While those first two problems are bad, with time you can get over the constant load screens and repetitive line drawing. What is hard to get past is the rampant technical problems that plague this farm simulator. While you won't notice it at first, Harvest in the Heartland has some terrible draw-in times that will play tricks with your eyes. It's not uncommon to have major objects (your barn, animals, etc.) completely disappear, only to reappear a few seconds later. Experiencing your barn pop up out of nowhere is not only jarring, but it's also frustrating on a gameplay level. This is the kind of problem that plays into the notion that farming simulators are slow-paced and boring.
Then again, you'll think that this farming simulator is slow-paced and boring long before the draw-in becomes a major problem. The good news is that there are a few bright spots worth mentioning. For example, eventually you'll start to deal with real animals (cows, chickens, etc.), which is a lot more interesting than planting, watering and harvesting different crops. Also worth mentioning is that once your farm grows you will have a need for a tractor ... supplied by John Deere, of course. Although I may not be much of a farmer in real life (because, and I hate to sound like a broken record here, farming is not fun), John Deere is a name I know and this license certainly makes a lot of sense. Buying and using tractors is easily the most satisfying part of the game, which is understandable given the John Deere name. Of course, if the best I can do is talk about how the license is not intrusive, then there's something wrong right from the get-go.
While much can be made about the technical issues, it's not the loading screens and draw-in that keeps Harvest in the Heartland from being another worthwhile Nintendo DS game. Instead the problem is the actual gameplay, which involves nothing more than a lot of busy work. It won't take long before you realize that you're basically doing the same thing over and over, generally for very little return. What's more, none of these tasks are much fun, so you're constantly being asked to draw lines and play mini-games because you have to and not because you want to.
The game looks fine for the most part; all of the characters and animals look like what you would expect from your run of the mill Nintendo DS game. The presentation here is good, everything looks about right and outside of the draw-in there are no problems with the game's look. Of course, nothing about the presentation is going to blow you away. At best the game looks like a simple sprite-based farming game ... which is exactly what it is.
What it comes down to is that I can sit here talking about all of the minor things until the cows come home (sorry, I couldn't resist), but nobody is going to care about the graphics when the gameplay is broken. If John Deere: Harvest in the Heartland teaches us anything it's that farming is not fun, it's a tedious job that has you getting up early in the morning and dealing with unruly plants and animals. It's pretty much the last job I would want. And if that's what Harvest in the Heartland is trying to simulate then perhaps this game should get a 100%. But I have a hunch that the developers of this game intended for some of this to be fun and entertaining, and that's where this game fails.
What can I say? Farming is no fun. You have to get up early, you are constantly getting dirty, you have to deal with unruly animals and it can be a thankless experience. In other words, it sucks. This feeling of tedium and hopelessness is perfectly conveyed in Harvest in the Heartland.
This product was submitted by the publisher for review. As a rule, Defunct Games does not review games we spent money on. However, that does not always apply to classic/retro games. This specific product, however, came straight from a PR guy for the purposes of being reviewed!