|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: ArtePiazza||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Natsume||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 15, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Don't believe me? Then check out Innocent Life: A Futuristic Harvest Moon for the PSP. Much wider in scope and very much simpler in nature then it's predecessors, the latest Harvest Moon game puts you in the shoes of a farming robot who needs to do some serious agricultural work to get rid of an ancient curse that threatens to destroy your home island of Heartland. Fans of the series may appreciate the radically new storyline, but will probably be dismayed at the watering down of the Harvest Moon formula that has worked so well in the past.
But let's begin at the beginning. You start the game off putting in a name for Dr. Hope's newest creation, who will ultimately be the protagonist of the game, and your playable character. Now I would caution you at this point, because I did not know at the time I began playing that you couldn't choose your character's gender, so I named it after myself. Having people refer to you as "That nice boy Amanda" is funny at first, but slowly wears on your nerves. Once you meet your "father," you'll meet a couple of essential townsfolk that you'll be interacting with through the course of the game. You'll also receive a crash course in farming. However once the tutorial is finished, you'll learn that no one in the town knows how to farm by hand anymore, and they rely on machines to do the work for them. This presents a unique problem because the spirits of the land are angry, and the local volcano is about to erupt unless someone uses good hard work to farm the land around the volcano and show those land spirits that life is worth preserving. Guess this is why you were created. What a reason to exist, eh? So you'll be tilling, planting, harvesting, and repeating until the land begins to come back to life. It's really fun at first, and you'll be just raking in the crops, and heading off to town every week to purchase new tools, seeds, and eventually raising livestock.
In addition to preventing said natural disaster, there is also the less important task of making you a more personable robot. There are several optional tasks that you can perform to increase your more human-like qualities like cooking and watching TV. I personally really enjoy watching TV simply because there is an anime channel that features a clone of the early 90s smash power rangers. But that's just me. There's also a drama channel that features the plight of a sad kitten who wants its mommy. And the best part is I'm not even making this up.
So now you know what you know what you need to do. However, the game sort of plateaus at this point and gets a little too repetitive. Of course, you'll be staving off the destruction of Heartflame and progressing towards your impending humanity, but there's no real excitement behind it anymore. You're just going through each day, watering, feeding, and otherwise taking care of your land, and that's about it. And though you can learn new things to increase your humanity, it's really an unimportant part of the game and doesn't really require you to do anything exciting enough to merit extraneous gameplay time. Characters are also victimized by the game's plateau and soon cease to develop, even though your character may continue to "grow."
Aside from these couple issues, however, most of the game's other qualities are pretty solid. Graphics are absolutely wonderful to look at. Colors are vibrant, and animations are sharp and clear. Environment is lush and varied across the different areas of Heartflame island. This game is one of several recent PSP titles that really showcase some excellent visuals, and reflect the recent trend towards steadily improving the graphics on handheld titles.
On the auditory side of things, I have to say that Innocent Life really impressed me. The score is very simplistic, but manages to be at the same time very well-orchestrated. And the score has enough variance to really keep you engaged since there is no voice acting. Which, to me, is pretty impressive.
Overall, there's not too much negative to say about the design of this game. Extremely good looking graphics, a solid formula, and beautiful music really make this game seem like one you would really want to check into. But I would caution those that pick this one up, simply because the gameplay becomes a little strained. But it really is a fun experience, especially for those who know and enjoy the classic gameplay of Harvest Moon, and fans of the series will appreciate the new twist on their favorite classic.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer