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Video Game / Harvest Moon 64

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"The farm's pretty run down. You've got your work cut out, but don't get discouraged!"
The Mayor

Harvest Moon 64 is the third game in the Harvest Moon (now known as the Story of Seasons) series, released in 1999 for the Nintendo 64. An Even Better Sequel to the original, it cemented the franchise as a successful (and profitable) Cult Classic. Harvest Moon 64 sticks to the series formula — indeed, helped codify it — and generally expands on original concept. The player's grandfather has recently died and the player has decided to move in and work the farm in grandpa's place. You have just over two years (until the end of the third Spring) to whip the farm into shape, become an active part of the local community, woo, wed, and bed a local bachelorette, and generally become a successful and responsible adult. At the end of this period, your father visits and grades your progress, marking the conclusion of the game as such, though there's nothing to keep you from playing indefinitely after that.

HM64 is, like the rest of the series, a Simulation Game that combines aspects of business, social, and space management games into a single whole. It holds something of an odd place in the franchise — while it helped solidify much of the series' gameplay, it still suffers from quite a bit of Early-Installment Weirdness and much of its content was ignored or altered for later Harvest Moon games. It's generally regarded as one of the best games in the franchise, but due to its age relatively few current fans have played it. It didn't help that Harvest Moon: Back to Nature (released at about the same time) had a different set of characters which took precedence over the HM64 versions for quite some time, leaving them in something of a Canon Discontinuity limbo. However, new entries in the franchise eventually reintroduced some long-missing characters (such as Elli appearing in Tree of Tranquility), so that part of HM64's history seems to be over.

Despite a claim by Natsume (the game's North American publisher) that the game was too difficult to emulate properly and would probably never see the light of day on the Virtual Console, both North America and Europe received Harvest Moon 64 as an available download on the Wii U in late February of 2017, as part of a planned year-long celebration of the Harvest Moon franchise.

This game provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Implied with Gotz. A flashback shows him locking a young Karen in the shed as a punishment.
  • All There in the Manual: The Japanese strategy guide goes very in-depth into everyone; stating ages, likes, their personality, among other stuff. It also mentions how Elli and Pete are the Official Couple and how Rick has a crush on Karen.
  • Ambiguous Gender: The babies are referred to as "it". We do know Popuri's and Kai's child is female though.
  • Ambiguously Related:
    • Pete is the Identical Grandchild of the protagonist from the first game. All of the bachelorettes are related to bachelorettes from the first gamenote . This means that one of them should be your cousin. The problem is that none of them ever mention being your cousin. It can't be Elli since Ellen isn't your grandmother, which leaves the other four girls. Karen and Ann are options because Eve and SNES Ann had at least two kids, which is possible in the original game, but it isn't obligatory. Either way, it's to be assumed that your wife is the one who isn't your cousin.
    • It's never mentioned whether Karen's mother (unnamed in 64 but named "Sasha" in future titles) or her father Gotz is Eve's child. It's slightly implied to be Sasha due to her having dirty blonde hair.
  • And Your Reward Is Parenthood: Marry one of the five town girls, and you'll eventually have a child. While the child can't help on your farm, they do have Relationship Values you can raise. In addition, the rival couples will eventually have children too.
  • Arcadia: Flower Bud Village is very Arcadian, mixed with a bit of (the positive version of) Eagle Land. Details  It's a close-knit pastoral community where the worst thing that ever happens is a beloved elder dying peacefully in their sleep, or a youngster succumbing to the lure of the big city and leaving home.
  • Art-Style Dissonance: The art style is very chibi and cute, but the story deals with some decidedly un-childish subjects, such as the death of loved ones to the prospect of financial ruin and a crumbling family life due to a failing business. Of course, things can work out in the end (if the player puts enough effort into it), so it's not all doom and gloom — but it's certainly not as much of a Sugar Bowl as the art would suggest.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The translation is even worse than the original game's. It's legible, but much of it is either gramatically incorrect or awkward. Things are translated literally, such as Kent and Stu calling you "Big Brother" (instead of something less formal like "Big Bro" or "Bro") and people, including her potential husband Jeff, calling Elli "little Elli" (which is a translation of "Elli-chan").
  • Bragging Rights Reward: The mythical "Party Picture", the last picture in the photo album, and the most difficult to acquire. Awarded after your dad visits at the end of the third Spring, if you've fulfilled all the requirements for it. Note that these requirements are so stringent that it wasn't until May 2011 (nearly twelve years after the original release of the game!) that the fandom conclusively determined the exact requirements.
  • Closet Punishment: A flashback shows that Karen's alcoholic dad Gotz used to lock her in the vineyard's wine cellar as a child. The protagonist, visiting his grandfather one summer, meets her when he helps her out.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The local church is very Catholic flavored, but actually worships the local Harvest Goddess.
  • Death Is a Sad Thing: The neighborhood boys Kent and Stu have an existential crisis after Ellen dies. It takes several days for them to stop worrying about death.
  • Disc-One Nuke: 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.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: After Cliff and Ann get married, talking to them reveals that they argue frequently, and Cliff can be seen with a black eye included in his portrait. He admits that Ann struck him after they had an argument the previous night, but that they made up the next morning. Ann never expresses remorse for hitting him, and the abuse isn't addressed by any other character.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The characterization in this game is quite different from the next game, Back to Nature. Characters relations to each other, and rival pairings, are different too.
    • The translation of several terms differ from later games. For example, the Harvest Goddess is sometimes known as "the Goddess of Spring" and Elli also notes that some call her "Earth Goddess". Another example is that the Gourmet calls himself "the Gourmet man".
    • Most characters have No Name Given because the game doesn't put their names next to their portraits. Many wouldn't be given names until Back to Nature.
    • This is the one of the few games where married rival couples have children of their own.
    • Farming is different than in future games. Tools upgrade themself with usage and each animal has a specific feeding trough.
    • The mine is bare bones and only active in winter. You also can't exit upon entering until time is up.
    • You can collect recipes but the game has no cooking mechanic. Instead, collecting recipes impresses Gourmet and adds to your final score.
    • Pete doesn't faint when exhausted. He makes a fainting animation but the day doesn't end. He only can't use tools until he regains health.
    • There are no fish species, just a generic fish that comes in three sizes - small, medium, and big.
    • Kent makes reference to God, despite everyone worshipping the Harvest Goddess. This implies he's polytheistic. Most future games only refer to the Harvest Goddess, Harvest God, and Harvest King.
  • Family Theme Naming: Popuri's family has a Floral Theme Naming. Popuri, her mother Lillia, and her father Basil are named after plants. Popuri and Gray will name their child "Mint".
  • Fishing Minigame: A fairly simple one: you equip the fishing rod and hold down the B button until you see the bobber dip, then let go. It's a fairly good source of income, especially early in the game — and if you fish enough times at the beach, you'll eventually pull up a power berry.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • Taro can give birth to your dog's puppies, even though Taro lives across town and whether or not your dog is even kept outdoors.
    • Kai will mention being attracted to Karen even if you're married to her.
  • Generation Xerox:
    • Various characters are nigh-identical to their grandparents in the first game. The Player Character and his grandfather, Ann/Ann, Popuri/Nina, and Elli/Ellen all qualify.
    • May dresses like her grandmother and wears the same pigtails as her.
  • Guilt-Based Gaming: Go ahead, let an animal die. Then sit through a scene where you hold a funeral for it. Try not to feel bad then.
  • Heart Container: As a game without combat, there's no HP, but power berries (which increase your stamina, thus allowing you to get more work done in a given day) serve much the same purpose. They're acquired in a variety of ways, from simply buying one at a festival (for a not-inconsiderable sum) to randomly unearthing one while hoeing your field or fishing at the beach. There's no in-game hints how to find them, so stumbling across one is generally a nice bonus (or trying to get them all is a Guide Dang It! moment, depending on your attitude).
  • In-Universe Game Clock: Game time passes unless you're either indoors or paused; the single biggest pressure in the game is getting all the stuff you need to accomplish done in the amount of time available to you.
  • Kissing Cousins: Your grandfather, the protagonist of the original Harvest Moon, canonically married one of the bachelorettes from that game. All of the bachelorettes of this game are their granddaughters. This means that one of the five girls has the same grandparents as you— making you cousins. The trope is presumably averted, however, since it's never stated which bachelorette is your cousin, so you are free to assume that it's not the one you married — although it's possible to invoke this trope you court all the girls.
  • Lost in Translation: In one of Elli's events, she asks the player if he likes chubbier women. The two options in the English version sound comedic because, but the Japanese options are an equivalent to "Yes" and "No".
  • Magic Realism: Flower Bud Village is a normal rural community... except for the Harvest Sprites, Kappa, and Harvest Goddess... and the suspiciously apropos dreams you occasionally have... and the trail of smoke into the sky whenever an elder dies...
  • Monster Brother, Cutie Sister: Ann's brother Gary qualifies. He's not monstrous by any stretch of the word, but he's a "Social Disaster" as Ann puts it. Cold, silent, prone to bluntness when he does speak, and clearly doesn't like it when Pete takes an interest in Ann. That said, if you take the time to get to know him (which takes some work, believe us) it turns out that Gary is simply Quiet, not really mean.
  • More Friends, More Benefits: One of the positive ending messages requires you to have the highest relationship level with all five girls, even though you can only marry one.
  • Mythology Gag: Ken from the Game Boy titles appears unnamed.
  • Nature Spirit: A handful. There's the three Harvest Sprites, the Kappa that lives in the pond, and the Harvest Goddess herself.
  • NPC Scheduling: Character locations depend on the time of day, day of the week, and sometimes weather, not counting periodic exceptions like festivals and relationship events. Usually characters have a "working" location where they are most days, a handful of different "time off" locations that they randomly pick between on their days off, and an alternate location for bad weather if they would've been outside otherwise.
  • One-Steve Limit: In the English versions, Ann and Maria are named after their grandmothers. In Japan, however, they're named "Ran" and "Marie".
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • Cliff, Karen, and Kai will all permanently leave the village if you don't befriend them to a sufficient degree quickly enough, with no way to bring them back (though Kai will stick around if Karen does, given that she is his Love Interest). Additionally if they leave before you get their recipes, you'll permanently miss out on collecting their recipes too.
    • Once enough time has passed, you can trigger an event where Ellen will die if talked to. If she dies before you get her recipe, you'll be permanently unable to obtain it.
    • There are numerous photos with a limited window of opportunity - some are one time only events, and all of the girls' special event pictures will be unavailable if you don't obtain them before getting married. Most notoriously there's the party picture, which you can only obtain if you meet some obscure and strict requirements when your father evaluates your progress in the third Spring, and should you not meet those requirements at that time you'll never get another chance to get the picture.
  • Playable Epilogue: The game technically ends after your father's evaluation in the third Spring, but after the credits roll you'll be able to keep playing on that file indefinitely.
  • Shout-Out: If Karen and Kai get married, their child will be dressed up in a Pikachu outfit.
  • Sick Episode: Each bachelorette has a scene where they get a cold.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The cheery summer theme continues to play over Ellen's death scene.
  • Super Title 64 Advance: A Harvest Moon game released for the Nintendo 64, creatively named Harvest Moon 64.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You can get some really heartwarming scenes — for both your PC and others — by being nice to people and getting certain events.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can also be a terrible, horrible person — try giving people weeds and rocks, for example. Or just hacking at your animals with your tools. Or refusing to feed them.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Naturally, if you abuse your friends and animals, they'll like you less. In the animals' case, this will usually mean they earn you less money, if they don't just flat out die from your abuse. Killing off animals makes everyone in town like you less — and in the case of particularly animal-friendly characters like Ann, a lot less.
  • Wanted a Son Instead: Gotz sometimes mentions that he wished he had a son because he doesn't understand women.
  • Wham Episode: The death of Elli's grandmother midway through the game, as there's no foreshadowing or build-up to it. The only indication of something being different is the fact that the character in question is in a slightly different location from their regular spot. Worse, it affects more than just the player — after it happens, Elli is an emotional mess for quite some time afterward. And unlike virtually every other negative outcome to a character arc, which can be avoided if the player puts enough effort into it, this one happens no matter what you do. note