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on August 22, 2007
Rune Factory is one of the best versions of Harvest Moon to come out in a while. This review, I should warn you, is targeted at those individuals who have played previous installments in the series. If you are an experienced player of the Harvest Moon franchise, like I am, then you will find much that is new in this experience.

Graphically, this game is impressive. The environments, although 2-D, look beautiful in their hand-drawn style. The characters are 3-D, and it gives the game an interesting look.

The farming aspects of this harvest moon game are probably the best they have ever been. There is a huge variety of crops you can grow. You are also given a good size field to farm. Not only can you farm your own land, but you can also farm in caves where seasons never change. This allows for extended growing periods. In addition to this, livestock in Rune Factory are monsters you befriend in the caves. These monsters can help on your farm, give eggs, give milk, or give wool, just like traditional farm livestock.

In addition to this, you can forge weapons and tools, cook foods, and enhance other items in your inventory. However, these aspects don't come into the game until later on when you make improvements to your home.

The combat system in the game is handled much like the farming system. You press the same buttons and can even use your farm tools in combat. In fact, they are so integrated that you can use your sword to cut weeds and you can water your enemies to death. However, for best results, you should cut weeds with the sickle and defeat your enemies with a weapon of some sort. Farming and fighting both drain the same stamina meter. Once your stamina is depleted, fighting/farming depletes your health. This is both good and bad. It is good because it adds challenge and tension to the dungeon battles, but it is bad because it limits the amount of work and battle you can do in a day. There are in-game remedies to this, but I will not discuss these in much detail. I will just say they add to the overall challenge and only work to make the game even better.

Other aspects that have made past Harvest Moon games great are also present here. Some of them are even better. There are ten women in the game that you can marry. Those familiar with past Harvest Moon games know how this system works.

There are also a number of different shops that you can visit in the town. The library, for the first time ever I believe, is actually useful. Not only can you go to the library to read hints on how to play the game, but you can actually buy books at the library now. These books actually contribute to improved gameplay. For example, you can buy spellbooks that will allow you to perform magic of various sorts. There are also cookbooks, forging handbooks, and other books that come in handy once you expand your home and also purchase a kitchen.

The other major addition to the gameplay within the town is that you can sell items directly to stores. You can use the shipping bin on your farm, but then you would need to wait until 5PM for the profits to roll in. If you go to a store to sell items, you can get the profits quickly and see exactly how much you are making on each item you sell.

In conclusion, this is an awesome game. It is one of the best Harvest Moon games ever, and one of the greatest games on the Nintendo DS. I have only touched the surface of the game in this review. There is much more to see and do. Buy the game, play the game, and have a great time farming and fighting in Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon.
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on October 15, 2007
I'm a middle-aged man with plenty of game-playing experience of all types of games, but, I've never played a Harvest Moon game before. I review from this perspective.

This is an excellent, highly addictive RPG/farming simulation. If you like RPGs but are dubious that a "farming simulation" could be fun -- get this game. Your only regret will be that you spend way too much time playing it! It's a cross between Dark Cloud and Animal Crossing.

I've been waiting for a good RPG on the DS for some time now. I did not feel that Etrian Odyssey was very good but played it anyway for lack of a more compelling alternative. Now there are 2 excellent RPGs for the DS (Rune Factory + Zelda: Phantom Hourglass). I know that Z:PH will be a breakaway hit and a much better game, but RF is so fun and so addictive that I simply can't put it down until I've achieved all that I want to achieve in it.

I won't go into detail to describe Rune Factory, as you can no doubt get that information in many reviews and other sources. Suffice it to say that there's a wealth of things to do: explore caves, mine minerals, smith weapons, court young women, tame monsters, fish, cook, upgrade your house, etc. etc.. And, of course, there's lots of farming. It's very compelling to have so many different avenues for growth and improvement. I suppose I have a mildly compulsive personality, and games like this certainly bring it out. I want to do it all, so my games tend to last 2-10 times longer than those of other players. You can do all the parts you want to do and skip the parts you don't like.

Rune Factory is a (mostly) non-linear game without a lot of hints or required goals. Of course, there is a concept of "winning" the game, but if you're like me, most of the goals you'll achieve in this game are the ones you've set for yourself. I do wish there were some sort of checklist, though. Most games with "gotta have 'em all" aspects provide a checklist of difficult goals to achieve -- e.g. get all the heart pieces in Zelda or unlock all the characters in a fighting game. Rune Factory does provide you with some lists, but many of the goals I'm pursuing aren't tracked by the game (e.g. tame one of each type of monster, and max out all seed levels without using the wireless connection). But this is a minor quibble.

The game is hardly perfect, and I considered rating it only 4 stars. In particular, I'm frustrated by the inconsistent use of inventory management. Some inventory screens are arranged horizontally, others are arranged vertically, which makes it very hard to find your items. Some inventory panels show you details of selected items, some don't. Some close with the B button, others close with the start button. I really wish the game would segregate dispensable goods from indispensable tools -- why are they stored together? And there are many other annoyances (e.g. the game allows you to commit very serious mistakes like dropping important items, but, on the flip side, you can't sell or even drop lame spell books) and a few noticeable bugs.

But, bottom line, I enjoy this game far, far too much to consider rating it less than the full 5 stars. It's one of the best DS titles I've ever played. If you can only buy one RPG for the DS, based on past performance of other Zelda games, I'd reluctantly steer you to Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. But if you like RPGs and can handle getting two, get Rune Factory, you won't be disappointed.
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on August 18, 2007
For those who don't know, the Harvest Moon series is an Animal Crossing-like farming sim game. You raise crops and animals to get money, build up your house, make friends, and even date/marry one of townspeople. Rune Factory adds in dungeon style caves, complete with monsters! You have to fight them Zelda/Secret of Mana style, though admittedly the combat in this game is a tad rough but still quite passable. You can even tame some monsters and have them work on your farm!

Besides the adventure/combat abilities, they really improved the controls over previous versions. The inventory is much easier to cycle through now, and you can use the touch screen to tap on your crops to water or harvest them, which is much quicker than the old-school method.

Even without the adventure elements, the controls are so well polished that this game would be superior to previous Harvest Moon games on the farming aspect alone, at least in my opinion.
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on August 24, 2007
I've been waiting for this game since I first read a preview on it in one of the spring issues of Nintendo Power. I love Harvest moon games(even though I'm relatively new to them: my first Harvest Moon games were Friends of Mineral Town for the gba, and Harvest Moon: Ds) and this one incorporated dungeon crawling and combat in addition to the tried-and-true harvest moon staples of wooing a wife, farming, fishing and mining.

The first thing that struck me was how beautiful this game was visually. My husband put it best when he compared the games sprites and graphics to the Lost in Blue games for the ds; it almost looks like the games all use the same gorgeous 3-d engine!

I never liked your hp-type gauges in the harvest moon game. You had to carefully watch your character for cues that you were working too hard(if he gasps for air, face turns blue or falls down, you're getting low on stamina or fatigue. Much, much later in the games you often got an object that let you see a numeric value of your stamina and fatigue gauges..if you used up all your stamina, you started on your fatigue gauge. Use them both up, and you faint, and spend the next day in a bed at the doctor's and miss a full day of work!

Not so in Rune Factory. Here, you have a clearly defined HP(Hit Points) and RP(Rune Points) gauge..you use rune points for everything from planting seeds, to using your watering can to swinging your sword. When you empty that out, you start on your hp..use both up and you faint and spend the next day at the doctor's. Your rp is always 100 points, but your hp goes up with each level your character gains. You gain levels when you fight monsters, but all skill points when you do farming things like water your plants or till the soil. When your skill points go up, you use less rp on that task.

In the previous harvest moon games, I always felt the game rushed you, and you barely had enough time to tend to your crops, talk to people or fish. In this game, the pace is a lot more laid back, and I often find I have free time at the end of the day.
The combat feels a little like Zelda: Adventure or Sword of Mana or Zelda: Four Swords. You press a button to swing in real-time and your character swings his sword. It feels kinda weird, like a live-action rpg at first, but it doesn't take long to get used to the game.
I love how linked the games are to both farming and combat. You can't have one without the other. You must till and plant certain fields either in your farm or the cave(dungeon) you are in to gain the pass to the next cave. You must kill all the monster-spawning machines to get to the boss of a cave, and to do that, you must often make use of Rune Factories.

Creating Rune Factories is an essential part of cave exploration and beating the boss. Clean up the patches of earth inside the caves and plant crops. Spend a little time each day to go back to the cave to water them. When the plants are ready to be harvested, there will be a little blue sparkly above each 3x3 plot. When you pick them up, they restore rune points(which are so easy to run out of by swinging your sword to kill enemies, mining or gardening in caves.) As long as you don't harvest the crops, these "rune factories" will continue to make rune-point regenerating sparklies. And since you planted your crops in the caves(and each one has a specific "season" attributed to it) you don't have to worry about them wilting or dying in stormy weather. You can continue to use these until you beat the boss and finish with the cave. (I have rune factories in a bunch of caves I have "finished". Now, whenever I need rune points, I simply slip into the old caves and pick them up then continue with my day.)

You can capture monsters in this game to help you fight in caves with you, water or harvest your crops. Also, only by taming certain monsters can you obtain eggs, milk, wool and honey. You can't breed monsters or incubate eggs; to get more of a specific monster, simply go back into the dungeon you found it and tame another.

The sound is amazing in this game. You have real music when you first turn it on, though I have yet to figure out what the heck they are singing. Each season has it's own song, and even the caves have their own unique music. The music also changes depending on the time of day (when it's 6pm or later, you hear crickets chirping and an owl hooting)

There's lots to do in this game, and after you finish the "main game" (complete all caves and bosses and fish the story-line) you can do the next part, which is to woo a wife. However, like most Harvest Moon games, Rune Factory is entirely open-ended. You can fully ignore the caves and fighting aspect if all you want to do is make friends with everyone, farm and fish and woo a wife. However, i think everyone should try this game, BOTH aspects of it before trying to decide which part is their favorite.

I'm not going to bother rating this game, as I, along with a few other here think people should read a review and make up their own minds. If you like Harvest moon, this might just be the definitive version(next to Friends of Mineral Town) for you. If you hated the farming/dating sim games, stay far, far away from this game.

I think this game is probably among the best "pseudo-rpg's" out there, and everyone should at least give it a try.
Who knows?
You may find a new genre you like!
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on August 27, 2007
I've played a few of the Harvest Moon games for the PS2. I always liked the concept, and could spend hours playing it obsessively. But by the middle of the game I would get aggravated with the farming aspect. Planting and sowing and watering was always SO tough and time consuming. You had to hit the square just right blah blah blah. Move over one, hit the button, move over one, hit the button, oops moved over to far. Darn! Phew crops watered, oh man now it's dark. Don't even get me started on the chickens.

But, with the DS version of this game, that problem has been simplified with the touch screen. You can queue up 9 spots. Just touch the screen, bloop, bloop, bloop and aha!! WAtering success. (unless there is something blocking the walk path, but that's not a big deal) Same with harvesting. Touch the screen, and everything is harvested AND put in the rucksuck with just one little touch. (Well nine actually but you get what I'm saying) Farming made easy. Now I can farm and still have time to do other things.

What other things? Well, the usual Harvest Moon things like chatting up the ladies, fishing, foraging, chopping wood. BUT, in this game you have to earn passes to caves. Inside the caves are monsters that you can battle, but also befriend. Put them in your monster hut that you had built, and they can do all sorts of things. Harvest crops, make honey, provide milk, wool. Finally!! Someone else to harvest and water those darn pesky crops. As if it wasn't simple enough with the touch screen, now you don't have to do it at all,if you can just figure out how to get the monsters to DO your bidding. One thing I haven't figured out just yet. I tell them to do it, they won't.

The map is easy to follow, and the graphic are better than the other HM games for big consoles. I'm impressed by the improvements in both look, and game play that have been made with this game, and for a handheld format to boot!

Ok, gotta get back to the game.
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on August 30, 2007
I've always wanted to try out the Harvest Moon games. They were my ex-girlfriend's favorite game, and my brother spent alot of time playing "Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life" on the PS2, but I never picked it up... Namely because eventhough I loved Animal Crossing (A similar game on the GameCube) after you finished building your house and decorating it, the rest of the game becomes tedious with nothing to do but waiting for the next season and more bugs/fish to catch... *YAWN*
Anyway, I feared that Harvest Moon would be the same thing on a larger scale, so I never actually got around to playing it. But then one day, I saw an ad in "Electronics Gaming Monthly" for "Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon" Being a HUGE fan of RPGs like The Legend of Zelda & Final Fantasy, I knew that if there was any Harvest Moon that was practically made for me, this was it!

After playing it, I absolutely love it! And not for the fighting, monster taming, 3D graphics, and RPG formula that I thought I would, but for the farming aspect of past Harvest Moon games! This is nothing like the boring and tedious work in Animal Crossing, it's truely fun and immersive. Plowing the field, planting the crops & watering them every morning, then selling them and saving up enough money to improve your home and gain the affection of one of 10 lovely ladies!
All the girls are pretty cool, but which one you choose really depends on your personality. (Personally, I like Melody & Mei, having either a Witch or a Ninja for a wife sounds cool! lol)
Plus, having 10 girls to choose from compared to the old standard 3 girls in past Harvest moon games will be a breath of fresh air to long-time fans of the series.

The funnest part of the game is that there is so much to do! You'll find yourself running all about town to talk to the ladies you like, to the dock to go fishing, watering & harvesting your crops, putting all the fruits of your hard work into the collection bin, making a run through the caves to increase your level by fighting monsters, and before you know it, the day is done and you gotta go to bed! (Both in the game and in real life)

I could go on and on about this game, but I know alot of people don't like to read long reviews, so I'll leave anything I may have missed to the other reviewers...

All I can say is, this game is packed with more stuff to do than anyone could ever hope to put in a short review!
This game is pure excellence, and I highly recommend picking up a copy for yourself.
This is easily the best DS game I've played so far, and they're already working on a sequel in Japan!

Overall Rating: 5 STARS!!!
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on November 13, 2007
Having put a lot of time into playing Friends of Mineral Town on the GBA I was looking forward to Rune Factory as my first DS Harvest Moon, even though I'd heard negative things about the first DS title. It has all the themes you'd expect, farming, fishing, cooking, romance, etc., but the characters/storyline and mechanics of it all felt neglected.

The dialog for each character is one or two sentences which only changes after you clear a cave or on holidays. There are hints of deeper connections between the townspeople but they never go into detail about it, I'm not sure if I had to be higher friendship for this to happen or not but I finished the main storyline with a lot of unanswered questions.

Farming/caring for animals is mostly just to get items for cooking/pharmacy, mining nets a ridiculous amount of money even in the low level caves so I never bothered trying to grow and sell high level crops since I had more money than I could spend. All the crafting options in the game were nice but require a large variety of different items and the inventory management is a pain. Mined materials come in different qualities and those can't be stored together in the same slot, so if I have 4 pieces of gold, unless they're all the same level (and there at least 18 levels) they'll take up 4 slots. Even with upgraded storage capabilities I was constantly having to throw things I needed away to make room.

The weapons, magic, and accessories are a nice base for the fighting system but the actual combat is frustrating. Every monster and generator has one small square for hit detection no matter how large it is so you spend a lot of time swinging through things and doing no damage. I didn't find much use for most of the magic spells I bought, also there's no way to get rid of them further adding to your inventory problems.

Taming monsters is a cool idea, and I love not having to water my crops. Unfortunately you can't have them water or harvest your crops in caves which make up the majority of farmable land so you still have to do that yourself. They also can't graze outside like in the GBA game so you have to keep them inside and buy or grow feed for them year-round. Unless you take a monster from a later cave into an easier one they're generally useless in combat, it would be nice to be able to bring multiple monsters with you then you could try to compliment their attack abilities like short/long range or kinds of magic to each other.

All that said I still wanted to at least to finish the storyline and I put a decent amount of time leveling each of the skills. There's plenty left to do after but unlike the GBA version it just seems repetitive and pointless to make the effort. Hopefully the next version can polish up the basics a little more even if it means taking some less important things out.
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on March 4, 2008
When I was deciding which game to get my 8-year-old son for christmas, I was looking for a game that would have enough action to keep my son entertained, but that would also require some thinking on his part other than with which weapon to kill which monster. Rune Factory turned out to be the perfect game for him.

Unlike most games nowadays, where 90 percent of the gameplay is senseless fighting, Rune Factory has a good balance of action, planning and organizing. The main character finds himself without memory in a strange town. A girl finds him and offers him a plot of land and some farming tools. To earn the right to explore caves and fight or tame monsters (yes, you can actually make friends with monsters!!!), you have to plow your fields and grow crops first.

I found the game quite educational for my son. Of course, he is most interested in fighting the monsters in the cave, but to do so successfully, he first had to organize his fields, and develop routines (water fields after getting up, fishing on rainy days to get money to buy weapons, talk to people and help them to make friends, etc.). Even in the caves, strategic planning on what to plant and how to maintain it determines how long one can stay in the caves, and how well a player can heal. By now, this is his favorite game, not only because it is very versatile and has many challenges, but also because this has been the first game he hasn't been able to finish within a week or two. After two months of playing, he still isn't even anywhere close to finishing the game. While I consider most games to be a waste of money, this one sure was worth its cost.
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on October 20, 2007
Rune Factory is a complicated game, but it places far too much emphasis on the player. To advance the plot, all you need to do is catch monsters to water your crops, plant renewable crops, and fight in dungeons. In the end, slashing your sword, picking crops, and talking with the townsfolk whenever you defeat a boss is all your have to do. So why the addition of things like cooking, fishing, forging, or brushing your monsters?

Well, obviously, just doing that one thing isn't much fun! The most fun is talking to the townsfolk and strengthening friendships and romance. All of the side things like cooking are nice, but without a plot then it gets boring after a bit. The game tries to make them seem important by saying that girls like cooking, or that you can make things more powerful by forging, but all you need to do is talk to the girls, and the fighting is pretty easy.

Rune Factory is a beautiful game, but it puts far too much emphasis on your actions. You can't wake up one day and someone will say something new. It's all done by fighting, which makes farming seem almost pointless at times. You have to return to your house every night. It is linear and frustrating. I would say it's worth a try, because it can be addicting for a little while, but don't expect a masterpiece.

PS And the monsters have no personality. I liked the cow.
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on March 13, 2008
I am someone who loves Harvest Moon games anyway, but this one takes the cake! Even though it's just for the DS, the graphics are great and the gameplay is highly addictive. Where other Harvest Moons can finally get boring when you have made more money than you can possibly spend, have bought every type of cow, crop and tree, this Harvest moon has numerous things for you to work on for awhile. There are several caves in the game, with different seasons and monsters, and you can't enter them automatically, you have to earn a pass. You can grow crops in the caves, but they have monsters, and in the second cave, the monsters are pretty tough so I am trying to work myself up to conquering that cave. Upgrading tools is much more of a processes than in the other Harvest moons so I am still working on upgrading mine. Instead of cows and chickens you have monsters for livestock, and they can do different things, like bees that make honey for you, and I have an archer monster I like to take in the caves with me to help me fight. Once a monster likes you more (you can see your rating on the menu of how friendly they are) you can get some of them to water or harvest crops for you!
There are many women to choose from for marriage this time, and you can also check your friend levels with guys on the game as well. Everyone has a friend and love level for you. You can upgrade your house but it costs $200,000 so it will be awhile before I get that much money. There are things called runes in the game that appear when you have 9 new crops to harvest, and they replenish your rune power energy. Gone are the days where you had to keep watching your farmer pause because he was too tired, and having to quit doing stuff because he was too tired! This time there is a rune meter that shows the energy you have left to do work, and when that is gone you still have your hit point gauge, so plenty of energy and if you have runes to pick up, you can extend the amount of work you do in a day. Also at 3pm you can take a bath at the bathhouse and that gives you full runepower and hitpoints.
I think this game will keep me entertained longer than other Harvest moons have, and it's so addicting I have to limit myself on what days I can play it, because once I pick it up, the evening is gone!
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