If you are a fan of simulation games, you may not forget about the famous farm simulation game from Natsume. It's "Harvest Moon". Just like another Harvest Moon Version in this game you will become a farmer and manage a farm.
Here is about some farming features, in this version:
Farming and Plants
Farming in Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life is very complex. The location of the farm has three kinds of land, and each area has different levels of fertility. Plants should be watered in the morning and afternoon, and the first planted plants had to be given fertilizer for fast growing plants. Each plant has time to grow in the growing seasons, and will grow poorly if planted not in accordance with the seasons. Plants were divided into two types, namely vegetable and tree crops. Vegetable crops should be planted in accordance with the seasons, if not then they will die. Plant trees can be planted anytime, but will only have the fruits in a right season.
One excellent new feature on Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life is crossed plants. Players can come up with this after they get Tartan, a plant who can talk, which will appear when players make a friendship with Takakura.
Players begin the game with one cow, and can add other animals, like sheep, chickens, and a horse. In this Harvest Moon series is also introduced ducks and goats. Goats can produce milk for one year, after that, they will stop producing milk. Goats cannot be sold, so it will take a place in the cage.
Some people say heroin and crack cocaine are addictive, these people haven't lived! They should try playing Harvest moon on the gamecube, then they will know how something can grip your life, even when you don't want it to!
Harvest moon is a game in which you run a farm. I know that it sounds like the worst game ever, but the repetitive planting, watering, weeding, milking and egg collecting is strangely attractive and it will keep you playing for hours, if just to be able to afford the butter maker, or to woo your future wife.
I think it is hard to understand how fun and addictive the game can be unless you have played it for a while yourself. The first hour or so of playing it can seem rubbish, but if you give up then its too bad.
The graphics are ok, the water looks nice but it has a cartoony feel to it. The village is fairly large which you can walk around almost anywhere, fishing, mining or talking to villagers. You can even get married and have a child!
A couple of years ago, Game had an offer where you could take 4 of your games and 99p, and swap for any new game prices £39.99 or less. I'd bought quite a few games on a whim in there previous sale for £1.99 each, that turned out to be not so good, so I took these, and 2 £1.00 coins to Game to trade. I got Metal Gear Solid for the Gamecube (Which was a disappointment, but that's for another review), but there was nothing else that I fancied. The number 1 Gamecube game in the charts was something called Harvest Moon. I didn't know anything about it, and the description did not appeal, but I thought that if I bought it as part of the offer, I could always trade it in for around £15 at Gamestation, and still make £5 profit, so I bought it.
About a week later, I was just about to take it to trade in, but I decided to give it a go first, and I am so glad I did.
It is possibly the most absorbing, entertaining, fun game I have ever played in my 26 years of videogaming.
The basic premise is that you have inherited a farm in a small village from your dad, and with the help of your farmhand/guide, you live your life over 30 game years (10 you actually play, the others are cut-scenes), farming, making friends, selling items, courting and bringing up a child. Life evolves in the village. New people arrive, others leave, Buildings appear and disappear, and people you like die (as I was horrified to discover the other week!). Money plays an important part, as you need to produce and sell things in order to buy better farming equipment.
Each year has 4 seasons, each season lasts 10 days, and each day lasts 24 game hours (1 game hour is 60 seconds). The seasons determine what crops you can grow, and control the weather.
You start the game with 3 fields (that have various levels of fertility), 1 meadow and a cow. The cow provides milk that your farmhand can sell at market to provide funds. A happy cow provides better milk, so to cheer her up you and hug her, buy a brush and groom her, and let her out in the meadow, but bring her back in before it goes dark, or if it rains or else you will have a grumpy cow on your hands. The cow gives milk for 40 days after she gives birth to a calf, so you have to time it right to get the best out of her. Bulls can be bought to try and get her back in the family way, or you can buy a "miracle potion" that does the dirty deed with a minimum of fuss. Different cows can be bought that provide different qualities of milk.
Other animals including Chickens, Sheep and Goats are available through the game, and all need to be treated well to get the most out of them (before you ask, there is no abattoir!!). Chickens lay eggs, and need a rooster to help them do this. The occasional egg is fertilized, and these you can hatch. Again, the farmhand can take eggs to market to sell.
Vegetables are another source of income. You need to toil your fields first, and water them. Watering has to be done daily to ensure your crops grow well. You initially buy your seeds from a neighboring farm. The veg you plant depends on the seasons. Carrots in fall, potatoes in fall/winter, melons in summer etc. Later in the game you can invest your veg and make more seeds in a seedmaker (each item of veg creates 2 seeds). You can also create hybrid veg such as a carrotatoe (1/2 carrot, ½ potato) that bring in even more cash.
Other forms of income include working on the archeological dig, gathering plants and flowers, and fishing.
Fishing is a great aspect of the game. Different fish can be found upstream and downstream, and vary in size and price.
Items you gather or harvest can also be given to the different characters in the game to create friendships. If you talk to the characters, you get clues about what they like and dislike. You then offer items to them, and if they like them, the more you offer, the better the friendship, and this often results in you getting fantastic items.
You also need to woo a girl. There are several in the village, some easier to woo than others (like in real life!!). You need to do this before the end of the first year, or the game stops. In year 2, you get a son, and have to help bring him up and keep him happy.
A game about farming sounds boring as anything, but this really entertains many levels. My little girl loves sitting with me while I am playing it, which make a nice change, and it is very relaxing.
General game info-
Controls are quite simple. There is a key on the top of the screen so you don't forger which button does what, which is useful.
The Graphics are Japanese style which you either like or hate, and are quite cute. There are some fantastic subtle effects such as reflections and the flow of water, and leaves gently falling off trees. They fit in very well with the type of game it is. The characters are well animated.
The sound is the only disappointing aspect. The background noises of the sea and weather are fine, it is just the silly beep type noises you get when talking to other characters that annoy me.
It took me a long time to finish the game. Not once did it feel like a chore. At the end, you have lived the full life of this farmer, and it it a touch emotional.
Even at full price (around £39.99) I feel it is fantastic value for money, and wholeheartedly recommend it. Rent first to be sure it is your type of thing, though.
I previously posted a version of this review on Ciao under the name Sethsurvey.