Review by HYD

"Worst of the Moon series, but not necessary the worst of all games..."

Save the Homeland - Worst of the Moon series, but not necessary the worst of all games...

Our best farming simulation game hits town again! Before Harvest Moon 2 arrives in the market, I'm sure most of you have either played the N64 version or the PSone version. Some of you maybe have even played the Gameboy version. However, players of the PSone and N64 version of Harvest Moon, prepare to be disappointed. Natsume has striped most of our favorite features off this latest installment, and I must agree that it was a stupid, stupid mistake. On the other hand, as the song goes, ''It can happen to anyone of us!''. Just don't do it again Natsume, bring us a nice and neat Harvest Moon 3! Oh right, be sure to put it on Playstation 2! ^_^

I tell you, this game has the best graphics I have ever seen in any Playstation 2 game ever. It beats Metal Gear Solid 2, it squashes Final Fantasy X (Besides the FMVs, that is), and it totally owns the previous Harvest Moon version for the PSone. I have never played the N64 version or the Gameboy version, but the PSone version of Harvest Moon had gave me hours and hours of fun. Though the gameplay of Save the Homeland may be a bit lacking, sometimes the graphics just cheer me up. The characters are drawn in a cartoon fashion, so you'll never see matured people like those in FF VIII. However, they are dead nice. The backgrounds are incredibly well done. Everything would look cute for a gamer of all ages, especially girls. I'm a guy though, but you must admit that juicy tomato must be good to squash.

...but you must admit that juicy tomato must be good to squash.

All characters are drawn in great detail. They have kinda of an anime look. Hair of all colors, huge innocent looking eyes... Not to mention those cows...and the horses... To sum everything up for you, the graphics of Save the Homeland is bar none. If graphics make a game for you, you should check this game under your shopping list right away.

Now, let's concentrate on the disappointment Natsume has to offer. For starters, there are only 4 crops to plant throughout the year. Yep, you heard me right, 4. Now let's do a bit of backtracking. In Harvest Moon 1, which is Back to Nature, in one season we have about 6 crops to choose from. If you want to add the Orange whatever plant that can be planted in the greenhouse, it would be 7. This is included of the secret crops. 7 crops a season! That's more than Save the Homeland's whole year! Back To Nature offers a grand total of 19 crops to plant. Maybe Natsume thinks that all we want is the gold, but we gamers look further into that. So that covers flaw number one. Flaw number two, for those gamers who are looking forward to love and marriage, be prepared to be disappointed yet again. Natsume removed it, damn it! Now, we can't marry girls or even tell their affection rate. Yep, even that little heart is gone. Now, what's the use of befriending them?

There's also no sheep in the game. Also, your fishpond is gone. All the characters are messed up as well. Okay, actually this is a small point. I don't mind starting a whole new game with the same old characters. You know? Like a sequel or something. But, they just don't listen. If I have to go on and on, I would be breaking spoilers for you all. Let's just stop here, I guess.

Natsume tried to make a great move, and I emphasis on the word, 'tried'. Yep. They laid out 9 great endings for us to venture and get it. Technically before you buy the game, you will have thought that it's a brilliant thing to do. Until you realize that the endings are easy to snag, and there's this annoying process that 'restarts' the game once you get the ending. To make it simple, once you get an ending, your game somehow restarts. Your relationship will be back to zilch. However, some stuffs still remain. Great move? I beg to differ.

Somehow, that increases the replayability for top Harvest Moon fans. You can get a lot of fun out of it. Also, you can spot many never before seen cutscenes. But, to most of us, we will quit after getting one or two endings. It just won't last. I remembered one guy cleared about three to four endings before fall even came. Plainly ridiculous.

Now for some saving graces for this game. I find out that you must now get a horse and a dog by your own. That's some challenge, maybe the only challenge. Speaking of challenge, you are going to have a hard time watering your plant if you love growing lots of them. Realism plays a part here, there's no more super watering can which can fill up the whole field. You got to bring those sacred liquid into each spot, one by one. Not to mention that dumb camera angle, I just can't find the right spot. Supposedly, you can press the triangle button to return your camera angle back to normal. But it never works in cramped areas. Your right analog stick might help, but in some areas, it doesn't even budge. Guess that's a tough job for old RPG players. Veterans shouldn't have much of a problem.

Okay, back to the dog and horse topic. Once you get them, which is not going to be easy, you have to earn their trust by treating them well. As usual, eh? But the horse option is now cooler. The more you ride on your horse, the faster it will run. Combined it with the awesome graphics, this is probably the best part of the game! Also, the game allows you to get a flute, which you can use to train your dog. This will come in handy when herding those oversized cows. But as always, they aren't brainwashed and your horse may not even let your ride on it at first. Once you get the first few hearts, you'll be able to get on his back. Then, he walks at the speed of a snail. Soon, he'll start to trot and move much faster. The dog works the same. Once you get more hearts, the lesser times you'll have to play the flute to get his darn attention. In any case, this is probably the only thing I liked about the game.

You will need to do far better than that Natsume. For players of the previous Harvest Moon series, you won't get to like this game much. For players new to these series, maybe you will find this game interesting. But I suggest you to get the Back To Nature installment, it's far better. Maybe you will want to edit a bit of gameplay and produce an awesome Harvest Moon installment next time! Until then, peace out.

Gameplay: 5/10
Graphics: 10/10
Bar none.
Audio: 8/10
Story: 6/10
Replayability: 6/10
Buy Or Rent: Depends.
Previous Harvest Moon players, rent.
New Harvest Moon players, up to you.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 01/05/03, Updated 03/01/03

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