Codex Gamicus

Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life is another entry in the Harvest Moon series of farming sims/RPGs. Many of the same gameplay elements are intact, such as cow caring and marriage. However, days are now much longer, around 20 minutes, as opposed to the quick three minute days of old. Because of this, your character doesn't really spend years on the farm, it is instead divided into chapters. It is different from previous Harvest Moon stories because of its attempt to tell the story of an entire lifetime, as opposed to just a straight endless farming sim.

A very similar version of the game, except with a female lead character and male characters to court, was released a year later, called Harvest Moon: Another Wonderful Life.


You play a young boy (Default name is "Mark") who inherits a farm from his deceased father. Mark did not know his father very well, but he does know that with the help of Takakura, he bought and took care of that farm. However, he never accomplished his dream of having his farm be successful. When he passed away, he asked Takakura to ask his son to live out his dream for him.

Mark moves to the farm to find it basically empty. Takakura helps him get a start with tools and a cow, but the rest is up to Mark. He must raise a profit, fill up the farm with crops & animals, and raise a family.


Standard Harvest Moon series gameplay here, though it has the most significant changes compared to other games in the series. As previously mentioned, days are about 20 minutes long. You spend these 20 minutes wisely taking care of chores that need to be done on the farm. Seasons are even shorter - 10 days.

These chores are basically taking care of crops, taking care of animals, harvesting crops, milking cows, gathering milk, and shearing sheep for wool. On some days you'll find yourself planting new crops or tilling the field if you want to expand your growing space. Once you get done with that, it would serve you very well to go and become friends with lots of people in the nearby town. Eventually, you'll be so tired that you need to sleep, because you'll run out of stamina and can't do anything. Sleep is about 6 game hours. Then it's time to start the cycle off all over again, with some variations like the rare festival, social cut scenes, or weather.

The goal is to make a ton of money and upgrade your farm. Unlike previous games, crops are NOT good moneymakers. Money making relies on milk from cows, eggs from chickens, fruits from trees, and fishing. Crops serve mainly to be ingredients in the many dishes you can cook. Dishes are good for restoring stamina and are always good presents to get people on your side. With money, you buy more seeds, new equipment, items that can be used as gifts, and upgrade your farm by building new rooms like the food processing room.


The game is divided into chapters. In between each chapter, an untold amount of years pass. By the next chapter, everyone ages, people move out of town, people move into town, some people even die. Because of this, the game is about 30 years long, but you only get to play 10 of these years. One year is 4 seasons. One season is 10 days. One day is 20 minutes.

Here is how the chapters break down.

  • Chapter 1 - The Beginning (1 Year)
  • Chapter 2 - Happy Birthday (2 Years)
  • Chapter 3 - Happy Harvesting (3 Years)
  • Chapter 4 - Happy Farm Life (2 Years)
  • Chapter 5 - To the Journey (1 Year)
  • Chapter 6 - Twilight (1 Year)


As time passes, characters can change.

The Farm[]

  • Takakura-Takakura was a friend of the main character's father. He lives on a small house on the farm and provides useful advice for the player. Also, when the player puts food in the shipping bin, Takakura will take it into Mineral Town. He's also the one who brings and takes the animals that the player orders or sells. Later in the game, if the player has a good relationship with him, Takakura will buy a plant that allows the player to make hybrids from fruits and veggies.
  • The Harvest Sprites-The Harvest Sprites are Nic, Nak, and Flak. They are useful to the player as they show him/her how to perform certain tasks. In Fall of the first year, they will give the player a blue feather. They live in a tree by the Harvest Goddess Spring.

Vesta's Farm[]

  • Vesta- Vesta is a lady that lives and works on this vegetable farm with her brother Marlin and Celia. She has red hair and a very good attitude. She will tell the player what seeds are in season and will also sell them to him/her.
  • Marlin- Marlin is Vesta's brother. He used to live in Mineral Town before the city's fumes made him sick. Therefore, he moved to Forget-Me-Not for a simpler life. He will sell the player seeds. He also has a crush on Celia.
  • Celia-Celia is a girl who lives and works on Vesta's farm. She will sell seeds. Also, she is one of the eligible bacherlorettes. (See the marriage section.)

The Inn[]

  • Tim-Tim is the runner of the inn. He is married to Ruby and has a son named Rock. Tim seems to view Nami as his own daughter. He doesn't have an exact personality although he is easily disgruntled by Vann.
  • Ruby-Ruby is the Inn's cook. She is the mother of Rock and wife of Tim. If the character befriends her, she will give him/her Ruby Spice. An item that is useful in many recipes. She also views Nami as a daughter.
  • Rock-Rock is the son of the innkeepers. Although he is their son, he is blond and looks nothing like his parents. Rock is a "party-goer" that stays out all hours of the night.
  • Nami-Nami is a loner that stays at the Inn. She has many money troubles and is always looking for a reason to stay in Forget. If the player doesn't marry her at the end of the game, she will leave but later return. (See the marriage section.)

Romana's Villa[]

  • Romana-Romana is a rich old woman that lives at the villa a the top of the valley. She is the grandmother of Lumina and love interest of Sebastian. She is a kind old woman who will give the player a black cat during the second year if they are friends. She wants Lumina to become a good pianist.
  • Lumina-Lumina is the granddaughter of Romana. It is not very well-known what happened to her parents. Although she is a naturally talented pianist, she does not enjoy playing. In the special edition of AWL, she is a bachelorette.
  • Sebastian-Sebastian is the butler at the villa. Apparently, he and Romana had some sort of relationship in the past. He is like a part of Romana and Lumina's family.

Chris's House[]

  • Chris-Chris lives at a house across from the well beside the Blue Bar. She is a down-to-earth woman who seems to like the player's milk.
  • Wally-Wally is the husband of Chris and father of Hugh. He is a dedicated athlete and runs with his son every morning.
  • Hugh-Hugh is Chris's son. He is a very dedicated athlete who runs with his father every morning.

Blue Bar[]

  • Griff-Griff works at and owns the Blue Bar which is located near the Inn. He views Muffy as something of a daughter.
  • Muffy-An elgible bachelorette. She works at the Blue Bar and, apparently, lives on the second level although it is not open to "boys".

The Dig[]

  • Carter-Carter is an archaeologist that lives in a tent with his assistant near a digsite in the northeastern part of Forget. Every morning, he stands outside by the stream and seems to feel the wind. If the player digs up all the tablets, Carter will give him/her a dog. It is possible that he is romantically tied with his assistant, Flora.
  • Flora-Flora is also an archaeologist. She lives with Carter, and it is speculated that they are interested in one another.


  • Nina-Nina is a kind old woman that lives at a house next to Chris in the first chapter of the game. She is married to Galen. At the beginning of chapter two, the player will learn that Nina has passed.
  • Galen-Galen is Nina's wife. He lives with her at a house next to Chris during the first chapter. He moves to a hill near Vesta's Farm after she dies at the beginning of chapter two. He is a distant old man.
  • Gustafa-Gustafa is a traveling minstrel that lives in a yurt near the beach. He often sits outside and plays his guitar. He is interested in Nami.


As in most Harvest Moon games, the main character is expected to marry one of the eligible girls in order to continue the game. In order to marry one of the three bachelorettes, the player must have first gotten four hearts with her. Heart levels can be checked in each girl's diary.

  • Daryl-Daryl is a scientist that lives at a lab behind the Blue Bar. There are many amusing cut scenes involving him including trying to catch a yetti and plotting to steal the player's cows.
  • Cody-Cody is an artist that lives at a trailer near turtle swamp (near the beach.) He is a loner and doesn't talk much. He will give the player a turtle if they become friends.
  • Vann-Vann is a traveling salesman. On certain days (which are marked on your calendar), he will set up shop between the Inn and Blue Bar. There are also several cut scenes involving him trying to lose weight that take place inside of the Inn.


  • Celia - Celia is a young stay-at-home woman who works on the nearby vegetable farm. She is the easiest of the bachelorettes to marry. She is very down to earth and sweet. Your rival for Celia's affection is Marlin. However, if you do not speak to any of the three girls during the first year, Celia will automatically come to your farm on the last day of the year to ask your hand in marriage. Her diary can be found upstairs on the bed in the house she shares with Vesta and Marlin.
  • Muffy - Muffy is a playful blonde that works at the Blue Bar. She is quite the flirt and often goes to Mineral Town when she's off of work. Her diary can be found in the bouquet of flowers in the main part of the bar.
  • Nami - Nami is a the loner redhead. She does not have a job although she stays at Tim and Ruby's inn. She is the hardest girl to woo because of her odd choice in favorite items and cold demeanor. Unlike Muffy and Celia, she is not easily impressed by kind words, and has a quiet and anti-social personality. Nami seems not to go by any schedule and wakes up and goes to bed at different hours all the time. The competition to win Nami's heart is Gustafa. Her diary can be found on a table in her Inn room.
  • (In the Special Edition version for the PlayStation 2, there is the fourth option of marrying Lumina, a young rich girl who is a bit childish and naive).

Note: If the player marries either Celia or Muffy, Nami will leave at the end of the first year and return later in the game.


The player can propose to the girl of his/her choosing once they have four hearts with said girl. Around Fall of the first year, Nic, Nak, and Flak will give the player a blue feather. The blue feather can be used to propose to a girl.

Likewise, if you want to get another girl off your back (or you're just a very mean person) you can pretend to propose to another girl with the feather, then respond that you were just kidding.


Because of the early marriage deadline, the focus of the home-life shifts from getting a wife (like previous games) to raising a child. The personality and appearance of your son depends on which girl you marry. (In the Special Edition version for the PlayStation 2, you have the option of having a daughter, but she will look the same no matter who you marry and her personality will be exactly the same as if she were a boy). Your son shows up in Chapter 2, which takes place years after Chapter 1. Their interests and the careers that they pursue are affected by the mother, whom they also resemble. For example, Celia's son will be inclined to be a farmer, while Nami's son will be inclined to be an artist. The type of friends you have and toys your son plays with will also sway his future career. Eventually, in the later chapters, your son will get married too, to one of two possible villagers.

  • Celia's child is the happiest of the three children and the most interested in farming as he likes both animals and plants.
  • Muffy's child is very mischievous (which can be seen on the cover art of the game.) Because of his overall forward attitude, he is more likely to become an athlete as an adult.
  • Nami's child is the shyest of the three. He is very interested in art and farming. However, he seems to be rather depressed as a teenager and adult.



The game starts the player off with one regular cow. In this Harvest Moon game, only cows can reproduce.

  • Cows - Cows come in several varieties. Their milk is very useful in cooking and shipping particularly when changed into cheese and utter. Miracle potion can be used on females in order for them to have calves. If you have a bull, then you do not have to pay for the miracle potion.
  • Horse - Takakura will give the player a horse sometime in the summer if he/she has been shipping items. The horse makes getting around Forget valley much easier and faster. This is the only horse you will get in the game.
  • Goat - Goats can be purchased from Van in the second year. Their milk can be used to make cheese and butter. A goat milker can also be bought from Van if you want to milk your goat with it.
  • Chickens - A chicken is one of the simplest animals to have. They will lay eggs once every day or so and will only become fertilized if you have a rooster. Chickens stay in the Coop but can be placed outside if the weather is nice.
  • Ducks - If you have purchased a pond in the first year of the game, then your wife will discover a male and female duck swimming in it during the second year of the game. In order to have ducklings, you need to have a hen to lay on the female duck's eggs.


The game starts off with the option to keep either a long-eared dog or a pointy-eared dog. After choosing one or the other, Takakura will create a doghouse for it.



  • Some felt that the game was too much of a departure from the tried and true formula. The 20 minute days made the game more tedious for some, while accomplishing less.
  • Because you had to get married within the first chapter, players are less inclined to go to the town and socialize. Much of the need to go socialize is reduced, knowing you've already accomplished a marriage.
  • Cows are more realistic but take more work to milk, since they need to give birth first (which takes almost a year), and even after they give birth, they will only give milk for a year before they need to be impregnated again. This even counts for that newly bought expensive cow.
  • There is no Harvest Goddess.