Harvest Moon is one of the most celebrated video game franchises of all time, with a passionate fanbase that spans multiple generations. Since the first release in 1996, there have been multiple sequels in the Story of Seasons franchise.
The franchise has also inspired dozens of imitators over the years. Stardew Valley is probably the most notable exception since it embodies the Harvest Moon spirit while feeling fresh and exciting for both veterans and players new to this kind of game.
In the Harvest Moon games, the general gameplay involves fixing up a farm, planting crops, raising livestock, selling the harvests, and growing relationships with other villagers and farmers. This has largely remained the same for most entries in the franchise, which is why Harvest Moon is as beloved by fans as licenses like Pokemon are by theirs.
What’s the best Harvest Moon game? Every fan has a different preference, but there are some that they generally agree are the best.
10 Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town
If you loved Friends of Mineral Town but wanted a story focused more on a central female character, this is the Harvest Moon game for you. You can only play as a female character, who finds a newspaper ad describing a beautiful farm that’s up for sale.
Naturally, she leaves the big city and buys this farm. However, it turns out she was tricked! The place is run-down and in desperate need of maintenance. It’s up to the player to make this farm beautiful and functional. When it comes to relationship options, there are eight bachelors to pick from.
9 Harvest Moon: Animal Parade
Animal Parade came out in 2009 for the Nintendo Wii. It is pretty similar to Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility in that they both have the same characters and elements. As its title suggests, there are plenty of available animals, and you can ride all of them if you want.
The game is set in an island called Castanet. Here, the Harvest Goddess’ divine tree has gone missing from its pond. This is causing the animals to leave. Your main mission is to bring back the Harvest King so he can restore the Goddess’ Tree.
8 Harvest Moon: Magical Melody
Magical Melody came out for the GameCube in 2005 and for the Nintendo Wii in 2008. The game’s main mission is for you to awaken the Harvest Goddess; she turned herself into stone because she was sad that the townspeople constantly disregarded her.
Magical Melody’s gameplay differs from other Harvest Moon games in that you have to gather musical notes through hitting your milestones and finishing your chores. Eventually, you will be able to form a magical melody; this is what will revive the Harvest Goddess. Thanks to this gameplay mechanic, Magical Melody is among the most unique and rewarding gaming experiences in the franchise.
7 Harvest Moon 64
Harvest Moon 64 was the third release in the franchise, coming out in 1999 for the Nintendo 64. You control a run-down, abandoned farm, and your goal is to restore the establishment and make it thrive. You start the game with an empty barn and an empty chicken coop, and it will take a lot of work to get them back into shape and fill them up with animals. However, this is one of the purest Harvest Moon experiences out there.
The game has been ported to Wii U’s Virtual Console, which makes it playable on today’s consoles.
6 Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life
A Wonderful Life came out in 2004 on the Nintendo GameCube, but it was subsequently also released on the PS2 and finally the PS4. The game starts at the coast of the Forget-Me-Not-Valley, where it’s up to the player to restore the main character's father’s farm to its former glory.
Animals play a major role in this game, and you will spend a lot of time tending and raising them. In the beginning, you get a cow and a dog; the cow can produce milk for 40 straight days before she starts needing to mate. Eventually, you will find other animals to tend and balance this with planting crops.
5 Harvest Moon: Back to Nature
Back to Nature was the first Harvest Moon game not to launch on a Nintendo system; it came out in 1999 on the PlayStation. The developers ported characters from Harvest Moon 64 into this game, but with updated personalities, family relationships and lifestyles.
The game came out in two versions: you could play as a woman or as a man. But with both versions, the main story remained the same: you grew up to take over your grandfather’s farm, and you were given three years to restore it to full functionality. The game is often regarded as one of the best PlayStation games, at least among its fans.
4 Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns
The Tale of Two Towns came out in 2011 for the Nintendo DS. It’s set several hundred years before the other entries in the series, during a period when the towns of Konohana and Bluebell were rivals because of a cooking competition. Pick a town (and side)!
The towns each have their own benefits. Konohana focuses on crops while Bluebell specializes in breeding farm animals. Other than the setting, though, The Tale of Two Towns is similar to other Harvest Moon games: Players manage a farm, accept jobs from the town, and form relationships with the villagers.
3 Story of Seasons
The franchise dropped the “Harvest Moon” name after the developers stopped working with the company who used to localize these games for the West, while in Japan the games were published as “Bukojou Monogatari”.
According to Paste Magazine, the publisher decided to publish future games under the “Story of Seasons” title in the West, starting with this one. Released in 2015, the game is set in Oak Tree Town, a tiny village looking for farmers. The player’s character leaps at the opportunity because they are bored with the big city life.
2 Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town
Friends of Mineral Town was released in 2003 for the GameBoy Advance. In the game, players control a young boy who befriends an old man in Mineral Town. When the young boy grows up, he discovers that the old man died some time ago and left his farm in shambles.
However, the old man left the farm to the player character, so it’s up to the young man to restore the farm. He does this while interacting with the other villagers, and he ends up marrying one of them and even starting a family.
1 Harvest Moon: A New Beginning
Made for the Nintendo 3DS, A New Beginning does what many other Harvest Moon games do not: It allows the player to pick up and move your house, barns, coops, paddies, and even fields, without ruining any of their contents. With this feature, you can do something as small as changing the layout of your farm, or something as massive as reshaping the entire town to your preference.
In A New Beginning, players start in an abandoned town called Echo Village. It’s up to you to revive it through farming, other activities, and bringing new residents to the town. All of these add to a game that’s unique even among Harvest Moon games.