Rune Factory 3 Special (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Nayu 30.04.2024

Review for Rune Factory 3 Special on Nintendo Switch

Following the successful port of Rune Factory 4 onto Nintendo Switch as a special edition, and the newest 3D Rune Factory 5, it was perhaps only a matter of time for earlier titles to follow suit. Rune Factory 3 Special is a port of the original Nintendo DS game from publisher and developer Marvelous with extra content involving post-game adventures for each of the marriage candidates. Can it captivate fans of the later Rune Factory games to the same degree?

It all starts with a jaunty title song whose lyrics are sadly not translated into English on screen, which is a shame since the Japanese lyrics are enjoyable. Like other Rune Factory games, life begins as an amnesiac, albeit one who can transform into a monster, a skill that becomes very handy when dealing with certain NPCs and in battle. Taken in by the chief's eldest daughter Shara and given a home, the protagonist settles in the relatively small village, taking on quests and fighting monsters in the nearby dungeons. It is perhaps unfortunate that Rune Factory 3 Special didn't expand on the marriage candidates by creating a female protagonist and adding male bachelors. Instead, the only option is to play as the male. That is not exactly a hardship as there are many cute bachelorettes with wide ranging personalities; from a lazy sleepyhead to a classic tsundere whose hard exterior can be cracked with a lot of patience. Picking one to lavish gifts on and always making sure her quests are fulfilled is one way to get that friendship meter raised high enough to eventually make marriage happen, and interacting with them is almost as good as being a female main character.

Before all that there is much of the main story to uncover. Exactly who the protagonist is and why they transform is a mystery for much of the tale. Oddly, dragons only appear late in the plot, unlike the fourth and fifth game where dragons had a more central role. This disappointment was quickly overtaken by how utterly charming Rune Factory 3 Special is. There is definitely less guidance within the game itself as to where to go and what to do. Previous experience from the series helped discover what was needed to move the plot forward from time to time. Exploring was half the fun of the game. Each of the four seasonal themed dungeons where crops can be grown for season specific produce are full of monsters to befriend for their useful materials, and the area colour palettes were a delight to play in. Although later on the option to fight as a cute woolie as the changeling protagonist (as opposed to having a non-changeling woolie as part of the party), it is possible to spend the entire game fighting alone as a human, using the weapon and magical skills that are acquired along the way. Other party members can help take down bosses quicker but it is not essential for successful completion. There are instances where an extra party member is mandatory, but outside of that, solo play is possible.

Screenshot for Rune Factory 3 Special on Nintendo Switch

Aside from sometimes wandering aimlessly trying to trigger story progression, most of the time in Rune Factory 3 Special is charming. The combination of the cute graphics with a toe-tapping soundtrack lead to dozens of hours happily tending to the base farm. Unlike later games there isn't a use for stone, apart from giving as a gift, which felt odd given that wood was merrily stored in the wood pile after being chopped up. There is definitely a cosier vibe to this instalment, with the monster barns being small and less separate from the farm. As time passed, it became easier to figure out schedules of each resident without resorting to an internet search. As more of their personalities opened up, there was a real sense that everyone was becoming like a family member rather than a neighbour. Learning their various idiosyncrasies was often a pleasant surprise and resulted in a few looking less ditzy than they first appeared.

Aside from the main game being on a modern console, the new extra content in Rune Factory 3 Special feels extensive. Once married, which is part of the main story (it might have been available prior to marriage but it was not checked until the game's end), an extra side story with each bachelorette can be undertaken. What is impressive is that it is not the same plot just with a different girl, each girl has their unique post marriage plot to participate in. It is amusing that in those short segments, unlike the main game, there is regular on screen text reminding of the main task needing doing, preventing dawdling in completing the event. It does get annoying that said messages cannot be toggled off. Finally, it should be mentioned that it doesn't matter if only one girl had been married; the main game does not need to be replayed and each candidate married in turn. All of the additional events can be played at any point.

Screenshot for Rune Factory 3 Special on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Marvelous have absolutely succeeded in making Rune Factory 3 Special endearing to newer fans despite some obvious differences compared with the newer Rune Factory titles. It remains a great blend of RPG farming and fighting, the latter can be focused on for farming aficionados, holding off main story progression until it is desired. The comprehensive post-game content that is not conditional on various requirements only adds to the experience. Let's hope Rune Factory 1 and 2 receive similar treatments in the future!






Real Time RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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


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