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Nintendo DS Game Review

Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon


Format: Nintendo DS
Rising Star Games
RRP: £29.99
5 060102 950417
Age Restrictions: 12+
Available 17 February 2009

Having awoken, wearing only rags and with no clue as to who you are or your whereabouts, you are befriended by a beautiful young woman called Mist. Leasing some land, you begin a new life tilling the soil, growing crops and raising animals. However, the secrets of nearby caves inhabited by monsters beckon. Can you tame these wild beasts and unlock the secrets to your own past as well...?

Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon is a role playing game (RPG) which offers hours and hours of intense gaming fun. I've played this for a couple of weeks and have still only scratched the surface of what's at the heart of this game.

The story is also important and offers a little mystery as to your character's origins. You awaken to find yourself in an unfamiliar village known as Kardia. Wearing nothing more than the tattered clothes on your back, you have no memory of who you are or how you arrived. A strange but beautiful young woman by the name of Mist comes to your aid and offers you food and water in return for helping her on her land by planting crops and clearing her fields.

As you tend the land and plough the fields, you grow stronger and your skills improve. However, for some reason, you do recall a time when you felt more comfortable with a sword in your hand. You have a natural gift for combat and your talent soon comes to the attention of the local mayor. With nearby caves and ruins overrun by monsters, Mayor Godwin has decreed that no adventurer can set foot into the dark spaces without a special permit. Battling against these fierce beasts is very important to your survival (and to the game play) but making friends with them is essential to your farm life. You will also upgrade your skills as you master swords, spears and farm tools. It will take you many, many hours of hard work to earn Mayor Godwin’s approval but the secrets inside the caves beckon and perhaps the deepest one of them holds the key to unlocking your past.

There are a number of skills you must master to progress through the game (these include farming, fishing, swordsmanship, logging and mining. And, later in the game you can also tackle cooking, forging, camping, communication, pharmacy and decoration.

The village you live in isn't overly large, but it has everything from a blacksmiths (where you can purchase weapons) to a pharmacist (where you can buy medicinal herbs). Chatting with the locals on a regular basis is also helpful, as some of them will give you free items (like your first cheap fishing rod and axe) as well as give you hints on what to do.

This is a game that you'd be well advised to actually read the instruction manual. I stupidly tried to pick up the game and play, and when I was instructed to plough a field I foolishly ploughed it all - throwing away the logs and weeds. I should have sold the weeds and saved the logs until I had an axe - still, my farming skills levelled up pretty quickly.

Once you start to unlock the cave levels you can start to befriend monsters, make them a home on your farm and set them to work growing crops for you. You can also go to local festivals and go out on dates. Settle down, get married and even raise a family. The possibilities are as endless as they are in the real world... almost.

There were a couple of minus points - but they're so small that they're not that important. Firstly, the idea of being able to tap on a number of areas with the stylus in order for your character to pick up the items in that part of the field won't always work if there's an item in the way. And, secondly, you'll need to save your game regularly as if you die in the caves you'll have to go back to your last save point.

This is a game that you'll find it hard to tire of. Just as you start to get a little bored with something, another skill or quest comes along to keep you playing hard. This is certainly one of the best portable RPG offerings on the market at present.


Nick Smithson

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