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Video Game / Harvest Moon: Back to Nature
aka: Harvest Moon Friends Of Mineral Town

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Harvest Moon: Back To Nature (Bokujo Monogatari: Harvest Moon in Japan), released in 1999 for the Playstation, is the fifth game in the Harvest Moon series and the first on a non-Nintendo platform.

The plot goes as followed: As a young boy you visited your grandfather's farm one summer. As he was too busy to play with you, you were left to your own devices. You met a girl around your age and became friends with her. At the end of the summer you left for home but promised you would return some day. Years later, now an adult, your grandfather has recently passed and you decide to take up his old farm. The mayor decides that if you can return the farm to its original state within three years you would be considered the rightful owner. If not you would be forced to leave.

Like all other Harvest Moon titles the main theme of the game is farming, ranching, and building relationships with the other villagers. You can court the local bachelorettes, marry one, and have a child.

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A year after release in Japan a Distaff Counterpart, Bokujo Monogatari: Harvest Moon For Girl, was released. The gameplay is largely the same but the backstory is different and you play as a female protagonist. While sailing you become shipwrecked and are rescued by a mysterious man. You end up in Mineral Town, and with nowhere to go you decide to take care of the local farm. For Girl wouldn't receive an official English translation until 2005 with the release of Harvest Moon: Boy amd Girl, PlayStation Portable ports of the two PlayStation games.

Friends of Mineral Town and More Friends Of Mineral Town for the Game Boy Advance are for the most part ports of Back To Nature and Back To Nature: For Girl. There are slight personality changes, new backstories for the main character, and updates but they're basically sprite versions of the Playstation titles. A Wonderful Life happens concurrently with FOMT storywise. Initially released on the Game Boy Advance in 2003, both titles have been re-released on the Wii U Virtual Console in 2015.

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Along with A Wonderful Life, these set of games are the most well-known and popular in the franchise. Characters from them have appeared in several later games in the series.


These games provide examples of:

  • Adaptational Job Change: Almost everyone has a different job in this game instead of those in Harvest Moon 64. With the exceptions of the Mayor, Zack, and Mary (Maria in 64).
  • Adapted Out: The game started out as a port of Harvest Moon 64. Several, mostly minor, characters were replaced or just removed, such as Stu's brother Kent (neither were related to Elli in 64) and Pastor Brown (who was replaced with Carter)
  • All Just a Dream: In More Friends of Mineral Town, skipping the New Year event and jumping right to bed at night of Winter 30 can give Claire weird dreams. It can be about fighting with Karen who poisoned the people, the Harvest Sprites combined to become Gourmet, or marrying Mayor Thomas.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Harris has feelings for Aja, who already has a boyfriend. Zach is implied to have feelings for Lillia, who is married.
  • All There in the Manual: The townspeople's birthday dates. In the game itself, there are no hints about them.
  • Alternate Universe: Harvest Moon 64 is the original title. At first glance the two seem near identical but aside from names, character designs, and the art style they're very different individual titles.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Growing Pineapples in the Summer. They're the biggest money-maker crop in the game (seeds cost 1000G, while the crop's worth is 500G a piece), however they take a whopping three weeks to mature. And you can only harvest them twice before Fall, assuming you planted them at the very beginning of Summer. It is possible to grow them in a Hothouse in BTN (but not the GBA remakes), but that has its own drawbacks (see below).
    • Speaking of the Hothouse, it also qualifies. To get it, you need to have first purchased all of the other building upgrades from Gotz the lumberjack. After you've done that, you need to pay him 30,000 gold and supply him with 580 lumber so that he can build it for you. But it doesn't stop there - in the Summer or Winter, if a hurricane or blizzard strikes, there is a chance that your expensive new Hothouse will be destroyed, forcing you to do all of that all over again. Have fun.
    • Golden Lumber in the GBA remakes. Unlike normal lumber, it will never break when used as a fence, eliminating any need for replacement. However, to get it, you either have to fetch a random and obscure item for Mayor Thomas, pay Gotz an obscene amount of money, or attain a very high streak on the New Year's game. Moreover, even if you manage to get some, having even one piece of it on your farm will result in the entirety of the town's affection dropping every day, and several of them coming to your house every morning to complain, until you remove it. To make matters worse, it will also change your name to either "Moneybags" (in FoMT) or "Greedy Witch" (in MFoMT) as long as you keep it up, though your spouse will still refer to you by your original name. Thankfully, removing and getting rid of the Golden Lumber fixes this.
    • Also from the GBA remakes, you can assemble the three Gems. When equipped, the Kappa Gem automatically restores Strength, Goddess Gem restores Stamina, and the Truth Gem displays both stats on screen. Handy, but at the time when you can actually get them (at least five in-game years in), most players will know the limits at which they can safely work their character, negating the need for the Truth Gem. Scarfing down some Elli Leaves or drinking a Bodigizer XL and a Turbojolt XL restore your health much faster than the Kappa and Goddess Gems would. All this still ignores the amount of effort needed to find all twenty-seven pieces of all three gems.
  • Berserk Button: Everyone in Mineral Town all have the same button, which is having your fence made with Golden Lumber.
  • Blatant Lies: Probably due to mistranslation, but in the Aja Winery is stated to close on Sundays. They actually close on Saturdays.
  • Bragging Rights Reward:
    • The gold and mystrile hammer in the original game. Once you've brought the hammer to silver level and destroyed the big rocks, the only thing you'll ever use it for from that point forward is removing damaged fences or flattening tilled land, which you could do with the standard hammer anyway.
    • Marrying the Harvest Goddess in FoMT, where she has a lot of other requirements. Such as shipping every known item, and digging up every item in each mine once.
    • You can have three other houses in FoMT. But you either need to be married for 50 in-game years (Mountain Cottage), or need a lot of Gold and Lumber (Vacation House). The Beach House is the easiest to obtain, but you'll need a copy of A Wonderful Life and the Gamecube Link Cable to connect enough times.
    • The Mythic tools, the most powerful tools in game. Unlocking them a lot of requirements.
    • The Teleport Stone which can be found in the deepest part of Spring Mine.
  • Character Development: This is Harvest Moon after all. Every characters get character development as you befriend them. These are a few notable ones:
    • Cliff started off as a shy and meek boy who couldn't detach himself from the pastor or even talk to people without freaking out. He then becomes a confident individual who got a job, and formed a close bond with the hero, Ann, Manna and Duke.
    • GBA Rick. He starts off as a stubborn and somewhat controlling man who really doesn't like the idea of his little sister being in a relationship with Kai. Later on he learned to be more open-minded and is able to let go of his hatred towards Kai, allowing for Popuri to settle down with him.
    • Gray. Started off as a city boy who regretted leaving the big city. Later on, he began to adapt to the peaceful lifestyle of a small town, and began taking his work as a blacksmith seriously.
    • Kai. Started off as a man with no interest in relationships, preferring a life of freedom. Later on, he commits himself to a relationship with Popuri.
  • Childhood Friend Romance:
    • Your wife turns out to be the girl you befriended that summer years ago. Unless you marry the Harvest Goddess in Friends of Mineral Town.
    • Karen and Rick. 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.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Flashbacks are always in sepia. This is so you can't see the hair color of the girl you met all those years ago, in order to make it seem like it could have been any of the bachelorettes.
  • Disc-One Nuke: In BTN the first mines are just a few steps away from the hot springs bath, which restores both stamina and fatigue fully within 1 hour 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 G (in-game currency) by the second day.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The girl version of Harvest Moon Back to Nature is the only Harvest Moon girl version game where the bachelor proposes to you. Later game always have the playable female character proposes to the bachelor with a Blue Feather. Interestingly, this feature was added in later games as a secret. Once secret conditions are met in some of the more recent games, the bachelor/bachelorette would instead propose to you. While it fits as this, it's also ahead of its time in a sense.
  • Easter Egg / Jump Scare: In Harvest Moon Friends of Mineral Town, 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. Alternatively, sometimes you will see the image of the kappa pop out of the mirror for a moment, making your character jump back in surprise.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: The plot of a in-universe television show in Friends of Mineral Town named "Aaron Changes," where the titular character and the similarly named Erin switch bodies. The two are forced to endure their new forms in high school. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • The PAL version of Back To Nature could not be advanced past your new bride picking your nickname.
    • It's possible to get stuck in endless loading screen if you don't upgrade your house to second level once you exit from it at the beginning of the first summer. The only known workaround is to get as much money/lumbers as you can in spring and upgrade your house as soon as possible.
  • Game Mod: The True Love Edition mods of FoMT and MFoMT, which allow Pete to date the bachelors and Claire to date the bachelorettes, were produced by fans to great acclaim after it came out that a lot of people were using the cross-presentation-friendly Character Customization in ANB to keep from having to choose between their gender and their sexual orientation.
  • Guide Dang It!: Good luck finding out all the cooking recipes, characters' likes/dislikes, or how to activate certain events on your own.
  • Gonk: Gourmet, the ugly, egg-shaped judge of the food contests. Many are disturbed 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
  • Heroes Want Redheads: If you marry Ann. Gray counts as well, though the GBA games make him look blond due to the brighter colours.
  • Heroic Mime: Played with. Your character only talks to him/herself, and only during cutscenes. Other than that, your character does not talk directly to NPCs at all, aside from giving preset responses to questions. It's even lampshaded in a certain conversation with Manna.
    Manna: Of course I listen to others... it's just that you don't speak so I have to do all the talking!
  • Interspecies Romance: You can opt to marry the Kappa in More Friends of Mineral Town. And have his child.
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • While still not as fluffy as its art style would make you think, it's a big leap from 64. Many of the darker elements were removed or softened up.
    • Even between PS1 to GBA this happened. The darker or maturer themes were towned down heavily or outright removed. Cliff for example is implied to the suicidal in BTN but is far less depressed in FOMT.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Money for Nothing: Most expensive things you can buy: Makers and Hothouse. Best ways to acquire much money: Makers and Hothouse. At least the Hothouse isn't as game breaking as it was in Harvest Moon 64.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: In Back To Nature your childhood friend will always be your wife. Likewise in the girl version your husband will always be the man who saved you.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: Getting married as a girl in the Playstation and PSP versions will end your game on your wedding day. You will see a cutscene revealing that your new husband was the man who saved your life at the beginning of the game, then your character will say "Life is like a festival" as the game cuts to the credits. Averted in MFoMT, as you can continue playing after getting married.
  • Not as You Know Them: Though the designs are the same many character personalities, roles, and families changed drastically between 64 and BTN. They're barely the same characters.
  • Permanently Missable Content: The Wii U ports of FoMT and MFoMT does not allow players to obtain the Beach House, Record player or meeting Van and Ruby due to requiring the GBA game be connected to the Gamecube.
  • Poison Mushroom: Red grass and poisonous mushrooms, which lower your stamina if consumed. They are actually subversions of the trope as their main purpose is to be sold for money. However, they can also be used as optional ingredients in some dishes, and the negative effects will carry over.
  • Related in the Adaptation: Many of the relationships have been changed around compared to Harvest Moon 64
    • Karen used to be Sasha's and Gotz's daughter; however, in Back To Nature her father became Jeff, who was originally Elli's father figure (and love interest). Gotz is now a widower.
    • Stu is Elli's little brother in Back To Nature. Originally he was unrelated. His brother in 64, Kent, is just not present.
    • Rick was originally Gray's and Ann's cousin. In Back To Nature he is Popuri's older brother instead, despite still looking related to Ann (they're both redheaded while Popuri has pink hair).
  • Same Character, but Different: The game uses the same character from Harvest Moon 64 but they have completely different personalities, back-stories, and relationship. They also all reside in a different village entirely (Mineral Town instead of Flowerbud Village).
  • Show Within a Show: In Friends of Mineral Town, you can sometimes catch a unique show that airs on a different day of the week. (As the Weather, News, and Farm Life channels are fixed.) The schedule is as follows:
    • Sunday: My Dear Princess; A serial about the tituar princess.
    • Monday: Fishing Hour; A show that gives advice on catching certain fish in the game.
    • Tuesday: Dueling Chefs; A cook-off between two chefs that can also teach you new recipes.
    • Wednesday: Aaron Changes; A serial where a boy named Aaron and a girl named Erin accidentally swapped bodies.
    • Thursday: Star Lily, Bandit Girl; The show stars a detective that is on the hunt of the aforementioned bandit.
    • Friday: Mechabot Ultror Fights Again A Sentai-esque series that is for entertainment once again.
    • Saturday: TV Shopping: A show where you can order things, which is the most crucial channel you will need to watch to progress in the game.
      • Once you purchased every item, it will play St. Emerald Academy afterwards. Which is an anthology series about a different girl in the academy.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Characters are not voiced in these games, not even Voice Grunting. Despite this, during the Music Festival in Back to Nature Karen will sing.
  • Super-Deformed: The character portraits have them normally but the in-game designs are chibi, most likely due to hardware limitations.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Gotz is less of a jerkass than he was in Harvest Moon 64. This time he is more of loner that opens up to you.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • Kappa was a friendly water imp in the Harvest Moon 64 game. However, in the PS1 game, he is an ungrateful jerk.
    • Kai was a friendly and kind worker that works in the Vineyard in Harvest Moon 64. In the PS1 game, he is a jerkass who actively torments Rick.
    • Speaking of Rick, he was a kind and meek inventor in Harvest Moon 64. In the PS1 and GBA game, he is a complete jerkass who actively imposes his beliefs and will onto others, and gets mad at anyone who disagrees with him. Especially if your name is Kai.
    • Duke was a bartender who worries over his customers' health. However, in the PS1 and GBA game, he is a jerkass who steals from Jeff, bullies Jeff and Kai, and neglects his work at home.
    • The Harvest Goddess, changed from a kind and friendly spirit to a lazy jerk who abandons Forget-Me-Not Valley (implied to be the same goddess).
  • Unrelated in the Adaptation:
    • Your Grandfather from 64 and Back to Nature is just an elderly man you've befriended in Friends of Mineral Town.
    • Aside from Ellen, none of the characters from 64 are referenced and thus it's vague if they're still related.
    • Gotz is a widower. Sasha isn't his wife like in 64, and Karen isn't his daughter.
    • Rick is Popuri's brother, not Ann and Gray's cousin. Also, Ann and Gray are completely unrelated.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • Red grass and poisonous mushrooms can be added to certain food recipes, and the negative effects will carry over. Obviously this makes the resulting food completely useless to you as you cannot sell it and you'd have to be pretty stupid to eat it. However, what you can do is give it to a villager. They won't even know the difference from the normal version of the dish.
    • You can add just about anything to the giant pot of stew during the Harvest Festival. Not just crops or food dishes, but also bizarre stuff like rocks, flowers, ores, garbage, and even the above-mentioned poisonous items. If you're feeling particularly cruel, you can even add animals to it, such as chickens, wild squirrels or rabbits, and even your own dog. Fortunately, if you put one of your own animals in there, they'll survive somehow. You can recover them at Rose Square the next day, although their affection will have dropped as a result of your cruelty.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment / What the Hell, Player?: There is almost no act of cruelty in these games that goes unpunished or without someone yelling at you for it:
    • Giving a villager a gift that they hate will result in them complaining about it, and you'll get hit with an appropriately-sized penalty to your popularity with that villager - even more so if the gift was wrapped or given to them as a birthday present.
    • If one of your livestock gets sick and dies, you will hold a funeral for it the next day, and either Rick or Barley (depending on what animal died) will be there to chew you out for your lack of care. Your popularity with the villagers will also decrease across the board.
    • In the remakes, using the already hard to obtain Golden Lumber as a fence will result in your popularity with the villagers decreasing every day, and several of them coming to your farm with Mayor Thomas every morning to complain. Even the Gourmet from the Cooking Festival and the Harvest Goddess herself will object to you using it. On top of this, you will be renamed "Moneybags" or "Greedy Witch" (depending on your gender) as long as it stays up, though your spouse will continue to use your original name. These effects fortunately stop once you remove and dispose of the lumber.
    • You can choose not to tell 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 don't want to marry Ann or you're playing the Distaff Counterpart.
  • Video Game Remake: The Mineral Town games to Back To Nature. Unusually, the graphics take something of a downgrade, going from 3D models to sprites, though arguably the GBA games have aged better.

Alternative Title(s): Harvest Moon Mineral Town, Harvest Moon Friends Of Mineral Town

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