These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
On a similar case: 64, the cult classic that is considered one of the N64's best games, or Back To Nature, the "transfer" which lead way to the current characterizations of the 64 characters?
The fandom has gotten a bunch of new fans due to the recent games, especially the Bishōnen driven Tree of Tranquility and Animal Parade. This has caused conflict between older fans and modern fans. Are the newer games losing their "Harvest Moon" feeling? Are fans too boy crazy?
Contested Sequel: Several games. Harvest Moon 64 and Back to Nature are the most common disputed against each other. Tree of Tranquility and Animal Parade are common, as is DS with both AWL and the (M)FOMT series.
Ensemble Darkhorse: Skye in DS Cute was created primarily so that there'd be a "special" marriage candidate for the girl versions, and he's extremely hard to find and talk to. Oh, he's also a bad boybishie. Is it any surprise, then, that he's become one of the most popular boys in the series?
Other games have them as well, but with the exception of Skye, most are NPCs you can't marry. Examples include Flora (AWL version), Pastor Carter (More Friends version), Alisa (Island of Happiness), Marian (Grand Bazaar) and Eileen (Two Towns). Sunshine Islands even trolls you by giving Alisa heart events like a marriageable girl, but having her turn you down. You can marry her in A Tale of Two Towns, though. But since she is a priestess, no child!(Something that Lara from Rune Factory Frontier does opposite.)
Wizard from Animal Parade certainly seems to be one of the most popular bachelors with the fandom along with Gill, Chase and Luke.
Family-Unfriendly Aesop: A common thing in dating sims but... the best way to befriend somebody or have them fall in love with you is to shower them with gifts.
Sort of justified, though. Everyone lives in a community where most everyone specializes in one type of product. Stands to reason that the best thing you could do for a person is provide them with foods or materials they don't have.
Which still doesn't explain why Rick and Popuri, who own a chicken ranch, are most easily wooed with eggs.
Fan-Preferred Couple: It has recently started to pop up often, when before fans tended to be spread evenly through the bachelors and bachelorettes. Pony x Marlin (AWL), Pony x Skye (DS Cute), Tina x Jamie (MM), Chelsea x Vaughn (IoH), Angela x Gill (ToT), Molly x Chase (AP), and Lillian x Cam (Two Towns).
Fanon: If the male player character has brown hair and wears blue overalls with a blue hat, he's "Jack", not "Mark", "Pete" (SNES, Mineral Town), "Tony" (Save The Homeland) "Tito" or "Adam" (Magical Melody).
Fridge Brilliance: In the first two DS games, Thomas mentions a Mineral Town farmer. Now who could that be? It's your psuedo gender character. Claire or Jill for Pete, and Pete for the girls.
In DS and Cute, "Karen" lacks her signature blond bangs. Why exactly? Well, Karen with her blond bangs is a direct decedent of the blond Eve from SNES. In DS-Cute it's that Karen's descendant, so the blond has probably been knocked out of her genes or isn't main like with the other.
Goddamned Bats: The weeds, in a way; it's impossible to get rid of them completely.
In HM3GBC, you can just turn your entire farm into a watery grave with the shovel.
In some gamesnote Specifically, Back To Nature, the Mineral Town games and DS/DS Cute, you could invest a ton of money into putting grass everywhere you're not planting other seeds. You can technically do it in IoH and SI , but since you have to water grass in those games, it's far more trouble than it's worth.
If they don't count, the Demon Chickens and Ducks in the DS mines do. Fast, aggressive, and will chase you across the screen. The bugs are pretty annoying too, but at least they move in set paths that you can at least attempt to avoid...
Good Bad Bugs: The series is infamous for them, often times related to Natsume's translation.
DS. Dear God, Harvest Moon DS. Several pointless glitchs (tapping the bottom left corner of the title screen where the characters are lining up turns everyone into Leah), several annoying ones (going to the island during a festival results in the bottom screen blacked out) but lots of good bad ones. Examples:
The infamous billionaire cheat
Lord Fa's cheat for unlimited wool
Saving, turning off your DS and reloading the game clears out the entire mine floor of monsters (except, strangly, the moths)
In A Wonderful Life you can cause your inventory to become flooded with several dozen copies of literally every item in the game.
Heartwarming Moment: In A Wonderful Life, after raising your son into adulthood, you and your wife are now both old and grey, sitting alone in the kitchen, your wife quietly comments on how her looks have long since left. What do you say to her? "You're still beautiful."
Ho Yay: Ash in Two Towns seems to talk about Cam a lot. Oddly, Cam never mentions Ash.
Can be accomplished between your male farmer and Kai in "Back To Nature." Have him give Kai a lot of gifts, and then choose Kai to watch the fireworks with rather than any of the girls. The result is some wonderfully Ho Yay text about "we saw a lot of fireworks together."
It's Easy, so It Sucks: The Wonderful Life games gave smaller seasons, love interests with no rivals and are much quicker to woo, a much smaller town, and in general is very simplified compared to other HM games. Though it's less of a challenge, it is a good way for newcomers to the series to get the hang of the general playthrough before going to the harder games.
Also the days in Wonderful Life are long, you can end up getting bored.
Grand Bazaar has been called "Harvest Moon For Dummies."
Mis-blamed: A lot of people mistake Natsume as being the makers of the games, when in reality they are only translators for the America's. Thus errors and glitches in gameplay that aren't related to Natsume (such as the mailbox being locked in a lot of games) are often Mis-blamed at Natsume.
The Scrappy: In Tree of Tranquility/Animal Parade, Luna and Selena are not well liked by the fandom. Doesn't help that they can marry two of the most popular guys in the series but the former gets more flak mainly because Gil (who as shown above is part of the Fan-Preferred Couple with the female protagonist and somewhat of an Ensemble Darkhorse and his rivalry scenes with Luna have her act very immature to Gill's calm nature. Doesn't help that if the player tells Luna that she likes Gill, she'll act like a complete bitch to you by saying, "I'm prettier than you." Not something you say to the player that can decide your fate and make you single because of it.
However, almost ALL of the bachelorettes act pretty catty when the player discourages them from confessing. They're really just hated because they marry the most popular guys in the game, similar to Sabrina from Io H.
Rock from A/nother Wonderful Life isn't exactly a well-loved character (especially since Marlin is a very popular bachelor in comparison), but Harvest Moon DS Cute ranks up Rock's Casanova Wannabe traits to Jerkass levels. There's a scene where he'll try to ask you out despite the fact that you already have a husband, and if Rock is married to Lumina, there's a scene where he hits on Muffy, which really upsets Lumina when she walks in on it.
Scrappy Mechanic: Seem to pop up with regularity in the DS games, including the cooking mechanics in [IoH/SI], the animal mini-games in DS/DS Cute, the storage system in Grand Bazaar and the farm expansion and tool upgrade systems in Two Towns.
Also, for the players that hoard, when any of the games had it so that an item (crops, milk, eggs, flowers, etc) would rapidly drop in quality and become rotten in just a few days.
Shipping: The fandom is completely devoted to this aspect of the series, and we ain't talkin' about what you do with your crops. Makes a certainly amount of sense, since the games are practically half Dating Sim anyway.
The latter point is especially egregious in Grand Bazaar, where the dialogue of the marriage candidates doesn't change at all until after you get married.
Actually, dialogue DOES change. Unfortunately, it ONLY changes when they're inside their houses/bedrooms, during certain times of day. It has yet to really be confirmed whether or not it's true of ALL villagers, but it's a bit obscure all the same.
It's better in Animal Parade, though. As you build up hearts with a marriage candidate, they actually woo you back, giving you gifts, sending you love letters, and even going on dates with you!
A Tale Of Two Towns is also better about building a more complex relationship. The way flower events work means you have to take your intended partner out on quite a few dates, and many of the suitors with families won't accept your proposal until their household all approves of you. If you're a girl and hold out on a guy, some of them will eventually bite the bullet and propose to you. On the other side of the coin, once you start going on dates, letting one partner monopolize your time long enough will start making the other jealous.
In the Game Boy games you can only marry your farm hand.
Tear Jerker: In A Wonderful Life, it's unavoidable. No matter what girl you pick to marry, the other two will have sad lives. Muffy remains a single waitress all her life and will occasionally be seen on the beach at night crying about losing her beauty and never getting a chance to have a child. Celia grows into an angry bitter man-hater who seems to give Marlin hell at the farm. And Nami runs out of money and tearfully has to leave town to live with her deadbeat dad, and years later when she returns she spends all her time drinking herself into a stupor.
Also the Swimming Contest in Back To Nature. You will be reloading and replaying that one A LOT.
And the snowboard contest and horse race in Grand Bazaar. There's a reason you're allowed (and encouraged) to practice year-round.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Some fans view on the games after 64, and to a larger extent most fans views on BTN/FOMT/MFOMT compared to 64 and DS/Cute compared to AWL/ANWL/AWL:SE/FOMT/MFOMT.
Many HM fans seem to feel that way with IoH and it's many "innovations" (The all-stylus controls, the Fullness meter, the weather/crop growing mechanic, the gimped [compared to other games in the series] cooking system, etc.)
Toy Ship: 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)