Monday, June 6, 2011

Rune Factory

Today's topic of conversation is a video game series. The game series "Harvest Moon" is definitely a Japanese outing in which you farm, raise animals, and pick yourself a wife from a small range of ladies living in the nearby town. Sounds boring? Oh hell yes. I will say that a good portion of the Harvest Moon games pretty much suck and that they are all largely the same game, but there are games in this series that are addictive and a good time.

But Harvest Moon is missing a major gameplay amenity that would send it up quite a bit higher on my list of great games. That thing would be adventuring in dungeons and fighting enemies. So the series "Rune Factory" sets out to fix that problem. Again, all the games are very similar - the hero wakes up with amnesia outside a town and is given a house and farmland and slowly becomes part of the town as he farms his way to their hearts and fights bosses in order to learn more of his past and save the town from eventual destruction. Now that's a game I can sink my teeth into!

I will say that the first Rune Factory is the weakest one. Everyone is very polygonal, in a bad way. You get some pretty nasty slowdown if there's too much going on the screen, which actually makes the last couple boss fights extremely easy. You can pick a wife but it has not a single bearing on what happens after and she has a baby down the line and that baby does not grow up at all. And you can absolutely break the game by mining rocks and selling all the expensive ores you get. I traded this one in for a different game after I beat it just because I knew I would never touch it again.

Rune Factory 2 starts out pretty weak like the first one, but once you get a wife and she has a kid, the game moves forward until the kid is around ten years old and the kid becomes the star of the game since the father has disappeared shortly after the wife gave birth. The kid can sit through classes and learn how to make things and he's small enough to get through all the barriers blocking off most of the dungeons from the father. The story gets pretty damned ludicrous in the final act where the kid learns his father went out to fight a dragon once he regained his memory only to be felled by said dragon. The dad's ghost helps the son fight the dragon at the end of the last main dungeon and you get the second round of end game credits. After that, there's a series of bonus dungeons that will allow the kid to revive his dad after all is said and done, thus leading to a third round of end game credits. This is a great game out of sheer length.

Rune Factory 3 streamlines a lot of things that needed to be streamlined. The hero moves a lot faster, and there are dual swords which are far more badass than the rest of the weapons. Farming goes a lot faster. So this hero is a half-monster and half-human and it's his job to ultimately bring together the people of the town and the nearby monster village. This is a fantastic game out of sheer gameplay.

The nice thing about this series is that there is not a single thing pushing you to get the story moved forward. You can fart around the farm all day, mine for ore, try to land a lady, whatever you want and there's no consequence for taking forever to do it. It is the best game for dicking around on a lazy day.

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