Thursday, June 09, 2005

It's like Elite, but with chickens...

I had a SNES, but I obviously wasn't amazingly enthusiastic about it. Yes, it had the best version of Street Fighter II, the best Mario platformer so far, and the One True Mario Kart, so it certainly wasn't neglected. But I don't remember ever buying a single Nintendo-specific magazine, whereas I still have piles upon piles of Sega, Amiga and C64 magazines taking up space in a loft in East Sussex. What this means is that in these days of emulation and retro gaming, I'm discovering a whole new world of gaming delights on Nintendo's plucky little machine. Ogre Battle was the first surprise; a superb strategic wargame that I'd never heard of, apparently because it had no Sega or Commodore presence. And just this week, I discovered the delights of Harvest Moon, which is nothing but a farming simulator.
Yes, I understand that it's a tiny tomato patch, but I've only just started...

You buy seeds and/or animals from a nearby village, take them to your farm and set about putting up fences and tilling fields, and hope that you turn a profit at the end of the day. You milk your cows, pull up your turnips and collect your chickens' eggs, and that's it. It's slow, but amazingly compelling and addictive, just like plain old space trading is in Elite, which is why it reminds me of that classic game, even though they have almost nothing in common. You don't get to engage in piracy and theft in Harvest Moon, or go on murderous rampages in order to boost your Elite rating, but it's close enough. It's the complete antithesis of Grand Theft Auto while remaining within the same broad reality-based gaming genre. Wonderful.

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