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Before there was Stardew Valley, before there was Farmville or any other farming simulators you can think of there was Harvest Moon. The original farming game hit the Super Nintendo in 1997. It’s addicting and simple gameplay has attracted thousands of causal gamers since spawning a series that is still going today. We’ll be taking a look at the first Harvest Moon for the Game Boy simply titled Harvest Moon: GB. Developed by Victor Interactive Software and published by Natsume, Harvest Moon GB was released in August 1998 with the Game Boy Color version being released just a few months later in December. Grab your shovel and prepare to get your hands dirty in this Harvest Moon GB review!
Harvest Moon GB Plot:
My wife is quite the Harvest Moon fan, so much of this Harvest Moon GB review is based on her critique of the game. She’d like to call herself a “ranch master” as she’s beat Harvest Moon SNES, Harvest Moon 1, 2, and 3 for the Game Boy and has currently logged over 100 hours on the newest Harvest Moon for the Nintendo Switch.
Unlike the first Harvest Moon for the SNES, you’ll be able to choose your gender. Once you select either the boy or girl, your grandfather’s spirit will descend upon them asking you to take over his farm. He wants you to become a Ranch Master and restore his rundown farm and says he’ll check in on you at the end of the year. This gives you four seasons to revitalize his farm and restore it to glory. If you succeed, you’ll receive extra tools to continue growing your farm, if your grandfather’s spirit determines you suck at a farmer, you’ll receive a “game over” at the end of the year.
The original Harvest Moon had you wooing a few bachelorettes from the local town into marrying you and having children. This feature was taken away from Harvest Moon GB, which was disappointing to me as my wife likes to brag about “all the hoes she’s playing”. With the marriage goal gone, your only job is to get the farm up and running to your Grandpa’s standards.
Harvest Moon GB Gameplay:
Restoring the farm requires mundane tasks repeated over and over each day. You’ll have to clear out your farmland from weeds and stones before you can hoe the fields, plant the seeds, and water them. I’d personally do a playthrough for my Harvest Moon GB review, but I only have so much time so much of the gameplay aspects comes from my wife.
You’ll be able to grow eight different crops with two per season. Spring brings turnips and potatoes, summer has tomatoes and corn, fall will grow eggplants and peanuts and finally, winter grows carrots and broccoli. Each crop is worth different amounts of money and grows at different rates. Forgetting to water your crops each day, unless it rains will result in stunted growth.
Tools will help you revive the farm. You’ll have a hoe, hammer, ax, sickle, and watering can. By completing requests or special achievements you’ll unlock super tools that work much better. Tired of your old hoe? Get it upgraded to the Super Hoe after a long day of plowing! (LOL) Later on, you’ll be able to buy a sprinkler, butter churn, and cheesemaker.
Where does this butter and cheese come from? Glad you asked! Along with crops, you’ll have animals that need affection and care in order to grow. Keep them well fed and pet them to get them to love you. You can have up to four cows that will produce milk and four chickens that lay eggs. You’ll be able to make some money from the produce. You’ll be gifted a horse and dog as well. My wife always names the dog Tiko and the horse Koko.
You’ll need a lot of money to help upgrade your house. You can buy two expansions where the carpenter will come to your farm and enlarge it. It’s a requirement to make your Grandpa happy.
Think you’ll experience “cabin fever” on your farm? Think again! There’s plenty to do outside of your farm including a whole town to explore with characters to interact and converse with. Harvest Moon GB offers a variety of both random and annual events to change the pace up which helps score points in my Harvest Moon GB review.
There will be earthquakes, hurricanes and fun events like picnics, stargazing, a Harvest Festival, and a Christmas party. Some of the characters will have side quests for you like finding a pet bird, helping a female avoid an arranged marriage, a “juice” aka beer sampling for the town bar, and finding a lost weathervane after a big storm. Harvest Moon packs a lot into a single Game Boy game! You can even go fishing and find power berries to increase your stamina.
Harvest Moon GB Review Score:
Here are my wife’s thoughts on the game:
“It was hard to learn the controls at first. You’d have to go into your bag and switch your tools. In modern Harvest Moon games the tools just come out automatically when you need them, it was a huge pain to switch them back then. It’s fun to start with nothing and work your way up to better tools and crops.”
“The gameplay is very addicting but the controls were difficult to use on the Game Boy. The year timetable has both pros and cons, I like that it forces you to really focus and get stuff done, but it’s a little on the shorter side. In the new Harvest Moon games, you can make recipes with food, but with this one, you actually made butter and cheese which I think is more fun. I liked that the Game Boy version still included different crops for each season. Getting married is another goal besides taking care of the farm, but it’s not a big deal to me. It takes away from my farm work so I didn’t care too much that it was left out of this version.”
My wife scores Harvest Moon GB a 7 out of 10.
What would you write in your Harvest Moon GB review? What Harvest Moon game was your first? Do you enjoy farming simulators and if so what game is your favorite? Are there any secrets you’ve discovered in Harvest Moon? Let me know your thoughts and memories, I’d love to read them!
If you want to own Harvest Moon GB you can purchase a preowned copy of it for the Game Boy on eBay for $15.
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