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Harvest Moon is a series of farming simulation role-playing games by Natsume.
Although each Harvest Moon game has unique elements, there are recurring themes and mechanics throughout the series. Typically, players take over a farm, raise crops and animals, forge relationships with local townspeople, and have a successful life. There can be a specific goal such as marrying somebody or collecting special items.
The original Harvest Moon was a 1996 game for the SNES. Released in 1997 in the West, it was one of the last major franchises to spawn on the system. The game introduced most of the series' basic concepts, including the farm management and social aspects of the game.
In 1997, a handheld version of the game called Harvest Moon GB was made for the Game Boy, and it was also ported to the Game Boy Color. It successfully brought the series to the Game Boy for the first time, where much of the its success has come from. A sequel called Harvest Moon 2 GBC was released in 1999, which sacrificed social elements for a greater farming emphasis. A final Game Boy Color game was released in 2000.
Meanwhile, the next console iterations arrived for the Nintendo 64 and Sega Saturn. 1999's Harvest Moon 64 was the most successful iteration in the series yet, with great gameplay only held back by presentation issues. Back to Nature, released the same year for the Saturn, was slightly less well received, but still a minor hit.
As the series entered the 2000's, iterations were made for every platform available. The Game Boy Advance received a port of Back to Nature, the Dreamcast had Save the Homeland, and the GameCube had no less than three entries in the series.
As the seventh generation came, Harvest Moon became an almost entirely Nintendo-oriented franchise. Four games were released for the Game Boy Nitro and two fro the Revolution. A New Beginning was a Game Boy 3DS launch title in Japan.
Overall, the Harvest Moon games have been consistent minor hits, and have been become Natsume's signature franchise. Games in the series range from mediocre to great reception, with handheld iterations receiving the widest range of scores. In total, over 16 million Harvest Moon games have been sold on various platforms, not counting related titles.