The list so far: The Definitive 50 N64 Games
Harvest Moon was born on the SNES and came to the GameBoy shortly afterward. Its continued since then, appearing on everything from the PlayStation to the 3DS. But it’s the N64 entry that stands as the fan favourite.
Harvest Moon 64 puts you in the role of a young man who has just inherited a farm. It’s your job to fix up the old place, overrun with weeds, tree stumps, and rocks as it is, and get it running with peak efficiency. Along the way, you’ll have plenty more to do though – everything from buying, raising, and caring for livestock, fishing, befriending townsfolk, upgrading your house, getting married, and raising a family of your own.
Numerous town events and activities at other nearby locations provide plenty of opportunities to interact with a broad cast of NPCs. And it is this game’s characters, all of whom feel like they really have their own lives, which puts Harvest Moon 64 ahead of other entries in its series. The game expects you to marry, but each potential mate has another suitor after her who will swoop in if you take too long. There are also many other NPCs, and even animals, to befriend and build rapport with.
Each day, you rise with a quick meal of rice balls before heading out into the field for a long day of toil – or not. Sure, it’s important to feed your animals and water your crops, but there’s also just so much else. From intervening in the NPCs’ personal drama to betting on horse races, to attending any number of other festivals. It’s all possible. After all, life is about more than plowing fields and turning turnips into hard currency.
Rather than doing anything too ambitious with the power of the N64, this entry in the Harvest Moon series takes the franchise from simple pixel art graphics to similarly simple pre-rendered graphics displayed isometrically, not unlike Mario RPG. Unfortunately, the tilted look can get in the way of lining up with objects in order to interact with them. I’ve thrown away far too much good produce in this game thanks to the controls. The camera position can be rotated, but it doesn’t entirely alleviate the issue.
Series fans will likely not need much direction, but little is given to new players unless they seek it out in the game’s tutorial. It’s not immediately obvious what you can even do with the tools you start the game with, or the proper technique for raising crops. In my first go-around, I killed off the very first chicken, an animal I had been carefully saving up for, when I failed to provide her daily food in the right bin.
Once you have the basics sorted out, Harvest Moon 64 transitions from a devastatingly frightening chore simulator to a calming, meditative chore simulator filled with small moments of charm and whimsy, and a constantly beating drum of satisfaction. There’s just something about selling your crops and feeding your livestock that prevents you from ever wanting to stop.
Let me know what you think of Harvest Moon and the Definitive 50 in the comments section below. Don’t forget to rate and subscribe. Check back next week for entry #31 on the Definitive 50 N64 games.