Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life (GameCube) Review

By James Temperton 06.04.2004

Review for Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life on GameCube

There is something wonderfully therapeutic about games like this. In a world where gaming is all about arsing about in a tedious silicon world, just once in a while it is nice to appreciate the more slow paced side of things. Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life is part of a long running series of games that sadly never gets the recognition it deserves. With the N64 version not even reaching Europe it is high time that we got the chance to relax, reflect and enjoy the splendour.

The aim is simple enough, you just have to work hard enough to transform a barren and sparse plot of land into a thriving farm, whilst taking time out to socialise with the locals and seek a lady to take your hand in marriage. Like communism, only without the sadistic leaders…

Indeed, the communist idea of a farming collective isn’t too far off the main infrastructure here in Harvest Moon. Everyone has a routine for the days of the week, so you always know that at a certain time a certain person will be doing a certain thing, meaning you can organise your stalking and farming routines around what everyone else is doing. Of course there is more to this game than hoes and stalking, this is a deeply felt communication title that teaches you all the most clichéd lessons in life.

The game changes in pace depending on the situations you find yourself in. If not much is going on and you don’t have many jobs to get stuck into then this title can be painfully slow paced and tedious, but with lots of jobs to do and people to see this game comes to life and is perhaps one of the most enjoyable and refreshing titles available on the current market. It all starts off simple, you are given a cow to milk and a few tools with which to work your small plot of barren land with. You go out and buy some seeds to grow, plant them and work your arse off to ensure they grow into something you can sell. With the money you can buy more seeds, more tools more animals and a variety of other items to aid you.

Screenshot for Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life on GameCube

You will find that a lot of your time is taken up by the task of watering your crops and caring for your animals, it is all about managing your time and working out when to do what and how long to spend on it. Once you have worked your way through the farming routine there is a plethora of people to interact with, stalk, talk to and generally socialise with; and it is now that A Wonderful Life starts to shine.

The title is 'split up' if you like, into six different sections of life. From when you start off with a cow and a spade, right the way through to when you are happily married with grown up kids. The whole game is huge, to our thinking there really isn't any set time for completion, you just work your way through it and enjoy it, there isn't really a Point B to get to whilst collecting Item A, it is all about life.

Screenshot for Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life on GameCube

Never before in a Harvest Moon game has such emphasis been put on getting married. This time around it is a massively central part of the games plot and will take up a lot of your time. Rather than being forced into some freakish arranged marriage with someone called Ethel who looks like the back end of a bus, you are given three potential candidates (like Blind Date only without Cilla Black, 'Our Graham' and the general tackiness). You have to go about town looking at the three potential spouses, weighing up your options and eventually deciding upon the woman you want. From here you have to use your fast flirting prowess to woo her to your charming ways and dashing good looks. After you think the wooing has run its course it is time to pop the question.

Screenshot for Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life on GameCube

The answer is yes, and you are to be married and have a small army of children, all is going pretty well indeed. You have the perfect woman, great kids, a thriving farm and acres of game to explore and enjoy. Now when we say acres we mean quite a few of them, this is a massive and constantly changing landscape. Everyday something is new or different. What is particularly nice is the changing of the seasons. The season's change over a couple of days during each ten-day cycle, and with each season comes new conditions. During spring you might get more showers, in winter it is harder to get things to grow and in summer the whole town is a thriving and bustling happy little place. It just oozes that 'pie sitting on the window sill' lifestyle that so many wish they could have.

This is how the GameCube should be used more often. Not just in terms of gameplay, or the style of the title, but in how it so wonderfully exploits the console to it's fullest. The graphics are superb, and quite beautiful at times. The lands look vibrant and lush, everything is so well animated and whole visual style of the game is perfect. Whilst the sound might be a bit non-existent at times, perhaps that is the beauty of it. What you don't notice cannot interfere and interrupt your enjoyment of the title. And trust us when we say you will be totally immersed and taken over by this magical title.

Screenshot for Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life on GameCube

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Just about essential for every GameCube owner who looks at their collection and wishes there was something a bit different mixed into it all. Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life is a real breath of fresh air and one we welcome with open arms. It is wonderfully entertaining, perfectly crafted and superbly rewarding. With this game under your GameCube's little lid, you will want nothing else in your life for months on end...









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (7 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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