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Loving the farm life: the Harvest Moon fan community

Who would have thought that a game all about farming would have such a devoted fan base? Harvest Moon, a game all about farm life, debuted on the Super Nintendo a decade ago. The game would task players to plant seeds, grow vegetables, and maintain a love life. The game was as simple as the inspiration it came from, and players seemed utterly captivated. The upcoming Innocent Life for PSP is a drastic change from previous Harvest Moon games of yore, taking the franchise to unfamiliar territory: the future. Before we look at this new PSP exclusive, we thought we'd ask the hardcore Harvest Moon fans of Harvest Moon Otaku to speak about how they first found the franchise, and what makes the series so appealing to them.

How did you first get into Harvest Moon?
The Harvest Moon Otaku community responds:

"I first discovered HM on Thanksgiving night a number of years ago. We were all sitting around the table, and my Aunt asks me what I wanted for Christmas. I said I wasn't really sure, but I knew that I wanted a really good quality video game. So after doing some quick searching for popular N64 games, I came across Harvest Moon 64. I'd never played a simulation type of game before, but I thought it looked interesting enough. Despite the huge asking price (even for used versions) I finally convinced my parents into getting it for me, and I've loved the series ever since." -- Chuck

"I was looking at an issue of Nintendo Power one day when I was younger, and I saw a question that said, 'How do I sell my chickens?' and I thought 'Hahaha, what a stupid question. Who doesn't know how to sell chickens?' Then I saw a question after it that said 'How do I get the Moon Flower?' I thought that sounded cool, and maybe I should try it out. I bought Harvest Moon for SNES the next day and was instantly addicted." -- Boy_Tomo_Chan

"My father first bought Harvest Moon 64 for me years ago, when I was probably around eight years old. My first reaction to the game was something along the lines of 'What? Farm tools...?! No swords or guns or weapons? How boring.' About four hours later my father came home from work, and I was still on the floor playing." -- Xief

The fan community produces some beautiful art. This 'quick sketch" of Katie comes from crystal_mew.

What's so appealing about the series?
Xief, Editor of Harvest Moon Otaku, writes:

Although each game in the Harvest Moon series is certainly vast enough for each person to find something that appeals to them, three things always seem to stand out in their testimony: Harvest Moon is engaging; Harvest Moon is different; Harvest Moon is a relief.

The "engaging" aspect is probably the one most frequently talked about by Harvest Moon fans--it is a simulation game, after all. Well, granted, pretty much all good games are engaging. However, the Harvest Moon series stands out by providing a slow, peaceful, almost "utopian" environment, while still keeping the game intellectually challenging enough that it is not purely a child's game. On the contrary, in order to build a successful file, one would need a kind of patience, along with certain planning and organizational skills that actually render a wide range of ages capable of playing without becoming bored. As stated by one fan, "[Harvest Moon] allows the player to lead a second life, and do and achieve things that they can't in real life in a place where the other characters are all perfect and happy and smiling ..." Overall, Harvest Moon is about having control over a life without the stress that comes with having to keep control of your life.

Secondly, its uniqueness. Indeed, Harvest Moon is quite different; there aren't many other games on the market like it. And it's because of this difference that Harvest Moon may very well not be for everyone; however, many of those who do find themselves playing it are instantly addicted. This may explain why Harvest Moon seems to have been able to maintain such a strong, consistent fan following throughout the years since its creation. As some players have bluntly stated, "There's just no other game like it."

That being said, it's little wonder why a large majority of the fans consider Harvest Moon to be a "relief." Very few other games out there succeed in being so simplistic, peaceful, yet so vast and engaging at the same time, and as one player chose to state, "It's a welcome relief from all of the fast-paced games that are hyped today." In Harvest Moon, you very often move more at your own pace, and not so much at the pace of quests, limits, and other pressures that come with said "fast-paced" games. Not to imply that many Harvest Moon players are not also dedicated fans of such games--but we all need a break now and then. Furthermore, as one player adds, "It's because the games last so long, and you end up having to play them for a long time. Thus, memories are formed; good memories."

Thanks to everyone from Harvest Moon Otaku for sharing their stories with us! Stay tuned to PSP Fanboy as we explore Innocent Life: A Futuristic Harvest Moon.

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