A Letter from Dad

Do you remember your grandfather's farm? Since he's passed away now, I'm thinking of giving it away.

Save the Homeland: Looking over grandpa's farm

I heard that they're going to start building a theme park next year. There's not much of his belongings left, but I want you to take care of the things that are still there.

Also, go around and talk to the townspeople for me.

Take care,

-Dad

Save the Homeland: Checking out grandpa's old house

Even though it wasn't being used, the farm's condition was still nice. The pasture was growing beautifully, and there were still fertile fields across the land. The buildings stood sturdy, if a bit dusty. The house was tidied up, but still felt lived in. Grandpa's books adorned the shelves, with little notes he wrote about taking care of the plants and animals stuck in them. The television even still received electricity and a signal. In a way, it was as if Grandpa had simply gone on vacation, even though he had been gone for a while now. It made me want to stay and wait for him to return, spending time playing on the farm like I did when i was little. But I was only here to gather up a few things and make sure the place was in good condition to lend out until the construction project began.

Save the Homeland: Meeting the Harvest Sprites

At least, that's what I thought, until I met three strange little fellows. I heard some voices coming from outside while I was looking over the house, and went out to see who it was. I was surprised to find the voices were coming from some tiny people, only a few inches tall. I thought maybe I was dreaming, so I tried to grab one. The poor thing screamed and his friends ran away in fear.

Save the Homeland: Meeting the Harvest Goddess

The little guys introduced themselves as Harvest Sprites, and thought there was something special about me since normally people are not able to see them. They seemed to be desperate for help, and introduced me to a beautiful and mysterious woman they called the Harvest Goddess. Like the Sprites, she seemed to be different from regular people -- able to fly in the air, wearing a sparkling dress that looked as if it were sewn from a rainbow itself.

The Goddess and the Sprites were spirits of the land, and were desperate to save the town from being converted into a theme park. Without the forest and lake that are part of the village, they would be without a home. The Goddess told me that I was chosen by fate to be the savior of this land, and asked me to help her and the Sprites find a solution to preventing the construction that was a year away.

Save the Homeland: The beginning

And that's how I came to agree to live on the farm for the rest of the year, to help the townspeople and the nature spirits keep their homes, and protect the precious places from my childhood memories. That's how I began my quest to save the homeland.

Harvest Moon: Save the Homeland

Welcome to my play diary for Harvest Moon: Save the Homeland!! While there were many titles released in the series prior to this one on the PlayStation 2, this was actually the third game to be "numbered" as Ranch Story 3 in Japan, making it the "official" third game in the series proper, which doesn't include the various side games on the Game Boy and PlayStation. The second numbered game was what is known in the west as Harvest Moon 64, and the first was, of course, the original Harvest Moon on the Super Nintendo. Save the Homeland was the last of the numbered games, and these three numbered titles are intended to actually be sequels to one another, taking place in the same universe, each a few generations into the future of the last.

Unlike the first two games which take place in the same location, Save the Homeland takes place in a new place, a small valley that is being threatened by being turned into a theme park, which will cause the local residents to be forced to move away and give up the land they grew up on. The player character is actually a descendent of the player characters of the previous games, and before moving into his grandfather's house in this game, lived in the Flower Bud Village we know from those games.

Although a lot of fans of previous entries in the series seem to dislike Save the Homeland because it diverges from a lot of the series' staples, it seems this game may have been the closest to the original creator Yasuhiro Wada's vision of the series. Originally he had wanted to create a game that centers around interpersonal relationships and developing bonds between other people in a rural setting reminiscent of his own childhood, trying to bring focus the social differences he noticed between his country life as a child and his city life as an adult having moved to Tokyo.

The first game on the Super NES suffered from limits all around -- hardware capabilities, budget, time frame, and development staff (if I remember correctly, there were only two people on the entire development team), and many of Wada's original ideas and visions were unable to make it into the final game. It still gained a surprising following of fans, however, and the series was able to continue.

As the series took a direction meant to please the ever-growing fanbase's demands, Wada left the series to start his own company. You can tell from his newer games like Hometown Story that the interaction between characters is far more important to him than the time and management gameplay elements that have given players a farming addiction, and the actual development of various kinds of social interaction is more important to him than a more shallow trophy spouse system.

And as always, I seem to always like the less popular stuff, so Save the Homeland is actually one of my favorite entries in the series. While I do love the popular systems of the other games, there's something very special about this one. It's unlike any other game in the series in many ways, which makes it understandable why many fans are not as interested in it. The biggest changes that seem to upset series fans the most are the shift of focus away from farming with less farming gameplay options and mechanics, and the complete removal of the marriage system in favor of a story-driven game featuring multiple endings where marriage simply wouldn't fit into the formula.

But the game adds a lot of things the others don't have -- the game has actual storylines that develop and unfold as you play, including nine different endings and a New Game+ system so you can try to find them all. Character interaction is more developed than before, with characters having unique responses to various gifts, variations on scenes depending on your relationships, and a wide variety of scenes in general. I'll cover more of the differences in the diaries themselves.

My goal for this diary series is to acheive a 100% file. By my definition, this includes getting all nine endings, seeing all of the different romantic scenes, obtaining max amounts of every time, and having all farm amenities full and upgraded. I've come close to this before, but like all games, I tend to always want to start over in the middle of working at it, so I've never gotten all nine endings in a single save file.

I also want to try writing part of the diary in first person -- I can't talk about the mechanics and stuff this way, so the whole thing won't be like that, but I'll be adding actual "diary entries" by the player character throughout, perhaps as a summary of what happens in each chapter.

So please enjoy my play diaries of Harvest Moon: Save the Homeland, and I hope you can come to appreciate this game as much as I do. If you think the game looks interesting to play, it is available on the PlayStation Network now as part of the PS2 classics series thing, at least in the US. So it shouldn't be too hard to get your hands on it if you have access to that.

The Horse Race Story

  1. In Loving Memory
  2. The Horse Race
  3. The First Day
  4. Petting Horses for Fun and Profit
  5. Animal Parade
  6. Run, Nevile!

Coming Soon Story

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