Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Small Town Love

 It dawned on me late in the week that I'd be publishing on Valentine's Day. It would be the first post to land on a themed holiday and I could not simply ignore it. I stopped the presses, so to speak, and began to wrack my brain for video games that demonstrated meaningful relationships or love stories. Love is not an uncommon theme in games and even some of the earliest games hold some of the most endearing relationships for me. I thought to write about one of the most emotional demonstrations of love I could think of in gaming, which is Wander's love for Mono in Shadow of the Colossus. I also thought about Catherine, which is a (truly bizarre) game almost entirely devoted to telling a story about one man's struggle with commitment to his long-term girlfriend. Ultimately, I decided that Valentine's Day was not simply about relationships and love but a celebration of romance itself. The choice then became clear that I'd have to choose a game or series that also celebrates the romance of a relationship.

The "Harvest Moon" series is full of unsung heroes of romance. The first game in the series debuted on Super Nintendo in 1997, and tells the story of a young man who inherits a farm in a run down little farming community and is tasked with getting the old family business fired up and boosting the town's economy. It also involves winning over the town's people by being friendly and helpful and active in the town's festivals. One of the true marks of a successful farm is if you can manage to upgrade your home to be big enough for a family, and win the hearts of one of the local girls to settle down and raise a family. As a farmer/rancher you diligently tend your crops and raise your livestock, but you must leave time in the day to drop in on your best girl and give her flowers or you'll never win her heart.

When I was in college, my roommate's girlfriend (by extension also my roommate) became thoroughly captivated by the game. It was truly heart-warming to return from class and see them sitting together on the couch planting their crops and brushing their cattle. She must have played this game for weeks on end and I'm not sure I recall her ever going to class in that time. I remember my roommate would tease her constantly about dropping out of school so she could become a farmer and pursue her true passions of rustic, small town life. Their interactions and banter were truly cute and the memory stands out much more prominently than my own first experiences playing Harvest Moon.

While the "Harvest Moon" series is not exactly a love story, it is still a striking romantic experience. Aside from giving you a cute window into "a simpler life" on the small town farm, the games simply require intensive amount of wooing that you must do to finally win the heart of your favorite young lady. What could possibly be more romantic than bringing the girl of your dreams a freshly laid egg and a wildflower from the mountains everyday for an entire year? It's sure to win any girl's heart. She'll be delighted to dance with you at the Spring Festival. And when you finally build up the courage to bring her that Blue Feather, she'll warmly accept your proposal.

Happy Valentine's Day!

No comments:

Post a Comment