These 6 Bad Harvest Moon Games Really Take the Cow Pie
The first Harvest Moon game I ever played was handed to me by my older brother, who told me to milk the cows, plant some seeds, and stay inside when the TV says there's gonna be a storm. When I asked about town, he said "buy seeds from there". When I asked about festivals, he said "try to win". He didn't tell me I could get married. He didn't tell me I could form relationships with the townsfolk. He didn't even tell me that there was a whole backstory to the game.
All I thought there was to Harvest Moon was taking care of cows until they died and trying to have a successful farm -- and I was content with that. It was my favorite game that summer, back when I was young and naive and did anything my older brother told me to.
(not an actual representation of me and my brother)
If a Harvest Moon game is still fun even when you do absolutely nothing, how is it possible to have a bad one? Let's find out.
So put down your hoes and stop sheering your sheep, because we are about to embark on a journey you didn't even want to take -- discussing the less-than-favorable Harvest Moon titles and why the community wants you to play something else.
Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness
Let's start with a title that can still be construed as good if you ask the right (or wrong) people. For the most part, however, the Harvest Moon community are no fans of Island of Happiness.
It's not that the game isn't aesthetically pleasing or that it has an awful story. quite the contrary in fact -- the villagers are cute, and being shipwrecked on an island and deciding to live there isn't the worst idea for a story I've ever heard. No, people don't like Island of Happiness because of the controls.
You give a gamer a stylus and they either use it or chew it. You give a gamer a stylus when that's the only way to play and they're going to have a bad time. No matter how much they might like the game, if they have to clunk their way around their farm with no reprieve from holding that blasted stick in their hand, they're going to end up hating a game that they could have otherwise loved.
But we can't blame the child for its parents' mistakes...
Harvest Moon DS
Released in 2005 as the first of their Nintendo DS releases, Harvest Moon DS is the staple for bad Harvest Moon games. Seriously, even people who like this game hate this game.
If you bought Harvest Moon DS expecting an upgrade from the GBA title, you couldn't be more wrong. If you bought this game expecting exciting innovations, and new charming quirks that add to the tried and true tactics of this endearing farming simulator, prepare to be disappointed. If you bought this game at all, you probably drowned in the monotony of a Harvest Moon game that didn't even have enough self-respect to be different from the actual fun monotony of its forefathers.
Harvest Moon DS Cute
Oh my gosh, you're thinking. There's another DS one?
You bet your sweet ass there is.
It's bad enough that in the old days of Harvest Moon, you could only play as a boy. And instead of Harvest Moon DS Cute allowing players a choice between a boy and a girl, they just make the protagonist solely a girl, which could be fun if we didn't live in a progressive world. No one really cares as long as they have the choice, but Harvest Moon DS Cute takes that choice away.
Other than the derogatory addition of the word "cute" (like the previous games weren't? Like only girl games can be cute?), this 2005 release is basically the same as Harvest Moon DS -- unoriginal, mundane, and so similar to the GBA versions that it's hardly innovative.
But, hey, you get to be a girl. That's fun, right?
Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility
When you go out actively seeking a game that's all about both literal farming and the gaming term "farming," you're not exactly expecting a blockbuster. And that's okay. The relaxing nature of farming simulator games brings a certain type of contentment to someone who wants to live in a simpler world.
So when a game like that ends up being boring to someone who likes playing those types of games, something went horrible wrong.
Did you hear me, Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility? Something went horribly wrong.
Setting aside the sub-par graphics and shoddy sound design, you still have a game with stilted conversations and no incentives to put in the time to woo any of the 16 eligible spouses.
Sure, the game has the same simplistic play style of its predecessors, but just as the Little Mermaid wanted more than the entire ocean floor, so do veteran Harvest Moon players want more than just the Harvest Moon formula. Especially considering this was the first Wii release for the franchise.
Harvest Moon: My Little Shop
Have you ever looked at a Harvest Moon game and thought, "Sure wish I didn't have to farm in this"?
It's impossible really, because why else are you playing these games? Regardless, Harvest Moon publisher Natsume tried to deliver with the release of My Little Shop.
It's a Harvest Moon game without farming. Okay fine, you live on a farm and can water your crops for, like, a second. But the rest of your time is spent playing mini games as a form of advancement toward the success of the shop you run.
I know when I hear, "A game whose main focus is mini games," I think, "This is going to be the most fun game I've ever played in my life, ever".
Puzzle de Harvest Moon
So you wanna play Harvest Moon but you don't want to farm or run a shop. Then what do you want?!
Well, you don't want to read this list when looking for a good Harvest Moon game, that's for sure.
And our next bad game is Puzzle de Harvest Moon, a farming simulator game that takes out the farming mechanics and doesn't even give you the dignity of running your own shop. Instead, you get to solve puzzles.
Not only are the staple mechanics of a Harvest Moon game non-existent (please, just let me get married), but the "fun" new additions don't even make a lot of sense -- everyone wants to know what's up with the cow, when really they should be wondering why they're playing Puzzle de Harvest Moon over a game where they could be milking that cow.
Apparently, Harvest Moon fans don't know what they want.
They want the same simple mechanics in every game, with both subtle and exaggerated variations to make the games interesting, but not so different that they can't recognize a Harvest Moon title when they see one.
There is a fine line the developers have to walk to satisfy their fans in order to give them the best Harvest Moon game, and it can be hard to appease everyone.
My advice? If you want to play a good Harvest Moon game, just play Rune Factory.