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 (formerly Pack-in-Video, then Victor Interactive Software, then Marvelous Entertainment, then Marvelous AQL, 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 1996, 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 hero, 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!
Some games have 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 early 2014, Marvelous AQL dropped Natsume as publishing and localization company for Bokujou Monogatari in the West, switching instead to XSEED Games, their Western division who were already localizing Rune Factory. However, while Natsume still owns the rights to the Harvest Moon brand, many fans favour XSEED's localisation and translation style. Natsume has chosen to continue making games under the "Harvest Moon" label that contain a similar style of gameplay but are in themselves not Bokujou Monogatari games. How everything went down is explained in this interview. The official continuation of the series is now being released under the title Story of Seasons, causing no small amount of confusion for fans and retailers alike.
Don't confuse for the Neil Young song or album, although it could make one good soundtrack for the game, or the Blue Öyster Cult song which would make a decidedly less fitting soundtrack for the games.
Compare and contrast with Hometown Story, Little Dragons Café, and River King, the former two being by the creator of the franchise and the latter being Harvest Moon's sister series. The franchise has inspired a host of Spiritual Successors, a genre which has since come to be known as Farm Life Sim.
- Story of Seasons: The page for the Bokujō Monogatari games.
- Harvest Moon (Natsume): The page for the Natsume-made In Name Only titles.
Games published in North America by Natsume, Inc.
- Harvest Moon (SNES, 1996)
- Harvest Moon GB (Game Boy, 1997)
- Harvest Moon 64 (Nintendo 64, 1999)
- Harvest Moon 2 GBC (Game Boy Color, 1999)
- Back to Nature (PlayStation, 1999)
- Back to Nature for Girl (PlayStation, 2000, Japan only)
- Harvest Moon 3 GBC (Game Boy Color, 2000)
- Save The Homeland (PlayStation 2, 2001)
- Friends of Mineral Town (Game Boy Advance, 2003)
- A Wonderful Life (Nintendo GameCube, 2003)
- More Friends of Mineral Town (Game Boy Advance, 2003)
- Another Wonderful Life (Nintendo GameCube, 2004)
- A Wonderful Life Special Edition (PlayStation 2, 2005)
- Magical Melody (Nintendo GameCube, 2005)
- Harvest Moon DS (Nintendo DS, 2005)
- DS Cute (Nintendo DS, 2005)
- Island of Happiness (Nintendo DS, 2007)
- Tree of Tranquility (Wii, 2007)
- Animal Parade (Wii, 2009)
- My Little Shop (WiiWare, 2009)
- Sunshine Islands (Nintendo DS, 2009)
- Hero of Leaf Valley (PlayStation Portable, 2010)
- Grand Bazaar (Nintendo DS, 2010)
- The Tale of Two Towns (Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS; 2010)
- A New Beginning (Nintendo 3DS, 2012)
Games published in North America by XSEED Games
- Story of Seasons (2014) (Nintendo 3DS, 2015; note that this is the full title of the series due to trademark issues)
- Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale (Nintendo 3DS, 2015; Based on the PopoloCrois series of manga, anime, and PlayStation games)
- Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns (Nintendo 3DS, 2016 in Japan; 2017 internationally.)
- Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town (Nintendo Switch, 2019 in Japan; Enhanced Remake of both Friends of Mineral Town and More Friends of Mineral Town)
Games developed by Natsume Inc (An In Name Only series as Natsume still own the rights to the name)
- The Lost Valley (Nintendo 3DS, 2014)
- Seeds of Memories (Wii U, PC, iOS, Android, 2015)
- Skytree Village (Nintendo 3DS, 2016)
- Light of Hope (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PC, 2017)
- Innocent Life: A Futuristic Harvest Moon (PlayStation Portable, 2007)
- Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon (Nintendo DS, 2007; the rest of the series is now a separate franchise, despite not straying from its roots)
- Puzzle De Harvest Moon (Nintendo DS, 2007)
- Harvest Moon: Frantic Farming (Nintendo DS, 2009; a sequel to Puzzle De based on Island of Happiness)
- Minna de Bokujou Monogatari (browser game, 2010; Japan-only, servers closed in 2012)
- Harvest Moon: Pocket Ranch (mobile, 2011; Japan-only)
- Harvest Moon: Lil' Farmers (mobile, 2017; app aimed at toddlers and other young children)
- Doraemon: Story of Seasons (Nintendo Switch and PC, 2019; a crossover with the Doraemon series)