Review by AeonTemplar
"Et tu, Natsume?"
Ah, Harvest Moon. I remember how I excited I was the first time I plugged in the SNES cart, and Back to Nature is still one of my favorite games. So when I saw a copy of Save the Homeland for PS2, I bought it right away, thinking it would be even better than the earlier ones. After playing it for an hour, I started to wonder if someone had slipped up and accidently sold me a demo version.
Sadly, Save the Homeland is missing nearly everything that makes this series great. This means:
- No marriages
- No festivals
- No sheep
- Only one tool upgrade
- Only four crops, which can be planted in any season
- No lumber or rocks, the axe and hammer are gone
- No growing grass, it's done automatically
- No shipping bin, you have to sell everything yourself
- Unlimited space in your rucksack
Another thing I should point out is the length of the game. Earlier Harvest Moons gave you about three years to rebuild your farm. Save the Homeland gives you one year. There are nine different endings, and you have to get one before the end of the year in order to win. Of course, none of these endings will take very long (I've finished five of them without going into Fall). Each time you get an ending, you start back at Spring 1st with your farm exactly the way you left it, but all the relationships reset. This adds to the replay value, but gets frustrating after a while.
However, the biggest drawback is how useless money is. You hardly need to buy ANYTHING in this game. House upgrades? Nope, there's only two, and they're both pretty useless. Gifts? Nope, the people's favorite gifts can be found for free. Tool upgrades? Nope, there's only one (you can buy a better scythe), and it's only important if you want cows. About the only thing you need to buy is key items for endings, and you can earn more than enough money by doing part-time work at the neighboring ranch.
Of course, I'd be lying if I said this was a total failure. For one thing, the PS2 graphics were excellent. Everything, from the sunlight to the texture on the houses, was done superbly. The music was very well done, along with the sound effects. Having nine different story lines to go through gave the game some good replay value. Rather than starting off with a dog, you had to work to earn it's trust, and that added a nice touch of reality.
Overall, this game was very disappointing. Should you buy it? It depends. If you've never seen the Harvest Moon series before, this is a good one to start with. On the other hand, if you're an HM veteran, you'll probably get bored pretty quick.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 08/19/02, Updated 08/19/02
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