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I don't use Facebook much, but I must admit that some of the games you can play on that site are addictive. If you check out the game list there is one genre which seems to be especially popular... farming games. With that being said I am surprised that the Harvest Moon series of video games doesn't seem to get much exposure over here. Perhaps hardcore handheld gamers aren't attracted by a game that doesn't have action. Enter Rune Factory for the Nintendo DS. The game is billed as "A Fantasy Harvest Moon." The game blends farming with dungeon crawling for all you thrill seekers out there. I'm not sure if the actual fighting on offer may scare away traditional Harvest Moon fans, but being the RPG nut that I am I found that the dungeon crawling added an extra level of depth to farming games which one could accuse of being simplistic and repetitive. This game doesn't have a deep story, but for those of you who are interested, you control a chap named Raguna (or whatever you choose to call him.) He stumbles into the village of Kardia with no memories of his past. A scatter brained lass called Mist helps him out and offers him a place at her farm providing that he helps doing chores. Thus begins his life as a farm worker... on a farm surrounded by caves which are inhabited by monsters! Anyone who has played other Harvest Moon games will feel right at home here. You start with a bunch of tools and aim to upgrade the farm you have been given. To do this you will need cash to buy stuff and lumber to expand the modest house you live in. Early on you will spend your time clearing the nearby field of junk to make room for crops to grow and subsequently sell. It's a game were you have to manage your time efficiently as days pass by fairly quickly. You are also limited to how much work you can do as actions deplete your energy bar and health points. If these reach zero you collapse and wake up the next day in the doctor's clinic. Thankfully you can replenish your energy and health bars by eating food, drinking potions or relaxing at the local spa. Players who enjoy grinding should get a kick out of this game as the farm is not the only thing you can upgrade. The tools you use can be forged making them more useful. For example you can increase how much water the watering can hold before it needs a refill, strengthen your axe so it takes less swings to chop wood, boost your hammer so it can smash rocks which you cannot break when the game starts and so on. Raguna also has stats for all the actions he performs (fishing, mining, swordsmanship etc.) Do an action enough times and the said stat will level up. The higher a level the better you are at performing the task. For example raising your mining skill reduces how much energy you expend when using the hammer to smash rocks which contain ore. As with other Harvest Moon games farming isn't the only thing to do. You are encouraged to socialise with the village residents. Talk to them enough and you will increase your friendship with them. For those of you into romance it also possible to woo ladies who live in Kardia. Get their love rating high enough and you can get married. Hmmmm do I really want to get hitched? The missus will no doubt nag me for playing too many video games. So from what I have said thus far this is pretty much a typical fun Harvest Moon game. The unique selling point in is the surrounding caves you can enter. In order to complete the story you will have to clear the caverns of monsters by finding and trashing the machines which are teleporting the blighters in there. Don't expect much from the fighting though. It's pretty simplistic and boils down to dodging attacks and button bashing. Any pacifists out there shouldn't get overly upset about animal abuse as you can be nice to the monsters too. Once you acquire the friendship glove you can use it to charm monsters so they join your side. Monsters you recruit can stay in a hut at your farm. Keep them happy and well fed and they will help you out by producing eggs and milk which you can sell. Some even help you out in the caves by fighting at your side. Besides housing monsters the caves also have patches of soil were you can grow crops for anyone who isn't satisfied with just the farm's field. The neat thing about growing crops in the caves is that they are unaffected by the season. A warm cave can therefore crow summer crops even in the middle of winter. Very nice although risky as running out of health in a cave will result in a game over. In closing I have to say that Rune Factory is a lot of fun and does a good job of blending two types of game into one. On the one hand you have to fight to advance the story, but in order to accomplish this you will need income earned from peaceful farming activities. You cannot concentrate on just one thing if you hope to succeed. Fans of the Harvest Moon series will enjoy this game. It's hard to get bored when you have so many things you can do. It's also one of those titles that works well regardless of your schedule. Levelling up and farming is addictive so you can spend many hours playing, but if you only have half an hour to kill that is fine too. It's possible to have a quick go, as a day passes fast in the game, and then put it down. Good stuff so I am not surprised that it has already got a few sequels on the DS and Wii.
I've been playing Harvest Moon since the SNES version, and i had heard about Rune Factory when it first came out, but i never bothered with it, i thought it would be some flop of a game, that was basically a rip off of Harvest Moon. One day i decided to try it out however. The game starts with your character stumbling into a village after suffering from amnesia, he has no idea who he is, or what he's doing here. A girl called Misty helps him, and soon offers to give him a rundown farm just north of her house. Upon entering the farm yard, the two of you are attacked by a monster of some sorts, which you defeat with a Hoe i believe. (Amazing isn't it?) Thats the basic plot opener, after this it plays similar to a Harvest Moon game, you buy crops, till your land, plant the crops and water the crops until they can be harvested, at which time you throw them carelessly into your shipping bin and wait until the following morning then you are credited with your Gold. Obviously the game has to be different from Harvest Moon, otherwise, whats the point? This is where Rune Factory shines as different from the rest of the games out there. It's a farming sim, with the usual RPG elements thrown in. At first you'll probably use your Hoe as your main weapon, admittedly its pretty rubbish, but with enough skills you can take out a goblin with relative ease. After making a bit of gold with your crops, you can buy shields and real weapons to fight monsters in order to gain, XP, loot and gold. Yes the game does feature a levelling system, there are a few categories your character can level up in, which will increase there HP (Hit Points), MP (Magic/Mana Points), how much damage they do with a weapon and more. This considerably increases the lifespan of the game, in Harvest Moon, players will probably find it boring after a few hours of doing the same thing, Rune Factory keeps you interested for much longer, it still features the same fundamental parts of Harvest Moon, such as Marrying, Farming and exploring new areas, but it adds combat and a great levelling system into the game, which keeps you coming back for more. If you like the Harvest Moon series, you'll probably like this series too, it doesn't feature any multiplayer modes unfortunately, except for sending messages to friends, but Rune Factory 3, about to hit the USA later this year will feature multiplayer dungeons were you can fight side by side with your friends. If you get a chance to buy this game at an affordable price, dont hesitate, buy it!
Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon for the DS is a game that I got as part of a bundle deal from Amazon when I bought my DSi XL. I wouldn't ordinarily have chosen this kind of game, but as it was rated as being quite challenging, and had the age certificate 12+ on the box, I decided it was worth a go for the couple of pounds I basically paid for it. If you want to buy a copy yourself, it's currently priced at £17.14 on Amazon or £24.99 from Play.com. In my opinion, this is worth the premium price tag. As a fan of some of the facebook Zynga games, I quite like indulging in a spot of role-playing, so I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of that going on in this game. Basically, you start out as a character who has lost his memory and stumbled upon a settlement on the verge of dying of hunger and thirst. A girl called Mist takes pity on him and lets him work on her farm and live in her old farm house while he's getting back on his feet. The way this takes place is really quite amusing, and almost as if the script writers were poking fun at the convenience of these kinds of events taking place in games. Mist is a rather forceful and eccentric young lady we'll just say. You start off by giving your character a name and getting to work on the fields. The controls are definitely some of the more advanced I've had to use while playing a DS game, but easy to get to grips with after a couple of plays for those within the recommended age range (teen to adult). You need to have a decent memory to play this game to remember some of the multiple button combinations really, as several situations rely on you using multiple buttons at speed - else you'll die. The game is set in a whole townland, with the farm, a little town (complete with shops - and you have to work out what their various purposes are for which is an enjoyable challenge!), as well as a beach, fields and mountains etc. Like a mini Lord of the Rings set up, but without Hobbits. Just Hobbit-looking people. In some places you'll find you have to fight monsters, such as the caves which you enter after you're issued a pass from the mayor to do so (I did say it wasn't overly simple). To fight these, you'll have to work out how to gain sufficient weaponary to do so. You'll also have to be able to both fight and keep an eye on your energy at the same time, because if you die in the caves, the story ends and you can only resume play from an earlier place in your game. There really is so much to do here, so much so that I'm nowhere near completing this game yet, despite having spent a total of at least 30 or 40 hours playing it so far. That's quite a lot when you think I only play this for an hour or two at most per sitting! A lot of DS games are over far too quickly, so I love that this one is taking a long time to complete. The graphics are pretty decent, though I'd be lying if I said they are the best I've seen on the DS. They work pretty well on the DSi XL though, and in fairness that's saying something as there are some games which look just awful on the bigger screen version. I quite like the pleasant music and the often comical sound effects as well. All in all this is a well put together game which is intelligent, challenging, well designed and a lot of fun. It's nice to find a game that includes all the fun elements of younger video games whilst stimulating the older player. Definitely recommended to teens and adults who enjoy a challenge.
I love my DS I have a 40 minute commute into London everyday and this provides a great escape from the horror of commuting. I've just finished being completely obsessed with Rune Factory, and I'm a bit sad its finished! I don't want to give too much of the storyline away to people who don't want to know, so in short this game is Harvest Moon (with all the farming, looking after animals and building relationships) but with monsters to fight, (and you don't kill them, you just send them back to the forest they came from-quite sweet really!) which means you have to juggle lots more tasks and the penalty for going to bed late is more severe. The added challenge of being able to die, means it stay exciting for longer and doesn't get as repetitive as some of the Harvest moon games could become. I started with Harvest moon-Island of happiness on the DS and for any fans of the Harvest moon series Rune factory is a must. You play Raguna a young boy who has lost his memory; firstly you come across Mist who gives you a farm and some tools. Other tools can be easily acquired by talking to people. Like any Harvest Moon you start with a field that needs clearing, ploughing , planting and watering. And this is a main way of making money though out the game, you will need to upgrade the tools you start with to clear the whole field. The best thing about farming in Rune Factory is the monsters you can collect. Once you've built some huts and have the friendship glove you can go in to cave and befriend monsters, each has special talents. The best talents are watering and harvesting, meaning at the start of each season you can seed the whole field and then let the monsters get on doing all the watering and harvesting-which I thought was great as that was the part I always found most tedious. Other monsters will provide you with wool, honey and milk. And some can be taken into caves to help you fight; I used them to distract the monsters while I was defeating the monster generators. The best bit in this game is going through all the caves and fighting the monsters, after you gain access to the first cave from the mayor, you need to work you way past monster generators, and after they have all been destroyed. In each area there are rocks to destroy to get metals and gems to either make things from or sell. And there are areas of farm land, to grow crops in (these don't get watered by the monsters) each cave has a different season inside so will grow different crops. When 9 crops reach maturity they will produce a Rune, which when you walk over it will refill 25 of you Rune points. This is really useful when fighting monsters, which depletes Rune points. Meaning you can top up where every you have crops growing. You also have a sleeping bag, and each morning each set of 9 crops will provide you with a new Rune. Monster generators will come back every time you leave a cave but not while you're sleeping in the cave. Each different type of monster occasionally will drop a prize once its defeated, keep these as most are needed to make things you can't buy. There are 8 caves in total, each one can only be accessed once you have completed the requirements, these will be told to you by the mayor and are things like farming a certain number of squares. They five cave can only be accessed in the winter, this was really annoying since I gained access on the 5th Spring in the second year, so I had to "waste" a year of game time before I got into the cave, on the plus side I made loads of money farming and mining. Once you have extended your house, you get a mini pharmacy and forge you can make better potions then you can buy and make improved swords and shields, this is really helpful towards the end of the game. One part of the game is to find a nice girl to marry you, to do this you have to get their friendship and love levels up high enough, buy a double bed from the merchant, extend you house. Making people like you/love you is a lot easier then in other Harvest moon games, all you have to do is talk to them every day, I married Rosetta, each girl has different special marriage requirements and for Rosetta I had to go and find her a stone, which was in Toros Cave. From talking to each of the different characters you can easily work out what you need to do. This game isn't controlled by the stylus, and just uses the buttons, which was a nice change but did seem a bit of a odd decision for the designers to make. It took me a while to work out how to move things from my backpack to my hands etc, but reading the instruction book helped with that! Helpful Hints; Monsters need to be re-told what to do every season. Big rocks/tree stumps need to be hit a few times before they will break. Keep the different colour grasses the come in really useful when making potions. Talk to everyone, and talk to them at different times of day. To get better milk/wool/work effort from the monsters get the friendship levels up by brushing them, then I was a bit naughty and stopped feeding them, the friendship levels went down slowly but there was no other effect. Monsters only give milk/wool every four game days.