Review by joan2468

"Can you Save your Homeland?"

Harvest Moon - Save the Homeland has been changed from the traditional Harvest Moon games. While the other Harvest Moon games have objectives that are more focused on building a family and home and becoming a good farmer, Harvest Moon - Save the Homeland is more focused on the actual plot - as the game title indicates, In Save the Homeland you will have to Save the Homeland! Despite the changes that have been made though, this game still has the charm that its cousins have, if a bit less. I did enjoy this game, although admittedly it might have been nicer if they had kept some of the traditional features.

In Harvest Moon - Save the Homeland, you will play as the grandson of Tony, a man who had once lived on a farm. Since he has moved on to the heavenly farm in the sky, you are given his farm to take care of. Upon your arrival at the farm, you will hear Harvest Sprites discussing a huge problem - builders want to tear down the village and build a new resort! If this happens, the Harvest Sprites will lose their home and all the nature around will lose their beauty, not to mention the fact that the villagers will have to scatter and move out to find new homes. Everyone's worried about it. When the Harvest Sprites find out that you can see and hear them, they call the Harvest Goddess who lives at Goddess Lake. She informs you of all the details of their dilemma and gives you the task of finding a way to convince the builders to leave the village alone. You have only one year - equal to four seasons in the game. You MUST complete the game before the final day of Winter, or you will not get a good ending.

There are many different endings, and these endings depend on the friends that you make in the village. Once you have completed one ending and saved your completed game, the game will start over - you will still have all your animals, crops and the extensions that you bought for your farm (namely, the doghouse and the kitchen) but it will be as if everyone in the village got a serious head injury and got amnesia - it will be just like you have just arrived at the village and everything will begin anew, so you will have to forge friendships with the villagers again.

The game's graphics are brightly-coloured and outlined, but details are somewhat lacking. Yet somehow it perfectly suits a charming game like Save the Homeland. You will be able to see the environment around you change as the seasons change. Wild plants such as Very Berries, Mushrooms and Blueberries grow in certain places in the village according to their season. You'll see the leaves change to brown and orange in Fall, and you will notice that nightfall comes more quickly in Winter.

Save the Homeland's music and sounds are very good. The music is, like the graphics, charming, uplifting, happy and upbeat, most suitable for a cheery game of its kind. The sounds are well done - there is no voice acting, but the sounds of the animals - the moos of your cows, the cluck of your chickens, the barks of your dog, and the nature sounds like the splash of water, are quite realistic.

If you have played any other Harvest Moon games, you know perfectly well how the gameplay is. Well, Save the Homeland is much the same but a little different. For one thing, you can date some of the girls in the village and have them as girlfriends, but nothing more - you cannot get married, let alone have children, unlike previous Harvest Moon games. Every character in the game has their own personalities - they each have their own dislikes and likes and even their own birthdays. They will like you more if you give them their favourite things, especially on their birthday. This is mainly how you forge friendships in Save the Homeland - giving gifts to the villagers you want to befriend. Some of the shyer or less friendly villagers may take a little more time to befriend, but it is worth it to befriend everyone.

At first, your main source of money will be selling off the wild plants, herbs and fruits that you can find growing around the village. Once you have enough money, you can start planting crops and selling them. The Flower Shop sells seeds for you to buy, but the kinds of seeds are very limited - there are only four types of crops that you can plant, which are Tomatoes, Breadfruits, Corn and Potatoes. Potatoes are the cheapest and grow quickly, so it's recommended you start out with Potatoes. Tomatoes, Corn and Breadfruits regrow their fruits, so there's no need to keep replanting them.

Another way to make money is to work Part-Time at the Brownie Farm, run by Bob. If you want to work there, you must come and speak to him behind the counter at his shop when it is open. If it's raining or if the shop is closed, you cannot work there for that day. The work mainly consists of brushing the horses, putting fodder in their feedboxes and brushing and milking the cow. You will get to keep the milk, and once you're done and leave the farm, Bob will give you some money for your trouble.

The weather in Save the Homeland can be a bit annoying. When it rains, it'll rain the entire day, including storms, which limits some of your daily activities. Being in the rain too long can also cause you to fall sick and catch a cold, which will confine you to your bed to rest the next day. You have to put all your animals in their homes before it starts raining. If you leave them out in the rain too long, they too will get sick, and Animal Medicine can be somewhat costly - and you can only buy one per day! Your animals can die if not cured quickly, so it's not a good idea to leave them out in the rain all day and have all of them fall sick, especially if you have a lot of animals.

Unlike other Harvest Moon games, your horse and dog are not automatically obtained in the beginning - you have to earn them! Leave some food in the dog bowl by your house each day and eventually you should see a dog at your farm or around the village. If you've been leaving food in the bowl, try and catch the dog - if you succeed, you get to keep it! Horses are obtained through the Brownie Farm. You will need to work there as often as possible and befriend Bob to get a horse. When you work there, you must make sure to brush the horses and put food in their feedboxes for one of them to like you. Eventually, Bob will come over to your farm one morning with a horse - the one that likes you best - and you will get to keep it. You won't get to ride it right away - you must make it trust you before it'll allow you to get on its back. To do that, make sure to brush and talk to your horse everyday.

You can buy livestock from Brownie Farm, through the Farmer's Shop (Bob's shop). You can buy female cows and chickens. Your cow will be able to give milk once it is mature enough. If you want your cow to get pregnant, you will need to buy the Miracle Potion and use it on one of your cows. Your cow will not be able to give milk while it is pregnant, and once the calf is born it will not require any special care, you can treat it just like a regular adult cow, but it can't give milk until it is mature enough. You can buy chickens or buy an egg from the Grocery Shop and hatch it in your Incubator in the chicken coop. Once it is hatched, it will become a chick, and after a few days it will become a full grown chicken. Pick up your chickens and talk to them everyday, and bring them outside of the coop when the weather is sunny - you don't need to feed them if you take them outside, unless it is raining, when you must bring them back inside and fill their feedtrays with chicken feed. If you keep your animals healthy you'll soon be earning yourself good profit. The healthier and happier your animals, the better milk and eggs they give. You can check their status in the notebook by your bedside. You can also save your game in the notebook.

The television in your house, as far as I can see, is only useful to check the weather for the next day - and even that it is a bit unreliable. It's possible for the weather channel to say that the next day will be sunny, then you wake up to a storm!

Of course Save the Homeland has Fishing, but it isn't the best way to make profit, because you start out with a very old and lame fishing rod that is only capable of catching very small fish (rarely), but mostly rubbish like tin cans and old rubber boots. If you work hard at your fishing and manage to catch more fish though, Joe, the fisherman who is regularly found fishing at the lake every day, will give you a better fishing rod.

The only extensions to your farm are a kitchen ($10,000) and a doghouse ($5,000). You can order them at the Carpenter's and they will be built within a day. The cooking is pretty neat in Save the Homeland. The kitchen will come complete with oven, stove, a pot a pan and a fridge. However, there aren't very many recipes. Eating cooked food will restore some stamina and energy. The kitchen also comes with a bathroom and a toilet, which, when used, will also restore some stamina. Each day you wake up with full stamina. Stamina is lost each time you use a tool.

Considering all the endings, and the fact that each ending takes time to complete, you will need to Buy this game. Even after completing all the endings, you'll still be drawn to the game and play it just for the fun of it. It somehow gives a satisfying feeling, to take care of your own virtual farm.

As a conclusion, although different from traditional Harvest Moon games and a little disappointing to fans of previous Harvest Moon games, Harvest Moon : Save the Homeland is still a very fun and heartwarming game, charming and enjoyable, entertaining in its own unique way. You'll either love the game or hate it, but this game deserves a chance before you say anything about it.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 10/28/08

Game Release: Harvest Moon: Save the Homeland (US, 11/22/01)

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