Review by SonyFan
"As A Harvest Moon Newbie..."
I've always looked at Harvest Moon with the typical Harvest Moon Know-nothing attitude: Dumb farming game, with no substance. Being an RPG fanatic, I always thought of the Harvest Moon series as a travesty to everything holy in the RPG genre. What, no fighting? No leveling up? Rubbish.
Then my mother suggested that I get this game, after her dentist told her about it because the dentists' kid was playing it. I rolled my eyes at her, but the next time I went game-shopping, I looked over the Save the Homeland box; cel-shaded graphics. The only thing that sucked me into buying, for I had not a single game with cel-shaded graphics prior to Save the Homeland.
Now on with the review, and keep in mind, I'm rating this game as a newcomer to the Harvest Moon series.
Story (9/10): The typical RPG story; save the world (your world being confined to your farm and the surrounding town). The town and farm are scheduled to be torn down in one year, to make way for a new theme park, and your grandfather has left you his farm in this town, following his passing. Maintain your grandfather's farm and find a way to Save the Homeland.
Gameplay (10/10): I didn't expect the gameplay to be as good as it is. You have to grow crops, raise animals, and befriend the townfolk to progress in the game. Making friends with the locals is crucial and is the only way to gain any headway in the game, otherwise you could spend the entire year just raising animals and growing crops. You have to gain the trust of your livestock for them to produce valuable product by caring for them, loving them and treating them well.
Graphics (9/10): The main only reason I even considered this game. Cel-shading attracted me to this game, but I had no idea the graphics would be this good; I just wanted to see what cel-shading was like. I gave the graphics a 9/10 because I found some of the textures to be quite bland and somewhat monochrome, for example, the texture of untilled soil (where you grow your crops).
Sound (9/10): Very well done, the music changes with the season, the sound effects are very believable. The only reason I knocked off a point was because the music for within each season doesn't vary and can get on your nerves (sometimes) during the 30 days of that season. Quite monotonous at times.
Replay Value (10/10): Nine different endings. Make friends with the townfolk and discover the various paths to stopping the themepark from being built. Every time you beat the game, you can restart the year (and the game) with all your livestock, relationship levels with the livestock and add-ons to your house, but your relationships with the townfolk reset, so you get to build those friendships again. Very cool idea.
Rent/Buy: I'd suggest that anyone who's considering considering this game rent it before you think about buying, that goes for Harvest Moon veterans and newcomers. Veterans don't seem to like this game because a lot of the features of the previous Harvest Moon games were removed from Save the Homeland. Newcomers may not like it because of their distaste for the entire premise of the story.
All in all, it IS a game worth taking a look at, whether it's a 3 day rental or a purchase.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 10/22/02, Updated 10/22/02
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