I read an interesting article by Luke Plunkett at Aftermath titled I’ve Had The Same PC Speakers For 20 Years, Almost My Entire Adult Life. It is a fun read and a good (late) review of some 2004 Logitech speakers. You may think that his article inspired me to talk about my longest-lasting peripheral. But this is not about 27-year old Newpoint Switcher 3000 Plus, this will be about a game I purchased in 2004. I preface the following quote from Mr. Plunkett’s article by noting that he worked at EB Games in Australia at the time of the relevant purchases:

We also got a healthy little employee discount. I would mostly use this on GameCube games–I was once awarded a joke certificate by management for being the only employee in the country to pre-order Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life

Luke Plunkett

Now this is nostalgic.

Very dedicated New Leaf Journal readers may know that I am a fan of Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life (“AWL”). I wrote an article about a contemporaneous review of the farming game and I included A Wonderful Life as an honorable mention on my personal list of games that left the biggest impression on me. I, like Mr. Plunkett, was looking forward to AWL as a kid for two reasons. Firstly, I played Harvest Moon: Back to Nature for PlayStation in 2002 and it became one of my favorite games (evinced by its runner-up finish on my list of big impression games list). Secondly, I liked what I read about AWL in game magazines. But despite looking forward to AWL, I know for certain that I did not pre-order it. How do I know? Because I remember the circumstances of when I acquired it.

(Note: The series then known as Harvest Moon is now Story of Seasons in the west. Hence, the recent modern remake of Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life is called Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life. The reason for Harvest Moon becoming Story of Seasons and the current “Harvest Moon” games being disconnected from legacy Harvest Moon is beyond our scope, but you can learn about the cause here if you are interested.)

While one should never ask a New Leaf Journal editor his age, I have dated myself often in these pages. I was finishing up middle school when AWL was released in North America on March 16, 2004 (original publisher website). Without looking up the date I did not independently remember when it was released other than knowing that it was in the first half of 2004. However, I can confirm that I did not pre-order it for one reason.

I received AWL in June 2004.

I distinctly remember going with my Mom to the former J&R in Manhattan to purchase AWL while she was on lunch break. But knowing where we purchased it is not the same thing as knowing when. How do I know when? Because I remember thinking about something that was going on at the same time while we were on the train.

The 2004 NBA Finals.

The 2004 NBA Finals previously made a cameo appearance in an article I wrote about whether the Detroit Pistons should have drafted Carmelo Anthony with the second overall pick in the June 2003 NBA Draft. As we know, the Pistons drafted Darko Milicic with the second overall pick in that Draft. While Mr. Milicic barely stepped foot on the floor, the 2003-04 Pistons ended up being a very good team – so good that they won their first Eastern Conference Championship since 1990 and booked a date with the Los Angeles Lakers, winners of three of the previous four NBA championships, in the NBA Finals. The Lakers were viewed as heavy favorites going into the series. I distinctly remember having thought that the Lakers would win (after having wrongly predicted they would lose to the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals). Of course, basketball games are decided by players, not pundits or Harvest Moon fans. The Pistons took game one on the road 87-75 and narrowly missed sweeping both of the first two games in Los Angeles with a 99-91 loss in overtime in game two. The series then went to Detroit for games 3-5. Surely the Lakers would recover! No home team had won three straight games at home since the NBA Finals had gone to the 2-3-2 format, after all.

It was not to be. The Pistons dominated the Lakers in game three, winning 88-68 (that was the 3rd time in 5 games and 6th time in 15 that the Pistons held an opponent below 70 points – yikes). The Pistons would similarly manhandle the Lakers in games 4 and 5 to not only upset the heavily favored Lakers, but do so in decisive fashion. As one recap put it, “June 15, 2004, will live in the hearts of Pistons fans around [the] globe, when a team nobody expected to beat the superteam Los Angeles Lakers completed the ‘five game sweep’ and broke up the Lakers’ dynasty with a 100-87 victory in game 5 of the NBA Finals…”

(I remembered the 2004 Finals having been called a “five game sweep” and I am glad I was able to find a contemporary article using the phrase.)

But I digress. This article is not about the 2004 NBA Finals; it is about when I acquired Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life. The question is how I can use my recollection of the Finals to pin down precisely when I acquired AWL twenty years ago.

To begin, let us list when each game of the NBA Finals was played:

1Sunday, June 6Detroit Pistons 87
Los Angeles Lakers 75
Pistons lead
2Tuesday, June 8Detroit Pistons 91
Los Angeles Lakers 99 (OT)
Series tied
3Thursday, June 10Los Angeles Lakers 68
Detroit Pisons 88
Pistons lead
4Sunday, June 13Los Angeles Lakers 80
Detroit Pistons 88
Pistons lead
5Tuesday, June 15Los Angeles Lakers 75
Detroit Pistons 87
Pistons win
Detroit Pistons win series 4-1.

(Aside: Note the Pistons’ metronomic scoring. They scored either 87 or 88 in all four of their wins, and they had 89 in regulation of game two.)

Before continuing, I note for non-sports fans out there that all five games took place at 9:00 PM EST. This is significant insofar it means we can rule out June 6 as a possible date since I went to J&R in the early afternoon, not at midnight.

We can exclude June 6 and all dates before it because I know that at least one game of the NBA Finals had been played when I went to J&R. Moreover, we can eliminate June 15 and any date after that since I know that the NBA Finals were ongoing.

I am absolutely certain that I went on a weekday because I went with my Mom on her lunch break. Thus, we can eliminate all weekend days during the Finals. This allows us to throw out June 12 and 13.

Thus, we are left with June 11, 14, and 15 as possible dates.

I noted earlier that I was reasonably confident that the Lakers had won one game, meaning that I went to J&R after game two, and that I thought (with slightly less confidence than the first point) that the Pistons were ahead in the series, which would suggest June 11 as the earliest likely date. Going into writing this article, I did not expect that I would be able to confirm the first assumption 20 years after the fact – but surprising things happen.

I have one additional point of reference for my shopping trip. Harvest Moon AWL was not the only GameCube game I received in June 2004. On the same day, I picked up a very peculiar “golf-inspired” game called Ribbit King. I remembered this as I began the article, but I did not immediately appreciate the significance of it. While I was absolutely certain before sitting down to write this article that we purchased Ribbit King at J&R along with AWL, I was not certain when Ribbit King was released in the United States. I looked it up on Wikipedia and learned that Ribbit King was released on June 8, 2004. I did not pre-order it but I suppose I may as well have.

Thus, while I was already reasonably sure that I did not get AWL on June 7, my recollection of receiving Ribbit King along with AWL confirms my assumption. We can rule out June 7.

(Why did I also get Ribbit King? I vaguely recall having read about it in game magazines and thinking that it looked fun. Moreover, I was a fan of golf games, having spent many hours with a few versions of Mario Golf and having played some more realistic takes on the sport. Of course, Ribbit King was “golf” – I recall you hit a hammer behind a frog and then the frog jumped and your goal was to get the frog to the hole in as few (hammer) swings as possible. I also recall that it was glitchy but it nevertheless was ridiculous enough to be fun. Maybe we need a Ribbit King re-make.)

Unfortunately – this is as far as I can definitively narrow our options down. The rest is up to my memory.

I am sufficiently confident that the Lakers had won at least one game in the series that I will rule out June 8, 2004, even though that means that I cannot claim to have purchased Ribbit King on launch day. Because I am reasonably confident that the Pistons were ahead in the series, I probably did not receive AWL and Ribbit King on June 9 or 10 – albeit it I cannot rule the dates out with 100% certainty.

Friday, June 11, is a strong candidate because it was a weekday and because the Pistons had just taken a 2-1 series lead the night before. We cannot definitively rule out June 14 and 15, Monday and Tuesday respectively, because they were also weekdays and the Pistons were then sitting on a 3-1 series lead.

I gave away what I think the date was with the date I chose to publish this article. June 11, 2004, seems like the most likely candidate of the three, as in it was at the end of the work week and I am inclined to think based on my recollection that the Pistons were more likely up 2-1 than 3-1 when I went.

(Also, my Mom was more likely to sneak in a long lunch break on a Friday.)

But June 14 and 15 are possible, albeit I think June 14 is more likely than 15. But, granting some uncertainty, I am going to say that I received Harvest Moom: AWL and Ribbit King on June 11, 2004.

June 2004 turned out to be a good month for some of my favorite games. Not long after I received AWL, a role-playing game for Windows called The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky was set to be released in Japan on June 24, 2004. However, Trails in the Sky, which made an appearance on my personal list of big impression games, would not make it stateside for many years – so my own adventure would have to wait.

As for the NBA, the Lakers dynasty did indeed crumble after being demolished in the 2004 Finals. They traded their best player, Shaquille O’Neal, and would not win another playoff series until reaching the 2008 NBA Finals. However, things ultimately ended well for the Lakers when they won back-to-back championships in 2008-09 and 2009-10 and then with a very different team in 2019-20. The Pistons returned to the NBA Finals in 2004-05 and lost a grueling seven game series (they probably should have won) against the San Antonio Spurs. The Pistons lost in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2005-06, 2006-07, and 2007-08 and have not won a playoff series since 2008.

Note: I still have the GameCube disk but at the moment I cannot find it. I will add a photo to the article if and when I find my original copy.