This is the last Harvest Moon game I'm going to buy, ever. I realized about mid-Summer of the first year that I keep buying new Harvest Moon games every couple of years in a foolish attempt to re-create the magic of when I played Harvest Moon 64 way back in '99. However, I'm not 13 years old anymore and I don't have the time to sink into this game that it requires. I'm sad about that, because I really like these games in principle...just not in practice.
Sadly, I agree 100%. One of my friends came over to my house back when I was in high school one Friday night with the original Harvest Moon. When he told me what the game was about, I laughed and said how stupid it sounded. By the end of the weekend I think I had put about 15 hours into the game. Picked up the N64 version when it came out and the game was magical. Since then I bought both Gamecube games but neither really caught my interest. Played the first couple Rune Factory games and while they're fun, didn't quite capture the magic of Harvest Moon 64. I have one of the DS games (I believe Sunshine Islands) and one of the Wii games (I believe it's Animal Parade) both unopened that I'm planning to play someday, hoping to enjoy them but not overly optimistic because, like you, I just don't have the time that these games require.
I think that the Harvest Moon series would be better off if it had a little more structure to the game and things progressed more quickly. If they made it into a game that lasted 20 hours or so with the core elements of what makes Harvest Moon so fun but with more of a story and more interesting things happening regularly, I think it'd be more interesting of a series. Then again, maybe the problem is more that I've changed than that the series has.