Review by ProfessorMaeda

"A bit of a let down, but still enjoyable."

Yes, this is yet another addition to the famous Harvest Moon games. I can safely assume that a lot of gamers had high expectations for Harvest Moon : Save the Homeland (HM: StH for short). With its predecessors' HUGE success in the gaming market, as well as the fact that this one is for a Next-Gen console, I guess many fans (myself included) were hoping HM : StH to be a masterpiece. Is that the case? Let's find out...

Gameplay : 7/10

HM : StH is kind of bad in this department. Many gameplay elements that made the previous Harvest Moon games fun have been dropped. For starters, you can't have sheep. You want a horse and a dog? Well, you have to be really friendly to them first. Next, you only have four types of crops that you can plant. Sounds convenient, huh? But it sure does take out the feeling of variation. You also have to bring your harvested crops to sell at the shops, instead of dropping it into a bin.

You also have two house upgrades. One is a kennel for your dog and another is a kitchen. Both are kind of worthless in the game, anyway. They can hardly be considered to be essential, unlike in Harvest Moon : Back to Nature.

There's one pleasant improvement, though. The space in your backpack is almost infinite, so you don't need to worry about not being able to carry many items.

Storyline: 7/10

First of all, you CANNOT get married and have a kid in this game (You can only have some sort of relationship with a girl of your choice). That's pretty much a huge blow to the storyline. Then, there are so few people in this...''town'', the atmosphere is kind of depressing. There are nine endings altogether, and you only need to be friendly to certain people in order to get one ending. And guess what? You can get some of the endings even before the end of Spring in Year 1.

HM : StH is pretty bad in this department, too. I wonder what got into the developers?

Music: 9/10

I have to admit, though, that the music is pretty good. As usual, the composers know how to make music according to the environment, the seasons as well as certain scenes. The fresh spring, the upbeat summer, the tranquil autumn and the cold winter, I guess when it comes to music, they stick to the good old formula that has been successful in the previous HM games. Two thumbs up for this department.

Graphics: 9/10

Yep, definitely an eye candy. HM: StH's graphics is definitely a strong point for this game. The character design is rather good, and although I prefer the main character's image to remain the same like in other HM games, I have to say that they gave him a refreshing new look in HM : StH.

The environment deserves some credit, as well. It sure is nice to wake up to a misty morning, or to watch the sunrise and sunset. The landscape is especially beautiful around the mountain parts. I guess they did make a good use of PS2's capabilities.

Overall: 8/10

Hmmm, well, it IS quite a disappointment to gamers like me who have played other HM games. I suppose the developers tried to bring up new elements, but it is the good ol' style in previous games that has attracted the HM fanbase. But minus the comparison, HM : StH is pretty good in its own way. To those who have yet to get a taste of HM, this game will most likely pique your interest.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 02/15/03, Updated 02/15/03

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