sodacat's Harvest Moon: Save the Homeland (PlayStation 2) review

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A good game, but know what you're getting into

For years I avoided Save the Homeland because of its reputation as the worst Harvest Moon game. It wasn't until recently, when I was searching for non-portable HM games, that I decided to try it. I completely understand why it has the reputation it does, but it still deserves to be looked at.

First off, yes, the game is lacking many previously standard features of Harvest Moon games. It doesn't have dating or marriage, festivals, or even recipes. Money is never an issue, and even caring for livestock is trivial. But it's OK that the game is "lacking" all these things, because the game isn't about them. The game is about, surprisingly enough, Saving the Homeland.

This Harvest Moon game did something different and made the game about the villagers. Your goal in the game is to learn the schedules of the other villagers, how to befriend them, and then, after doing so, how to help them and ultimately finish their event path to save the town. In that regard the game is like a bloodless Way of the Samurai. Both games are even built around multiple playthroughs, as Save the Homeland instantly ends whenever an ending has been reached, resetting the player back to the first day of the game with all their farm expansions, animals, items, and money.

Victor tried to do something different with the Harvest Moon formula by expanding the base game-play into a new direction. The fan response put an end to that, and so far the only Harvest Moon game to have deviated from the core design has been Rune Factory. Save the Homeland still had a lot of room to grow, and its a shame we probably won't see what this branch would have looked like. On its own, its still a solid title, but ironically the best audience for it is someone already familiar with the series who is looking for a slightly different taste.

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