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Ozzy's Game Corner – Harvest Moon: Back to Nature0
By - Posted 4th July, 2015 at 9:53 pm

Starting up the game you choose your name, your dog’s name, the name of your farm and your birthday. You see a scene from when you was a young boy. You had been sent from the city to go stay with your grandfather who was the owner of a farm. Your grandfather ran a very successful farm, but now that he has passed on, the farm has fallen into a bad state. Your character wishes to move to the farm but isn’t exactly experienced, nor does your character know any of the residents of the village where the farm is situated.

You have been allowed to move into the farm but under a few conditions: you must get the farm back up and running and you must introduce yourself and make an impact on your neighbours. This is more important than you would think; I have personally completed 3 years on the farm in the past, with the farm in a fairly decent state but didn’t bother so much with being friendly with the people (bar a few), and was subsequently asked to leave, resulting in a game over! The mayor and all the people are agreed on this.

When you gain control of the game, you have missed the first day in the Spring, so you need to get cracking. The farm is in a terrible condition, so you must weed the farm as best you can, or at least do a quarter of it so you can use the hoé to make a 3×3 plot, or a couple. You’re going to want to go to the supermarket to buy yourself some seeds to sow, but make sure to explore the woodland areas on the map. By the hot spring, you can collect wild food/plants to sell to the buyer who comes around most days at 5:00 pm game time. To sell food, you throw it into the produce bin which is near your field, close to your house/dog house.
Remember not to overwork yourself on the first day though, because your character will get tired quickly. If you want to do more in the day, go to the hot spring and relax in there for an hour in game time.

There are many events in the game to keep things fresh, one of the first few you will come across is getting your horse. During your first few days, go to Barley’s Ranch and you will be given a horse, whom he and his granddaughter came across. They will ask you if you would look after the horse. If you agree, make sure you look after it, by brushing it and speaking to it every day, as a year later Barley will come and check up on how the horse is doing. If the horse has been neglected, Barley will take the horse away and any friendship points you managed to gain with him, will go down. And surely, it will affect how the game ends at the end of the three years.

When you first enter the supermarket, you will come across Jeff who is a bit of a pushover and seemingly lets people buy products without paying (not you though! The cheek)! You will get to have a little bit of input here, you can tell one of the people that they should pay for the product they have or you can mind your own business. But if you want to gain bonus points with Karen, Jeff’s daughter, who is one of the few girls you can marry eventually, it may be a good idea to tell them they should pay.

As mentioned on the first day you gain control, hopefully you would have bought some seeds (turnip ones are good).
As long as you have been watering them daily, they will grow fairly quickly and you can then sell them to the buyer (Zac). Once he’s paid you for them, now would be as good a time as any to start buying some animals. A chicken would be the smartest idea as when they become happy, they will start producing an egg every day, which will raise your profits; you can incubate the eggs so you can get more chickens without having to actually pay for anything else, you only need the one chicken! To keep chickens happy, feed them and pick them up every day. Be careful when feeding, because you need to be stood in a certain spot, otherwise you will throw the chicken feed on the floor, thus wasting the food.

So far you should have your dog, your horse and now a chicken. All of these are easy to look after so no excuses. You should also have more turnips planted and your farm should be clear of weeds. There will be stones and bits of wood for you to get rid of, but you have your hammer and axe for that. Remember, you have limited stamina and both tools will use up some of it, but don’t be afraid of using the hot springs still. If you carry on using the tools when you are tired, your character will start rubbing his head, then falling down, eventually falling over and blacking out, being taken to the doctor. This will lose you a day, will make you wake up late the day after, and your animals will be unhappy with you because you couldn’t feed them!

Each time you use a tool, it gains more experience, which you need to upgrade it. You need to get an Ore from the mine, which is near the hot spring. Use your hoé to dig up Ores (another good way to gain money, sell these to the buyer). Once you have the corresponding Ore, give it to the Blacksmith along with some money and he will upgrade it for you. You need to definitely upgrade your axe and hammer, because you will have tree stumps and big stones in your field. When you chop down wood and hammer down stone, you can use these as materials to extend your house, your barn and chicken coop, plus build a hothouse which will enable you to plant seeds regardless of the season (but inside the hothouse, of course).

Soon it will be Summer and the wild plants change, so explore the woodland areas once more to figure out what has grown. Some wild plants can be very valuable and you don’t want to miss picking them up each day. It would be a good idea if you haven’t already to upgrade your backpack at the supermarket, but you really should upgrade it as soon as possible. I believe Summer is also a season that can be bad for your farm, as hurricanes can occur! Watch the TV weather channel to find out what the weather will be like each day. Note, hurricanes won’t ever occur on festival days. Hurricanes can destroy crops and buildings, which would kill the animals inside!

In the first Summer of the game, you will have more of a chance to participate in festivals, thus I’ve missed out the spring ones. On the first day of Summer, there is a Swimming Festival. This may be cheating, but make sure you save your game down before you go to sleep on the last day of Spring. You can restart the game if you lose the race, you want to win because you will win a Power Berry which will raise your stamina; slightly ironic as this takes a lot of stamina and a strategy to win! It is difficult, but with practice you should be able to do it eventually. A good strategy is to press the X and triangle buttons alternatively. It would be good to win this in your first year if possible.

The next festival will be the Sumo Chicken Festival, so I hope you have been taking care of your chickens! I would use your first chicken because that will be your best bet. There are 3 rounds, the first one being the easiest and the last being the hardest, obviously. Your hen needs to stay in the ring, but also needs to startle the opposing hen to scare it out of the ring. Make sure your hen is facing the right way (face to face with the opposing hen) and press X to make your hen attempt to startle its opponent. The prize for this would make your chicken highly valuable, as it will now start to lay gold eggs which are worth 150G. Handy, when money is tight the first year!

The Tomato Festival is next! (You may be asked to provide a few tomatoes for this, so try and plant tomato seeds at the start of the season!) This is a very fun event and is all about timing. Pick either Ann’s or Popuri’s team as they are the teams most likely to win. There are a few rounds, each round ends when all three of a team’s players have tomato on their face! Winning will make your team mates like you more. Remember, you want the citizens to like you!

Next is the Cow Festival. Unfortunately in the first year I don’t see you winning as your cow needs to have about 10 hearts and you wouldn’t have had a cow long enough to have that amount of hearts. So make sure you look after your cows and choose one with the most hearts the following year and your cow should win. Winning will make your cow produce gold milk when you milk her, worth 300G. Speak to, milk and brush your cows everyday to make them happy.

Fireworks Festival next. By now you should have a girl you like (and she should like you a little bit). Get to the beach at 6pm and talk to the various people that are there, find the girl you like and you have the option to watch the fireworks with her. This will raise her affections for you.

We move into Fall now, again the wild plants change, explore around woodland areas to find them! Not only can you sell these things but when you build a house big enough, you will have a kitchen where you can cook. Also, the crops you can plant changes once again, make sure you get some planted asap.

The first festival of the season is the Music Festival, Carter who lives at the church will come and ask if you will help out. If you say yes, you will take part, playing an Ocarina. You and the girls perform for the rest of the villagers.

The next one is the Harvest Festival, bring with you an ingredient to put in a pot that everyone in the village will eat from. Note, people don’t like certain things, but an egg is a good one to throw in. It won’t lose you much. Just don’t put in Popuri’s Egg… (If she gives you one) because she WILL somehow know.

A bit of a romantic event next. The Moon Viewing Festival is up. Remember, to succeed in this game, you are going to want to woo one of the girls in the village. You can choose from Ann, Elli, Karen, Mary and Popuri. Work out what each girl likes, then ply them with gifts each day. Some can be really easy to please, like Ann and Popuri. They both like Spa-Boiled Eggs, this is easy. Take an egg from your farm, throw it in the hot spring/spa and you get one. They also like most flowers that you can find growing. Karen is really hard to please, she likes truffles which are one of the wild plants you can find. You are more often than not going to want to either cook with it or sell it, but ironically for a game kids can play, she loves wine. Yay for teaching kids about alcoholism I guess… anyway, which ever of the girls likes you the most will be at the peak of Mother’s Hill, she will ask you to watch the moon with her. Say yes and she will like you more!

Last festival of Fall. It’s the Sheep Festival. Same as the cow one, but with sheep! Make sure the sheep you want to enter isn’t sheered otherwise you won’t be allowed to enter it. It can’t be pregnant either. If you bought a sheep asap, you can win the first year so be quick in buying a sheep. Once the sheep wins, the wool you sheer from it will produce gold wool. Pick the sheep with the most hearts to stand any chance of winning. The gold wool is worth 600G.

Ah, it’s finally Winter! The season where you have less to do as you won’t be able to grow crops, considering your field is covered with snow. You still have your animals to tend to. This is another season when you will need to be wary of the weather, snowstorms can occur, resulting in the same thing as hurricanes. Ah, but there are actually things to do! Take the chance to mine Ores. When it’s Winter there is actually another mine aside from the one near the hot springs. Up on Mother’s Hill there is a lake, it will have now frozen over with ice and is safe for you to walk on. (Hmm, another smart thing to teach kids…) When you find this mine, there are 10 floors that you can uncover. Using your hoé, you can uncover Mystrile and other Ores you couldn’t find in the mine. You can give these Ores to the Blacksmith who can make a gift for a girl or make a Cheese Maker for example. There are two Power Berries to be found by this mine, one inside which will spawn randomly when you hoé it and the other is outside the mine. You can’t see it but if you go behind the mine and press X, you will find it.

The first event in Winter is the Dog Race. Early Fall, Won who is a bit of a con artist at times, will try to sell you a Dog Ball. Make sure you buy it, cause you’re going to want to train your dog up. Hopefully the dog will really like you by now anyway, if you have been picking him up everyday! The dog is the easiest animal on your farm to take care of, so no excuses. When you do get the ball, train your dog every day by throwing it for him to fetch about 10-15 times a day. May seem a lot but it’s all relatively easy. The Dog Race is quite simple if the dog has been trained. You need to run and have your dog follow you. Don’t run too far ahead because it will fall behind and wander off. Just keep running at a steady pace, stopping briefly if your dog is getting behind.

Stay on your farm on the 14th in Winter, because it’s the Winter Thanksgiving. Girls that like you will drop by and give you chocolate or chocolate cake depending on their heart colour. After 3pm you can go about your business as no girls will come after this.

On the 23rd day of Winter, each girl that likes you will invite you to come to their house for a party the following day. On the 24th you will need to choose which one you want to go to, so by now I hope you know which girl you are going to want to marry!

At midnight on Winter 30th, villagers will gather at the peak of Mother’s Hill. Speak to everyone that is there, then you will all watch the first sunrise of the new year together! This will help raise friendship points with people there.

And so, the second year starts up. By now you should have a fairly successful farm running, with plenty of animals to take care of and producing good sized produce. Spring will be the same as the last one, however now you can participate in the Spring events. Or at least, you should be able to!

The first event of the year is on the 1st day of Spring, so you will have automatically missed this one.

It’s the New Year’s Festival and you have two options, either go to the inn and have a party with the adults, or you can go to Rose Square and have a bonfire with the girls and your rivals/friends. If Karen likes you, she may come to your farm to ask you to practice dancing with her.

On the 8th day in Spring it’s the Goddess Festival. The 7th, go speak to the girl you like and you should be able to ask her to go to the festival with her. The girl you asked will meet you at your farm at 6am, but you have time to tend to your farm first. Speak to her then you will both attend the festival. After, she will ask you if you want to go somewhere, say yes and you will go somewhere depending on the girl.

Next festival is the Spring Thanksgiving, this time it’s your turn to give a girl you like (or all the girls) a present. If you have built your house up, you should have a kitchen now and be able to cook. Make some cookies and give them to the girls. It will only register the first time you give them a cookie, so don’t be tempted to give them more. Also, note, Karen doesn’t like cookies! Best to be safe and stick to some wine.

The Horse Race is next up, hopefully you have been taking good care of the horse! Barley will come about a year later to come see how the horse is doing. If it has less than 8 hearts, Barley will take the horse away. But if you have 8 or more, he will be pleased with how well you have looked after the horse and allow you to keep it. This is when the Horse Race becomes useful to you. You can attend in the first year but your horse will be too small to take part and all you can do is bet. It would be a waste of money at that point, so wait until the next year. You can bet on yourself in the second year, so you’re going to want to win.
When your horse has fully grown you are going to want to ride it around your farm as much as possible, making it a faster runner.

You do want to win the Horse Race because when you obtain 1001 medals from betting, you can buy a Power Berry.

The last event/festival in Spring and worth noting is the Cooking Festival. In the first year you can enter but you won’t win. A Spa-Boiled Egg is all you need to enter. But when you have the kitchen, this is when it’s worth entering. It’s up to you what you enter the competition with, but things with more ingredients (that doesn’t come out spoiled) is a good idea.

Okay so that’s everything important that happens throughout the game. Hopefully by the second year you have a girl that likes you a lot (red heart), a house that has two beds and a successful farm. Now, you can buy a Blue Feather from the supermarket and ask the girl you like to marry you by giving her the Feather. She will only say yes when the house is built enough and she likes you enough. Only buy the Blue Feather from the supermarket, not Won.

There is so much more to this game than what I’ve already stated. For instance, I’ve purposely left out Harvest Sprites or as I keep referring to them as, House Elves (ah, Harry Potter, how you influence me).

Harvest Sprites will help you look after your crops, feed your animals or brush/milk them. I honestly don’t trust the little blighters, even when they have the full amount of hearts as they can be lazy and miss out animals/crops that need tending to, but if your are in a rush or have far too much going on in your farm to do it all your self, then by all means hire them. They will do it for free anyway, but you can give them gifts which will make them happier and like you more.

There are so many gifts you can give to people and every person has likes and dislikes. Sometimes they will like things a little bit but not as much as other items. It’s down to you to figure out by their reactions what is the ideal gift. Remember, you want people to like you! Be as friendly as possible.

This game may seem repetitive, but each day in the game passes by quickly. As a PS1 game, it is okay, but I think as a portable one it’s better. You can save the game each night before you sleep (in game), so when you’re out on a bus journey or train, it’s easy to play a day or two. Overall, this game does keep my interest generally.
There are so many more in-game events that happens that I’ve not covered as well.

I would give this game a 7 out of 10. I hope you like the review.

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