Innocent Life: A Futurtistic Harvest MoonWritten By: John Perkowski Few game franchises live past one or two games. Few have the staying power to survive past a console generation, and even thrive on the next one. Harvest Moon is one of those rare exceptions. How can it survive beyond its SNES roots to become a multiconsole franchise? It's about farming, one of the most repetitive tasks you can engage in; yet this series manages not only to survive from year to year, but expand unto new formats. We have a Harvest Moon on PS2, GBA, DS, and soon even the Wii. Of course, we aren't concerned with those, we are looking at its debut on the PSP, Sony's mighty handheld. How does it fare? Is it worth its $30 price tag? For those who aren't up to speed on the game series, you start out as a lowly farmer who buys a plot of land and proceeds to grow crops for the various festivals that spring up through the year. Along the way, you learn to cook, watch mind-numbing but educational TV shows, and sometimes even fall in love. Innocent Life: A Futuristic Harvest Moon mixes up this formula in a lot of ways. For one, youâ€™re not human. Your name is Life and you are an android. You see the Island of Easter has moved to something called Auto-Farming, where machines handle all of the farming duties and humans live in a life of leisure. This has angered the spirits of the island, and it sealed itself off so nothing could grow anywhere naturally. Legend has it that the spirits left one spot behind for humans to redeem themselves: A series of ruins, called the Easter Ruins, on the far side of the island. The very top of the ruins has a small patch of dirt where things can grow if sown by hand. Dr. Hope, your father/creator, has created you with his ability to learn and grow to understand what it is to be human. It is his hope that you, Life, can break the seal on the land and restore life to Easter Island. However, there isn't much time left, as itâ€™s discovered that a volcano under the island is going to erupt within one yearâ€™s time if the island spirits aren't appeased. That, in a nutshell, is the plot. This basic setup leads to a lot of fun mini-games, which all translate very well into the PSP. Your primary task is growing items for Harvesting. Each season of the year has its own crops, which need tending. You first buy some tools at the local shop, break up the dirt on the farm, drop some seeds in, and keep it watered. Sounds dull? Well, it isn't. This simple task can bring hours of joy. And since the farm Life gets isn't very large to being with, you can easily tend to all your crops in about 15 minutes. If you have even longer than that, Life can go exploring around the island. This has some benefits because you never know what you are going to find. A quick look outside the front door yields some strange moss that makes the soil you work on hold water better. Crystals can be gathered to shorten growing time, increase your planting area, reduce the amount of water you have to give plants, and unlock doors. A simple investment of new tools can gather wealth as you leave the farm to harvest firewood and minerals for the shops. As the game progresses, new areas open up for exploration. Soon you switch from growing all the time to spelunking in caves for new tools, finding minerals to build fences, buying cows and chickens for keeping livestock. This kind of evolving gameplay keeps the game fresh from start to finish. The game looks good, and although the areas are the same through the entire game, there is some nice variety during the season changes. Controls are a snap, and for once you aren't fighting with the controls to get a good view of anything. It can be annoying to line up harvesting each day as Life moves quickly around the world. However, when a lot of the game is exploring, this is more of a benefit than a hindrance. A large part of the complaints we could find was simply what I would call Japanese RPG-itis. There is no voice acting in a game this simple, and considering that the game world isn't very large, it seems silly not to put it in. Also, you need to set aside a good 30 minutes for the intro, despite being a handheld title. The ability to not save halfway through it is a major blunder, even with a PSP sleep function. This is a niche title, so despite the fact it's got no glaring faults, it isn't for everyone. But if youâ€™re looking for a pleasant diversion that can be fun and fulfilling, Harvest Moon is a definite buy.