Harvest Moon 64 is the surprisingly popular simulation game that puts you into the overalls of a rather ordinary guy, trying his luck at the life of a farmer. Indeed, Harvest Moon 64, in the most basic sense, is a farming simulation. Look at it more closely and you will find much more depth to the game.
In one of the first attempts at “real-time” games, the Harvest Moon series began a trend of originality. Days in the game pass similar to days in real life. You wake up in the morning, do your necessary chores, leaving your evenings open for socialization, and then you turn in at night. Minutes pass by in mere seconds, with each day lasting for ten or so minutes in real life. However time does stop when you enter a building, allowing you to complete indoor chores and shopping without wasting your day.
Clearing your field, planting and tending to crops, raising cows and chickens, and remodeling your house are all examples of things you can do to pass your day. Off the farm, such activities as fishing, chopping firewood, working part-time as a carpenter, mining, and foraging for wild berries can provide income. Besides farming crops and doing the occasional odd job, there are a variety of animals in the game. Early in the game, you will receive a pony that will eventually grow to become a horse capable of helping you with your chores. Your horse, along with your pet dog are the only two animals that come free of charge. Cows, sheep, and chickens must all be bought from the local livestock dealer, and then you can begin earning profits from them.
When you aren’t busy working, you can spend all your hard earned money for a night out on the town. On holidays, the town usually holds some type of festival that you can take part in. These are special occasions where you can interact with the town in different ways than normal. These events and parties usually take place in the village square, but on occasion they may occur at the beach or in the mountains.
The nearby village contains nearly half a dozen young ladies you can court. These girls are certainly high maintenance and won’t fall for you just on looks alone. These girls need attention, and gifts… usually expensive gifts. You must learn their routines, where they work, what they do during the day, and what they like to do. After a while though, your efforts will pay off and you may find yourself with a wife. Once that is over and done with, you might find yourself with a child, thus entering yourself into the realm of fatherhood.
On a more technical note, the graphics in the game are a clean cartoonish look. It fits the game nicely, and the Nintendo 64 handles the game quite well. Audio in the game is so-so, with the same repetitive tune playing over and over again. The only time the music changes is when the seasons change.
All in all, the game is quite enjoyable. It does take a certain type of person to appreciate the game, as most people may become bored quickly. The Harvest Moon series should not be overlooked, and the Nintendo 64 version is one of the better ones that is available.