The changing of seasons is always a little magical… the very world as we know it changing before our eyes. The stars of the sky shift, the colors of nature change, the animals and insects migrate, weather patterns fluctuate, and we as people change too. Beautiful poems have been written about these things, works of art have been committed to canvas, amazing photographs astonish the web regularly. However these are not the things I think about when seasons change. Instead, my mind goes to a place known as: Harvest Moon.
It started as an innocent rental from the local Blockbuster during the Nintendo 64′s heyday. My brother and I, as preteens, didn’t have the cash to buy games regularly, so renting was the only way to ensure what we eventually bought wouldn’t be a waste (what a godsend GameFly would have been in those days). It allowed us a freedom to try things we otherwise wouldn’t have been interested in; it gave us a freedom to play bad things in an attempt to find new and interesting games. Although he was never interested in it, the box for Harvest Moon 64 always caught my eye as we perused game boxes in the lonely back, right corner of the store. Eventually, I built up the nerve to rent it despite his disinterest, and by the end of our week with it, I was hooked.
I rented it a few times after that, trying to bide my time until a birthday or holiday where I could ask for it. Trying to save my money to get it myself before then, if at all possible. Although I couldn’t explain my obsession at the time, the simple world, chores, and people of Harvest Moon resonated with me heavily and I wanted to go back again and again. It was interesting, genuine, and social in a time before it was an industry buzz-word.
The contrast between “real life” and the neat little worlds of Harvest Moon still draws me in regularly; usually as seasons begin to noticably shift from one to another. I start new saves, continue past games on stupidly named farms, reacquaint myself with people and places, refresh my memory with wikias and fan-sites, and proceed to lose myself for a while; days, weeks, and sometimes, whole months of freetime drift away into these virtual farms. Although I don’t live in a huge city, and possibly because I spent most of my life in fairly close proximity to rural communities, it’s a beautiful and simple retreat from the life I know. It’s a vacation from everything that typically is me.
So, as the temperature pushed upwards and it was clear that Summer was upon us, I pulled my 3DS from it’s cradle, popped in Harvest Moon: Tale of Two Towns 3D, and started falling into the groove of my chores at Fancy! Farms (I told you they were dumb). I re-acquainted myself with the villagers in each town, made a few mistakes getting back into the habit of how the controls work, fell short on errands for town people, and almost got blown away in a storm. I’m learning new recipes, trying to woo a few ladies, and hoping my crops do a little better with some fertilizer. Eventually I’ll get some farm, house, and barn expansions in place; then I’ll be able to decorate, plant more crops, and have more than a couple chickens and a horse in my barn. Someday, I’ll even start winning the festival events and helping with town projects in the winters.
I haven’t gotten to the point where I’m up all night playing rather than sleeping, but I’m sure it will happen eventually; it’s far too easy to keep saying, “one more day,” as little virtual me turns in for the night while I refuse to do the same. When that happens, I’ll force myself to pull its cartridge from my system and put it back in the case until Fall… when the breeze turns cool and the changing autumn leaves remind me that there’s work to be done in a little place called Harvest Moon.