Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Getting My Farm On

I wanted to take a break from Zelda (which is something that can’t be played on the train all the time for the simple fact that sometimes I have to talk into the mic which causes people to look at me like “what the hell is this crazy foreigner doing talking to his DS?”) and I saw that Rune Factory came out semi-recently so I dusted off my Japanese copy and restarted it again. Also while I started playing I really felt the need to buy Harvest Moon for the Wii, so I am going to write up a quick double whammy!

First off Rune Factory: Rune Factory is as the title plainly says on the North American version, “a fantasy Harvest Moon.” The story lead up is a little cliché our hero stumbles into a small town and is greeted by a young lady on the outskirts of it where we promptly find out that our hero is suffering from amnesia and has no idea where he is from or what his name is; so you make one up right there. Now for people not familiar with the Harvest Moon series (you are getting a quick education on it today!) it is basically a farming sim/RPG, completely with wooing one of the town’s eligible bachelorettes. Rune Factory doesn’t stray from that formula; but it also adds magic and monsters. The young lady you meet in the beginning lets you live at her farm and work there. But once you talk to the mayor you find out that there are caves you can explore and each cave can be farmed as well. Also, each cave is one season all year long; meaning you can grow strawberries in the winter! And this is key for exploring the caves as well, because there are monsters in them, and for every 9 squares of plantlife you grow and harvest, you get a small stamina boost that allows you to fight/work/do magic longer. So you have to know where to plant stuff in the caves and when they will produce, which also means you have to take care of them until they do produce.

This leads us to all of the other stuff you can do. You have the crafting skills cooking, forging, pharmacy, decoration, and another handful of skills like mining, logging, sword, and so on. In order to get better at these skills you have to use them, over and over and over again. (and over again) But before you know it you can make sushi, swords or your medicines. The game plays quite a bit like an off-line MMO; without the updates or the massive world. So as you might imagine it can get a little repetitive after a while. But Rune Factory is still loads of fun, and is a break from the norm

Quick Harvest Moon Wii impressions: I have not put a whole lot of time into this game yet but I want to give my thoughts about it compared to the older versions of the game. This version is hands down the best looking of them yet. Beautiful colors, art, and well thought-out town layouts. I really liked the story if this one compared to the older ones feels a little more “user-friendly”, as opposed to the older ones. The best example of that is the tutorial that get you started on, it is cleverly setup by having you get a part-time job on a farm so you can handle it on your own later. My only knock on it is the controls, at least for me so far, aren’t as fluid as they are in the 2D counterparts, and even the Gamecube version’s controls seemed a little tighter. However, this might just be me not being used to the nunchaku controls.

I have been having a blast but it is too early to say if this is the best Harvest Moon yet, but so far so good!

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