- JP release: 5th February 1999
- NA release: 22nd December 1999
- PAL release: N/A
- Developer: Victor
- Publisher: Pack-In-Soft (JP), Natsume (NA)
- N64 Magazine Score: 90%
The biggest problem with Harvest Moon 64 is that Stardew Valley now exists. Everything that Harvest Moon 64 does, Stardew has done it better. Which means that because I played Stardew Valley first, I found it very difficult to judge Harvest Moon 64 for what it originally was.
The gist of it is that your granddad has died, and you have inherited his run down farm. You need to clean the land, grow crops, look after animals, improve your house and also socialise with the village – particularly the girls, as getting a wife is optional, but one of the main goals of the game.
One of the most difficult things with Harvest Moon 64 is how short the days are, so it feels like you can barely get anything done. You get a few hours in the morning before other characters wake up, but this translates to a couple of minutes. Once you have enough money (and lumber) to get a greenhouse, it’s much easier to look after your crops, but it makes the game feel stressful rather than relaxing.
The explorable world is quite short, so you can visit places if you decide to socialise for a day, but it also means that there isn’t much to see. Characters also tend to have a habit of being really good at hiding, so you can end up wasting a lot of valuable time getting somewhere and not finding the NPC you wanted to talk to. It takes a very long time to encounter new dialogue, and some encounters only happen if you’re in the right place on the right time and day.
Festivals and events are an important part of Harvest Moon 64. All the shops will shut and you’ll get to enjoy a varied amount of activities, some of which you can compete in, such as horse racing and swimming. You’ll be able to get to know the characters a bit more at these events, so they’re well worth attending.
In the village are five girls that are potential wives. By talking to them, giving them gifts and attending festivals they’ll start liking you more and more, and some events will trigger. Some of them apply to multiple girls (they hurt their ankle and you help them own) and others are more personal where you learn more about them. After you propose, you’ll get married and they’ll live on your farm, and eventually get pegnant.
Harvest Moon 64 doesn’t do anything wrong, and really would have been great when it came out – although I do think the strict time limit would still be a bit too stressful for a game like this. However, it’s simplicity in terms of conversations, quests and the places you can explore means there’s not a lot of reason to visit Harvest Moon when other games like it exist.
If you’re a fan of the series from the SNES and Game Boy, then you’re going to love Harvest Moon on the N64. There are some ugly graphical glitches and one crash-tastic bug, but no amount of half-hearted programming can detract from such absorbing gameplay.Martin Kitts, N64 Magazine #39
Remake or Remaster?
A collection of all the Harvest Moon games would be nice.
Official Ways to get the game
There’s no official way to play Harvest Moon 64.
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