Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 11/22/01 | Genre: Simulation
Harvest Moon games have always been cult classics. The premise is somewhat simplistic and goofy, but many gamers, both casual and hardcore, have fallen in love with the series' quirky charms. Natsume wasted little time in taking its key franchise next gen, but is it worth your money?
Your goal: Save your grandfather's village from becoming an amusement park. Your method: Old fashioned agriculture and help from your friends. Harvest Moon is a real-time simulation/adventure, where instead of just managing your resources, you also utilize them. You actually how the ground, you actually plant and water the seeds, and you actually harvest the crops. Of course, that doesn't even include your animals.
This is the franchise's first step into the third dimension, so control must be dead on. Fortunately, it is for the most part. Accurately using the tools is a little tough, but luckily, the game doesn't allow you to use tools in inappropriate areas. The quick access to your inventory (similar to Metal Gear Solid) makes it so that you don't have to open the subscreen every time you need to equip a new item. I wish the little guy could run faster, but that's just nit-picking.
Ever since Jet Grind Radio, cel-shading seems to be all the rage. Harvest Moon is no exception, and the cartoon characters suit the series well. Objects other than people, though, are no cel-shaded. Musically speaking, the game isn't very impressive. The score is well done, but just a little generic. The sound effects are classic HM, but a little voice couldn't have hurt.
At first, the game seems rather simple. It's just farming and livestock, you'll think. Once you start playing, you'll realize there's so much more and suddenly, you're in over your head. The ebest way to get through the game is to set up a schedule for yourself, for example, tend to your crops and animals first thing in the morning or visit Katie every Friday. Be sure to set time aside to go to the store for supplies, foraging (and fishing), part-time labor, making friends and local festivities as well.
I have one huge gripe about this game. Save the Homeland actually has less features than Harvest Moon: Back to Nature (PS-X) and Harvest Moon 64 (N64), its predecessors. For those who have played either of the previous games, you cannot get married in Save the Homeland. To me, this was a huge disappointment. You can't get additions on your house other than a kitchen. There are no sheep to raise and there are only 4 crops the whole year through. For newbies to the series, buy Save the Homeland if you can't find Harvest Moon 64; you won't regret it. But for those of us who have played it for a while now, stay away. It isn't worth your money to buy a game with less features than games we're already used to.