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May 11, 2007 - A farmer's life is a simple one. You get up at the crack of dawn, slip on your dungarees then head out to the fields groggy-eyed and tired. You spend the day watering your crops, perhaps uprooting a few potatoes for the market and, if you're lucky, get milk squirted in your eye by a cow. Then, as the sun is sinking into the horizon, it's time for bed, ready to start it all again the next day. It doesn't sound particularly exciting, but what about farming in the future? Surely that would be an excitement-filled prospect, especially if the cows zipped around on hoverboards and the fields were filled with gigantic space turnips.

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A robot boy and his dog - a picture of tranquility.

Unfortunately, if [Register or Login to view links] is anything to go by, farming in the distant future is actually pretty much the same as it is now and, in fact is virtually identical to how it has been in previous Harvest Moon titles. For those new to the franchise, it's a farming simulation where you grow crops, tend to animals and sell produce to build up funds, which can be used to buy more exotic crops and animals. Along the way you meet a variety of different characters that help you in your quest to become a farming legend by giving you hints about when to grow certain plants or how to make sure animals are happy.

That's been the theme in pretty much every Harvest Moon game since the first one launched on Super NES 10 years ago. However, as we pulled up our wellies ready to tackle Innocent Life, we expected the futuristic setting to offer up something different compared to its predecessors. How disappointed we were. You see, Innocent Life plonks you in the guise of a robot boy (and before you say anything, we love robots too but bear with us) who is tasked with saving the over-farmed Volcano Island by - wait for it - farming in a traditional way. So once again you're working trowels, axes and hammers, rather than harvest crops in a powersuit kitted out with a laser hoe. Shame.

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Sometimes it's just nice to stare off into the distance.

Unusually for a Harvest Moon title, Innocent Life's plot is quite convoluted. Our robot boy was built by aging scientist Dr. Hope, who wants him to learn about humanity through farming. However, he's also tasked with calming the angry spirits of Volcano Island who are annoyed with futuristic farming practices that are progressively destroying the once-fertile land. That'll be the not-so-subtle eco-friendly message behind the whole thing, then. Unfortunately, while we welcome the effort to educate littering louts and 4x4-driving dolts, the eco-friendly message means there's a lot of text to wade through in the early stages of the game as you learn about your green mission.

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