Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Rune Factory Frontier (Wii) Review

Review for Rune Factory Frontier on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

It took a while, with the Japanese release date in November 2008 and the US release in March last year, but the Wii instalment to the new Harvest Moon spin off series, Rune Factory, finally hit Europe in April. How does Rune Factory: Frontier stand up as an RPG? Read on and all will be answered…

Unlike other games in the Rune Factory franchise, Frontier is a direct sequel to the first Rune Factory game, featuring many of the same characters, including the main protagonist Raguna, and his cute, bubbly and slightly insane love interest Mist. Prior to Frontier’s opening, Mist randomly runs off and goes missing, so Raguna goes to look for her while the rest of his village twiddle their thumbs. Raguna winds up staying in the church of a nearby village, and is greeted the next morning by none other than Mist. It turns out Mist left her village of birth without telling anyone because, as a well-adjusted being, she was following voices in her head. A few minutes later and Raguna has been forced to live on the farm next door to her in this new village, just like in the first Rune Factory game. Once the old village hears about Raguna and Mist’s safety, a bunch of familiar faces also join this new village. While not all the old characters return, you have a fair few oldies alongside the new cast.

Screenshot for Rune Factory Frontier on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

So about those voices in Mist’s head. There’s a huge island shaped like a whale floating in the sky above the village, appropriately called Whale Island. The story goes that something is taking its power, and that it will fall and crush the village if this isn’t stopped. The island, as well as the village and surrounding areas, are fuelled by little creatures called Runeys, which are like the living souls of nature. There are Runeys for rock, water, trees and grass, and Raguna can also use these to make wishes for certain events to occur each day. The plot is very slow, but decent enough for what is essentially an RPG-fleshed out farm simulator. The main problem is that it’s very hard to discover what your next objective is, and you’ll spend months of the game just working on your farm without any indication of where the plot is headed. However, during important events such as the introduction of crucial townsfolk, and plot development, you’ll be rewarded with some very high quality animé cutscenes, accompanied with good quality voice acting. On that note, unlike the DS Rune Factory games, Frontier is quite heavily voiced, with some NPC dialogue being fully voiced. Unfortunately it’s a little erratic at times, with instances of voiced dialogue being followed by text and silence.

Screenshot for Rune Factory Frontier on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

While Raguna figures out how to stop the Runeys from disappearing and save the world, he has to work his butt off to make a living for himself, which means farming, fishing, ranching - all the usual Harvest Moon elements we know and love. Series veterans will feel right at home with this element, cleaning your field, buying crops and watering them depending on which season you’re in works simply enough, but as always it can be seen as a tedious and repetitive process. Of course it wouldn’t be Harvest Moon without a large portion of the game focused on wooing and romancing with the village girls. There are twelve bachelorettes to choose from this time, including Mist, an elf, a witch, a nun, a tomboy shopkeeper, and a vampire, amongst others. Once you fulfil certain requirements, Raguna can get married to one of these lovely ladies and have a child, but this will take players a very long time to do.

Screenshot for Rune Factory Frontier on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Unlike Harvest Moon however, Rune Factory has a much stronger fantasy element, and you’ll be forging weapons and battling through dungeons of monsters on a regular basis. To begin with you buy weapons from the local blacksmith, but a little later you can buy tools for your house that let you forge much better weapons. Attacking is very simple, you use the attack button for a simple combo, and depending on your weapon you can hold another button while attacking to use a special, much more powerful, attack. The dungeon crawling and battle mechanics are decent, but very standard and definitely wouldn’t stand up well in a game of their own, so thankfully they only play about half the part in Rune Factory Frontier. You also have another powerful tool in your arsenal, one that isn’t a sword, lance or axe. Your trusty animal brush can tame wild monsters seen roaming dungeons, and after you’ve built a barn on your farm you can ranch these monsters. Take nice care of them and they’ll reward you by letting you harvest things like milk, wool, and eggs from them. Some monsters will even let you mount them, and others will assist you with your crops and farm work. What’s more, whichever animal you choose to travel with for the day will fight alongside you in dungeons.

As with any Harvest Moon or Rune Factory title, getting through these things takes a lot of time. Don’t expect to make any real progress in the plot or your bachelorette’s heart until around the end of the first year. Those of you familiar with the franchise can probably make decent headway fairly quickly, but you’ll still need to put a lot of time in for Frontier to be rewarding.

Screenshot for Rune Factory Frontier on Wii- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

The time-consuming farm work and generic battle mechanics certainly work well enough, but they’re nothing special. The lasting charm and likeable characters play an important part in making the game enjoyable.

Graphics

While some of the character animations are a little off, the world of Rune Factory Frontier is a very pretty and colourful one. The cartoony style makes good use of the Wii’s abilities, but they don’t make any effort to try anything special or different.

Sound

A lot of great tracks befitting the fantasy style of the game, accompanied by some more than decent voicework. Some voices may be a little grating to some players.

Value

In true Harvest Moon fashion, you have an abundance of things to get through in Frontier. From day one, you’ll work on improving your farm, building a family, and saving the world, and that’s going to last any gamer a long time.

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

About this score
Rated 8 out of 10

For Harvest Moon and Rune Factory fans, Frontier proves to be one of the best titles console titles in years, with pretty visuals, decent voice acting and as usual plenty of things to do. While the usual glitches are present, nothing in the game is considerably badly done. On the other hand nothing about it is considerably fantastic, and the slow pace might not be enough to hold the attention span of some.

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25.08.2010

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Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Though i have never played a rune factory game, i loved the harvest moon series(especially harvest moon 64!!). It sounds like a really good game. I am guessing that natsume doesn't make this series?

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Muliphein said:
Though i have never played a rune factory game, i loved the harvest moon series(especially harvest moon 64!!). It sounds like a really good game. I am guessing that natsume doesn't make this series?

Actually they do, it's done by the good old developers of Harvest Moon, except Natsume now consider Rune Factory to be its own series.

Which also means it hopefully won't be stopping any time soon! Excellent news since I think Rune Factory is more my type of game than Harvest Moon is Smilie

I wish I could have dedicated more time to RFF but man it's a bit of a timesink Smilie

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

I have both Rune Factory DS games as well as the Wii game... but I have yet to play any. Why? Well, I love Harvest Moon and the premise of Rune Factory was appealing to me so I bought all 3 games this march and now they wait in my collection until it's their turn.

Sundeep (guest) 27.08.2010 06:56#4

I'm confused about Rune Factory and Harvest Moon. Are these two games the same games with different names? Is Rune Factory a spin-off or vice versa? I loved the original Moon concept but am sceptical about this Rune Factory take on things.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Sundeep (guest) said:
I'm confused about Rune Factory and Harvest Moon. Are these two games the same games with different names? Is Rune Factory a spin-off or vice versa? I loved the original Moon concept but am sceptical about this Rune Factory take on things.

Rune Factory is a fantasy Spinoff of Harvest Moon, but Natsume decided they wanted to split the series off and make it its own thing.

So officially Rune Factory isn't part of the Harvest Moon series aymore, even though it's still marketed as a Harvest Moon game during localization.

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

I played a little of the first Rune Factory and it's really not my thing. I like the Harvest Moon games simply for the farming. Adding RPG elements takes away from that so I'll stick with HM. Smilie

Hasn't the PSP got a futuristic Harvest Moon spin off? Is that similar to Rune Factory but more sci-fi?

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Ifrit XXII said:
asn't the PSP got a futuristic Harvest Moon spin off? Is that similar to Rune Factory but more sci-fi?

I'm not sure really. I haven't really heard good thing about it at all, plus there's no marriage system, the game just ends at some point.

It's a shame that you don't dig Rune Factory. The dungeon crawling makes a nice break to constant farmwork imo (which I sometimes find gets tedious in HM games)
Plus the girls of Rune Factory are so lovely~<3

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

Plus the girls of Rune Factory are so lovely~<3

wut?

Sundeep (guest) 29.08.2010 23:56#9

Thanks Supeelink, not really my kind of tea, I will stick with Moon.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Jimmy2000 said:

wut?

All the bachelorettes in Rune Factory are adorable.

And less chibi than the HM girls.
Which is ideal~

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

I bought this game last year and I would still be playing it if my Wii's hard drive weren't dying (again).

I like it more than Harvest Moon games because, like SuperLink, the dungeon crawling elelments really do break up the repetitiveness of the farming and other core duties.

Look unto me in every thought. Doubt not. Fear not.

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