Harvest Moon. Bokujou Monogatari in Japan. The Farm RPG. When playing Harvest Moon you know what to expect. Despite the differences between the titles, at the core the series is about a boy (or girl) on a farm, accompanied by dogs, cows, chickens, and buckets of charm. In much the same way you know what to expect with Harvest Moon music: Charming, familiar, fun, if unspectacular.
And how does farm music sound? The music you find here matches the setting very well. Lots of guitar, lots of rustic sounding tracks. After all, you wouldn’t find it fitting to harvest crops to an epic orchestral soundtrack, would you? They’ve crammed 59 songs into just under an hour on the disc, so expect little in the way of looping. This might be a strength, because some of these songs could get repetitive if played too long.
The game makes a departure from the Harvest Moon standard of seasonal themes, and instead uses location sensitive songs and allows the player to change songs on the farm with a record player. Even though you won’t have the normal season songs, the ones that are most recognizable on the disc are those you hear in your daily chores, like Song of the Gentle Breeze and Farm Theme (Slow Life). Both songs are light, simple, and laid back. Not fit for rescuing a princess, but perfect for milking a cow, and unobtrusive enough to not become boring in the dozens of hours of play.
What would a Harvest Moon be without the dating elements? The feature makes a grand return in A Wonderful Life, and since it’s a critical feature of the game a number of tracks are dedicated to expressing this budding love. All of these pieces are well written and work for their purpose. Light, cute, and of course with a little Harvest Moon flare, they fit perfectly for the mood.
Though the music is simple there are a number of styles explored. Traditional Asian instruments are used in Jongara’s Song, Tsurutan, and Tei’s Mitemi Inn. A Pleasure House for Adults is a very well done lounge song. Lumina’s Lessons and Lumina’s Theme are all piano solos. And there are some that just defy description, like Kesaran and Pasaran and Tsurutan Feels So-So.
There are some seasonal themes towards the end of the disc, my favorite of which is Memories of Midsummer. There is also a real treat for Harvest Moon fans in the last set of songs. Many of them are from older Harvest Moon titles that never received OSTs, like the SNES original and Harvest Moon 64. I’m not sure how or if they were used in the game, but either way it’s a great gift for the fans.
The Harvest Moon series has always succeeded despite technical inferiority because it’s charming and memorable and fun. The music follows this idea, too. You’re not going to find something on here to compete with Final Fantasy, but almost everyone will end up satisfied and truly charmed. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some corn that needs planting.