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Rune Factory: Frontier First Impressions

Rune Factory: Frontier

If you took video game fans, and divided them up into different groups you might feel reminiscent of high school. You’d have the jocks who love sports games, or the Ogres (Revenge of the Nerds Reference) who love their FPS’s, then you’d have the agriculture club who simply loves to farm (Harvest Moon). Ogre Revenge of the NerdsI’d be hanging out with everyone because I love all genres of gaming, but for some reason I’ve always had this strange attraction to Harvest Moon. My first foray into this sub-genre of gaming took place on the Nintendo 64. Once I planted my first turnip seed, I was addicted. Getting married to Karen, and having her gather eggs in the morning. Greatest moment of gaming material.

Next to Super Punch-Out, which I have close to 700-800 hours of game time I’d say Harvest Moon 64 is my most played game of all time. Since, I’ve played numerous iterations of HM, even the original on the SNES. None have quite captured what HM 64 was able to. It was simple, yet demanding, and the gameplay was very smooth. I had heard about Rune Factory on the DS, and thought that it was very interesting concept. Integrating dungeon crawling into the farming-sim aspect seemed cool enough. My initial thought is that they’d trade in the laid back, go at it your own pace feeling by adding combat so I never played the DS titles.

Kind of disappointed that I didn’t.

After playing Rune Factory: Frontier, I can safely say that it’s on par with Harvest Moon 64. As I dive deeper into everything the game has to offer, it could have the potential to surpass HM 64′s greatness. I’ve only played through my first season (Spring), and it’s already hard to begin explaining everything the game has to offer.

At the very beginning, you’re treated to an anime inspired intro movie. Which is very well animated. The story is quite simple: Raguna (you) is following a long time friend by the name of Mist as she left her home for unknown reasons. You end up tracking her down to the small village of Trampoli. Instead of bringing her back, you decide to stay yourself and raise a farm. After the first season, not much has come from the main story yet. Only that Mist hears some voices throughout the village. Schizo, or something sinister afoot? Only time will tell.

If I had to describe Rune Factory: Frontier in one word, it would be ‘depth’. With only one season completed, there’s already more to do than in most HM games I’ve played. You of course have your farm, which starts out a bit small. The reason being is more of the obstacles you have to clear requires tools you don’t have yet. So the amount of land you have to work with is minimal. Not complaining yet though, because there’s much more to the game than farming. Everything works just like in previous Harvest Moons. You clear out a patch of land, you till it, plant your seeds, water them, wait for them to grow, and then sell them for money or give them to your neighbors. Or use the to create recipes for cooking.

Rune Factory: Frontier Screenshot 1
Even with all the additions to the game, farming is still the main crutch of the gameplay.

The second element of the game that is introduced to you is interacting with the villagers, and heroines. The heroines are the main part of your social life in Trampoli. These are the bachelorettes you’ll have to woo into loving you, then eventually marrying you. I stated in the title of the post that this is a ‘first impression’. I really haven’t decided who I’m courting yet, but I can say it will be hard decision. I actually like all of the bachelorettes I’ve run into so far. Which is strange because Karen in HM 64 is the only candidate I could stand in that game.

The final aspect of the game that I find so rewarding is the sense of exploration. The game highly rewards those who are curious and seek out everything there is to find in Trampoli. I’ve found a numerous amounts of things to do, just by seeking things out. Nothing is handed to you in this game, so if you get stuck you’ll have to discover what you need to progress.

One of the game’s first discoveries is Whale Island. This is the main dungeon of the game, and is where most of my time has been spent when I’m not working my farm. The main section of dungeon exploring is combat. Like most things in Harvest Moon games, it’s simple, yet addictive. It’s an action based gameplay, that relies on stats, but also on your maneuverability. Once you get good at dodging, and attacking it becomes easy to go through some parts of the dungeon without taking damage. A cool aspect of the dungeons is being able to grow crops in them. Your options for what to do with the crops increases in dungeons. You can sell them, eat them, or leave them there to grow Rune crystals. These items will help replenish your RP, which is the energy bar that is found in other HM games.

There are certain parts of the game I’ve just now started, or haven’t tried yet. Runey harvesting is probably the most intriguing aspect of the game, and most complicated. Each area of the world has ‘runey’s attached to them. They’re collection of spirits that have manifested themselves into different forms. There’s rock runeys, tree runeys, grass runeys, and water runeys. They all have different effects, and will do certain things to the land. For example having an abundance of grass runeys will help grow your crops faster. I haven’t truly dived into the runey harvesting yet, but it has the potential to be deep and rewarding.

My largest gripe with the game so far, is how fast everything flies at you. I’m only a season in, and I feel as though most of the major aspects of the game are already available to me. You still have to earn certain portions of the game, it all just seems to happen really fast. For example, I’ve built my barn and it didn’t even take a hour of my day. It just happened automatically. Which goes against the slow, methodical spirit of HM. This is but a small gripe though, as I’m sure there’s still a lot of surprises yet to come.

Graphically, this is probably the most beautiful game I’ve played on the Wii. Easily the most impressive game since Super Mario Galaxy. The world is so dense with flora, that it really feels alive. Even when you till land, and plant crops, it all feels so cohesive and blends nicely. The water is the most impressive graphical feat. I believe that the water effects, and animations rival some that have been seen in Xbox 360, PS3, and PC games. I love the anime inspired cutouts that are used when characters are talking. It adds a wonderful sense of style to the overall design of Rune Factory.

Rune Factory: Frontier Screenshot
This Screenshot doesn’t do the water justice. You have to see it in action to appreciate it.

The music provides a great backdrop to the easy going nature of Rune Factory. I’ve been surprised by the amount of tracks that are available in different areas. It seems like there’s a different song for every building I walk into. The tracks seem to fit the mood with the places I’m visiting. The voice acting is ‘blah’, but luckily it isn’t overused, and you can skip over it if they annoy you too much.

After reading my first impressions, they’re about as long as some reviews. That just shows everything that Rune Factory: Frontier has to offer in such a short time. If even more aspects of gameplay pop up on top of what already is available, then I highly recommend buying this game. You of course have to enjoy farming-sim games (Harvest Moon), but if you do then Rune Factory: Frontier is one you shouldn’t miss.

Split Decision – MadWorld vs. Rune Factory: Frontier

They say that a man is defined by the tough choices he makes in life. I’m not sure who said that, maybe I just made it up but I’ve run into a tough decision. One that separates the men from the boys.

Due to certain parts of my budget being more important than others, I can’t buy MadWorld and Rune Factory: Frontier. For the immediate future at least. This week MadWorld released, and next week (March 17th) Rune Factory: Frontier comes out. There can only be one added to my collection; I just can’t decide which one it should be.

MadWorld

MadWorld

MadWorld is game I’ve been brimming about since I heard about last year, and one I’ve been greatly anticipating. If you don’t believe me, just read the previous posts I’ve made about it.

MadWorld Releases Today – Review Roundup (and a rant)
MadWorld Death Watch Episode 3
New MadWorld Videos – Let Me Learn Ya Somethin’
Evolution of MadWorld
MadWorld TV Trailer (Part 2)
New York Comic Con Gameplay Videos Of MadWorld & The Conduit
MadWorld – TV Sports Trailer (w/ Expert Analysis)
Top 5 Anticipations For 2009
Happy Holidays From MadWorld – Trailer
Top 5 Game Releases For 2009
Top 5 2008 E3 Moments

I’ve hyped the game quite a bit on the site, but now that its released does it live up to the talk?

From everything I’ve been reading, MadWorld is all the things we hoped to find within its black/white/red walls. Here’s a list of reasons to buy the game, and not to buy based on reviews thus far:

Reasons to buy: More blood than Dracula could drink in a night. The violence is couple with great controls. The graphics look solid, and animations are supposedly varied and provide some epic moments. Haven’t played a good beat em’ up in a long time.

Reasons not to buy: My first MadWorld adventure, according to reviewers will end at around 6-7 hours. Has some quirky control issues, but aren’t very rampant.

Rune Factory: Fronter

Rune Factory: Frontier

Rune Factory: Frontier is a little harder to judge than MadWorld mostly because it isn’t out yet. That and not much has been released about Rune Factory: Frontier. The best place I’ve been able to obtain information about RF:F is from its official site.

There’s also been a trailer released…

Ok, let’s get to the gritty about RF:F:

Reasons to Buy: Rune Factory series has been solid on the DS. The Rune Factory site shows that the game might have great depth. Harvest Moon based games provide a long lasting experience that requires a good amount of game time dedication. The ESRB rating states that ‘use of alcohol’ is back in Harvest Moon

Reasons not to Buy: Haven’t played any of the Rune Factory DS games yet (might not like them). Harvest Moon based games have been very hit or miss since the Nintendo 64 era.

Until reviews start coming in for Rune Factory: Frontier it’s going to remain a split decision for about a week. My first reaction is to just rent MadWorld since it can be beat in 5-7 hours. But maybe it’s worth more than one play through. We’ll just have to wait and see if RF: F impresses like I’m hoping it will.

Rune Factory Frontier – Official Site and English Trailer

Rune Factory: Frontier

One game series that I’ve been a hardcore fanboy over throughout the years has been Harvest Moon. As a fanboy, I’m generally blinded to the fact that most Harvest Moon games are rehashes of previous titles. For those who wear the rose-tinted glasses like I do, it’s time to admit it. Since Harvest Moon 64, has the series really seen an earth shattering change to its formula?

With the semi-new Rune Factory series, we are potentially seeing the jump start that the Harvest Moon franchise needs. If you’re puzzled; Rune Factory is an offshoot of the Harvest Moon games that saw two releases on the Nintendo DS. Adding to the farming sim style of play, Rune Factory inserted another layer to the game based on dungeon crawling, and monster battling. Now, we only have a couple of weeks to go before its third release, Rune Factory: Frontier on the Nintendo Wii.

I admit that I haven’t played either of the Rune Factory games on the DS yet. They seem to be the game that I always want to buy, but for some reason I end up purchasing something else. Hence, leading to me not playing either of the games. However, I’m dedicated to picking up Rune Factory: Frontier on March 17th.

There have been a couple of major updates for the title. First, the official english Rune Factory: Frontier website is up, and available for viewing. After perusing the site, I came away very impressed. As someone with web design roots, I’m always happy to see a company take time to create a nice, and informative website based around their game. Unlike Winter, whos developer thought Front Page would be a good choice for making a professional site.

There’s plenty of info to check out on the site. It seems most of the Harvest Moon mainstays are intact (farming, romance). While the addition of monster battling, and raising seems like an intriguing addition to the gameplay formula. It’s also looking to be the first Harvest Moon game I’ve played that will tie-in heavily to a story. Here is a synopsis of the background story of Rune Factory: Frontier –

A familiar face in an unknown land…

In search of a missing girl, our hero stumbles upon the frontier town of Trampoli. Here he finds the object of his search but his task doesn’t end there. In this mysterious town inhabited by spirits called Runeys and shadowed by a gigantic flying whale island, he must start life anew.

Farmer, explorer, warrior…

In this idyllic setting our hero can pursue various trades (farming, forging, crafting, cooking, etc.), explore the town and the floating island above, or seek out adventure in the dungeons. Over time the town will grow, as do the number of inhabitants. Shopkeepers, farmers, tavern masters, and craftsmen; all are ready to be our hero’s friends, enemies, and maybe more. However, trouble in the sky above soon interrupts our hero’s new life. What is this ominous power that threatens such a peaceful town? How will he protect his friends, his love and the village that has become his home…”

Here’s the first english trailer to be released, which shows off some more of the gameplay and story elements of Rune Factory: Frontier…

So, any other Harvest Moon fans out there? What’s the last Harvest Moon game that you’ve played and been addicted to? Have I been missing out on an awesome game with Rune Factory for the DS? If so, can’t wait until March 17th for my first play through.

[Thanks to: Ranchstory]

Rune Factory: Frontier Gameplay Footage

There’s always been one game series that I’ve been a sucker for, Harvest Moon. Whenever I talk to someone about the Harvest Moon franchise, I always have a hard time explaining why the games rock so much. When you tell someone that it’s a farming sim, with an option of finding a wife that doesn’t really turn a lot of heads. Of course, for those who have played the Harvest Moon series since the SNES know that it’s one of the most addicting experiences you’ll find in gaming.

The latest Harvest Moon game coming out isn’t even technically a ‘Harvest Moon’ title. Rune Factory got its start on the DS, as an unique twist to the farming life. Instead of just farming, and marrying this game brought some dungeon crawling, fighting, monster collecting, and really added a whole new way to play the Harvest Moon games. read more »

Harvest Moon: Tree Of Tranquility

Harvest Moon: Tree Of Tanquility

Description: Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility follows on the heels of the 10 year anniversary of Harvest Moon.

In the latest Harvest Moon for the Nintendo Wii, the game follows the main character to a new island town, who lost its power to grow. The Mother Tree is the essence that breathes life into the island, and has been out of power. It is of course up to you to restore life, and balance to the island all the while tending to your farm, and quest to find a wife.

Published: Natsume
Developed: Marvelous Interactive
Release Date: September 30th, 2008

Harvest Moon
read more »