Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Rune Factory: Harvest Moon DS (Nintendo DS) Preview

Marvelous Interactive is churning out first-rate games on Nintendo platforms as quickly as even the home of Mario can manage. But with so many titles flying to the market, you really need to know those ones that should be at the forefront of your well-honed minds. Hence it is time to look closely at the Harvest Moon spin-off RPG, Rune Factory...

The first thing to note about Rune Factory is that Marvelous Interactive is very confident about how it will perform in Japan already, mixing the elements of the Harvest Moon world with those of more traditional role-playing games. In fact, so assured of its success is Marvelous that it has put the game down for a 24th August launch, face-to-face with Square Enix's massive remake project, Final Fantasy III (also on DS). But clearly, as it should also be made aware, the company has definite reason to be in such high spirits, since the game is being touted as one of the best DS titles to date. In fact, where Final Fantasy III scored a hearty 34/40 in Japanese gaming bible Famitsu, Rune Factory was there breathing down its neck with a commendable 33/40. The question remains, though, whether going toe-to-toe with the behemoth that is the Final Fantasy series is that wise. However, our focus is on the game's actual quality. So what exactly is it all about?

Well, rather than a turn-based effort like its Japanese competitor, FFIII, Rune Factory will have battles that take place in a real-time action environment, akin to the Zelda series or Mana games. But, not losing sight of its Harvest Moon heritage, there is a wealth of characters for you to meet and interact with. Developed by Neverland Company, there are the traditional farming aspects of the HM series thrown in alongside the battling and role-playing, so that older fans will not feel too alienated. But, to expand even further, Rune Factory will have online Wi-Fi capabilities to exchange messages with other friends, as well as sell items via a special shop. Okay, so it may not sound spectacular, but nothing else has been revealed for online so far and something is better than nothing!

Screenshot for Rune Factory: Harvest Moon DS on Nintendo DS

The game is centred round a small amnesiac boy called Ragna who wakes up all confused in a little sleepy village. It turns out he can use magic called 'Arscode' (no jokes, please!) and decides (like you do when you cannot remember a thing, obviously...) to build his own farm on some spare land just on the outskirts of town (wow, if only life was that simple!). So, as with all other Harvest Moon games, you can play around doing your farming duties and looking after your home, raising crops (managing them with your stylus) and furnishing your abode in a very peaceful, sedate manner. You can even customise the entire floor-plan of the house! As for the animal aspect of the farm, the stylus comes in very handy for stroking them and caring for their needs. Just be sure to clean up before embarking on the communication side of the game, as well as the dating that is involved...

Screenshot for Rune Factory: Harvest Moon DS on Nintendo DS

As with the Animal Crossing series, Harvest Moon has always been open-ended in that it seems like there is no real goal or ending to head towards. Now, though, you have set tasks to perform! As the adventure progresses, you head over fields and down into dark, dank dungeons, collecting various materials and pieces of equipment that can be used later on to create new weapons, items and even household furniture, or you can trade them in town and via the online connection with friends. When faced with an enemy, as mentioned earlier, you take a real-time stance, equipping the necessary skills, armour and weapons to despatch the bad guys as quickly as possible, with a little help from some touch-screen magic-casting. And once defeated, these evil creatures are tamed and can be dragged back to the farm and used as free labour if you so desire, which is simply ingenious and a welcome addition to the series as it celebrates its 10th anniversary!

In terms of the farm, you will be going about the usual Harvest Moon duties, watching over crops to ensure they do not die off...'reaping what you sow', if you will. As 'touched' upon earlier, livestock is also of great value, especially when it comes to activities such as the milking of cows in order to sell in town and earn your keep. But now there are extra aspects included, meaning that the old Harvest Moon gameplay does not grow too repetitive. For instance, milking cows is actually done manually via the stylus and sheep can be sheared by using the stylus as a razor! This brings a whole new level of interaction to the fore and with the high level of customisation related to your residence, there is definitely a heap of variety to be found in this very attractive-looking game.

Screenshot for Rune Factory: Harvest Moon DS on Nintendo DS

Other than chatting with townsfolk and attending festivals in the heart of the town, sure enough there is the possibility to go fishing, and again it all seems to be touch-sensitive. Therefore, once you have your hard rod firmly grasped, you can manually slide it into the wet surface (*ahem*). Anyway, dangle away until you catch something (erm?) and then extract the rod gently, so as to avoid any unpleasant circumstances, such as your 'prize' slipping away...

Finishing off with a quick overview of the characters you will come across; there is Mist, a young girl you meet very early on in the game, as well as a host of supporting folk, like Nicol a boy who lives on the coast, Sarah, Nicol's mother, who works as a salesperson, Russel, the library curator who acts like the older brother to everyone or Sebastian, the bar manager and Ed, the village doctor. And then there is the wealth of 'heroines', or potential candidates for a life-partner for Ragna. Tabasa is a foreign graduate, Sharon is a generally mysterious person, Fill is a main contender due to being the mayor's daughter, the loner Melody who stays at home singing to herself, and Lapis, whose heart is very warm and works as a nurse. And there are plenty more...just check out the game's media folder here on Cubed

Screenshot for Rune Factory: Harvest Moon DS on Nintendo DS

Worth waiting for?

Unfortunately there are scant details on exactly how the RPG mode will keep fans of that genre gripped, but Rune Factory certainly does intrigue and will definitely prove a welcome change to the Harvest Moon template. More details should emerge when it launches on 24th August in Japan...

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18.08.2006

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Developer

Neverland

Publisher

Rising Star

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (8 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Preview

Could be a hidden gem, however it is bound to be over looked by the beast that is Final Fantasy III


Mike Gee of iZINE said, "...The Verve, as he promised, had become the greatest band in the world. Most of the critics agreed with him. Most paid due homage. The Verve were no longer the question mark or the clich. They were the statement and the definition."
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Excellent stuff, it does look like a pretty decent game both graphically and in concept! Strange plot though, lol. Great preview again Adam :Smilie

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

Certainly sounds a lot more intresting that the standerd harvest moon games.

XBL Gamertag: James2t3

Would a gamer have time for two RPGS at the same time I think not. THis could turn out badle seeing as Final Fanatsy III is one of the most anticipated DS titles especially here in the west where it is our first tiem playing it.

Who cares just get it a month or two later it will still be there, don't worry!

XBL Gamertag: James2t3

Slave labor from weird animal things, using your magical arscode powers, and a girl named Fill you can marry.

It's different at any rate, I'll give it that....

TAG: That American Guy

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Well, see how Magical Starsign bombed in Japan when it went up against Valkyrie Profile 2, and that was only a moderately wanted RPG (300,000-500,000 units). Rune Factory could be ripped to shreds.

HOWEVER, the Harvest Moon fanbase alone should get this 30,000 in its first week (like HM Colobocle Station and the 'for Girls' edition both did).

And :lol: @ TAG - keeping up the dodgy comments theme from toward the end of the preview...nicely done! :-D

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

It sure looks peerrrty!!!

Talking of the Rune Factory most likely getting annihalted beside FF3 Konami saw the sense of not releasing Pro Evo DS in the same month as PK P/D never mind the same day


Mike Gee of iZINE said, "...The Verve, as he promised, had become the greatest band in the world. Most of the critics agreed with him. Most paid due homage. The Verve were no longer the question mark or the clich. They were the statement and the definition."
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

It's also thought to be why Namco delayed Tales of the Tempest to October...although it'll have to face DQM then!

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Nice preview Raz, the HM series has always intereste me but after getting a tad bored of Animal Crossing after a while I got a bit putt off - this could well be the answer! :D


Cubed3 Staff < Retro Editor :: Previews Editor >
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Same here, I got bored of HM after so many games and AC on the DS lots its appeal quickly (I liked the GC version, but same game for me...Smilie.

This has 'RPG' tacked on, so of course my interest has shot up! Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Tales and DQM both games should be aiming for the 300-500k barrier and with both out at the same time it could hinder both sales.


Mike Gee of iZINE said, "...The Verve, as he promised, had become the greatest band in the world. Most of the critics agreed with him. Most paid due homage. The Verve were no longer the question mark or the clich. They were the statement and the definition."

i'm looking forward to this one more than a proprer harvest moon. the only problem is will i have enough time to play all these games.

great preview cant wait for a review in the future.

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