Harvest Moon for the Super NES was the first game in what has become a long series in RPG/Farming Sims and the success of the concept can be traced entirely back to this version. Instead of utilizing point-and-click simulation gameplay, as was common on the PC, Harvest Moon utilized console RPG game design, giving you control of a character on a farm where everything must be done by hand.
Though later versions of Harvest Moon perfected certain concepts or slimmed down on tedious gameplay features, the original has a certain purity to me, (though it may be nostalgia-induced). The game's daily chores, slow advancement, and time-based gameplay seem, today, really innovative and emotionally compelling. This version also has the series' best music, which is very important in this game as it differentiates between the seasons and the day/night cycle.
Dating the female inhabitants of the town was a big deal when I was 12, but now this aspect seems pretty basic. The text translation is terrible, and the play control is not very fine tuned, but ten years after its original release, it almost feels as if the difficulty in lining up your watering can or backhoe is a game feature designed to keep you on your toes. After playing through the entire month of "Spring" (there are only four months in the Harvest Moon game year, and you play for two years), I was surprised how much the game reminded me of Pikmin, not just in the day-to-day gameplay but also in the level of contentment you feel after "a hard day's work." In its best moments, Harvest Moon makes you feel like you're working hard for something valuable, and at the end of the day you'll feel relief and look forward to a new morning.
Harvest Moon makes me wonder (just like Endless Ocean) if I might be better off pursuing a different career. I cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone willing to give the concept a shot.