Review by DandyQuackShot

Reviewed: 02/07/11

Sheep Go to Heaven, Marmots Go to Hell

Every now and then you get the chance to run across a game that is hardly known about, hard to find, and left for obscurity. Sometimes a game like that could be a gem but not so with Shepherd's Crossing. The PSP has a lot of ports and even more games associated with farm simulations and I made the mistake thinking that there may be a farming simulation game better than Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley on this system. Shepherd's Crossing killed any more intent of mine to try more Harvest Moon spin offs just as Brute Force made me realize that there were no other games to match the early Halo games. Shepherd's Crossing is about a traveling guy who comes across a peaceful quaint village that raises sheep and are content to the isolated life of community farm life. Anybody visiting can have a go at farming so the mayor allows you to stay at one of the vacant farms to begin your moment of transcendentalism. You will soon find out that there is no major point to this game other than to strategize your way to being able to raise sheep by trading crops and animals for better crops and animals. When it comes down to it I think you would be saving money by finding similar games on the internet. This game being a port from older systems, there is not much to comment on terms of graphics and game play and while you can get hooked on some aspects of the game play you still find yourself needing motivation to play this game to the end.

Story

Nothing says copycat like a lone stranger come to take over a vacant farm. That is exactly how Shepherd's Crossing starts out and considering this game reflects characters out of something of a Japanese cartoon I would go out on a limb and say this is most definitely set somewhere far far away. The mayor of the village (already forgot the names of everything in this game) allows you to stay on and contribute to the community while the villagers will come by to offer you advice, tools, and even more advice when you discover something in your garden. After that you will still receive the occasional visitor but until you are able to obtain sheep you will not encounter much in terms of story in this game. One of the problems is that you do not really ever leave your farm and the visitors have to come to you. So no exploring the village or any cool places.

Gameplay

For a game that could crash and burn on being just a crop duster there are a few elements in Shepherd's Crossing that make it a playable and for a brave few, enjoyable game. You start out trading grass and seeds for more grass and seeds until you are able to make hay which you trade for some small rodent animals called Marmots. For those of you who are not as in touch with nature as I or the fellow reader who has seen every episode of Nature on PBS these are what you would call groundhogs. Happy spring. Now once you have an animal farm you have to keep ample amounts of grass and weeds around for them to chew up or otherwise you will lose your crops such as cabbage and berries. Starting out you can also register your animals to become hunters and go hunting marmots and other wild animals. I had a pack of rabbits who did quite a bit of damage on some wild marmots until I was able to trade for dogs. The hunting part of the game is probably the most enjoyable as it is basically a turn based point attack system like your old school Final Fantasy or RPG game. It is easy to win and collect prize points for effect boosts on your farm. The name of the game is to keep on trading around until you have reached the end. Weather and surprise animal attacks will keep you on your toes but will not ruin your dreams of being president of the 4-H club. Time is split up between four seasons and you have to keep time moving yourself. You can skip days like crazy but compared to the Harvest Moon series time is not really all that important in Shepherd's Crossing.

Sound/Graphics

The graphics are very cartoonish if I could use that word with no dialogue and all text between characters. I think some simulation games on the internet would probably have comparable graphics to this game as they most definitely have comparable game play. The music stands out as probably the best part of this area of the game as well as the background effects such as the cicadas doing their thing in the summer season. One problem is that your farm can get cluttered very quickly and there is little way to remove unwanted objects off of your farm. You will collect a lot of statues demonstrating various acquired hunting and learning skills but these things won't go away much like your potted flower plants. Crops take a long time to wilt away or spoil so just make sure that you remember to store all of that excess meat you get from hunting somewhere low on your farm otherwise you might find yourself blocked in by piles of meat.

Replay Value

I should probably just leave this section blank. In all good sense the game is long enough and probably best suited for the PSP in terms of being a game to pick and up and walk away from on demand. The down side is that it gets very repetitive and you have to find motivation to finish this game.

Final Recommendation 5/10

No other farm simulation games can compare to the Harvest Moon series nor take away its pizzazz. The best game for the PSP in this genre of games is Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley hands down. But if you are looking for an easy time wasting game then Shepherd's Crossing may be your type of game. Normally a good game for me is one that I can play to the end, but I just could not find the motivation to complete Shepherd's Crossing. The game play is very basic and there is not much of a story to the game. I have run out of steam just trying to do a review for this game. But suffice it to say Shepherd's Crossing was worth it to slay the evil Waku Waku marmot and save the carrots. Props to this game for allowing me to turn some incompetent and hole digging varmits into dog food for trained and vicious terriers.

Rating: 5

Product Release: Shepherd's Crossing (US, 05/11/10)

DandyQuackShot is a long time contributor to Gamefaqs.com having contributed several game reviews since 2006. He is happily married with a son and still enjoys a a night in Halo or checking out a new and interesting game title.
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