When the game is started, there are four options; Start, Continue, Copy, and Erase. Copy and Erase refer to any previous saved games in the "Diary". The game allows for two games to be saved at the same time. Copy would allow the player to copy a saved game from Diary 1 to Diary 2. Erase would allow the player to erase a saved game. If someone starts a New Game with the two Diary spots filled with previous saves, Harvest Moon will want to erase one of the saved games and replace it with a new Diary entry.
When starting a New Game, you get a choice of either a Girl or a Boy. Then choose a name for your farmer and pick when his/her birthday is. You can choose a specific date (besides the default 1st) by pressing RIGHT on the directional pad, and then pressing UP or Down to pick a date. Your farmer's birthdate can be either in the Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter. It's recommended you pick your birthdate on an unusual date so as to not conflict with other events. Often events are placed on days with multiples of five (5th, 10th, 15th, etc.) and seven (7th, 14th, 21st). Some events are set randomly; for example Storms are listed on the "Schedule" to happen on certain days in the Summer and Winter, but often times they'll happen days later.
If you set your birthday for Spring in hopes that you'll get some tool power-ups early on in the game, that isn't going to happen. When your birthday comes around the Mayor shows up and give you 1000G, not a tool power-up. Nice try though.
Afterwards you'll discover what is really going on. The village is fairly poor and the only thing they can do to survive is to take the old farmland outside of town and convert it into an amusement park. The farm is important to the village and developing it into a park isn't something they really want to do. That's when you volunteer to take over the farm and make it productive again. The Mayor gives you three years to accomplish this task.
One of the changes from Harvest Moon 1 is the ability to walk around town. You can now walk through the doors of each shop and talk to the merchant instead of just pressing the A BUTTON to choose which shop you want to go to. Also in the new village is a Town Square, where inhabitants like to hang out and events will occur. There is a Bulletin Board located in the Square. The Board will have posts about events, shops, and other bits of information.
Once you leave the Mayor's house, walk to the different shops and talk to the merchants. Each one will give you some words of encouragement and sometimes a gift or two
Directly south of the Mayor's House is Ken's Carpenter Shop. Ken will give you an Axe and a Hammer.
South of Ken is Mary, who runs the Library. She gives you a system notebook which will list items you have in your inventory. Mary tells you to access your system notebook to press SELECT twice.
To the east of the Mayor's House is the Church. There is not minister to run the Church at the beginning, so it's not open to the public.
In the middle of the village is the Clinic. If your farmer gets tired or you suffer from some sickness, go to the Clinic and the Doctor will help you out. Later in the game Nancy the Nurse will arrive to help the Doctor heal you back to normal.
South of the Clinic is the Restaurant. Rosie loves to cook and she gives you 10 food packs and 10 drink packs. She also mentions that she has a sister named Chocola.
In the upper right corner of the village is the Flower shop where you go to buy seeds. Daisy is in charge of the shop and gives you a Watering Can and some Seeds.
Below Daisy's shop is Bill's Toolshop. Bill (pink hair) has a twin brother named Will (green hair) who frequently hangs out in the Town Square. Bill gives you a Sickle to use for cutting grass and a Hoe.
South of Bill's shop is the Animal shop. Chet is very fond of animals and tells you to give your animals lots of love. Chet wont actually sell you any animals until you have enough grass growing in the pastures behind each animal barn.
After you finish talking with the merchants, go to the Square and talk with Chocola. She'll ask you if you like animals and gives you a choice between a Cat and a Dog. Pick which ever suits you better. You can also read the messages that have been posted on the Bulletin Board.
Once you finish talking with everybody the old man who blocks the village exit will let you leave to go to the farm. Upon entering the farmhouse you'll notice a Diary sitting next to the bed. To save your game, walk up to the Diary and press the A BUTTON. You will then be asked if you want to save and go to sleep. If you choose YES, you go to bed and wake up the next day. If you choose NO, you get to choose wether you just want to go to bed without saving. Choosing NO again will allow you to continue on playing in that particular day.
After your first night in the house, the next morning there will be a note left for you. It's from the Buyer, who explains that he will arrive at 5PM every night to pick up your goods. After reading the note there will be another noise. Chocola has so nicely left you a pet at the front door. Now that everything is all situated you're ready to farm!