had gone to ruin since its owner died.
Identical Grandson: There are timeskips between games, with characters' expies and/or alternate versions actually being their children or grandchildren.
An Interior Designer Is You: Not much, but you do occasionally get to spiff up your house with accessories. Magical Melody added the option to rearrange furniture in your house. Most console games since then have this feature, and Tree of Tranquility, Animal Parade, and DS Cute allow you to change the wall color.
Used and averted; you can't touch other humans, but you can whack both wild critters and your own farm animals around with your tools, either on purpose or by accident. "Attacking" farm animals in this fashion will make them like you less, and may cause them to get sick.
Be warned, though: You can attack civilians in Animal Parade. Predictably, this makes them quite angry. Also, your watering can, which in the past had no effect on animals/townspeople, now does hurt them. So if you want to water your crops, make sure your animals and your family are out of the way first! (That could be a reference to several of the Rune Factory games in which the Watercan can actually become your most powerful weapon)
Though devoid of any lasting damage, the same can be done in Magical Melody. Whacking townspeople around with your tools can have a use, however: most festivals will send you off with the person you have the most hearts with, so if you have Theodore at the top of your list after trying to unlock all the buyable land, but don't want to watch the fireworks with a middle-aged man, you need only introduce him to your hammer.
For whatever reason, in Magical Melody, your baby follows many of the same behavior patterns as your pet dog and pig. So while you can't hurt it, using gardening tools nearby really freak the kid out. Also, the game actually rewards you for hitting the moles with a hammer, because they dig up gardens.
Impossibly Delicious Food: Ultimate and Finest Curry. Lots of bachelors and bachelorettes have them as favorite items, and it's generally accepted that everyone in town likes curry. The exceptions are Carter and Alisa.
Incest Is Relative: In 64, apparently and potentially. In the original SNES games you marry one of the four bachelorettes. The protagonist of 64 is the former protagonists Identical Grandson. The child of the original protagonist and his unknown wife are one of the bachelorettes. So, if you think about it, you could be courting or even marrying your cousin. The same trope applies to nearly every Official Couple in DS and Cute, however they're distant relatives.
Interspecies Romance: You can woo gods, goddesses, and even a kappa! The Witch Princess and Wizard may not be human, either.
Time passes whenever you're outdoors, so if you waste time, you might find yourself locked out of a store or missing a chance to spend time with your future spouse(!), plus the longer you stay up (and the correspondingly less sleep you get), the less activity you'll be able to do before you get tired.
Grand Bazaar and Twin Villages don't stop time when you're indoors either, so you have to doubly careful with time management.
Invisible to Normals: The Harvest Sprites. In the games that they appear in, usually only the player character is able to see them; they're invisible to, and cannot be heard by anyone else. In Magical Melody, the player's rival Jamie is able to see them as well, much to his/her annoyance. In Animal Parade, the player character's children can see them too (implying that it may be hereditary), as can the Wizard and the Witch, since they're magical beings and all. It's also implied that Gill can at least hear them, though he can't see them.
It's Up to You: Taken to an extreme in some games in which literally everything that happens in town is a result of the player's actions.
Jump Scare: In FoMT, if you enter your house at EXACTLY midnight (0:00) and examine the mirror (assuming you've bought it), you will hear a loud * THUNK* from somewhere in your house, and your character will look around in surprise. Alternativaly, sometimes you will see the image of the kappa pop out of the mirror for a moment, making your character jump back in surprise.
Kappa: One lives in the lake in Friends of Mineral Town. He'll give you the useful Blue Power Berry in return for lots of cucumbers. In the Distaff Counterpart version, you can marry him.
Rule of accessories: Green -> Red -> Blue = Good -> Better -> Best
The heart levels for marriage candidates: Black -> Purple -> Blue -> Green -> Yellow -> Orange -> Red
Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Used almost verbatim during a random event in A New Beginning, when the women of the town wonder how Dunhill has taken so many pictures of them (and your farmer) without them ever knowing. He's taken enough to fill up entire albums to give to each of them.
Level-Up at Intimacy 5: Most games offer various rewards for befriending and/or romancing your fellow villagers.
Long Song, Short Scene: The full-on fanfare of the bells in Animal Parade. You'll have to sit on the screen where Finn is congratulating you to hear the whole thing, or watch the credits... which requires you to lose your old game.
Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: In Harvest Moon: Another Wonderful Life, Muffy is constantly getting her heart broken. Either the man she's seeing in the city is cheating on her, or she finds out he's already married and that she's the other woman. Despite all this, Muffy continues to hold out hope that she'll find true love. ... she doesn't. Thankfully averted in the DS version.
Particularly in HM64, where Karen and Cliff will leave and never come back if you do not get their relationship values high enough
Getting the Goddess Pond Hot Springs in DS require you to befriend Flora, to either a Blue Heart (in the boy version) or to 200+ Friendship Points (in the girl version). In the girl version, if Flora and Carter get married, or if you marry Carter, you're similarly cut off from seeing the event. The Hot Springs necessary both for completing your shipping lists (items only available from them) and rescuing some of the Purple Sprites.
Lost in Translation: Luke's love letter in Animal Parade. In the original Japanese, the letter was the (seemingly nonsensical) string of sentences, "Suyoubi (wednesday)/Ki no ue de (on top of a tree)/Dainamaito (dynamite)" which, reading the first syllable of each line, spells out "suki da (I love you)". The English version, however, translates it literally, which loses the meaning.
Love Interests: Each game has a selection that the player can choose from
Particularly notable when mining in Harvest Moon Island of Happiness. More so early on until you get enough Orichalc (see unobtainium below) to be able to increase your stamina cap, since you have a random chance every time you move to hit a pitfall on a tile, and a 1-in-5 chance of losing the amount of stamina equivalent to that you start the game with. At least save scumming is possible [and changes the pitfall's depth], but even then, it only helps so much. The hoe tool can also help the player avoid pitfalls. It's also a very good - and very tedious - way to use up the stamina you need to get to the lower floors.
Navigating the mines in Magical Melody is absolutely infuriating because you have to move between floors by falling into different holes, and the further down you get into the mine, the more and more likely you are to get holes that make you fall up instead of down. You can fall, or rise, anywhere from just one or two floors to a whopping ten floors. If you dig around with your hoe, you can find stairs to take you directly down to the next floor, but it can take a long time and a lot of energy to find them. The lower parts of the mine are where all of the most valuable metals and gems are, and getting to the very bottom floor of each mine is required in order to get two magic notes...
In Animal Parade, you need to have metal ore and gem deposits refined at Mira's accessory shop before they become worth anything, or can be used for other purposes. However, the percentage of good metal or gems you get from any given stack of raw material is very small - if you have a stack of 99 gold ores, you'll be lucky if even thirty or so of them become usable gold pieces. The rest of what she gives you is all worthless "junk" material.
Heart Events in Two Towns (Now called "Flower Events") - even using an FAQ, you might not get the proper option to trigger the flower event, rather than a regular date.
One of the many requirements to marry Alisa is to wish for it. Even after you've filled the stringent requirements — more than 55,000 FP with her — to be able to make that wish, since the three wish options you get from returning the Six Wonderful Stones are randomly selected from the list, there's no guarantee you'll get it. Be prepared to either save-scum, or collect the stones multiple times.
The fishing tournament in A New Beginning. If you want to get first place, you need to catch a massive 71 fish with just the fishing rod in the span of just under 72 hours. If you use fish traps to catch anything or catch junk items or coins, it doesn't count towards the total. Even with all the possible boosts to help you, save scumming is almost required due to the completely random nature of catching anything with the rod. Doubly so if you want to take care of your farm during the tournament instead of leaving it to rot.
You can acquire literally magical tools to aid you in some games. For example, the first Game Boy game awarded you a magic umbrella if you did well enough in the first year to allow you to summon rain whenever you wanted.
Another incarnation might be present in Island of Happiness: mysterious (and rarer than any given ore) are stones called "Wonderfuls" that are used to increase or alter the effects of your tools. Taro's fishing rod is the only tool in the game that cannot use these. Balanced out by the fact that the only difference between cheap tools and more expensive tools is how many of these stones can be set into one of the tools.
Maligned Mixed Marriage: Implied that marrying the Kappa in More Friends of Mineral Town is this, given Carter's shocked and horrified reaction when you request for permission to marry him. Nobody else is ever made aware of your marriage to the Kappa, though; when the PC inexplicably becomes pregnant, it seems that everyone assumes she's still single and by an out-of-wedlock affair (hence the Doctor's and Elli's lukewarm reactions to her showing up pregnant, and alone, at the clinic). Things are probably better that way.
Manipulative Bitch: Michelle from A New Beginning. She's also the only potential bride in the game to not express any real love in her heart events. On top of that, all her heart events revolve around you bringing her what she wants and being told that she wants something else as well. While you do find out, you still need to bring her what she wants to begin her final heart event.
Marathon Level: Many of the caves, including the 65,535 floor fourth mine in HM DS/DS Cute.
Mayfly-December Romance: Wooing the Harvest Goddess, Harvest King, Witch Princess, Wizard, or Kappa. If you marry the wizard in Animal Parade, he lampshades this by saying that he probably will live much longer than you.
Meal Ticket: The Kappa in More Friends of Mineral Town never once expresses any actual feelings for the player character, even when married... it's implied that he only agrees to marry her so he can have more cucumbers.
Meaningful Name: Soseki in A New Beginning is a former journalist. His name probably comes from the Japanese writer Natsume Soseki. Who translates the games? Natsume. Add the fact that Natsume Soseki was a writer and you can see the meaning behind Soseki's name.
Mini-Game: Many games have a "horse-racing" mini-game at least, but the other games differ with respect to their mini-games. Magical Melody and Animal Parade even offer a few multiplayer games!
Missing Mom/Disappeared Dad: At least one in every game of the series. Rarely do any of the loved ones of said mother/father ever mention what happened to them (BTN and FOMT are major exceptions in that you know what happened to Rod [Rick and Popuri's dad] and May's mother) Indeed, in the more recent titles two-parent families are the exception, where they happen at all. Island of Happiness and Sunshine Islands feature a two-generation single-parent combo.
Some of the mechanics in A New Beginning are unorthodox, to put lightly. For example, to build a greenhouse, you'd think all you need are some material stones, some iron, and lots and lots of glass stones. Nope. As a matter of fact, glass stones are not used at all. Instead, you need great alpaca yarn (and only great alpaca yarn) and moon stones. Why you can't use yarn of any kind, or need yarn at all, and why you don't need glass at all, is a Riddle Of The Ages.
Additionally, to increase the quality of honey your bees produce, you need to use perfume. What? How?
Mission Pack Sequel: Sunshine Islands and Animal Parade with respect to Island of Happiness and Tree of Tranquility, respectively. They share roughly the same mechanics and same character pool.
Mukokuseki: Averted quite well. A majority of the characters are Caucasian, and whenever someone else of another ethnicity appears it's quite apparent. Albeit, there are unusual cases. For example a lot of the doctors are ambiguously Asian, there have been a fair share of Ambiguously Brown characters, and Kate does not appear to have any Asian traits despite her parents being obviously Asian.
Multiple Choice Past: Back to Nature For Girl has your life being saved by a mysterious person... Who always turns out to be the person you marry, regardless of who you choose. Then Fridge Logic kicks if you marry Kai, since he's only in Mineral Town during the summer.
My Local: Just about every game has a place where you can drink (and possibly meet potential suitors)
Nature Spirit: the games are populated by fairies, imps, and sprites as well as humans. Usually, befriending them will make life easier for the player.
New Game+: Both the Wii games have this. In the first one, Tree of Tranquility your child is the one who starts a new farm—though they turn into a carbon-copy of their parents. Because the children in Animal Parade actually look like your spouse, this no longer works, so instead, the link between the old game and the new is your child delivering goods to a new game file.
You wouldn't think so, would you, given how big a role getting married plays, but your little farmer and their spouse have a surprisingly chaste relationship. The only way to really show affection to your spouse is giving gifts, and the only time they ever seem to kiss at all is during the wedding scene. And in DS, there isn't even that!
Much less so in the Wii games—you can choose to spend time with your spouse any time by walking with them, they kiss you, and you have to continue building your love with them even after you're married. (And in Animal Parade, you actively try and have children, which is chock-full of... implications.
No OSHA Compliance: The mines from DS onwards. Lampshaded by a miner in Sunshine Islands who remarks on how dangerous the place is.
Non-Combat EXP: Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town (and more friends of mineral town): You get experience on using the tools by using the tools.
If given the option to, the game will fade to credits if you refuse The Mayor's offer to turn the farm over to you.
DS/Cute had a variation on this: at the beginning of the game, your dog would attack the mayor. If you chose not to save the mayor, the credits rolled and you'd be taken back to the title screen.
Most of the time, The Mayor would ask if you were sure until you agreed. AWL and (M)FOMT did hit you with a Non-Standard Game Over this way, and AWL in particular was chock-full of them: not getting married after the first year, neglecting your farm in the second chapter (which would result in your wife leaving and taking your son with her, ending your game), etc.
Special Edition makes it even easier. When Takura asks you if you want to own the farm or not just press no and... Game Over before the game even actually begins.
Apparently, in DS/Cute, if you grow a Level 99 Poison Mushroom and put it in the soup at the Harvest Festival, you will poison the entire village and cause this. Growing a Poisonous Mushroom to Level 99 in incredibly difficult, though.
The Japanese title for Back To Nature is The Ranch Story: Harvest Moon, with the female version being The Ranch Story: Harvest Moon For Girl; they're the only games that use the western title.
Due to the change in publisher from Natsume to X Seed, Connect to a New World has dropped the Harvest Moon name entirely and has been renamed Story of Seasons. This is because Natsume's US division still wholesale owning the IP for Harvest Moon.
The series tries its best to avert this, but it still shows. For example in the Wonderful Life games Celia and Rock take a liking to you according to your gender, and their events are easy to get even if you don't interact with them (it doesn't help that Marlin and Gustafa are rather hard to court than to Rock and that Celia increases in attraction when you buy seeds and such from their farm); it's also much harder to divorce Celia than the other two girls. Magical Melody has you and Jamie, likewise the Island games have you and your psuedo-character. Cute seems to imply that the protagonist marries Marlin, Skye, or one of the Special Girls. An accurate Harvest Moon 64 guide states that Elli is the canon love interest for that game.
The fact that Karen (in Harvest Moon 64) and Nami (in Wonderful Life) get vastly more character development than the rest of the other love interests can make it come off like they're the ones you're supposed to get with. Especially since they leave if you don't.
The Rune Factory spin-offs were notorious for this. When you first arrive in town you meet a girl who gives you your farm (Who shares the cover of the box with you) and the games seem to outright push you in the direction of marrying her despite you don't have to. In Rune Factory 3, no matter who you marry the marriage cutscene shows you with the main girl, to push it even further she seems to wear a wedding veil at all times.
Several later games had content that could only be unlocked by connecting another game to it. [Ex: Inserting Friends Of Mineral Town into your DS to unlock the five Mineral Town brides in HM DS]
Some games have "Girl Versions". They aren't very different, besides the rivals turning into bachelors and the bachelorettes turning into rivals, some new things were added (such as clothing) and dialogue slightly changed. They've begun to stop doing this in most recent games, giving you the option to play as a male or female character in the same game.
An odd variation occurred for quite a period. Back To Nature is essentially a topsy turvy port of 64 to the Playstation. Back To Nature gained it's own Distaff Counterpart version, the first in the series. The games were later ported to the Game Boy Advance in enhanced 2D remakes.
Old Save Bonus: Unlocking bonus content in the DS games by connecting them to the GBA games.
One Steve Limit: The various Expys throughout the series are usually kept separate—there are two separate but very similar Basils, for instance, though they're from different games—but DS brushes up against this. The priest from Mineral Town's church is named Carter. The professor who runs the excavation site is also named Carter. They'll both send you New Year's cards if you're friends with them. Erm.
In a lighter variation, Friends of Mineral Town has both an Ann and an Anna. (Say that five times fast.)
There's also "Ann" from SNES and Magical Melody, and "Ann" from the Mineral Town, DS, and N64 games. Justified that the second Ann was made as a grand-daughter to the original, and thus was named after her in-game.
Two protagonists are officially named "Mark". Both the "Wonderful Life" protagonist and the "Island Of Happiness" protagonist.
There are two Daisy's in the series. One from an obscure Game Boy game, and the other is from Grand Bazaar. Incidentally, the latter has an eerie resemblance to a character from the Game Boy games named "Choco", who reappeared in My Little Shop.
There are two girls named Alice as well - the bachelorette from Hero of Leaf Valley, and the Harvest Sprite from A New Beginning.
There is Rod, Rick and Popuri's unseen father. And Rod the bachelor from A New Beginning. If you think about it, perhaps it's the same Rod and A New Beginning is actually a prequel, in which he meets Lillia sometime after the events of the game.
Opening the Sandbox: All games start like this, it is a Wide Open Sandbox series after all, but it is not truly like this until you unlock all the villagers, upgrade all the shops, etc.
Panicky Expectant Father: If you're playing a Distaff Counterpart version or a female character, your PC's husband will be this during the "child born" event. Even if you marry the town doctor, he will probably be a panicky wreck.
Pandaing to the Audience: In A New Beginning, one of the vehicles you can build and use is a coin-operated panda kiddie ride.
Patchwork Kids: Your children in Animal Parade are made up of your character's face with your spouse's hair and eye color. Even the weird ones—so yes, Phoebe's children will be teal-haired, and Wizard's kids inherit Daddy's heterochromia.note Wiz's kids are a rather interesting case, actually. In the 3D models, they have two green eyes, but in the villager profiles on your pause menu, they have one green eye and one yellow eye The one exception is Calvin—for some reason, while his older son/younger daughter properly inherit his light brownish hair color, his older daughter/younger son have very dark brown hair.
Perverse Sexual Lust: The goal of the games is actually to try and invoke this, as there's a girl/boy to cater to every taste. How else are they going to get you to want to marry them?
Pet Interface: In nearly all the HM games, your horse serves as a mobile shipping bin. The Dog's usefulness varies from game to game
Playable Epilogue: As mentioned above, you can keep playing indefinitely even after receiving your "grade", though in some games, your character will eventually die of old age! You can keep playing in Heaven forever; don't worry.
Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Animal Parade is a... bizarre case. When you eventually have children, in their very first (newborn) stage, they will always be swaddled in a blue blanket. The difference between boys and girls is the girls have longer eyelashes. However, when your rivals have children, the boys will be in the standard blue blankets... and the girls will be in pink! No eyelash difference at all. We can't explain it, either.
Puppy Love: Stu and May (BTN and Mineral Town), Hugh and Katie (DS\DS Cute), Charlie and Eliza (Island of Happiness), Rahi and Ying (Tale of Two Towns)
Quicksand Box: Experienced Harvest Moon players will likely have an idea and clear goals in mind when they first start a game, but for a neophyte, the complete freedom and lack of concrete goals can be easily overwhelming. Grand Bazaar seems to be an intentional attempt to avert this trope.
Relationship Values: Used to judge your progress with wooing potential mates; sometimes used with other characters as well, to determine how they react to your character or if they'll give you certain items.
Retraux: My Little Shop and Magical Melody invoke this. Various characters from previous games, even very obscure ones like Sara and Choco, are shown in their original roles (or parallels).
Retro Universe: It's hard to place a majority of the games. Some look like they could take place in the early to mid 1900s, but there are various aspects of them that are more modern. Although ostensibly set in something resembling the present day (in one game you can buy a DVD player for your house, and in another, there's a modern periodic table hanging on the wall in the school, and the hospital in every game is generally very modern), everyone gets around on horse-drawn carriages, the designs are often 70s at best in their ruralness, and other technology is deliberately retro. More recent games seem to be becoming more modern though.
Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: In the Japanese version of DS Cute, Claire or Pony can end up with a girl instead, but as "Best Friends"... even though you still have to propose, you still need the two-person bed in your house, and you eventually adopt a child.)
RPG Elements: DS/Cute goes surprisingly "RPG-y." The mines are filled up with monsters you have to fight with your tools—there are even "bosses" on some levels—and there's even one tool, a Legendary Sword, which exists more or less specifically so you can fight monsters. The same games also have a "Doghouse Battle" mini-game, where you participate in very, very... strange fights against the other townspeople in RPG-style.
Saintly Church: Technically, in each game, you're only going to find one or two people at the church, but the general running theme with it makes it fall under this trope.
Save Game Limits: Saving your game is done by writing in your diary, which can only be done immediately before going to sleep. So, although you can technically save whenever you like, as soon as you do your day is finished. Some later Harvest Moon games allow you to continue working even after you've saved, or even save anywhere, excusing the very presence of the diary in some of the tutorial TV shows by saying "some people like it".
Save Scumming: Practically the only way to get rare mining items - without blatantly cheating.
The easiest way to get to the lower floors in Island of Happiness's mines (alongside a large stock of cheap'n'easy restoratives).
In A New Beginning, you'll be doing this a lot once you get the mine unblocked. Especially since this one limits the amount of minerals you can mine daily, and you need those minerals to build some buildings to progress in the game.
Save Token: The Journal in your inventory allows you to save.
Schmuck Bait: Golden Lumber. Expensive as HELL and in some games, just possessing some will lower friendship levels with the entire town. Using it for fences will lower your approval as being showy and audacious.
Second Place Is for Losers: Fail to win a competition - even if you come in second - and many of the villagers will react like you finished ninth in an eight-man race.
She Cleans Up Nicely: The bookish, shy, often-bespectacled girl is always jaw-droppingly gorgeous on her wedding-day. This applies to all the other brides as well, but on those girls it's more noticeable.
Shout-Out: Someone was having fun with Tree of Tranquility and Animal Parade.
The most blatant one most people will probably get, in Animal Parade: Innkeeper Jake has found the Wizard's crystal ball and doesn't want to give its magical powers up. What does he say? "My precioussssss..."
In another of Animal Parade's events, Calvin can find Owen and Luke attempting to demolish a very historic wall in the mines and, scolding them, cry that "It belongs in a museum!"
Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: Very dramatically in Animal Parade. Your rivals' children go from being infants to 5-6 year old kids in two weeks. Your own children take "only" eight weeks in comparison.
Sound Stone: The notes in Magical Melody, obtained by doing various tasks around the village. There are a hundred in total, and you have to collect half of them to revive the Harvest Goddess.
Sprint Meter: As you work, you start to lose energy, and you farmer will display various states of exasperation, like wiping the sweat from his/her brow, or panting heavily. If you work yourself too hard, you'll collapse and be unable to work for the rest of the day.
Island of Happiness took this to a new level: when falling down the mines via pitfall, you lose stamina in an exponentially increasing way. Falling down one floor takes 1 stamina, but falling down five floors takes around 100 stamina. Save Scumming helps, however.
Sugar Bowl: About the worst thing that ever happens in the Harvest Mooniverse is that animals occasionally die —everything else is pretty idyllic... which makes the occasional Drama Bomb that much more powerful. A Wonderful Life is something of an exception to this, with a generally darker tone than the norm for the franchise.
Super Strength: In A New Beginning, your character can lift buildings and carry them around without it slowing him/her down at all.
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Quite a few characters that were cast out completely from other games. The most noticeable being Claire to Sara, and Pastor Brown to Carter. Most substitutes aren't disliked though, due to the flexibility of the fandom and due to the fact the originals are simply unknown due to the games they appeared in.
With the exceptions of A Wonderful Life, Grand Bazaar, Twin Villages, and Tree of Tranquility, time doesn't pass while in buildings, so you can screw around to your heart's content without missing anything. Especially glaring in some games where you can buy a greenhouse to grow crops in — meaning that you can have absolutely massive fields of produce, and since a greenhouse is a building, it takes literally no time to plant, water, or harvest them all.
Time does flow when you're inside buildings in A New Beginning. However, it stops flowing when you go into Edit mode, which also allows you to move whole most things, including buildings in town and the farm around, with no energy penalty or time loss while in that mode. It also stops flowing if you bring up the menu with the X button or when you talk to villagers...
Taking Advantage of Generosity: A New Beginning has Michelle, whose heart events consist of her requesting increasingly valuable items and has you overhearing her calling you a sucker and asks for a pink diamond, which is required for her final heart event. She even has the gall to rub it in your face when you confront her!
Took a Shortcut: Many characters you leave in one building will show up in the next one you travel to, even if you used a Teleport Stone to get there. A particularly painful version happens when you are trying to talk to someone on a deadline, accidentally overshoot to the next screen on the path or they cross the screen line before you, and they're suddenly nowhere to be found.
Luna from Tree of Tranquility is the uber-example for this series, with the multiple Karens a close second. Antoinette from Grand Bazaar is another example.
Natalie from Island of Happiness.
Arguably Nami from A[nother] Wonderful Life although she does borderline Kuudere territory as well.
Male version: Gill from Tree of Tranquility and Animal Parade. Hie's in "tsuntsun" mode most of the time and gets pretty deep into Suspiciously Specific Denial territory when it comes to his feelings for your character, should you choose to court him.
Alice in Hero of Leaf Valley. So much so that when you give her a birthday present she goes so far as to use some classic tsundere lines.
Alice: "Well, I guess I'll take it from you. I-It's not like I'm happy about it or anything!"
Niel from A New Beginning is another male example.
Unexpected Gameplay Change: Several entire games do this; Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon and Innocent Life: A Futuristic Harvest Moon are both Exactly What It Says on the Tin, though the entire rest of the series are in realistic modern day settings, barring some various fairies, imps, and sprites, not to mention Puzzle De Harvest Moon, a not very well received Puzzle Game — not of the Match Three subgenre, despite what anyone who hasn't played it will tell you.
Unwanted Harem: In A wonderful Life it's pretty easy to unintentionally get Muffy and Celia to fall for you, without even talking to them sometimes.
AWL Special Edition, which added in an extra love interest, changing outfits, and potential daughters. But at the same time, the graphics actually got a little worse. This of course was because the original was a Gamecube exclusive, while the special edition was released for the PlayStation 2. It also got Loads and Loads of Loading for everything.
Marvelous has been doing these a lot lately. Distaff Counterpart related games, games that are basically the same games with extras (dating back to the GBC), remakes, etc.
Unobtainium: Usually in the form of Orichalcum, Adamantite, and/or Mythic Stones
In Island of Happiness: There are special floors that occur regularly [and the game tells you where they are when conditions are met], some of which are almost exclusively for one of these Unobtanium ores. Of course, junk ore STILL manages to show up there...
Averted in Grand Bazaar, where you can easily buy the Orichalcum and Adamantite from Lloyd's stall for only 9800 G.
Vendor Trash: Weeds, stones and branches are universally this, for those who pick them up. Garbage obtained fishing (trunks, tires and cans are common) and mining (junk ore) are also available in games with those features. This issue is compounded in the later games that allow item stacking, meaning you can have 99 Junk Ore before selling them off.
Video Game Cruelty Potential: IoH's Chelsea and Mark react in the "really likes" range for all gifts. So you can raise your affection levels with them by feeding them a steady stream of weeds, rocks and fishing trash.
You can also woo all the girls, and in some games this even seems to prevent them from marrying your rivals...
In BTN and FOMT: There's also not telling Cliff about the job at Duke's winery. If you don't tell him, he'll run out of money and leave Mineral Town for good a week later (doubly cruel if you're playing the Distaff Counterpart or if you don't want to marry Ann)
In 64, if you don't befriend Karen and the Harvest Goddess and wish for Karen's winery to be fruitful again, Karen runs off.
In A Wonderful Life, you could purchase a goat starting from the second year. You couldn't sell it, so once you bought it you were stuck with it permanently, and it only gave milk for one in-game year and then stopped producing anything, essentially becoming a wasted space in your barn. In order to free up the slot in their barn, many players resorted to killing it by leaving it out in the rain and not giving it food. Mercifully, Another Wonderful Life added in the option to sell your goat.
In Magical Melody, your horse's heart level determines what race you can enter it in, and you can't enter it in any lower-ranked races. If your horse's heart level surpasses the limit for the race you want to enter, you're forced to abuse your horse to get its heart level back down if you want to enter the lower-ranked race.
Oh, yeah, and in Animal Parade you can flat out attack people with axes...including your loving pets, children, spouses, and livestock.
Video Game Remake: The Mineral Town games to Harvest Moon: Back to Nature, and Hero of Leaf Valley to Save the Homeland. The latter remakes one of the most maligned games in the series from the ground up, significantly expanding it and addressing most of its major flaws.
Violation of Common Sense: Two in-game achievements in A New Beginning are eating poisonous mushrooms and passing out enough.
The A/nother Wonderful Life and DS/CuteDistaff Counterpart games first gave the ability to change the character's outfit. It was limited to the same style, however, just with different colors.
This changed in Tree of Tranquility, which allowed outfit customization for both the male and female characters, but was still somewhat limited. Animal Parade gave a much bigger range of outfit customization, including the ability to customize your kids' outfits.
A New Beginning gives you plenty of different clothes to make, as well as hairstyles.
The Teleport Stone from several games. In some of them, it's a difficult-to-find late game item. In DS, get the Sprite Casino open, and you probably won't have to walk anywhere starting around Day 10 of Year 1.
It's literally a whistle in Animal Parade; once you rescue all the animals from Theodore's circus, you can summon them with the whistle to take you to certain places on the map (but not the mine district, for some reason.)
We All Live in America: Despite apparently taking place in a Western country, most games are quite Japanese and don't attempt to hide it at all.
What Are You Looking At: Characters move around to different places on schedule, but don't expect to seem them doing anything else when they get there other than stare at a different wall.
Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Seriously? Her name is Pony? Averted in Animal Parade. All the characters who aren't identified by human names when you meet them will tell you their real names after you marry them.
Wide Open Sandbox: Narrower than some other examples, perhaps, but there's still a startling amount of ways to go about playing these games.
With This Ring: In the HM universe, you propose through means of a feather, so there's no need to worry about rings... Except in Tree of Tranquility and Animal Parade, where they somehow make the Blue Feather into a ring after the proposal [?] and it becomes a wearable accessory.
Yamato Nadeshiko: Most games feature at least one as a marriageable girl/rival. Look for the girl with the short brown hair and/or apron.
Your Favorite: Most characters have several favorite items that will tend to revolve around a particular theme - usually one of your crops. In most of the handheld games ((M)FOMT, DS (Cute), IOH/SI), characters actually have 1 precise favorite food that can score you more heart points than anything else.