I mentioned in my first entry that own ten Harvest Moons. There are two main problems with almost every one of these games.
After the jump, Hero of Leaf Valley dodges one of them
The two problems are the need for a strategy guide, which I detailed yesterday, and the eventual monotony of daily plant watering, cow milking, and so on.
Leaf Valley does not get around the strategy guide issue. In fact, due to the time-sensitive nature of the main scenario, a guide is even more crucial than in the freeform Harvest Moons such as Magical Melody. However, Leaf Valley goes a long way toward breaking up the monotony. You still have your daily chores, but the main scenario events and story quests are all different. It’s not the same stuff happening over and over again.
Leaf Valley also has better characterization than the other Harvest Moons. About 80% of the villagers first appeared in Magical Melody for the GameCube. They had distinct personalities, but they weren’t very deep. Everyone had one stock phrase he or she would say every day, until your friendship level increased (at which point the character got a new new stock phrase. They basically stood in one place all day waiting for you to come talk to them. This was likely because of the more simple game design, or the limits of the GameCube, or both. But Leaf Valley gives its characters more depth by having the characters actually walk around the village during the day, and saying different things. Yes, they’re still stock phrases, but there are more of them.
This is my first experience playing a PSP game, and I swear that thumbstick will be the death of me. My character spent a fair amount of time lurching around his field like it was a ship at sea. There are a lot of buttons to keep track of on this console, and they all do something, which can mean a lot of mistakes. By the fifth time I flung a crop away instead of putting it in my rucksack, I was longing for the more basic controls of the Nintendo DS. But I’m going to miss that bigger screen when I’m done playing.
Hero of Leaf Valley is among my favorites in the Harvest Moon series. It fills a niche that’s not as laid back as Magical Melody, but not as thematically intense as a Rune Factory game. I’d have to say it’s just right.
Click here for the previous Hero of Leaf Valley entry.
Meghan Bowyer lives in Kansas City and works as a legal assistant when not playing/obsessing over video games. She has occasional aspirations toward writing professionally.