Harvest Moon: It's A Wonderful Life (Special Edition) review

Forget crime and hip-hop - you'll be dealing with a very different kind of 'hoe' in Harvest Moon...

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There are no gangsters on the Harvest Moon farm. It's just as challenging as GTA and there's as much to do as in True Crime, but the difference is, it makes you smile with contentment. The grass is green, the sun is shining, flowers are blooming and you're having a great time. It really is a wonderful life.

It may look like a game for kids, but it's obscenely complicated. In fact, there's as much to worry about in Harvest Moon as in real life. First off, you have to make the farm successful - harvest the land, buy seeds, plant them, water them every day and sell them on the market. There are also animals to worry about; cows, goats, chickens, a horse and a dog to feed and look after.

Oh, and you have to look after yourself too. You can combine ingredients (fish, mushrooms, butter and so on) at the cooker in your house to create one of 30 recipes. Between the feeding and milking and ploughing, you also have to raise a family. To get the ball rolling, find yourself a girlfriend out of the four girls in Forget-Me-Not Valley (your town in HM), each with different personalities. Give a girl enough gifts and sweet talk, and she'll marry you. She'll then move into your house (once you get an extension) and you'll have a child. And typically, you'll have to feed and entertain them along with the animals, giving you even more to do. It's insane - and, actually, does feel a little too much like hard work at times.

We've barely even scraped the surface here. The immense depth of Harvest Moon is unlike anything else, although by its very nature it won't appeal to everyone. It's hugely slow-paced, demands untold patience and the cartoon-style visuals might put a lot of people off. Persevere, however, and you'll find it's such a rewarding game. When you finally settle into marital bliss, your farm growing and evolving around you, it's a really special feeling. Play this along with Shadow Of The Colossus and you'll remember how bloody lovely life can be.

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US censor rating""
UK censor rating"3+"