Harvest moon: Save the homeland (PCSX2)
Harvest Moon: Save the Homeland is the latest in Natsume’s addictive farming simulation series. Unlike traditional combat-oriented RPGs, Harvest Moon features a novel premise. Each game in the series has challenged players to sow seeds, harvest crops, turn a tidy profit, and build involved relationships with other townsfolk. Like the games before it, Save the Homeland brings your young character to a dilapidated homestead and lets you work from there. Sadly, not all is bliss on the farm. Money-grubbing developers plan to flatten the town and build yet another faceless amusement park in its place. The citizens had no hope, until you showed up. As the inheritor of your grandfather’s farm, you have one year to nurture the farm back to its previous state and somehow find a way to convince the developers that the town is best left undemolished.
This is, as mentioned above, a farming simulation. Unlike most sims, though, you actually perform the tasks set before you, twitch style, rather than giving orders and watching the results unfold indirectly. The camera focuses on your little farmer avatar, a young man taking over his grandfather’s ranch, and you trot about the screen using tools and manipulating the features of your environment.
So what can you do? Lots of things. To begin with, you have a shovel, a watering can, and some seeds. Till the soil plot by plot, plant some veggies, water them from your well, and wait. Soon you’ll have produce that you can sell at the store. With the money thus earned, more agricultural possibilities arise. Diversify your crops, perhaps, going from simple potatos to tomatos and corn. Alternatively, you can save a little cash and buy chickens or cows — animals can be bred and sold, and those eggs and milk have many uses. There’s also a lot to do as far as interacting with the world outside your farm. You can gather wild fruit, mine ores, adopt a pet dog, chat up the local girls, and much more.
One of the neat things about the way the game is structured is how you gradually discover the successive levels of the sim. As you start out, all you have to deal with is a little farming, learning how to keep your crops alive and producing. Once that becomes de rigeur, it’s about time to get into animal husbandry — you learn how to keep your dog happy, then the chickens, then the cows, then the horse. If you ever bore of that end of things, you probably have enough money to build a kitchen and start cooking. Once you can cook, hey, you can start bringing cakes to the girls…
That succession of layers is a fine piece of design. Many sim games (the Koei war simulations spring to mind) throw you right into the middle of things without any help, or at most a brief tutorial that you probably didn’t pay much attention to anyway. While it moves in real time from day to day, Harvest Moon is structured to gradually introduce you to its many elements, and you can progress at your own pace if you don’t feel like building an empire right off. The fatigue system actually encourages you to take it easy, in fact, since you can only do so much in a day before your little farming avatar gets tired and needs a nap. Anyway, there’s not much to shove you along — after all, it’s not like there’s any sort of immediate threat. Luckily, the Hsiung-Nu are not programmed to pillage your farm and raze it to the earth, although now that I think about it, that might be a pretty cool feature for the next edition…
But no, that would spoil the atmosphere. Perhaps the neatest thing about Harvest Moon is that atmosphere, the tranquil routine that settles in. Milk the cow, feed the dog, water the corn, go to the store, pet the dog, get married, have a kid, save the village from development by finding the rare butterflies, live happily ever after. If that’s not fun, what on earth is?
Exclusively on: PlayStation 2
ESRB Rating: E
(New Filesonic & FileServe Download, all link are good. Checked OK. Password to extract is included in the file. )
Download Harvest moon: Save the homeland (PCSX2)
Download Mirror Harvest moon: Save the homeland (PCSX2)