Marvelous AQL?has a penchant for creating things that are too cute to be overlooked. With Harvest Moon, they created a formula wherein cute and simple makes for a very good mix. Harvest Moon lets you fill the shoes of a young farmer or city boy, who, inheriting a farm from a relative, is given the chance to make something of themselves. The premise of the games are always about bringing back the lost luster of the farms, with a little romance thrown in between.
The notion of romance in the games is simple; you get a girl to like you by giving her gifts, and paying attention to be with her during special events in the game. Once you get enough influence on her, she?ll acquiesce enough to become your partner, and by then, your farm house will also need to have grown enough to accommodate her. There are other games in the series where you play as female, and its the turn of the male characters to be wooed by you.
Marvelous, thinking out of the box, had enough sense to think about a new game that would appeal to fans of the role-playing game (RPG) genre. They thought about mixing elements of that with the tried-and-tested farming in Harvest Moon, and the result is…Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon
Trading in Your Pitchfork for a Sword
The very first game in the series introduced a stranger coming to a farm that has since fallen into neglect. He is met by a girl, Mist, who is also the virtual caretaker of the farm. He is then suddenly outfitted by Mist with farming materials and is toured through the farm. Everything seems okay when, all of a sudden, a monster is summoned to the farm. Panicking, you manage to defeat the monster with a hoe, and she praises your efforts.
The element of combat and dungeon crawling that is present in the game is new to Harvest Moon-type games. While you already have your hands full at farming and watching the seasons so your crops don?t spoil, a new element is introduced in the game. Now, not only do you have to look out after your farm, but you also have to level yourself up to be able to go into caves, where the climate enables seasonal crops to be grown. But going into these caves is by far no easy feat; they are rife with monsters which you need to defeat, or else, be defeated by them.
The Usual Element of Obsession
Marvelous?hit the target spot on with the introduction of an RPG element into an otherwise simple and straightforward game. There are things which you can get when you kill these monsters, and there are some monsters as well that can be tamed and can be made to serve you on the farm. Some other monsters act as the game?s source of eggs and milk, while others are strong enough to escort you on your dungeon travels.
The usual element of Harvest Moon games, where you need to build relationships in town in order to get favors or get familiar with a character you like, is still present; you still need certain items to give to them, and certain events puts you in a good footing to win their heart. Still, however enjoying a game is, it is good to remember that these games are there for your entertainment and not to become an obsession. It is rather hard, though, to put Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon down once you?ve started playing with it.