Well Its a Thursday again and that means its time to have an article about games of old. Although it doesn’t have to be extremely retro, we talk about games we’ve played in our childhood. So here I’m going to be talking about one of my old time favorites: Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town.
Released in 2003 on the ol’ Gameboy Advance, Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town is a farming/dating simulator. Its a bit more than that but it does have that as its core gameplay. The main goal of the game is to raise a successful farm and eventually marry one of the bachelorettes who resides in the virtual town. You start off by naming your character, farm and pet dog then you receive a short backstory on how you came to meet this old man who owned a farm and that you, as a little boy, played on it and had fun memories. You promised to write letters to each other and one day you noticed the letters stopped coming. You travel to the old farm and the Mayor tells you that the old man died a few months back and you’ve inherited it. Then begins your job as a farmer hoping to revive the farm into its former glory.
Your farm is your main source of income. You buy seeds from the local super market in town and you sow them into your plot and water them everyday until it get bears fruit (or vegetable). There are different crops for every season and each crop has their own growth cycle. You get tools that was left by the farm’s previous owner and you use these to plow, water and cut your plants. These can be upgraded for more efficiency at the town’s blacksmith as well as buy other useful tools such as a brush for your livestock, trimmers for your sheep and a milker for the cows.
Livestock, other than your crops, are another source of income. Chickens, Cows and Sheep are bought from town and then placed in your farm’s Chicken coop and/or Barn. These animals will produce eggs, milk and wool and they gradually get better in quality if the animals are cared for daily. The produce are then placed in the shipment bin ready for shipping and you receive income at the end of the day.
Other than your farm there are other locations in the game such as the town, the beach, the forest, the mountain and the mines. The town is where the most of the residents live and where you’ll be getting most of your stuff. There’s a market, a church, a blacksmith and even a library. The other locations like the forest and mountains are locations where you can forage for wild plants, herbs and berries and even fish on bodies of water. The mines are where you’ll be getting the ores needed for upgrading your equipment and where you ll be getting valuable gems which you can sell. Almost anything you find can be sold and this is pretty nifty if you need a quick extra buck.
Other than filling your wallet with gold there are other things that can be done in the game as well. The residents in town can be befriended and some are even eligible for marriage. This is one of the best parts of the game, building relationships with the towns folk. Each resident has their own schedule and can be found in different locations through out the day. This can vary depending on what time it is, what day of the week it is or if the weather is to their liking. So micromanaging your time to fit in socializing and farm work is basically what you’ll be doing most of the time and it gets pretty stressful as your farm gets bigger and you’ll have less and less time for wooing that girl you like. Its the closest thing simulation can ever get.
Joking aside the time/schedule aspect in this game is extensive and is amazing for an old handheld game. Not only you have a clock, the game also has a calendar which dates every farm season and every holiday the town celebrates. Also each resident has their own birthday, as they should have, and their affection for you increases if you gift them.
The graphics are a bit of cartoony and feels right for the game. Every resident has character portraits that show their emotion every time you talk to them and the design for each character is distinguishable and memorable. Every item available has a design in-game albeit some are pallet swaps, such as the tools as they get upgraded. Overall the 32bit graphics are pretty decent for its time for the system it came out in.
The soundtrack in the game is surprisingly calming and catchy. With a different song for every season you can easily feel the emotion on which the season brings such as an upbeat tune for summer or a melancholic sonata for those cold winter days.
Overall the Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town is a must buy for those who wants to experience, I daresay, the best Harvest Moon game of all time. Not being biased the game kept what made the franchise amazing and took it up a notch. It didn’t have those gimmicks that the newer iterations try to keep renewing the franchise. It is a gem in the large library the Gameboy Advance had in its time. With its truly demanding and yet addicting gameplay, it’ll truly suck you in to keep you turning in for another day. Truly a must have for those wanting a good Harvest Moon game.