Harvest Moon is one of my favorite series. I love the farming life simulation, the relationships you can build with the villagers and wildlife, and the fantasy adventure elements. It’s so relaxing to step into a small village and live a rural life for a while.
If you’re looking to expand your game library with similar games, I have a few suggestions for you. Some are farming simulation, others are fun role playing games with romance and npc relationships; all are intriguing escapes into a different reality.
Rune Factory: Frontier is a Harvest Moon / Role-playing Game hybrid that I played and greatly enjoyed on the Nintendo Wii. You receive and develop a farm and make friends with the villagers, with the potential to fall in love and marry, just like in HM, but the livestock for your farm are (cute) monsters you capture. Like HM, you can fish and mine. You can also create your armor and weapons, and dungeon delve. Other games in the Rune Factory series have appeared on the Nintendo DS, Wii, and Playstation 3. The latest game was released on the 3DS: Rune Factory 4
Fantasy Life has a lot in common with Rune Factory, in that it’s a RPG-themed life sim. You get your own home, which you can decorate – you can even craft your own items to decorate it with! Choose from 12 classes to live the life you want – go fight monsters as a paladin, mercenary, hunter, or wizard, or choose another kind of life entirely, and live as a woodcutter, angler, blacksmith, alchemist, miner, carpenter, cook, or tailor. You’re not locked in to only one kind of life, however – a quick visit to the guildmaster lets you change your class and try your hand at another class. The only profession it lacks to be a perfect HM-like game is “farmer.” Available for 3DS & 2DS.
Shepherd’s Crossing 2 is another DS game quite a lot like Harvest Moon, with some interesting variations in how they present farming simulation. “Animals are food” is a big one. Shepherd’s Crossing also focuses less on daily watering-type tasks and more on crop rotation and food storage. Like HM, you can play as a male or female character, where you live in a rural area (in the Alps, this time), interact with the other villagers, even court and marry.
I’m not as fond of Animal Crossing as many other Harvest Moon fans, but it’s worth a mention. While it lacks the farming element, there’s fun to be had in upgrading and decorating your house, making friends with the neighbors, harvesting fruit, planting flowers, fishing, and collecting. You can find this game on DS, Nintendo Wii, and the latest is coming to the 3DS: Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Viva Pinata is a zany gardening game appearing on PC, Xbox 360, and Nintendo DS. What you plant, and what animals you convince to make a home in your garden, causes other animals to appear. The art style is party pinata based, which is certainly different. The main activities involve caring for the garden or capturing animals for it. There are no other life simulation elements, however.
River King Mystic Valley, for DS, is a relaxed fishing simulation game with a bit of a storyline. Make pets of magical creatures to gain useful bonuses. While the storyline can be short, if you try to catch all possible fish, it becomes quite a bit longer. There are many, many different types of fish.
For a different spin, try Atelier Annie: Alchemist of Sera Island. Wielding alchemy and magic, you will manage and develop an island resort. Over the course of three game-years, you will compete every six months to show off your abilities and possibly win some prize money. BUT you have to collect your ingredients before you can craft anything, and wouldn’t you know it, all the good harvesting spots are infested with beasties.
Avalon Code is brought to us by some of the same people who worked on Harvest Moon and Rune Factory. It is an action RPG with puzzle elements. We can choose to play either a male or female character, make friends, enemies, or fall in love. The premise is that we have a “Book of Prophecy” into which we scan codes from the creatures and objects we encounter. Playing with those codes messes with the fabric of reality. Tough enemy? Look for the code giving him strength, and remove it. Similarly, you can combine codes for your benefit, or use them to heal creatures.
Go to Magic Academy in Magician’s Quest: Mysterious Times. Learn to be the best magician (or gossip and backstab your way to it), take part in the rich life simulation offerings that include a haunted house, library, shopping center, island, and classes. Interactions with NPCs can lead to having a boyfriend or girlfriend, if you like a little romance with your gameplay. Explore the world to capture and collect bugs and fish, which can be traded for useful items at the library. Work at the Emporium, if you have time or need the money, or focus on your studies and solving mysteries instead. Based on the real-time flow of the Nintendo DS clock and calendar, Mysterious Times occur in which you will encounter things only available during those times.
For the PC gamer, The Sims 3 is arguably the greatest life simulation game of them all. Maxis entertains us with the kooky, crazy, unexpected things those Sims do. We can have them plant gardens and fish, then cook or sell their produce. Rock collectors can find minerals or gems. Interactions with NPCs can lead to marriage and families. They can have jobs, jealousies, and wild accidents… And the expansion packs keep coming. You can add pets, supernatural elements, and much more to your Sims lives. Also available on Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo Wii, and Nintendo DS.
It’s worth noting that the latest games in the original Harvest Moon series, called Bokujo Monogatari in Japan, are no longer being released in the U.S. under the Harvest Moon name. The latest came out for 3DS in March of 2015 and was titled Story of Seasons. For those who love the Harvest Moon/RPG hybrid, as I do, don’t miss the next game in the franchise, Return to PopoloCrois: A STORY OF SEASONS Fairytale, due out early 2016.
For more Farming, check out: the best farming simulation games for the PC.
Know a great Harvest Moon-like game I missed? Let me know in the comments.