REVIEW: BS Bokujou Monogatari

this article is part of an ongoing series examining the entire Harvest Moon franchise. see the main article and index here.

So.  Japan had Super Famicom, and they also had a satellite radio company called St.GIGA.  If you had a subscription to St.GIGA, a tuner for the service, and an attachment for your Super Famicom called a Satellaview, you could play “gaiden” versions of your favorite games at certain times of day on certain dates.

Reading through the requirements, this Satellaview game service sounds pretty ridiculous, and at its peak, only served around 100,000 people.  But many popular SNES/Super Famicom games had little gaiden episodes on the service, and Harvest Moon was among them.

QUICK FACT: This isn’t a new game, just challenges using the game structure and pieces of the first Bokujou Monogatari
QUICK FACT: I don’t know a goddamn thing about the BS Harvest Moon, but am going to talk about it anyway.

GAME LENGTH: There are four episodes that were each allotted a 50-minute broadcast time, plus one rerun. They are unavailable to play outside the broadcast time.

The most important thing is that this is actually just a version of the SNES version of Harvest Moon, as far as I can tell. There don’t seem to be any new game play elements, and the satellaview is a “gaiden” version, or an alternate way to play the original game. There isn’t a whole lot of information, however, and I’ve only seen the second episode.

BS Harvest Moon (the BS stands for “broadcast satellite”) was what was known as a “soundlink” Satellaview game, meaning that the game was offered with audio commentary directing players through a challenge made from the gameplay elements of the original Harvest Moon. Because of the nature of the soundlink games, you couldn’t download them. They were only offered in 50-minute increments on certain days, and most were structured like a contest. Apparently, they were designed so that all players would start and end at the same time. BS Harvest Moon was four episodes long, and was offered twice during the life of the Satellaview service, so you only ever had two opportunities to play each episode.

Each episode featured a different season. It’s baffling to me that ROMs are even available for things like this, but there’s a partial ROM available for the second episode, and I watched a video of someone playing it, which is how I am even writing this much up. For the second episode (called Fruitful Land and Mind!), the season is summer, and the player starts in a farm with pre-arranged plots of land for planting, infinite tomato and corn seeds, and a golden hammer and axe, and regular sickle and watering can. No hoe, so you can’t change the plots, and you can’t leave your farm. You just plant and water until you pass out, then start the next day. The audio commentary from the broadcast is missing, so the challenge is a mystery (I could see if it was structured like a crop growing contest, but why the golden tools? You don’t need to clear the field at all). I’ve also read speculation that other parts of the code are missing, and you can play beyond the end of the season, you just can’t do anything since you only ever get tomato and corn seeds.

Only the second episode is available out there on the internet, as far as I know, but that raises the question: what were the fall and winter challenges? You can’t farm, so were they social in nature?  Or maybe they dealt with livestock?

Basically, this isn’t a new game, just challenges (or possibly radio dramas, which is what the narration offered) using the first Harvest Moon game. They never came out in the US, and they likely never will. We aren’t missing a new or extra game at all, more like… a contest, maybe.

See Wikipedia for more on Satellaview.
Also, a fascinating Satellaview blog in English and Japanese. I hate posting links to ROMs, but the transient nature of these games, plus the technology behind them, makes for interesting reading and whatnot.


1 Comment »

  1. […] IN THE SERIES: Harvest Moon (SNES – 1997) BS Harvest Moon (SNES Satellaview – 1996 – JP only) Harvest Moon GB/C (Game Boy/Game Boy Color – 1997)* Harvest Moon 64 (Nintendo 64 – […]

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