Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley Playtest: Will You Save The Town?

By Jenni . May 18, 2010 . 11:44am

Harvest Moon has returned to the PSP with Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley. This time, it’s more story-based than most Harvest Moon games. You’re not only tasked with revitalizing an old family farm, thus revitalizing the area, but also saving the whole region from being turned into an amusement park by Funland.

 

The game begins with the hero receiving a letter from his father. That’s right, hero. No gender choice this time around. The family has received an offer to sell grandpa’s old farm, and the hero has returned to spend some time there and in Leaf Valley before making any decisions. Once he arrives, he learns that Funland is trying to buy the whole town to make it into an amusement park. The Harvest Goddess and Harvest Sprites are terrified by the prospect of losing their home, and turn to the hero to raise the money or make the necessary bonds of friendship needed to send Funland away.

 

The first thing that strikes you about Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley is how the town and environment is presented. The visuals look good, and are almost PS2 quality. And, at certain times and under certain conditions, it’s almost as though there were a piece of sepia-color cellophane around the screen, creating a dreamlike hue. It’s an interestive effect that is quite pleasing, though occasionally during foul weather I found it would distract me from seeing objects on the ground.

 

 

Next, you encounter the camera. The camera controls in Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley frustrated me. It isn’t that they’re bad, per say, just not what I’d expect. In a game on a system with left and right shoulder buttons, you’d naturally assume said shoulder buttons would adjust the camera so you could move and look around/adjust your view at the same time. No.

 

Here, the left and right buttons on the directional pad control the camera. So you move with the analog stick, and then must stop and shift your thumb to the D-pad whenever you want to take a look around you. It seems like something silly to make a big deal over, but whenever I play a game where my character is walking through a 3D environment, especially if I need to look around for items lying around or a person, I like to move the camera while I walk.

 

Thankfully, the other controls are perfect. The tool and item controls especially. Equipping tools is quite simple and effortless, as is going through your rucksack. Pressing the R button brings up a menu where you can choose tools or items. You then can go through a "ring" of all of the available tools and items you’re carrying, and select which one to use. It’s quite handy and accessible. Bringing up items works exactly the same way.

 

Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley brings new additions to the series, ones that haven’t been present in a portable Harvest Moon before. Most noticeable are the part-time jobs. Like the ones in the Wii incarnation of Harvest Moon, they’re here to offer more money making opportunities. Unlike the Wii version, they’re mini-games now. You can collect eggs at the Ronald’s Grocery Store, cut lumber for Wood’s Carpentry, mine for Funland, take care of the animals at Starling Ranch and cook at Clove Villa. All jobs earn you extra money if you get there at the right time, but some will reduce your stamina.

 

Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley has a few more special touches. You can collect bugs to sell to Tim after knocking them out of trees. You can also consult your calendar to check for weather patterns to help you plan out your days and determine when storms could come. There’s also Ponta the tanuki, who helps future cooks fill their recipe books in exchange for fish.

 

It also has multiple endings. You can the collect 50,000 gold to save Leaf Valley route, or you can save your cash and try to save the town by building friendships with the townspeople. Well, technically you’re finding other ways that Leaf Valley is special, but you don’t see these special qualities unless you spend a lot of time running around and searching for the right people. If you can complete three "nature" story events or three "tourist" story events, you can get nature reserve or tourist trap ending.

 

Those multiple endings mean that Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley is one of those Harvest Moon games where you need a guide. It isn’t optional – it’s mandatory. Especially so if you want Alice to remain in Leaf Valley after getting a good ending! You have to see a special series of events, in addition to those "nature" and "tourist" story events, to ensure she doesn’t leave when Funland, her company, goes.

 

 

Unfortunately, there is one detrimental change. Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley does away with the invaluable shipping box. Instead, you have to take your crops, items, produce, herbs, minerals and ores to specific shops to sell them. I considered this an abomination. It’s a waste of valuable time to try and track down each correct location to sell items, and not all shops buy all items. Plus all the shops are scattered and learning the lay of of the land is quite difficult.The only possible "plus" is that each shop also issues requests where you can earn extra money for bringing certain items in.

 

Absentee shipping box withstanding, if you’re craving some portable farming or know a Farmville/Farm Town addict who’s looking to step up to something more substantial, then Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley is a very viable option. There are some minor eccentricities that you’ll need to get used to and you’ll need to keep the instruction book’s map nearby, but once you get established it’s addicting – just like every other Harvest Moon.

 

If anything, Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley almost feels more fulfilling than the standard Harvest Moon. You’re given a goal, and each step you take towards reaching it makes the whole experience more satisfying. Just make sure you find some kind of guide if you decide to save the town by making it a nature preserve or tourist attraction instead of paying off Funland!

 

Food for Thought:

  • Keep the instruction book handy for the map! It’s hard to remember where everything and everyone is initially, and the map there is worthwhile since constantly bringing up the map in-game is troublesome.
  • The multiple endings feature is actually quite fun. The standard bachelorette events are always neat, but it’s nice to see events that actually tie into separate storylines and develop characters.
  • The camera controls are quite nice, and I’d like to see it in future console incarnations of Harvest Moon.
  • I don’t know why there wasn’t a gender option to play as a girl. There were plenty of bachelor options, and it wouldn’t have changed the story too much.

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  • BK0000

    I’ll try it, but I don’t have very high hopes for the game. I haven’t liked any of the 3D Harvest Moon games. For me, the Harvest Moon series just loses a lot when it goes from 2D to 3D.

    • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

      I was that way with the GC and PS2. I got the GameCube one where you could play as a boy or girl (I forget the name) and couldn’t get past the first week. And I had a Back To Nature PS2 one that failed to hold my attention. The PSP one and Wii ones are pretty good though. Animal Parade was absolutely fantastic. (I’ve logged over 75 hours in it. XD)

      • Joanna

        I was a bit hesitant to pick up Animal Parade since Tree of Tranquility got a lot of bad rep, but I’ll have to check it out now. :)

  • http://pto.yetikitn.com MelodyKitn

    The review actually seems to set me back a bit.. I suppose I’m just too intwined in the current frontier I’m playing.. but I dunno. Part time jobs and the feeling of mandatory guides to get things.. ah well, any idea on when/if it comes out in EU?

    • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

      GameFaqs has some awesome user guides. I just personally feel like I would have had difficulty getting Alice to stay and making sure I did 3 of the tourist/reserve storylines to get one of those outcomes.

      The shipping box is the thing I miss most. I hate having to actually go to stores (and remember which one!) to sell my stuff.

      • http://pto.yetikitn.com MelodyKitn

        I’m sure it does, I just tend to feel guilty using guides, even if it’s to keep a girl from leaving (such as when I found out about Bianca in Frontier). It’s as if I’m not letting the hero naturally progress through his video game life for the sake of my completion sanity (or that I hate prospective girls leaving no matter how annoying they are). I know, I sound silly.

        The shipping box thing does sound extremely irritating. You know what they need to bring back? At some point, in one of the games, I remember if the farm got too big or something, there was a basket you could bring with you and it acted like a shipping box. Or did you dump it’s contents into the shipping box…? Or maybe have a Torchlight-like pet that you can send off your stuff with to be sold for you.

        Anyhoo, till I can put down Frontier, and then next Tranquility, and if this even comes out in the EU, guess it’ll have to wait a bit.

        • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

          I know what you mean! I hate having to try and make sure I’m at a certain spot, on a certain day, at a certain time. (Unless it has to do with getting a wife/husband in the game, because that’s a little more flexible and usually not too difficult to encounter on your own.)

          I remember that basket. I think Harvest Moon DS and Harvest Moon Cute still had it in there. I remember taking it into the mines with me. :D

          • http://pto.yetikitn.com MelodyKitn

            Yeah, that’s the one! I remember taking it away from a farm, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember why. I knew HMs didn’t have dungeons, but I remembered a basket! And there was a horse with a basket too, I think…

            Glad I made sense about the meetings tho ^^

        • Joanna

          Harvest Moon GBC 2 also had the saddle you could give your horse and it acted as a shipping bin. Problem with the horse was that it moved around too much. xD

          • http://pto.yetikitn.com MelodyKitn

            That’s the one I remember! Yeah, you’d end up losing crops with one stray movement… So many lost crops and restarts. Still, get the same thing with frontier pets always getting in the way. Would gladly have that come back.

  • http://thrust-the-sky.deviantart.com/ WildArms

    I love and get all the HM released, the only thing that sometimes bothers me is that when you change of map, the music stops and then keeps on once you reappear D:, it just makes every changing of map a little “annoying” T.T, but well, i still love it.

    Btw the first harvest moon i ever played was save the homeland, although i knew the series from before, that you can marry, farm and etc,… so i got save the homeland (because i only had a ps2 at that time) and i was so freaking happy, i remember was getting a blue flower or something event, that only blooms if there are 2 ppl in love around, AND I WAS WITH THE PINK HAIRED GIRL (cant remember name now, but was the girl i wanted to “marry”) I WAS LIKE, YAY!! (this was like 30th winter…) imagine my surprise when i saw that the next day i couldnt save the homeland, and discovered you cant even marry in this HM… TT_TT.

    Now MY DREAM CAN COME TRUTH!!!!!

  • http://www.myspace.com/effluentrainfall Effluent Rainfall

    I recall enjoying the SNES Harvest Moon waaaayyy back in the day, but by the time any interest had been rekindled in the series, there were, by my estimate, approximately 29428431 installments and I had no clue which were the best, so I gave up. I know that sounds a smidge radical, and I may have exaggerated slightly on the numbers, but I’m not sure which are great and which are worth passing over.

    There’s just too many of them, damn it. I don’t know which to try. :|

    • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

      Yes, quite radical. There’ve only been 1,263,279 installments you know. ;D

      If you have a Wii, I recommend Animal Parade. It’s sort-of like an improved version of Tree of Tranquility, though that one is equally good.

      Sunshine Islands for the DS is pretty good, but the varying crop requirements (some need more sun, some less, some more watering, and so on) get annoying. I’ve heard Grand Bazaar (for the DS, coming soon) is supposed to be better so maybe check that out?

      All of the DS Rune Factory games are pretty fantastic. I liked 2 best, then 1, and then the Wii incarnation Rune Factory Frontier. But really, there it’s a matter of taste and all are very good.

      The GBA games Friends of Mineral Town/More Friends of Mineral Town (it’s the same game, just one’s for girls and one’s for boys) are also a huge favorite for me, and if you like the 2D Harvest Moons you may like those.

      • http://pto.yetikitn.com MelodyKitn

        I cannot, for the life of me find Animal Parade here in the EU!! Did that not get ported over? *sadness*

        • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

          I’m… I’m sorry… Animal Parade didn’t, well, it just didn’t make it – to Europe.

          Maybe there’s still hope? It’s been doing pretty well in the US I think.

          • http://pto.yetikitn.com MelodyKitn

            Oh cruel fate! The really insulting bit is how on our Amazon.co.uk, they have a listing for the game guide, but not the game. How much of a tease is that?

        • http://www.twitter.com/Celedin Celedin

          It’ll probably come out here eventually, we’re about 4? Harvest Moon games behind now I think. Just got to wait it out~ At least we can import the DS/PSP ones like these.

  • Vino (Tim N)

    I was looking into this one, I really need to take a break from these triple A titles, and just relax with a game like Harvest Moon. One of the things I don’t like about current games is the character art. But I think I’m starting to get used to it.The no shipping box sounds like a big turn off. Doesn’t that just waste more time in the day, and less money made?

    Oh, and is their voice acting in this? I haven’t heard any from trailers.

    • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

      Nope, no voice acting. I don’t think I’ve ever played a Harvest Moon with that, come to think of it. (It’d be a nice touch though!)

      • http://pto.yetikitn.com MelodyKitn

        Can’t remember any HMs with voice, but since I’m playing Frontier, there’s at least a Rune Factory with’m!

        • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

          Yup! Frontier does. :D I think the RF DS games have some voice acting too? (It’s been a while since I played either one so I’m not sure.)

  • bugmeknot

    So if you have to take your items to shops to sell them, does that mean you can carry an unlimited amount of stuff? I don’t want to have to make lots of trips carrying just 5 or so items at a time.

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