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Video Game / Story of Seasons

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For the post-name split Natsume titles, see Harvest Moon (Natsume).
Top Logo (as Harvest Moon) from 1996-2014.
Bottom Logo for first game in 2014.
This page is for the series as a whole. For the first game in the post-split series, go here.

Story of Seasons, formerly known as Harvest Moon (and known as 牧場物語, Bokujō Monogatari in Japan, lit. "Ranch Story") is a series of Farm Life Sim games that launched in 1996.

The games are developed by Marvelous (first by Pack-In Video (and developed by Amccus), then Victor Interactive Software, then Marvelous Entertainment, then Marvelous AQL, and now just Marvelous—all due to a long line of buyouts, mergers, and name changes on the Japanese side), created by Yasuhiro Wada, and originally translated by Natsume in North America, then XSEED Games, and done by Rising Star Games in Europe until 2014. The first game was released for the Super Nintendo in 1996; since then there have been over thirty titles released for a variety of different consoles.

The name changed in 2014 from Harvest Moon to Story of Seasons; the official continuation of the series is now being released under that title, while the Harvest Moon name continues onward by Natsume as a separate series, causing no small amount of confusion for fans and retailers alike. In early 2014, Marvelous dropped Natsume as publishing and localization company for Bokujou Monogatari in the West, switching to XSEED Games—their Western division who were already localizing the Rune Factory series—starting with Story of Seasons. They picked a new name for the series, as Natsume still owned the rights to the Harvest Moon brand (and decided to make their own farming sim games under that label). Many fans favour XSEED's localisation and translation style and still have fondness for older games; two older games have been rereleased under the Story Of Seasons name as Enhanced Remakes.

The plot line—as much as there is one—is overall the same for almost every game. The protagonist, a young hero just starting life on their own, inherits or buys a farm in the country. Sadly, its previous owner—if there was one—was unable to keep up with maintenance, leaving it in a significantly dilapidated state...and now it's up to you to restore it to glory and prove yourself as a great farmer.

The central aspect of the game is running and maintaining a farm. The player has a large expanse of farmland that may need to be cleaned up and cleared, and will hoe, plant, water, and cultivate crops among their fields, shipping their produce out to earn money to buy more seeds and do it again. They can also raise livestock like cows, sheep, goats, chickens—and more—and process and sell their animals' byproducts for money; care for pets like horses, cats, and dogs; and forage various materials from around the countryside to help improve their house and land, gather as gifts, or sell for extra cash.

However, the "business/farm" aspects of play are not the full scope of the game's activities; the social aspect of the series is one of its biggest draws. The player is encouraged to integrate themselves into the community they live near or in, generally a small town adjacent to the farm with a variety of townsfolk. Players can make friends with the various townsfolk, attend festivals (which can range from real-life holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas, pseudo-religious ceremonies, purely social occasions in the community, or competitions where the player can enter farm items and animals to compete), and hopefully woo the local available marriage candidates to eventually get married and have children of your own. There is also a distinct spiritual flavor; the player can meet a variety of Nature Spirits such as sprites, fairies, and the overarching Harvest Goddess, who are generally friendly and help you out if you give offerings or make an effort to befriend them.

Earlier games imposed a time limit (usually between two and three years of in-game time) to improve the farmland, at which point an event (such as the character's father visiting the farm) occurs and the player is "graded" on the success of their farming. Still, it's almost always possible to continue playing indefinitely afterwards, leaving you to run your farm as long as you'd like. Early games also had male protagonists only; this was followed by games allowing players to play as a female farmer—with many versions splitting the girl option off into a separate versions. Nowadays the choice of player gender is available at the start of the game.

A video game that revolves around doing chores Down on the Farm in a small rural town might sound ridiculously boring, but the series has continued to make an entertaining, stylish, successful game franchise around the concept. Not to mention ridiculously addictive. This series helped launch the genre of Farm Life Sim games in general, based around the concept of leaving the busy city life to go be a farmer in the great pretty countryside. Although the series has never achieved massive sales numbers, it enjoys an extremely loyal cult fanbase. Many games release for Nintendo platforms, but as of the 2010s and 2020s also release on multiple platforms including PlayStation and Xbox, with releases on Steam for PC.

Two games in the series went with new settings outside of the small-town countryside. Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon shifted to a fantasy setting and added RPG-style elements such as the ability to fight monsters; it was successful enough it's since become a full-fledged Spin-Off series. Innocent Life: A Futuristic Harvest Moon for the PSP—a one-of-a-kind game—is set in the future with a Ridiculously Human Robot as the protagonist.

Compare and contrast with other Farm Life Sim games like Hometown Story, Little Dragons Café (by the creator of the franchise, Yasuhiro Wada), River King (Story of Seasons's sister series), and Stardew Valley, a game created in the spirit of the older games and highly successful in its own right. For many other Spiritual Sequel and Spiritual Successor games, see Farm Life Sim.

Don't confuse the older name 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 one), or for the series started in 2014 by Natsume that are In Name Only, Harvest Moon.

    Games in the Series 

Games published in North America by Natsume, Inc. under Harvest Moon

Games published in North America by XSEED Games under Story of Seasons

Spin-offs and Side Games:

The Story of Seasons series provides examples of:

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    A to C 
  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Goes hand in hand with logical problems in the series. For example, rather than crops taking months (or seasons) to grow, they go from a planted seed to harvestable crop in only a few days or so.
  • Aerith and Bob: On the protagonists side there's Sara, Rachel, Mark, and Pete. Then there's Pony and Toy (more popularly written by fans as "Tony", but it's ambiguous which is the official spelling). For the NPC's there's Neil, Dirk, Elise, and Chet. Of course, there's Chocola, Nami, Amir, and Cozy. It seems to be a tradition for this series.
  • Age-Gap Romance:
    • In DS (Cute), you can marry Carter—the anthropologist—who's probably double your age. He will even lampshade it when you propose to him. Griffin is significantly older than your character as well. This also applies to the canon rival couples of Carter/Flora and Griffin/Muffy.
    • Soseki in A New Beginning says he's older than you, but never states how much older.
    • Klaus and Iris will bring up that they're older than you in Story of Seasons.
  • All in a Row: In the Wii games, you can have your spouse, your pets, or one of your children walk with you. They follow obediently behind you in this fashion, and you can create some amusingly Benny Hill-esque chains: farmer chased by little boy chased by penguin chased by OH GOD, A BEAR!
  • All-Natural Gem Polish: In most games it's played straight with the player mining pre-cut precious stones. Notably averted in Animal Parade - all the gems you find are uncut and require Mira to appraise and cut them before they're worth anything. And she has a decent chance of failing, too. It's also averted in Pioneers of Olive Town where gemstones have to be processed in a maker.
  • Anachronism Stew: Most games will include very modern technology like TVs, refrigerators, and even DVD players, but there will never be any industrialization of the farming industry—it's all by hand, and watering's by can. Most of the games released up until A Wonderful Life had fashion resembling the early to late 20th century. Downplayed since the specific time period is never specified, and there are some communities in real life that more or less operate that way.
  • Art Evolution: The character designs have changed a lot since games like Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life. Compare the mostly naturalistic hair colors (with the token blue or pink haired character) and average looking character designs of the early games like Harvest Moon 64 to the brighter toned, more Bishōnen filled games like Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility. An interview with the character designer Igusa Matsuyama (translated here on a fan blog) explains that older designs were simple to accomodate being shrunken down to a chibi design on lower graphics games, but with higher levels of detail more can be seen.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Several magical items throughout the games which do exactly what they say but aren't worth the time needed to use them or the effort needed to gain them. Stamina/fatigue recovery items in particular are often inferior to readily purchasable or craftable items.
    • In many games there is one crop that is significantly more profitable than all the others (e.g. strawberries in Magical Melody, Blue Mist Flowers in Animal Parade), and planting this crop in great numbers for an entire season can easily make you rich. Similarly, many games have "money tricks" that allow you to make loads of money in a short period of time. However, since one of the chief goals of the game is to make money, using these methods can make the game quite boring.
  • Babies Ever After: One of the primary goals of most of the games; if it's not mandatory, it will at least be required to get 100% Completion. Find a suitable match, fall in love, marry them, and have a baby with them.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Whoo boy, Natsume did not have the best track record. Since the games are Japanese, every game in the series contains various errors and quirks in the English translation (though most are typos instead of translation errors), some worse than others. The shift of localization from Natsume to XSEED Games helped to mitigate this.
    • Natsume misspelled their own name on the title screen of Harvest Moon 64, among tons of other mistakes, as well as at least one character who doesn't even speak English in the translated version.
    • In A Wonderful Life for the Gamecube you can get a "Mae" sheep.
    • In Another Wonderful Life, Muffy's response to receiving an ore is literally an error message.
    • Sometimes if you talk to Gotz in DS (Cute), his dialog will suddenly turn into Japanese characters.
    • In Friends of Mineral Town:
      • Sofa is misspelled as "sopha." It happens to be the old word for sofa.
      • A dish you can cook is a Dinner Role and not a Dinner Roll.
      • Similarly, you buy "Flower" at the General Store and not "Flour".
      • Zack's dialog will suddenly turn into Japanese characters on occasion.
      • Carter will sometimes speak German. Keep in mind that this is in the North American English translation.
      • Gray will speak in Japanese if you talk to him while he's on his way into the blacksmith's.
    • Certain foods will state they can be "eated".
    • Animal Parade actually does quite well in this respect, but there are some occasional minor translation errors, such as the PC's children being referred to with the wrong gender pronouns. Often they're referred to as "it" regardless of sex, and don't be alarmed if your daughters get referred to as "he".
    • A New Beginning has some issues. A few typos are scattered about, at least one prize given from completing a contest has its name in Japanese when it's given to you, being congratulated for winning the beginner cooking festival when you won the intermediate one, and giving the Harvest Goddess an item she likes causes a scripting error that has her say the mood change her portrait should do instead of it actually changing.
    • Averted with Story of Seasons where it's translated near seamlessly by XSEED Games.
  • Boring, but Practical: In many games, fishing is one of the best ways to make money, especially early in the game, but it can get highly repetitive. However, many games make catching every kind of fish a sidequest with its own benefits.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • Natsume only occasionally censored the games. They changed references of alcohol to "juice" and "soda" in three different titles (though most games include alcoholic references), taken out the thinly veiled Gay Option in DS Cute, and removed religious references in a few games (though most, including the SNES title, keep them completely intact). They also changed lines in some games.
    • The term "Miracle Potion" that gets cows and other animals pregnant. In Japanese games it's called "Cow Seed."
    • Less common with XSEED, but still happens due to differing standards between countries. For example, Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life has a heart event in which a candidate (Rock) bluntly propositions you using the stock-standard Japanese Sexual Euphemism of "this and that". The English version renders this line so that he’s instead offering you a tour— an equivalent proposition to the original likely wouldn’t fly overseas.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: The various "bonus" hidden bachelors/bachelorettes throughout the series:
    • Marrying the Harvest Goddess—by the time you're capable of marrying her, you've usually done everything else in the game but get married. She doesn't even live with you—you still have to give her a gift in her pond if you want to talk to her.
    • More Friends of Mineral Town also has the Gourmet. You can only talk to him one day out of the year. You have to cook every food available. And once you marry him, he doesn't even stick around—he only comes home for family events, and otherwise, he's gone.
    • The Harvest Goddess (and Harvest King) as purely Bragging Rights Reward candidates is averted in Animal Parade. To woo them, the only thing you have to do is beat the main storyline—and that's hardly anything at all with regards to 100% Completion. They still won't live with you, but there's nothing special you have to do to win their favor. (Well, aside from the usual showering them with gifts, but even that's not too difficult as their favorite items can be easily purchased.)
    • Marrying Alisa in Tale of Two Towns. She's the last of any marriage candidate to be unlocked (Fall of Year 2 at the earliest), the requirements to woo her are totally different than everyone else's (ex. You have to go on at least 100 dates with her and she has no special heart events) and when you finally manage to wed her (Late Winter, Year 3 at the earliest), you don't even get to have kids with her, as she's fully devoted to the Goddess. Not to mention you have to use the Wonderfuls to wish for permission from the Harvest Goddess to marry Alisa. There's a good chance the option to ask won't come up.
    • Marrying the Kappa in More Friends of Mineral Town and the remake. It takes at least five in-game years to marry to him, the number of requirements to do so are absolutely insane, and once married, the reward is extremely underwhelming. He does not live with you, only visits for family events before disappearing again (how the PC becomes pregnant by him is unclear—even they're not sure of it), and he has ridiculously little dialogue (90% of his speech consists of ellipses). The Player Character's dialogue when he leaves her immediately after their wedding pretty much sums it all up: "...Why did he marry me?"
    • The Witch Princess can become this in A New Beginning. Both getting the blueprint for her house (made of three randomly found pieces) and the materials (that include five units of a rare spawn from the most expensive vacation spot) can drag on for quite a while if you're unlucky enough.
  • Broken Bridge: Areas are sometimes blocked off until certain story events. In Harvest Moon 64, there's a literal broken bridge that leads up to the mountain peak that isn't fixed until near the end of the first year - though a clever player can find a detour around it before then. (You can get back down by pressing A along the cliff next to the tree to jump back down) There are at least two blocked off areas in Tree of Tranquility, more than you can count in A New Beginning, and in a Tale of Two Towns a blocked off tunnel between the two towns is the main focus of the plot.
  • Charged Attack: Done in several games with your tools. How far you've leveled the tool you were using determines how much effort you put into it and how much work the tool does in one use.
  • Canon Name: You can name the characters anything you want, but (with the exceptions of the Grand Bazaar characters) all the player characters have canon/default names, even if just in promotional material.
  • Chocolate of Romance: In later games, you get delicious homemade goodies on Winter 14 (if you're a boy) or Spring 14 (if you're a girl, reflecting White Day). This, however, only happens with marriageable characters who are at a certain number of love points. You can also woo several characters with chocolate.
  • Constantly Lactating Cow:
    • In most titles, all adult cows can be milked year round. They only stop lactating when sick. As soon as a calf turns into an adult, she can be milked.
    • Subverted in Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life. The game strives to be more realistic than the rest of the series. Cows only give milk for two seasons before they need to be bred again. The quality and quantity of the milk also slows down just before they stop giving milk. In the original game, the goat can also only be milked for a period, but she can't be bred or sold. The only way to get rid of her was to let her die. Another Wonderful Life and A Wonderful Life: Special Edition fixed that by allowing her to be sold.
  • Cooking Mechanics: Cooking is a fundamental aspect in many games; your house will have a kitchen in which you can whip up various meals, soups, salads, desserts, and what-have-you.
  • Creature-Breeding Mechanic: Harvest Moon is a farming sim so it always features cow pregnancies and chickens laying fertile eggs. Some games like Harvest Moon 3 and Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life have male animals, unlike the majority of the games, and thus it's possible to breed your own animals instead of using a "Miracle Potion".
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The games are generally an intentional mash-up of Japanese culture, Western farming culture, and paganism. Towns frequently have a church, with the obligatory priest-collar wearing pastor and confession as an occasional option. More than one priest and nun wear a red symbol on their chest, similar to a cross (and in GBC3, the local priest wears an actual cross). But the deity they worship is the Harvest Goddess, a Food God that lives in lakes or ponds and is crucial to the rural towns that the characters live in. She's also a physical being (who can even be married in several titles) but the protagonist is one of the few who can see her, and she takes her offerings by having them thrown in whatever body of water she habitates. Furthemore, there are multiple Harvest Goddesses in various different towns around the series; every town doesn't have the same one. Sunshine Islands shows that there are different denominations of Harvest Goddess worship; Cliff from Mineral Town has a conversation with the priest that confirms there are different types of Harvest Goddess worship, and in Story of Seasons (2014) the local goddess, Dessie, is young enough that her arriving in your town is explained as her finally being old enough to be on her first assignment as a Harvest—or Nature—Goddess and she's still learning the ropes.

    D to F 
  • Dating Sim: A major (albeit optionalnote ) subplot throughout the series involves wooing your virtual boyfriend and/or girlfriend.
  • Defrosting the Ice Queen: Each game has at least one suitor (male or female) who fits this trope: a harder to date character that is standoffish or distant, and requires more steps to get into a relationship with. These include Nami in A Wonderful Life and Elise in Story of Seasons.
  • Disc-One Nuke: Fans have done the math on the crops of all of the games, making it ridiculously easy to maximize your profits. Many secrets, such as power berries, are possible to get immediately (with no reliance on luck or skill) if you know where to find them, making it simple to supercharge your farmer well before you would have been able to via casual exploration.
  • Distaff Counterpart:
  • Divine Date: In several games, the Harvest Goddess can be wooed and eventually married (by a male character, with the option for a female to woo her first in Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town). Animal Parade added the Harvest King for a female character to woo. In every instance, you do end up eventually having a child by your divine spouse, so it's implied that your union is physically consummated.
  • Drama Bomb: Sweet little old ladies in the series have a habit of dying, just to keep you from becoming too complacent in your relaxing farm chores and reminding you that life and death are connected. In particular, Ellen in 64, Nina in AWL/DS, and Eda in Story of Seasons.
  • Drunken Glow: In many games (such as Harvest Moon 64), if the protagonist or others drink, their face will turn bright red for a moment. Even if it's drinking "milk" or "juice".
  • Dub Name Change:
    • DS changed all the Identical Grandchild characters' names to those of their predecessors and tried to adapt out the decendant plotline. For example, in the original, for example, that wasn't Celia, it was AWL Celia's granddaughter Serena. They also changed Retasu to Leia, probably because naming the obvious expy after the reference in Tokyo Mew Mew is a little risky if someone doesn't know the reference.
    • Several games have low-key versions of this, such as "Maria" in 64 being "Marie" in Japan (her name was retranslated as "Mary" in future games, which still is a dub name change in itself, before being changed back to "Marie" when translators changed).
    • Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life changed the names of many of the NPCs. For example, Muffy's Japanese name is "MuuMuu".
    • A large number of games feature translated name changes, such as A Wonderful Life or Tree of Tranquility.
    • Averted in Story of Seasons. XSEED was originally going to do it with some of the characters, but switched it back to the translated Japanese names after listening to fan feedback.
    • Averted again in the Friends of Mineral Town remake.
    • Done, though, in Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life. Several names that had been translated strangely or changed altogether by Natsume weren't used, and in several cases Natsume still had control over the older names so the changes needed to be done anyways. This resulted in things like Muffy becoming Molly, but also Gordy who had been Cody going back to his name of Gordy, and Tartan becoming Vinnie—which actually preserves the pun from the Japanese name of Tsurutan, which is like saying "Vine-ie."
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The original Harvest Moon features a whole lot of this, such as the exclusion of Heart Events, no friendship system at all for non-bachelorettes, and a lack of a proper day/night cycle.
    • In several early games, you either had to buy a separate game to play as a woman or you couldn't play as one period. You also could not play past marriage in the first two games that included a female protagonist. This was subverted starting with Magical Melody, which allows you to pick a male or female protagonist at the start (and it's been argued newer games put more focus on the female protagonist due to the large amount of female fans); starting with the A Wonderful Life remake, nonbinary options have been added.
    • The first several games mainly used a single male protagonist—"Pete". After Magical Melody (which technically features Adam, not Pete) and DS his design was discontinued, though several protagonists are still expies of him.
    • Several early games didn't allow you to ship most items. "Perishables" such as flowers or cakes couldn't be shipped, and you couldn't ship items at night. Later games did away with this, thus making you able to ship almost everything and make money-making much more easier, though some still have limits.
    • The first game to feature the Mineral Town cast was Harvest Moon 64, which took place in Flowerbud Village and was a sequel to the original game set two generations later. They had completely different personalities (for example, Karen was a lot more angrier while Kai was much nicer), roles (Popuri worked with flowers instead of chickens and Elli was a baker not a nurse), platonic relationships (Elli wasn't related to Stu), and romantic relationships (Popuri/Gray and Karen/Kai were two of the rival couples, not Popuri/Kai and Rick/Gray). Back to Nature started development as a basic port but ended up being a complete retool. It ended up being the basis for their personalities from there on and almost all future games use the Back to Nature personalities, though Tree of Tranquility shows that Marvelous hasn't completely forgotten about 64.
    • Somewhere between this and Later-Installment Weirdness—older games featured subdued and more realistically rural character designs. Starting with Island Of Happiness and continuing in Tree of Tranquility, everyone became far more attractive and brighter coloured.
    • The English translation features a lot of Sudden Name Changes and Inconsistent Translations . For example, the Harvest Goddess was originally the "Goddess of the Land", the Harvest Festival was the "Sowing Festival", and Mary shared the same name as her grandmother (Maria).
    • The religion of the series was more Christian-looking in early games. The first few games even featured crosses.
    • In the first game, 64, and A Wonderful Life, your wife could temporarily (permanently for a Non-Standard Game Over in AWL) leave you if you neglect her. This feature was removed in future games.
  • An Economy Is You:
    • Especially egregious in Island Of Happiness where not only do you fix up your farm, but pay for bridge and road repair.
    • Exaggerated in A New Beginning where you have to build all the shops and houses to get the people to even come to town in the first place.
    • It's up to you to ship enough to lure new vendors to the town in Story of Seasons (2014)—no one else's shipments count.
  • Energetic and Soft-Spoken Duo: In Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility and Harvest Moon: Animal Parade, Candace and Julius form a rival couple. Candace is a Shy Blue-Haired Girl who likes knitting while Julius is a loud, flamboyant Camp Straight fashionista. The two can end up married with kids.
  • Elemental Crafting: Almost every game past A Wonderful Life has some form of upgrade system for tools, usually based on ores, metals, and/or Experience Points.
  • Eternal Equinox: In most of the games, sunrise is 6 AM and sunset is 6 PM, regardless of the season.
  • Eternal Sexual Freedom: Averted. It's heavily implied that getting too serious before marriage is frowned upon. Starting with A New Beginning and followed in several after, you can only see one or two "heart/flower" events with a partner before you have to give them a ring (or pressed flower, or pendant) that puts you in a relationship to see further romantic events with them, and once you're married, you stay that way (with the exception of Pioneers of Olive Town which lets you do a Cosmic Retcon on the relationship). In some games, going steady with any one person means not having any more romantic events with anyone else, and some have the others get jealous if you're caught with anyone else—even innocently. This is most apparent if you marry the Kappa in More Friends of Mineral Town and the remake. The Kappa is the one bachelor who will never live with the player character if married—but as with every other marriage candidate, the female PC becomes pregnant very shortly after the wedding. Every other husband—since they live with her—will notice the PC seems unwell and take her to Doctor, who will congratulate the couple. The Kappa, however, just appears in the PC's house one day, tells her she's pregnant, and then disappears again, prompting a "..." reaction from her. Then she goes to the doctor and finds out it's true. All Doctor says to her is "You're going to have a baby" when she shows up at the clinic pregnant with no husband; no "Congratulations!" like with every other spouse, and Elli is completely silent. None of them know you're married, after all.
  • Event-Driven Clock: A central gimmick of the series is that a day's passage happens in a set amount of real-time, regardless of the player's actions—significantly limiting what you can do in one day, even with healing items.
  • Excuse Plot:
    • Most of the earlier games don't flesh out much beyond the simple premise that you've either purchased or inherited an old farm, and now it's up to you to fix it up and make your living as a farmer. There may be side plots, but most of them are no rush.
    • In an Animal Parade sidequest, you cannot purchase Hibiscus seeds from Samson right away because his wife and daughter keep arguing, and he just can't bear to sell the seeds in that type of environment. Seriously?!
    • Magical Melody is one of the few that actually has the player trying to achieve a specific goal. The Harvest Goddess turned herself to stone because the townspeople no longer appreciate life like they once did, or her existence; the player must get her back to normal by collecting magical music notes (received by doing a large variety of things in life), and bring the village back to life (so to speak), because he/she is the only person besides Jamie who can see the Harvest Sprites.
    • Tale of Two Towns (the towns are separated, you've got to reunite them) and A New Beginning (Echo Village has been deserted, and you're the one to draw people back) also have plots, but you're under no time limit to get them done.
  • Expy:
    • Character archetypes are used very often in most games, to the point where it's a ritual to some fans. The (usually) hot Asian doctor, the baker, the antisocial quiet guy, the casanova, the Tsundere, the Bokukko, the shy Meganekko, etc.
    • Historically the male protagonist was a copy of the first protagonist, Pete. Newer protagonists are more diverse, but Henry from Harvest Moon: A New Beginning looks like a remake of Pete. It's even more obvious with Rachel from the same game, who is literally just Claire from Harvest Moon: Back to Nature For Girl with a hat.
    • Almost all of the girls, and the protagonist himself, in Harvest Moon 64 are similar to characters from the first game, however it's handwaved that they're their grandchildren. Elli looks almost exactly like her grandmother Ellen, the protagonist is an exact replica of his grandfather (down to the clothes), Popuri resembles her grandmother Nina, Ann looks extremely like the original Ann, and Maria looks like the first Maria but with glasses. Karen is the exception, looking little like Eve (though sharing personality traits with her).A few non-bachelorettes also are substitutes of characters.
    • Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life has Celia as a mix of Ellen and Nina from Harvest Moon SNES, and Muffy as a reference to Eve from the same game. Celia is a brunette in a dark dress like Ellen and has a similar personality, but has a love for farming and gardening (to somewhat eccentric degrees) like Nina. Muffy is an older, sexy blonde bartender in a red dress with emotional baggage like Eve.
    • Almost every doctor in the franchise is influenced by Doctor from Harvest Moon: Back to Nature for Girl. They're often attractive East Asian men with black hair.
    • Lyla from Harvest Moon: Save The Homeland is a pink haired woman with her Eyes Always Shut who has a job selling seeds and flowers. This sounds exactly like Lillia from Harvest Moon 64 who in turn is an substitute for Nina's mother from the SNES game. It's justified with Lillia as Nina is her mother.
    • Gina from Save The Homeland is a shy, glasses wearing woman like Maria (Mary) from Harvest Moon 64 and Harvest Moon: Back to Nature. Sabrina from Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness is even more obvious. She is essentially Mary with different clothes and hair. They're both Shrinking Violet bookworms with glasses and long black hair.
    • Harvest Moon: Magical Melody was a 10th anniversary title where most characters were from previous games. The one's who weren't are substitutes. Blue is identical to Gray in Harvest Moon 64 down to being named after a color, Ray looks like Cliff from the same game, Carl bares a resemblance to Jeff from the same game, and Dan looks a little like Kai from that game too (and works at a grape farm like him). Meryl and Tai look like the fortune tellers granddaughter and the peddler from Harvest Moon.

    F to H 
  • Fairytale Wedding Dress: In some of the games, the bride will have a bouffant wedding dress during your wedding. The Witch Princess is fond of these, especially those with a touch of Elegant Gothic Lolita.
  • Fake Difficulty:
    • Later games (especially Island of Happiness and Sunshine Islands) make certain goals hard to achieve by simply ramping up the amount of game time it takes to reach them. (e.g. Your child takes three to four in-game years to reach the "walking and talking" stage, where in other games, it would take a year and a half at the most)
    • Despite being released in 2012, A New Beginning averts the amount of time needed to do things increasing as it goes on. It's fairly reasonable with the requirements to advance, provided the player doesn't use the online feature to get every item required. However the game also requires one to water his/her farm twice a day instead of only once, or risk crops growing slower. This means more time wasted on cooking food to keep your stamina up and twice as much time spent on watering plants.
  • Farm Life Sim: Both the Trope Codifier and Trope Maker. The games almost always star a young person from the city who moves to a quirky country town to become a farmer on land they've either bought or inherited. You interact with the locals, raise farm animals, and harvest crops.
  • Fishing for Sole: Almost every game has fishable boots and other trash in the waterways. In Animal Parade, one of the townspeople operates his own recycling service so you can get rid of that junk, while in Hero of Leaf Valley, the player immediately disposes of it.
  • Fishing Minigame: One of the main ways of making cash is by catching and selling fish. Some games have you simply press a button when the fish bites the hook while others have a more involved minigame, such as the Hero of Leaf Valley timing puzzle.
  • Fission Mailed: In most of the games since Back To Nature, getting married triggers the credits, but the game goes right back to normal after they finish. Other types include Tale of Two Towns, where the credits come after the tunnel is fully reopened, and A New Beginning, where you get the credits after you complete all five Town Restoration Plans.
  • Flanderization: The series is extremely prone to this. If someone pops up in another game, expect this to happen to them. For example, Popuri is slightly immature in 64 because her often-absent father coddles her when he comes home. In Back to Nature, she became more spoiled and childish, which got worse in DS and Island of Happiness to the point where she trick-or-treats with the children.
  • Four Is Death: As a reference to 4 being unlucky in Asian cultures, many Harvest Moon games do strange things if you perform specific actions at 4:44 AM/PM.
  • Friendship as Courtship: In most games, there are few if any actual dates. You just give them gifts, see their heart events, and marry them. Most games don't even have you kiss your love interests before marriage. Starting with Animal Parade, more formal dates have popped up in the series.
  • From New York to Nowhere: Some of the protagonists start as city dwellers before moving to the farm.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Used inconsistently. A few games replace alcohol with 'soda' or 'juice', most others explicitly use alcohol.
  • Gay Option:
    • Initially averted. While counterparts exist to woo your possible mates if you don't, you can't pursue same-sex couples. In A New Beginning and Story of Seasons, through customization, you can make it appear to be a same-sex relationship, even if you can't really do it.
    • DS (Cute) lets women only get some of the original bachelorettes and only in a Pseudo-Romantic Friendship situation, and only in the Japanese version.
    • Finally played straight for both genders in the Friends of Mineral Town remake, which later carried over to the two games after it. All the marriage canidates can be wooed by anyone, and kids are still possible.
  • Go Wait Outside: In some of the games, you'll be kicked outside while your wife is delivering your child (obviously not in those games where you're playing a female farmer since she's doing the delivery herself, though her husband may still be told to leave). Whether you can reenter right away or not varies by game; in some, reentering your house will kick the clock to evening, and in others, you must wait around on your farm until after a certain point in the afternoon or evening (this gives you a chance to work, though usually with the caveat that you can't leave your farm itself, so no gathering in the mountains or talking to other villagers).
  • Going Through the Motions: Usually avoided by using character portraits rather than models or sprites, but Magical Melody used it, and used it poorly, to great annoyance. Tree of Tranquility does the same thing but with a little more subtlety.
  • G-Rated Sex:
    • There are an awful lot of babies in the games, and very little actual baby-formation. Eggs will hatch if they're placed in an incubator, even if you only have one bird, suggesting that Harvest Moon chickens are hermaphrodites capable of self-fertilization. There generally aren't any bulls, rams, or billies — just "miracle potions"note  for the different animals, which get them pregnant with no muss or fuss, and their offspring are always female as well. Even your own character is capable of having a child, but you or your wife simply wakes up one day feeling sick and then finds out they're pregnant, with nothing else mentioned of it. However, you often have to keep your spouse's Love Points next to maxed-out for at least a season or more to see the pregnancy event, which does have some implications about the state of your relationship.
    • General exceptions: The two Wonderful Life games and GBC 3 on the Game Boy Color, which had gendered animals. Breeding was still nothing explicit, however.
    • The "Best Friends" in DS (Cute)'s Japanese version still has this: one day, the Harvest King decides to randomly make either you or your "Best Friend" pregnant. Nothing else necessary.
    • The Wii games seem a bit more conscious of where babies come from, especially Animal Parade, wherein the player and their spouse make plans to have children, and their spouse may respond with some suggestive dialogue.
  • Guilt-Based Gaming: Just let an animal die. For some reason, people get angry at you if an animal dies of old age... In later games, this has been rectified so townspeople won't get a bit upset when an animal dies naturally. They still get upset if you are the cause of death however.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Some of the Scripted Events can turn out to be these, often requiring your character to be in a specific place at a specific time and/or day and/or season. A popular one ("popular" as in "one of the most commonly asked about events") is Ann and Cliff's Blue Rival Heart Event in FoMT. To trigger it you need to enter the church between 11 am and 4 pm on any Spring or Summer day that's not Saturday when it's raining while Ann has a heart level for you that's less than blue. That's already pretty bad, but a lesser known detail is it can't be triggered if Cliff already works for the Winery, meaning it's limited to any rainy Spring or Summer day that's not Saturday in the first year. You can accidentally miss this one just because the game decided to give you a long string of sunny days.
    • Also, the entire goal thing for GBC 3. The game doesn't make it completely obvious that you have to enter the horse races and stuff to actually be able to get a good ending. It seems that the game only tells you part of what you're supposed to do in the end, like ship a bunch of crops. Also, who knew that you were supposed to befriend your partner to even get that cutscene with the goal? It's implied in most Harvest Moon games you're supposed to be nice to people, but it's still slightly easy to miss. The only problem with being nice and marrying your partner is that if you do it as a girl your game ends. Did you remember to save?
  • Healing Spring: Hot springs in some of the games will rapidly restore stamina.
  • Heart Container: Power berries fill this role in many games.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: You don't always get a default name for every game. It started in Harvest Moon 3 (with Pete and Sara), but that game was more obscure and people didn't really catch on until later.
  • Heroic Mime: In most games your character is silent. In More Friends Of Mineral Town, your character has an Inner Monologue, and in the DS games, he or she just talks outright.
  • A Homeowner Is You: Some games let you buy another house.
  • 100% Completion: Generally not defined by the games themselves, leading the fandom to create their own requirements for the different games. The most infamous is 64's Party Picture, the requirements of which are so stringent that it took over a decade after the game's release to figure them out.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: More justified than most examples; eating food simply restores stamina, rather than healing wounds.

    I to L 
  • Idiosyncratic Menu Labels: The series uses "write in journal" in place of "save".
  • Impossibly Delicious Food: Ultimate and Finest Curry. Lots of bachelors and bachelorettes in many games have them as favorite items, and it's generally accepted that everyone in town likes curry. The exceptions are Carter and Alisa.
  • An Interior Designer Is You: You occasionally get to spiff up your house with accessories, but the object placement is predetermined and often permanent. Magical Melody added the option to rearrange furniture in your house. Most console games since then have this feature, and Tree of Tranquility, Animal Parade, and DS (Cute) allow you to change the wall color. Games after this often let you do lots of decorating, sometimes extended to the outside of the farm.
  • Interspecies Romance: You can woo gods, goddesses, and even a kappa! The Witch Princess and Wizard may not be human, either.
  • Instant Home Delivery: Many games allow the player to earn or purchase items for their house, which will instantly be found in the house when they return. Averted in games where the items must be ordered from out of town, where you will have to wait until the next day.
  • In-Universe Game Clock:
    • Time passes whenever you're outdoors, so if you waste time, you might find yourself locked out of a store or missing a chance to spend time with your future spouse, plus the longer you stay up (and the correspondingly less sleep you get), the less activity you'll be able to do before you get tired.
    • Some games such as Grand Bazaar and Tale of Two Towns don't stop time when you're indoors either, so you have to be doubly careful with time management.
  • Invisible to Normals: The Harvest Sprites. In the games that they appear in, usually only the player character is able to see them; they're invisible to, and cannot be heard by anyone else. In Magical Melody, the player's rival Jamie is able to see them as well, much to their annoyance. In Animal Parade, the player character's children can see them too (implying that it may be hereditary), as can the Wizard and the Witch, since they're magical beings and all. It's also implied that Gill can at least hear them, though he can't see them. In Trio of Towns, you can marry one of them. Yes, they're still invisible to most people.
  • Invulnerable Civilians:
    • You can't touch other humans, but you can whack both wild critters and your own farm animals around with your tools, either on purpose or by accident. Attacking farm animals in this fashion will make them like you less, and may cause them to get sick.
    • You can attack civilians in Animal Parade. Predictably, this makes them quite angry. Also, your watering can, which in the past had no effect on animals/townspeople, now does hurt them. So if you want to water your crops, make sure your animals and your family are out of the way first!
    • Though devoid of any lasting damage, the same can be done in Magical Melody. Whacking townspeople around with your tools can have a use, however: most festivals will send you off with the person you have the most hearts with, so if you have Theodore at the top of your list after trying to unlock all the buyable land, but don't want to watch the fireworks with a middle-aged man, you need only introduce him to your hammer.
    • For whatever reason, in Magical Melody, your baby follows many of the same behavior patterns as your pet dog and pig. So while you can't hurt it, using gardening tools nearby will really freak the kid out. Also, the game actually rewards you for hitting the moles with a hammer, because they dig up gardens.
  • Item Crafting: Limited in most games to combining food items to make better food.
  • It's Up to You: Taken to an extreme in some games in which literally everything that happens in town is a result of the player's actions.
  • Kappa:
    • One lives in a pond in Harvest Moon 64. He'll give you the useful Blue Power Berry, which reduces stamina loss in the rain, in exchange for a fish.
    • One lives in the lake in Friends of Mineral Town. He also gives the Blue Power Berry in return for lots of cucumbers. In the Distaff Counterpart version and remake, you can marry him.
  • Kiddy Coveralls: Many of the children your player character can have will wear these at some point when young, often as a toddler or child; this is both to show their youth and related to the idea that Overalls and Gingham means "rural life."
  • Kissing Cousins: In 64, apparently and potentially. In the original SNES games you marry one of the four bachelorettes. The protagonist of 64 is the former protagonist's Identical Grandson. The child of the original protagonist and his unknown wife are one of the bachelorettes. So, if you think about it, you could be courting or even marrying your cousin.
  • Last-Minute Baby Naming: If you have children, you can only name them on the day they're born. In Trio of Towns, however, your spouse will offer suggestions for names that they've already thought of.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority:
    • Rule of accessories: Green -> Red -> Blue = Good -> Better -> Best.
    • The heart/flower levels for marriage candidates: Black/White -> Purple -> Blue -> Green -> Yellow -> Orange -> Pink -> Red.
  • Level-Up at Intimacy 5: Most games offer various rewards for befriending and/or romancing your fellow villagers.
  • Life Simulation Game: The games are simulations about life on, and around, a farm. The series was intended to be sim about life in a rural community, not an actual farming simulator, though over the years more emphasis has been put on farming. The series has strayed a bit more into Dating Sim territory since the start, but it still focuses on the life simulation portion.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: In Another Wonderful Life, Muffy is constantly getting her heart broken. Either the man she's seeing in the city is cheating on her, or she finds out he's already married and that she's the other woman. Despite all this, Muffy continues to hold out hope that she'll find true love. She doesn't. Thankfully averted in the DS version.
  • Love Interests: Each game has a selection of bachelors or bachelorettes that the player can choose from.
  • Luck-Based Mission:
    • Mining:
      • Island of Happiness. More so early on until you get enough Orichalc (see unobtainium below) to be able to increase your stamina cap, since you have a random chance every time you move to hit a pitfall on a tile, and a 1-in-5 chance of losing the amount of stamina equivalent to that you start the game with. At least save scumming is possible [and changes the pitfall's depth], but even then, it only helps so much. The hoe tool can also help the player avoid pitfalls. It's also a very good - and very tedious - way to use up the stamina you need to get to the lower floors.
      • Navigating the mines in Magical Melody is infuriating because you have to move between floors by falling into different holes, and the further down you get into the mine, the more and more likely you are to get holes that make you fall up instead of down. You can fall, or rise, anywhere from just one or two floors to a whopping ten floors. If you dig around with your hoe, you can find stairs to take you directly down to the next floor, but it can take a long time and a lot of energy to find them. The lower parts of the mine are where all of the most valuable metals and gems are, and getting to the very bottom floor of each mine is required in order to get two magic notes.
      • In Animal Parade, you need to have metal ore and gem deposits refined at Mira's accessory shop before they become worth anything, or can be used for other purposes. However, the percentage of good metal or gems you get from any given stack of raw material is very small - if you have a stack of 99 gold ores, you'll be lucky if even thirty or so of them become usable gold pieces. The rest of what she gives you is all worthless "junk" material.
    • Heart Events in Tale of Two Towns (now called "Flower Events") - even using an FAQ, you might not get the proper option to trigger the flower event, rather than a regular date.
    • One of the many requirements to marry Alisa is to wish for it. Even after you've filled the stringent requirements — more than 55,000 FP with her — to be able to make that wish, since the three wish options you get from returning the Six Wonderful Stones are randomly selected from the list, there's no guarantee you'll get it. Be prepared to either save-scum, or collect the stones multiple times.
    • The fishing tournament in A New Beginning. If you want to get first place, you need to catch a massive 71 fish with just the fishing rod in the span of just under 72 hours. If you use fish traps to catch anything or catch junk items or coins, it doesn't count towards the total. Even with all the possible boosts to help you, save scumming is almost required due to the completely random nature of catching anything with the rod. Doubly so if you want to take care of your farm during the tournament instead of leaving it to rot.
    • Every contest in Story of Seasons (2014) is partially luck based. While competitions still keep some degree of skill/quality, there's still a chance you'll lose even if you perform at the absolute best level possible.
  • Magic Tool: You can acquire literal magical tools to aid you in some games. For example, the first Game Boy game awarded you a magic umbrella if you did well enough in the first year to allow you to summon rain whenever you wanted.

    M to P 
  • Marathon Level: Many of the caves, including the 65,535 floor fourth mine in DS (Cute).
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Wooing the Harvest Goddess, Harvest King, Witch Princess, Wizard, or Kappa. If you marry the wizard in Animal Parade, he lampshades this by saying that he probably will live much longer than you.
  • Mini-Game: Many games have a "horse-racing" mini-game at least, but the other games differ with respect to their mini-games. Magical Melody and Animal Parade even offer a few multiplayer games.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle:
    • Some of the mechanics in A New Beginning are unorthodox, to put lightly. For example, to build a greenhouse, you'd think all you need are some material stones, some iron, and lots and lots of glass stones. Nope, you need great alpaca yarn (and only great alpaca yarn) and moon stones. Why you can't use yarn of any kind, or need yarn at all, and why you don't need glass at all, is a Riddle for the Ages.
    • To increase the quality of honey your bees produce, you need to use perfume.
  • Mission-Pack Sequel: Sunshine Islands and Animal Parade with respect to Island of Happiness and Tree of Tranquility, respectively. They share roughly the same mechanics and same character pool.
  • Mukokuseki: Averted quite well. A majority of the characters are Caucasian, and whenever someone else of another ethnicity appears it's quite apparent. There are unusual cases: there have been a fair share of Ambiguously Brown characters, and Kate does not appear to have any Asian traits despite her parents being obviously Asian.
  • Magical Realism: A rural community where farmers live, and a Goddess with Pixie friends.
  • My Local: Just about every game has a place where you can drink and possibly meet potential suitors.
  • Nature Spirit: The games are populated by fairies, imps, and sprites as well as humans. Usually, befriending them will make life easier for the player.
  • New Game Plus: Both the Wii games have this. In the first one, Tree of Tranquility your child is the one who starts a new farm—though they turn into a carbon-copy of their parents. Because the children in Animal Parade actually look like your spouse, this no longer works, so instead, the link between the old game and the new is your child delivering goods to a new game file.
  • No Cartoon Fish: Despite there being stylized animals and forest spirits, including the occasional talking animal, fish are always varying levels of realistic.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing:
    • You wouldn't think so, given how big a role getting married plays, but your little farmer and their spouse have a surprisingly chaste relationship. The only way to really show affection to your spouse is giving gifts, and the only time they ever seem to kiss at all is during the wedding scene. And in DS there isn't even that!
    • Much less so in the Wii games - you can choose to spend time with your spouse any time by walking with them, they kiss you, and you have to continue building your love with them even after you're married. In Animal Parade you actively try and have children, which is chock-full of... implications.
  • No Going Steady: In most games, you can flirt and date multiple people at once, even getting them to their red heart, without issue. You can kiss multiple people at festivals in Magical Melody but no one ever complains if you don't marry them. There are exceptions, however. For example, in A Wonderful Life you'll get negative cutscenes if you get all of a bachelorette's heart events only to marry someone else.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The mines from DS onwards. Lampshaded by a miner in Sunshine Islands who remarks on how dangerous the place is.
  • Non-Combat EXP: In most games, you get experience on using the tools by using the tools.
  • Non-Standard Game Over:
    • In A Wonderful Life, (More) Friends of Mineral Town, and GBC 3 the game will fade to credits if you refuse The Mayor's/Takakura's/the Mayor of Flowerbud's offer to turn the farm over to you. This is before the game begins. In other games, The Mayor would ask if you were sure until you agreed.
    • DS (Cute) had a variation on this: at the beginning of the game, your dog would attack the mayor. If you chose not to save the mayor, the credits rolled and you'd be taken back to the title screen.
    • Hero Of Leaf Valley had another variation: refusing to hear the sprites out led to you leaving the valley.
    • AWL is chock-full of them: not getting married after the first year, neglecting your farm in the second chapter (which would result in your wife leaving and taking your son with her, ending your game), etc.
    • In DS (Cute), if you grow a Level 99 Poison Mushroom and put it in the soup at the Harvest Festival, you will poison the entire village and cause this. Growing a Poisonous Mushroom to Level 99 is incredibly difficult, though.
  • Oddly Named Sequel:
    • The two Unexpected Gameplay Changed spinoffs are called Rune Factory and Innocent Life; the fact that they're actually Harvest Moon games is only mentioned in the subtitle.
    • The Japanese title for Back To Nature is The Ranch Story: Harvest Moon, with the female version being The Ranch Story: Harvest Moon For Girl; they're the only games that use the western title.
    • Due to the change in publisher from Natsume to XSEED Games, Connect to a New World has dropped the Harvest Moon name entirely and has been renamed Story of Seasons. This is because Natsume's US division still owns the IP for Harvest Moon wholesale.
  • One Game for the Price of Two:
    • Several later games have content that could only be unlocked by connecting another game to it, such as inserting Friends Of Mineral Town into your DS to unlock the five Mineral Town brides in DS.
    • Some games have "Girl Versions". They aren't very different, besides the rivals turning into bachelors and the bachelorettes turning into rivals, some new things were added (such as clothing) and dialogue slightly changed. They've begun to stop doing this in later games, giving you the option to play as a male or female character in the same game.
    • An odd variation occurred for a period: Back To Nature is essentially a topsy turvy port of 64 to the Playstation. Back To Nature gained it's own Distaff Counterpart version, Back to Nature For Girl, the first in the series. The games were later ported to the Game Boy Advance in enhanced 2D remakes.
  • One-Steve Limit:
    • The various Expies throughout the series are usually kept separate - there are two separate but very similar Basil's, for instance, though they're from different games - but DS brushes up against this. The priest from Mineral Town's church is named Carter. The professor who runs the excavation site is also named Carter. They'll both send you New Year's cards if you're friends with them.
    • In a lighter variation, Friends of Mineral Town has both an Ann and an Anna.
    • There's also "Ann" from SNES and Magical Melody, and "Ann" from the Mineral Town, DS and 64 games. Justified that the second Ann was made as a grand-daughter to the original, and thus was named after her in-game.
    • Two protagonists are officially named "Mark": both the Wonderful Life protagonist and the Island Of Happiness protagonist.
    • There are two Daisy's in the series: one from an obscure Game Boy game, and the other from Grand Bazaar. Incidentally, the latter has an eerie resemblance to a character from the GameBoy games named "Choco", who reappeared in My Little Shop.
    • There are two girls named Alice - the bachelorette from Hero of Leaf Valley, and the Harvest Sprite from A New Beginning.
    • There is Rod, Rick and Popuri's unseen father in Back to Nature/Friends of Mineral Town, and Rod, the bachelor from A New Beginning.
    • Because Natsume used the exact same character names in Harvest Moon DS/DS Cute as for the character's exact look-alike descendants in A Wonderful Life, all characters in both are this. The Japanese game used different names.
  • Opening the Sandbox: Most games start out limited with what you can do until you unlock all the villagers, upgrade all the shops, etc.
  • Panicky Expectant Father: If you're playing a Distaff Counterpart version or a female character, your PC's husband will be this during the "child born" event. Even if you marry the town doctor, he will probably be a panicky wreck.
  • Parental Abandonment: At least one in every game of the series. Rarely do any of the loved ones of said mother/father ever mention what happened to them (BtN and FoMT are major exceptions in that you know what happened to Rod [Rick and Popuri's dad] and May's mother). In later titles, two-parent families are the exception, where they happen at all. Island of Happiness and Sunshine Islands feature a two-generation single-parent combo.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • In 64, Karen and Cliff will leave and never come back if you do not get their relationship values high enough. If Karen leaves, Kai will follow suit.
    • Getting the Goddess Pond Hot Springs in DS requires you to befriend Flora to either a Blue Heart (in the boy version) or to 200+ Friendship Points (in the girl version). In the girl version, if Flora and Carter get married, or if you marry Carter, you're similarly cut off from seeing the event. The Hot Springs are necessary both for completing your shipping lists (some items are only available from them) and rescuing some of the Purple Sprites.
  • Pet Interface: In a lot of the Harvest Moon games, your horse serves as a mobile shipping bin. The Dog's usefulness varies from game to game.
  • Playable Epilogue: You can keep playing indefinitely even after receiving your "grade", though in some cases the game will end if you marry a particular character, or your character will eventually die of old age. The first game is perhaps the only one that doesn't allow this, making this a case of Early-Installment Weirdness.
  • Promoted to Love Interest:
    • Flora and Lumina weren't available bachelorettes in A Wonderful Life, but they become this in DS. Lumina also becomes one in the A Wonderful Life: Special Edition remake. Same goes for the female versions, in which Carter and Griffin become available in the later versions.
    • The Harvest Goddess herself is this in later installments.

    R to T 
  • Recurring Character: Nearly every game in the series features the Harvest Goddess and the Harvest Sprites. Later games added the Goddess' rival, the Witch Princess.
  • Relationship Values: Used to judge your progress with wooing potential mates; sometimes used with other characters as well, to determine how they react to your character or if they'll give you certain items.
  • Retraux: My Little Shop and Magical Melody invoke this. Various characters from previous games, even very obscure ones like Sara and Choco, are shown in their original roles (or parallels).
  • Retro Universe: It's hard to place a majority of the games. Some look like they could take place in the early-to-mid 1900s, but there are various aspects of them that are more modern. Although ostensibly set in something resembling the present day (in one game you can buy a DVD player for your house, and in another, there's a modern periodic table hanging on the wall in the school, and the hospital in every game is generally very modern), everyone gets around on horse-drawn carriages, the designs are often 70s at best in their ruralness, and other technology is deliberately retro.
  • Rough Overalls: The farmer in the first game, Harvest Moon, wears these, as part of the Overalls and Gingham appearance; this carries through to other games, with it being a default look for multiple games. Games that allow clothing variance often have at least one overalls set for the player.
  • Saintly Church: Technically you're only going to find one or two people at the church, but the general running theme with it is it's a positive place and influence on the inhabitants.
  • Save-Game Limits: Saving your game is done by writing in your diary, which can only be done immediately before going to sleep. So, although you can technically save whenever you like, as soon as you do your day is finished. Some later Harvest Moon games allow you to continue working even after you've saved, or even save anywhere, excusing the very presence of the diary in some of the tutorial TV shows by saying "some people like it".
  • Save Scumming:
    • Practically the only way to get rare mining items - without blatantly cheating.
    • The easiest way to get to the lower floors in Island of Happiness's mines (alongside a large stock of cheap'n'easy restoratives).
    • In A New Beginning, you'll be doing this a lot once you get the mine unblocked, especially since this one limits the amount of minerals you can mine daily, and you need those minerals to build some buildings to progress in the game.
  • Save Token: The Journal in your inventory allows you to save.
  • Schmuck Bait: Golden Lumber. Expensive as HELL and in some games, just possessing some will lower friendship levels with the entire town. Using it for fences will lower your approval as being showy and audacious.
  • Scripted Event: Lots and lots of them! Some are triggered by certain days of the year, while others are the result of your Relationship Values with people. There's also many that need to be seen to woo a potential love.
  • Second Place Is for Losers: Fail to win a competition - even if you come in second - and many of the villagers will react like you finished ninth in an eight-man race.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: The bookish, shy, often-bespectacled girl is always jaw-droppingly gorgeous on her wedding-day. This applies to all the other brides as well, but on those girls it's more noticeable.
  • Shop Fodder: Weeds, stones/pebbles, and branches/twigs are universally this, for those who pick them up. Garbage obtained fishing (trunks, tires and cans are common) and mining (junk ore) are also available in games with those features. This issue is compounded in the later games that allow item stacking, meaning you can have 99 Junk Ore before selling them off.
  • Show Within a Show: In several games—aside from the usual weather forecasts and farming tips—you can watch programs on the TV in your house such as cooking/shopping shows and entertainment programming.
  • Sidequest: You could go through the entire game doing nothing more than planting and harvesting crops, but a lot of the fun stuff requires you to go exploring.
  • Sleeping Single:
    • Strangely, in several games, the Big Bed is not for you and your spouse to share, but your spouse and your child. Your character still sleeps in their own little bed. The separate beds are a creation of the latter games; in the original and 64, you and your spouse shared a bed while your child had his own. Some later games have reverted to this.
    • In a couple of games, you, your spouse, and your child may all have your own separate beds.
  • Sprint Meter: As you work, you start to lose energy, and you farmer will display various states of exasperation, like wiping the sweat from their brow, looking sad, or panting heavily. If you work yourself too hard, you'll collapse and be unable to work for the rest of the day.
  • Sugar Bowl: About the worst thing that ever happens in the Harvest Moon verse is that animals and old ladies occasionally die. Everything else is pretty idyllic, which makes the occasional Drama Bomb that much more powerful. A Wonderful Life is something of an exception to this, with a generally darker tone than the norm for the franchise.
  • Super Title 64 Advance: Harvest Moon 64, Harvest Moon DS and other DS games, and the two 3DS games.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Quite a few characters that were cast out completely from other games. The most noticeable being Sara to Claire, and Pastor Brown to Carter. Most substitutes aren't disliked though, due to the flexibility of the fandom and due to the fact that several of originals are simply unknown due to originating from more obscure titles.
  • Take Your Time:
    • With the exceptions of A Wonderful Life, Grand Bazaar, Tale of Two Towns, and Tree of Tranquility, time doesn't pass while in buildings, so you can screw around to your heart's content without missing anything. Especially glaring in some games where you can buy a greenhouse to grow crops in, meaning that you can have absolutely massive fields of produce—but since a greenhouse is a building, it takes literally no time to plant, water, or harvest everything inside it.
    • Time does flow when you're inside buildings in A New Beginning. However, it stops flowing when you go into Edit mode, which also allows you to move most things, including buildings in town and the farm around, with no energy penalty or time loss while in that mode. It also stops flowing if you bring up the menu with the X button or when you talk to villagers.
  • Taking Advantage of Generosity: A New Beginning has Michelle, whose heart events consist of her requesting increasingly valuable items and has you overhearing her calling you a sucker and asks for a pink diamond, which is required for her final heart event. She even has the gall to rub it in your face when you confront her!
  • Talk to Everyone: Encouraged, to up your friendship with them. It can also be an option and path to secret items.
  • Took a Shortcut: Many characters you leave in one building will show up in the next one you travel to, even if you used a Teleport Stone to get there. A particularly painful version happens when you are trying to talk to someone on a deadline, accidentally overshoot to the next screen on the path or they cross the screen line before you, and they're suddenly nowhere to be found.
  • Tsundere: A few of the candidates in various games qualify.
    • Luna from Tree of Tranquility is the major example for this series, with the multiple versions of Karen a close second.
    • Antoinette from Grand Bazaar.
    • Natalie from Island of Happiness.
    • Nami from A[nother] Wonderful Life, although she borders on kuudere as well.
    • Male version: Gill from Tree of Tranquility and Animal Parade. He's in "tsuntsun" mode most of the time and gets pretty deep into Suspiciously Specific Denial territory when it comes to his feelings for your character, should you choose to court him.
    • Alice in Hero of Leaf Valley. So much so that when you give her a birthday present she goes so far as to use some classic tsundere lines.
      Alice: "Well, I guess I'll take it from you. I-It's not like I'm happy about it or anything!"
    • Neil from A New Beginning is another male example.

    U to Z 
  • Ugly Guy Cute Daughter: Many games have at least one homely or not as handsome older man with an inexplicably gorgeous daughter (or son) who will inevitably be one of your potential love interests.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change:
    • Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon and Innocent Life: A Futuristic Harvest Moon are both Exactly What It Says on the Tin, though the rest of the series are in realistic modern day settings, barring some various fairies, imps, and sprites.
    • Puzzle De Harvest Moon, a not very well received Puzzle Game — not of the Match Three subgenre, despite what anyone who hasn't played it will tell you.
  • Ultimate Authority Mayor: The government in each game apparently consists entirely of the local mayor, if there's anyone at all.
  • Unobtainium:
    • Appear in the series usually in the form of Orichalcum, Adamantite, and/or Mythic Stones.
    • In Island of Happiness: There are special floors that occur regularly (and the game tells you where they are when conditions are met), some of which are almost exclusively for one of these Unobtanium ores. Of course, junk ore STILL manages to show up there.
    • Averted in Grand Bazaar, where you can easily buy the Orichalcum and Adamantite from Lloyd's stall for only 9800 G.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • You can woo all the girls at the same time, and in some games this seems to prevent them from marrying your rivals. Some games also guilt trip you by playing out the consequences of your actions.
    • You can leave your animals to die in various ways. The game will make you feel bad for it.
  • Video Game Remake:
    • The Mineral Town games to Back to Nature, and Hero of Leaf Valley to Save the Homeland. The latter remakes one of the most maligned games in the series from the ground up, significantly expanding it and addressing most of its major flaws.
    • Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is a remake of Mineral Town, and Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life remade Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Two in-game achievements in A New Beginning are eating poisonous mushrooms and passing out enough.
  • Virtual Paper Doll:
    • The obscure Game Boy game Harvest Moon 3 was the first game to give you the option of customizing your player character's appearance. You could only change your bandanna and clothes colors.
    • The A(nother) Wonderful Life and DS (Cute) Distaff Counterpart games also gave the ability to change the character's outfit. It was limited to the same style, however, just with different colors.
    • This changed in Tree of Tranquility, which allowed outfit customization for both the male and female characters, but was still somewhat limited. Animal Parade gave a much bigger range of outfit customization, including the ability to customize your kids' outfits.
    • The Tale of Two Towns: There's one outfit for each village, and you can unlock new ones from the oracle.
    • A New Beginning gives you plenty of different clothes to make, as well as hairstyles.
    • Story of Seasons (2014) gives you similar features to A New Beginning, as does Trio of Towns.
    • There's multiple outfits in Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town, but they're all just Palette Swap outfits outside of the mascot costumes.
    • Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life offers multiple outfits to purchase.
  • Warp Whistle:
    • The Teleport Stone from several games. In some of them, it's a difficult-to-find late game item. In DS, get the Sprite Casino open, and you probably won't have to walk anywhere starting around Day 10 of Year 1.
    • It's literally a whistle in Animal Parade; once you rescue all the animals from Theodore's circus, you can summon them with the whistle to take you to certain places on the map (but not the mine district, for some reason.)
  • Weather Report: Many games have a television that, among other channels, includes a dedicated weather station that shows the next day's forecast.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: Narrower than some other examples, but there's still a startling amount of ways to go about playing these games.
  • With This Ring: In the HM universe, you propose through means of a Blue Feather, so there's no need to worry about rings... except in Tree of Tranquility and Animal Parade, where they somehow make the Blue Feather into a ring after the proposal and it becomes a wearable accessory. There's also commitment rings in several games where you have to gift them to your beloved and commit to a relationship, or you don't get to see their heart events past a certain point.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: Your character will visibly grow more and more tired as you burn through your stamina.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Most games feature at least one traditional Japanese young woman as a marriageable girl or rival. Look for the girl with the short brown hair, quiet demeanor, and/or apron.
  • You Can See Me?: Any game that has supernatural elements in it — which is almost all of them — have it so the magical people in the area are only seen by the player character (and maybe one other person, such as Jamie in Harvest Moon: Magical Melody). Be they Harvest Sprites (later called Nature Sprites), the Harvest Goddess (or God), or a Kappa living in a pond, the player is generally the only one who interacts with them. Others might know of or think about them, though.
  • Your Favorite: Most characters have several favorite items that will tend to revolve around a particular theme - usually one of your crops or a meal. In several games, characters often have one particular favorite item that can score you the most amount of heart/relationship points.