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Video Game / Harvest Moon

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Harvest Moon is the first title in the Harvest Moon (now known as the Story of Seasons) series, released in 1996 for the Super Nintendo.

Your grandfather has died and you decide to take over his old farm. You have a little over two years to get the farm back to what it once was. During that time you can fish, farm, get married, have children, or pretty much do whatever you please. After your time is up, your father will appear and review your progress.

Harvest Moon was one of the last games released for the SNES so it didn't get much recognition at the time. It was successful enough to have an Even Better Sequel on the Nintendo 64, which spawned an entire franchise, along with some Game Boy side-games at the time. In 2008 it was added onto the Wii's Virtual Console and is also on the Wii U's Virtual Console. It was also added to the Nintendo Switch Online Virtual Console for Japan in 2022 and for the West the following year.

In Japan, there was a Satellaview version of the game called Bokujo Monogatari (BS) released in 1996.

The first portable game in the series, Harvest Moon GB, is actually something of a demake of this game. It has the same basic plot, but removes a number of features from the SNES game: the marriage system is completely gone, the only area you can fully explore is your farm, the mountain area is gone, the village is just a glorified set of menu screens, and there's no "real" ending like the SNES version, meaning you can keep farming forever. The only addition is that HMGB was the first game in the series to allow the player to chose between playing as either a male or female. The GameBoy version got 2 sequels, Harvest Moon 2 and Harvest Moon 3.

Harvest Moon has a direct sequel in Harvest Moon 64 and many characters were reused in the 10th anniversary title Harvest Moon: Magical Melody.

Harvest Moon provides examples of:

  • 100% Completion: It's extremely difficult to achieve a Ranch Master Rate of 999, partly because it has a lot of requirements, but also because there are bugs in the calculation of your final score. Working around them pretty much requires that you consult a guide, as there are several counterintuitive steps to take. You don't need that to get any of the ending cutscenes you want, though.note 
  • Accidental Adultery: Downplayed; there's no actual affair, but it is theoretically possible for the player to be unsure which location their wife will visit on Star Night (because the girls' hints about where they'll be are sometimes a little cryptic), and inadvertently spend the evening with the wrong girl. This isn't good for your relationship with your wife, although you do gain relationship points as usual with the girl you visited.
  • Alcoholic Parent: Ellen's father is always seen drunk. Even more concerning, whenever he's at the bar, Ellen is there, but isn't available to pay any attention to you; she's trying her best to get him to stop drinking and go home. (It doesn't seem to work.)
  • Anachronism Stew: This game seems to take place in the early 20th century judging from the fashion and technology, and from the fact that the sequel game (set two generations later) seems to take place in a much more modern time, but you have a (rather large) color TV in your house.
  • And Your Reward Is Parenthood: A Trope Codifier for the trope, especially within the Farm Life Sim. Having a child, or especially two children, is one of the more difficult tasks in the game, as it requires getting married very early on, which in turn requires a house upgrade, which requires a lot of money and timber, not to mention wooing — but doing so helps you get the best ending.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: If you mess up the events where you can get the golden tools for free, the tool shop will sell them so that you can buy them anytime.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: It fares well, but sometimes there are lines that range from typos to weird dialogue that makes you want to facepalm. Although it's not that bad considering the translation team for it was just two Japanese men with English as a second language. Particular examples are:
    • When Ellen comes with a dog, she will tell you: "Its name is... you do it."
    • "Confirm the origin of fire" sounds sarcastic, but it is not supposed to be a joke. A basic translation of the Japanese text equates it to you checking to see if the stove is turned off.
  • Bungling Inventor: Ann. During the day, you can find her working on a device, but other days she just sits with the finished invention beside her. If you talk to her, she will ask you to press the button on it. Saying yes will result in you pressing the button and the machine exploding in your face. Ann will apologize for it and revert to working on it. (You get a relationship boost with her for trying it, though.)
  • Cap: Some of the limits on what you can collect are quite inconvenient, especially the limit on grass storage, which is only just enough for a barnful of animals to survive the winter. Quite justified, though, since there's only so much space in your barn.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The religion is a lot more Christianity-esque than future titles. There is a Catholic-looking church in town with a cross in it, but it worships the local Harvest Goddess (though other gods are mentioned).
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • The game has 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.
    • Due to a time-freezing bug, you can actually clear most of your land at 6 AM on your first day, immediately after you get the dog. However, since time resumes as soon as you enter a building or leave the area, this doesn't really give you any additional benefit beyond what you could get by waiting for 6PM.
    • With a bit more planning, you can also exploit the 6PM time stop to romance Nina; she spends Sundays on the mountain, where there's an infinite supply of fish so long as you don't return the fishing rod to its owner.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • This game feels quite different from future titles. For one, you can't ship past 6 PM and you can't ship "perishables" (like cakes and flowers). You also don't have a clock by default — instead you need to earn it — and the nights never end; you must go to bed for the next day to occur. The game has endings, twenty in fact.
    • The religion also seems much more Christian-like than in future titles (the priest even wears a crucifix and the church has a huge cross), though it's still obviously pagan. There's mention of gods besides the Harvest Goddess, which weren't properly implemented until at least ten years later when the Harvest King became a character. The Harvest Goddess only pops up once and is referred to as the "God of the Land" for the most part.
    • The way relationships works differs. You can only really befriend the love interests and there are no heart events (though each girl has one special event once you get her affection to a certain degree). Also, their dialogue doesn't usually change as their heart levels increase, except for a limited window (between 150 and 200 affection points), above which their dialogue returns to normal; their locations and dialogue do change depending on the seasons, however.
    • Most games are set in a Retro Universe; however, this game is implied to genuinely be set in an older time period. It looks more like it's deliberately in the early 1900s, with a touch of Anachronism Stew such as the characters owning color televisions (rather than being modern-day with a deliberately old-timey look).
    • The amount of available crops that can be planted are very limited: turnips and potatoes in the spring, then tomatoes and corn in the summer.
    • Produce animals couldn't be bought until there was a certain number of grass squares planted on the farm.
  • Exposed to the Elements: The player's outfit doesn't change at all with the seasons, not even when the whole world is covered with ankle-deep snow overnight (though admittedly it provided decent coverage to start with). Animals are likewise unaffected; the dog and horse have no issues staying outside year round, and the only reason it causes problems for cows and chickens is because there's no grass growing.
  • Foreshadowing: The sign in the mountain cave, just before the herb patch, warns you that the path ahead is "Danger! Easy to collapse!" Sure enough, not one but two of the special bachelorette events involve someone getting trapped by a rockfall and needing you to rescue them. (The player, however, never suffers from this.)
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Future incarnations avoid this, but in the original title you don't drink wine, you drink "juice". Eve works at a bar that sells "juice" which you can get drunk on. Ellen's father is the town drunk and he loves "juice". Nina is obviously drunk at more than one festival, even talking about seeing butterflies, but she's only drunk the "juice".
  • Heroes Want Redheads: If you marry Ann.
  • Honest Axe: The basic gist in regards to how you get the upgraded/golden axe. A small pond in the mountain is blocked off until an earthquake in your first winter clears it. Just toss your axe in the pond and be truthful when the Harvest Goddess asks you about the golden one.
  • Lady Looks Like a Dude: It would be hard to know Ellen was a girl by just looking at her, probably due to the sprite-work. Future games make her look more feminine.
  • Magic Realism: It seems like a realistic enough game about a rural town but then you have certain things like the Harvest Goddess and Harvest Sprites.
  • More Friends, More Benefits: No matter who (if anyone) you marry, your end-of-game score is influenced by your relationship with all five bachelorettes. There's also a "Ladies' Man" ending sequence that you get for having a high relationship with all five girls, but not marrying any of them.
  • Multiple Endings: At the end of your 2.5 years, you get an ending sequence composed of cut-scenes for your different achievements. Some of them are compatible with others, like shipping 200 of each crop type, and raising 7 or more cows, while others require you to make a choice, eg you can get a specific scene for the girl you marry, or you can get a "Ladies' Man" scene for romancing all of them without marrying any. The "ultimate" ending requires you to achieve many (but not all) of the others as prerequisites, plus some extra hidden requirements.
  • Palette Swap: Whichever girl you marry will always wear the same attire after marriage: a blue dress with a braid. The only difference between them is the hair color. Which makes it seem like Ellen's hair suddenly grew that length immediately after you and her get married.
  • Parental Bonus:
    • When you go to bed with most wives their affection goes up. To drive the point, Eve has abandonment issues and her affection goes down each night.
    • Ann is implied to be naked in her Star Night scenes at the hot springs, though you only see her from the shoulders up. In three out of four of them, she also doesn't seem to mind Pete hopping in to join her, though she'll sometimes get annoyed at him being Distracted by the Sexy (or so she claims — but her affection still goes up. In fact, she only reacts that way if she already likes Pete enough to marry him).
  • Pink Is Feminine: Nina sports a pink dress and has pink hair.
  • Romance Sidequest: You can date and marry any of one the five bachelorettes in town... or date all of them and marry none, and get a special ending for it.
  • Romancing the Widow: Not you but Ann's father has a romance with Nina's mother, and if you marry Ann they get married. It goes both ways since they're a widower and a widow.
  • A Saint Named Mary: The deeply devout Maria spends most of her time at the local church, albeit a church that worships pagan gods. Most of her dialogue is also religious.
  • Secret Diary: Each bachelorette has a diary somewhere that gives an indicator of how she feels about you, from 1 to 10 hearts. When you find it, you're given the option to do the gentlemanly thing and just put it back, but there's no penalty for reading it.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Slippery Skid: This is the In-Universe reason why the mountaintop is off limits on rainy days. Since it includes a cliff with a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape, it's pretty understandable that it's considered unsafe when wet.
  • Spanner in the Works: Corn takes almost the first half of Summer to grow, but it will then give you a large income for the rest of the season — unless an unfortunately timed hurricane devastates half the crop when you were about to start harvesting it.
  • Stripperiffic: Eve dresses in more red, lighter clothes than the other bachelorettes and works at a bar.
  • Time Stands Still: Whenever you're inside a building, the clock stops advancing. Since time passes quite rapidly outside, this is important in keeping the game's pace relaxed instead of frantic. Time also stops advancing at the Flower Festival and Harvest Festival.
  • Tomboy: Ann is the only bachelorette to wear pants, has a Tomboyish Ponytail, and is always tinkering in her dad's shop.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Ellen. Dresses like a boy but has the most girly behavior of all the bachelorettes.
  • Useless Useful Spell:
    • The restaurant in town sells cakes, which make excellent gifts or recharge a lot of stamina — but they come with such a hefty price tag that they're pretty much never worth it. A new farmer can't afford them, and a well-established farmer will have access to large amounts of produce that make nearly as effective gifts at a fraction of the cost (and often much less time, too). Cakes do have a very niche use for gaining happiness points by giving them on birthdays, but that's not advertised in-game anywhere, and there are plenty of other ways to gain happiness.
    • The perfumes at the Flower Festival are the most potent gifts in the game, but only if you can correctly guess which one a girl will like, and they're ridiculously overpriced. Unless you have more money than you know what to do with, there's no need to ever buy them.
    • The golden hammer lets you smash large boulders in a single hit, with less stamina cost than hitting them six times with the small hammer. However, by the time you can get it, you'll probably have removed all the large boulders from your property already; the only real use for the hammer at that point is to remove broken fence pieces, and the small hammer works just fine for that (and costs less stamina per hit). The only real reason to upgrade your hammer is because you get 20 happiness points for doing it.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: What is traditional for the games; for example, you can leave cows out in a storm at night and they will look freaked out the next day. Or, in the case of chickens, they'll just leave behind a few feathers. You can achieve a similar unhappy look by hitting cows with your tools.
  • Weather Manipulation:
    • The weather forecast is determined when the player goes to bed, making it theoretically possible to alter it by Save Scumming. However, since going to bed is also your only opportunity to save, the scope for this is limited.
    • One of the prizes for winning the Egg Festival is a trinket that will halve the risk of hurricanes in Summer.
  • Wish Upon a Shooting Star: Visiting the mountaintop on Star Night lets you watch a shooting star with Nina, and depending on your relationship level, she might ask you to make a wish on it.
  • You No Take Candle: Nina speaks in this manner, for some reason. Partially because the translation team didn't exactly know how to translate her cutesy personality from Japanese to English very well.
    Nina: I want to do garden forever.

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Alternative Title(s): Harvest Moon SNES, Harvest Moon Original Series, Harvest Moon GB, Harvest Moon 1996