The Funland Corporation wants to build a new amusement park right over your grandfather’s run down farm in the village of Leaf Valley. It’s up to you to make the farm profitable again and save the town from destruction in this newest Harvest Moon game for the PSP.
Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley is typical of the long-running series. You’ll till the land and plant all sorts of crops. The game runs on a quick, in-game clock, so you must keep tabs on your veggies and water them every day and keep track on what grows best in each season. When fully grown, you can harvest produce for profit. But watch your stamina and make sure you don’t get too tired! Later on you’ll be able to adopt a dog and a horse, and keep chickens and cows to sell the milk and eggs.
There are other ways to make money, too. You can forage for herbs and berries that grow around town, or collect recipes and cook dishes with the foods you grow. You can do part-time work for the villagers (which also serve as handy tutorials). Try your hand at fishing when your chores are done, chop down lumber, or mine for ores.
Of course, farming isn’t all about working and making money. You can befriend all the villagers and give them gifts to earn their trust. They may even help you keep the big corporation from taking over your farm! You can even woo one of the several bachelorettes in town and eventually marry one. Even the lady owner of the Funland corporation (which is kind of awkward).
There are a few problems with this latest Harvest Moon PSP title. The 3-D graphics are pretty good for the handheld, but sometimes camera angles can hinder your views and controls. The slower-paced gameplay may bore some impatient gamers. Most of the new Harvest Moon games let you be a boy or a girl farmer, but not in this new PSP title. So it’s a bit of a setback, and if you’re a girl gamer who wants to play as a female farmer and befriend the guys in the village, you’re out of luck here!
There are other little changes here and there that might annoy Harvest Moon fans. When harvesting your produce, you have to take it to different stores to sell it, rather than put it in the convenient shipping bin like other games in the series do. And the game as a whole isn’t as easy to learn if you’re new to the series. Luckily the learning curve isn’t steep.
However, even though Hero of Leaf Valley doesn’t bring anything new to the table, it still remains a decent addition to the series and fans of the Harvest Moon series will still enjoy farming on the go on the PSP.
Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley is rated E for Everyone with ESRB descriptors of Simulated Gambling and Use of Alcohol. One of the events throughout the year is horse racing, so that’s where the gambling comes from. And you use alcohol in cooking. Patience with the slower-paced gameplay and good reading skills are a must, as everything is text-based. With the popularity of Farmville on Facebook, these Harvest Moon titles are great compromises (and better games) for parents who want to limit their kid’s online time. It’s best enjoyed by older kid gamers, though.