Ah, farming. It may not sound too entertaining, or you may say "What were they thinking?" when you look at a farming simulator. I too thought the same thing when I first received this game. Now, ten years later, it is one of my favorites that I come back to again and again.
This game, of course, is an account of one boy's decision to be a farmer. At the beginning, your character attends his grandfather's funeral, then informs his father he will be taking over the farm. He has a lot of work to do, friends to make, and women to hit on...
The graphics on this game are a bit stale and fuzzy, but what else can you expect from a Nintendo 64 cartridge? At the time, I'm sure they were decent if not impressive. Each "space" I call them, are sort of a square with rectangular spots where you can advance to another place. Around the edges of this space is just a black abyss, making the game feel kind of like it's night, all the time. The character designs are very cute, and the animals look sort of cartoonish in appearance.
The sound can get quite annoying. Every season the music changes, and stays the same tune for the remainder of the season. Although annoying, it's highly addictive. My friends and myself alike end up humming the tune after a few game days of play. The animals repeat the same sound over and over again, which gets kind of stale as well. The tunes are catchy, but get repetitive and boring after a while, and are just something you learn to put up with or ignore. As well as animal sounds, all other sounds are very static, such as walking or using tools.
The storyline is decent, you are given a mission to complete, which is restore your grandfather's farm he left behind. You must grow crops, raise animals, make money, find a wife, and prosper in your new life. The game gives you five brides to choose from, each with a unique personality and certain strengths and weaknesses. For example, Ann is good with animals but can't cook. Not a big selection, it gets old after a few replays. The thing I find fun is trying out new combinations of growing crops and raising the animals. Throughout the game year, there are several festivals that offer amusing cut scenes to attend. After two years of gameplay, dad returns to evaluate your progress, at this point is where the game ends. You can continue to play if you wish, but at this point it's open-ended and goes on indefinitely.
There are some flaws in gameplay, because this game is full of glitches, as most early games are. Some are amusing, some actually helpful, others annoying. For example, if you marry a certain girl in the village named Karen, and speak with another girl Popuri, she will sometimes say "How is Karen? Are you being nice to him?" Note that she implies Karen is a male.
There are also glitches where you can get rid of your dog or horse, and even steal wine from the winery. One of my favorite glitches is if you hold your dog and repeatedly talk to Karen, hear heart meter will go up to maximum in one game day. The glitches are one of my favorite things about the game.
In my opinion, American translators did not put much work into this game. There are several misspelling and typos in text, and some glitches with dialogue boxes. Also, some characters say things that do not belong to them, but rather belong to another character in the game. Also, in the Japanese version, there was a channel 4 available on you TV set, which was a variety channel. This was missing in the American version. This makes me feel that not much effort went into this version, which is disappointing, it had potential to be much better.
Overall, I enjoyed this game. I found it endearing and highly addictive. If you enjoy life simulators, this is a great game for you. It's simple, easy to pick up, and quite hard to put down.