Review By: Siou Choy
|# Of Players:||1|
|Accessories:||Nunchuk, 16:9 Widescreen|
Farming...with monsters? A classic RPG with farming implements as your weapons? A sad approximation of a dating sim? Ay, there’s the rub. Even the developers couldn’t make up their minds on this one, and the end product suffers greatly as a result.
The Rune Factory series, the first two entries of which appeared on the Nintendo DS. represents a rather strange and somewhat confused spin-off from Natsume’s popular Harvest Moon series. While the former series consists of variations on a bucolic rural idyll, the latter can’t seem to settle on a core paradigm or base identity. Is it a farming RPG? Is it a classic, monsters and mana D&D derived RPG? Or is it a Thousand Arms style dating sim? The answer is more “none of the above” than “all of the above,” and therein lies the central issue.
The third installment of the Rune Factory series continues the adventures of the poorly named “Raguna,” a young boy suffering from a convenient loss of memory. When we pick up the action (such as it is), he is befriended by a rather strange girl named Mist. One day, Mist makes like her namesake and disappears, so the hapless, friendless and unfortunately monikered Raguna sets out to find her. Lest you be deceived into thinking this were a major plot device, SURPRISE! You find her quite quickly in the game; her whole function appears to be to talk you into settling into the deserted farm next to hers. Yeah, this is gonna be a real scorcher of a game, I can tell already.
Even moreso than would be par for the course in the related Harvest Moon series, your marriage prospects leave something to be desired. For example, your first option would be (SURPRISE!) Mist, the strange lass who suckered you into putting down roots in this town in the first place. How does she rate? Well, to put things nicely, she’s not the sharpest arrow in the quiver. Your subsequent wife choices range from strange to stranger, with very few even falling into the “acceptable” range. The only plus here is that there are plenty of fish in this particular pond – twelve, in fact. Wooing a wife is handled by the same method as in the Harvest Moon series: bribery. Gifts, gifts, and more gifts. Although talking to them on a regular basis does raise their affection towards you to some degree, plying them with presents is really the only way to go.
Now here’s where things get weird. Since Natsume is trying to create a hybrid between the sedate, pastoral farming RPG they pretty much invented single-handedly and the “classic” style that’s been floating around since sometime in the early 80’s, your farming days are punctuated by a fair amount of dungeon crawling. While you can apparently buy a weapon of sorts from the local blacksmith, the bulk of your adventures will take place with the use of your farming implements. That’s right, prepare to beat down monsters with a watering can! But wait, things get even more bizarre: once you get to the point in the game where you receive a pet brush from one of your neighbors, you can make nice with these sinister menaces. Wait, it gets worse - once you become friends, you can take the creatures home with you to live in your barn! Hold up, we’re not done: once they’re sharing residence at your domicile, the monsters can help you work your farm! Don’t know what they’ve been smoking over at Natsume, but it must be some sweeeeet s...tuff.
Posted: 2009-08-15 14:36:05 PST