Sunday, June 13, 2010
The Amazing 'Golden Potato' in HoLV
This post will not offer any real tips for gameplay, but is a reflection on the entire basis of Harvest Moon. In Hero of Leaf Valley, there are a number of ways to save the Valley from development into an Amusement Park. The primary method involves successful accumulation of 50,000G in income, but even this method has different results depending on your actions in the first two years. The other two methods are either to transform the Valley into a Nature Preserve or a Tourist Attraction.
Players of the old 'Save the Homeland' game for the Playstation will recall the 'Sacred Land' Quest. I played 'Save the Homeland' myself long ago, but only now realised how much all Harvest Moon games are intertwined. For the 'Fruit of Fortune', grown from the 'Golden Potato Seeds' is none other than the humble Yam or Sweet Potato, one of the great 'money crops' or 'cash crops' in any Harvest Moon game.
It is entirely fitting that the 'Treasure' of Leaf Valley should be the Sweet Potato/Yam rather than any form of currency, jewels or precious metals. Incidentally, 'unlocking' Yams in the form of the Golden Potatoes of HoLV (not to be confused with the gold Mineral Potatoes) is an example of the value of experiencing all possible Events to complete all possible Story Quests in HoLV rather than doing the bare minimum required to save the land.
I have written about Dia's personal odyssey in HoLV before. It is a very touching tale of a rather fragile, sheltered girl who learns to appreciate the honest toil of a farmer and to interact personally with the soil. Although your friendship is a key element in her personal growth, her own recognition of the vastness of the universe and the extraordinary details in Nature, coupled with her love of reading and knowledge ultimately make her one of the most well-rounded Characters in HoLV.
This is not the case at the start of the game, however. In early Spring, she is shy and abrupt almost to the point of rudeness. Her dialogues, like the conversations of many individuals in reality whose painful shyness denies them ordinary social graces, could be mistaken for arrogance.
Dia's metamorphosis is somewhat similar to that of Mary Lennox's spiritual awakening in Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic, 'The Secret Garden'. Mary represents an archetype common among expatriate 19th century European colonialists, growing up in India and accustomed to the care of submissive servants rather than the attention and love of her own parents. She is sent 'home' to England where, initially bad-tempered and spoiled, her increasing interaction with wild animals and the earth itself transform her spiritually and physically. There is more than a little proselytising in this work by the author who, like many of her contemporaries, embraced the axiom of 'mens sana in corpore sano' in a reaction against elements that believed civilisation was designed to rise above Nature. The series of Harvest Moon likewise embraces a philosophy to the effect that Nature has the power to teach and heal, bringing us back from a rather unwholesome 'hothouse' technological lifestyle.
Dia is not the only Character whose attitudes develop and improve with regular social interactions. Members of the Funland crew, including their 'hot' CEO Alice, are changed by your encounters and friendship with them.
Farming as a form of heroism is a fascinating basis for a series of games. When one reflects upon the culture of the samurai as an integral part of Japanese culture and the historical conflicts between the warrior class and the farmers, Harvest Moon becomes even more interesting in philosophical terms. Farmers often were viewed as inferior and cowardly by the warrior class, not only in Japan but in any civilisation with a defined warrior culture. Kurosawa's epic classic, 'The Seven Samurai' depicts this conflict beautifully but at the same time shows the fallacy in traditional Samurai arrogant assumptions about the 'peasants'. Like the Samurai of Japan, the warrior class in the Arab world in the form of the bedouin of the desert believed that their superiority at arms gave them the right to raid the villages. A conflict always existed between the 'settled' groups who tilled the soil and the bedouin tribes.
Although Rune Factory allows your Character to be both farmer and warrior, it conforms to traditional Harvest Moon philosophy in that farming is NOT perceived as an inferior occupation. In fact, your Character, although a warrior in the past, ultimately derives honour from his accomplishments as a successful farmer rather than achieving glory through force of arms. Other warrior Characters such as Kross in Rune Factory Frontier embrace the farmer's life as a means of purification and spiritual advancement.