Harvest Moon: Back to Nature (牧場物語～ハーベストムーン～, Bokujō Monogatari Harvest Moon) is a video game in the farm simulation series Story of Seasons, developed and published by Victor Interactive Software. It is the first Harvest Moon game for a non-Nintendo console. Characters from Harvest Moon 64 were transferred to be the characters in this game, although with new lifestyles, personalities, and relatives.
The game begins with main character inheriting a small amount of money and ramshackle farm covered in weeds. Over the course of the game the player must build a thriving farm, and become a friend of the citizens of Mineral Town. Throughout the game the player must balance between attending to the farm and interacting with other characters to maintain friendships. In order to begin with the story, the player must overcome the first obstacle of reestablishing the farm by getting rid of weeds and planting new crops. Once that is done a time frame of three years to completely rejuvenate the farm begins. Time passes while the player is outdoors, and pauses inside different buildings such as shops or barns and mines. Both the growing of crops and raising of livestock require daily attention and the expenditure of time.
Player starts off with an assortment of rudimentary farming tools which can later be upgraded and refined to allow for a more efficient work rate, allowing more work to be done with less energy. Energy is the predominant element of the game, affecting all other aspects of it, particularly in the early stages. The main character can perform a limited amount of tasks each day. Rather than displaying an energy bar, the game instead shows the character becoming more tired as he performs more tasks. Working after the energy has been depleted results in character’s blackout and hospitalization which leads to incapacity to perform work; duration of hospitalization increases with each subsequent blackout. There are weather patterns as well as four different seasons in the game, often changing at random but also when certain progress is made. There are rainfalls, hurricanes, frost and blizzards which all do damage to player’s farm as they would in real life.
Player can participate in a number of activities, such as betting on horse races, dating and partaking in festivals which coincide with the seasons. During the game, the player will be tasked with finding a suitable wife who will, once proposed to, join the player on the farm where they soon after marry and start a family.
Once the initial three years pass, if the farm was completely renewed, the player character’s family settles on their farm for good and the game continues indefinitely, otherwise the game ends.