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First Impressions: Rune Factory Frontier

Posted by James Newton

Growing a beaut

US readers may scoff at the "First Impressions" title of this article as Rune Factory Frontier has been available in the Western hemisphere for nearly a year, but as always European gamers are left waiting for any Harvest Moon-related titles. However, farming fans need not fret much longer, as Rune Factory Frontier is due for release in the near future, and looks set to be the Wii's definitive agricultural experience.

Following on from the superb Rune Factory on DS, the Wii version features a similar combination of RPG and farming elements as its predecessor. It may sound like an odd mix but it works well, fleshing out the monotony of farming with combat and tempering the dungeon grinds with some soothing seed sowing. There's some depth to the RPG features too - you can craft your own armour, weapons and tools using different ores and other items, with the strength depending on your proficiency in each discipline. You can create fire swords, icy spears as well as all manner of watering cans, fishing rods and more. Placing this ability in your character's hands, rather than that of a local blacksmith, was a wise design choice.

Don't worry, though - there's still plenty of side characters offering various services, including the traditional lumberjack, inns, a bath house and shops. The inclusion of combat hasn't dampened the social element of the series, with each character having friendship and romance bars that are visible through a menu, and the usual exchange of pleasantries and presents is always encouraged. Pleasingly the game veers somewhat away from the series' recurring female characters, although you'll recognise some of the prospective wives from the game's DS appearance.

Even in this incomplete build, it's worth pointing out some of the beautiful graphics on display in Rune Factory Frontier. There's an emphasis on detail and building convincing scenes with increased foliage and a well-chosen palette that makes this game probably the best-looking entry in the Harvest Moon series to date. The initial dungeons suffer from being just a little too brown, but there's more than enough green and blue above ground to atone, and you can always brighten up those dungeons by growing some flowers down there.

With plenty of the addictive farming the series is renowned for and the addition of surprisingly rewarding RPG elements, Rune Factory Frontier could be the definitive Harvest Moon game for Wii. We'll find out when it's released on European shores this quarter.

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User Comments (17)

DamoAdmin

#1

Damo said:

I've never been a fan of these farming games but I have to admit those screens look lovely. Really relaxing stuff.

Machu

#2

Machu said:

Looks beautiful!!! My Wii is waiting for this game, and has been for some time. D:

Gimme!

Radbot42

#5

Radbot42 said:

yeah i agree with vaynard. This game would have been perfect without the runey system. Sold the game back to gamestop because of it.
Actually got a good cunk of change back.

James

#6

James said:

I haven't played far enough to begin experimenting with Runeys, but I understand they're the colourful sprites flying about the place. What's so bad about them, chaps?

ZOTZMAN

#7

ZOTZMAN said:

I found nothign wrong with the runey system, myself. I've been playing this game for 70+hrs thus far, largely due to a lack of social relations within the NPCs which has kept particular events from triggering. As for the Runeys, you simply collect them with the Harvester and spend them with Candy as you see fit(i.e rainy week, fruit day, friendship day, rune stone, etc) If Candy isn't in her usual haunt; you just write it down at the Clock Tower and it occurs the next day, reguardless. And, I might add, so you don't fall into the perils that I have traversed, that you focus on getting the townsfolk to , at least, like you with 1-4 smiley faces(for a lack of better terminology) and that you upgrade your home and it's contents(lab, kitchen, forge, etc) as soon as you can with a focus on leveling in each of those catagories. This requires that you purchase recipes as they become available at the library or archive, from Selphy.

ZOTZMAN

#8

ZOTZMAN said:

It's one of the most involved RPGs I have ever played. It can be so open-ended or non-linear that you can make your living doing a number of things(i.e. crop/flower-growing, fishing, spoils of dungeon runs, crafting, forging, cooking, stripping the cornucopia trees from time to time, etc). Haberdashery, really (which I believe is a chiefly British term, none-the-less). However, social interaction is a necessity in this game if you hope to get anywhere, especially when concerning the main-story line and maiden events. There are just so many ways to occupy the hours in the , in game, day that you can really lose track of what task or event you were hoping to unlock next. Just leveling and collecting items to continue leveling in the crafting or forging area can take days. Levling up fruits and vegetable with the greenifier and levling up monsters from your barn can be time consuming also. Needless to say, this is a take it at your own pace kind of game and it's easy to put many, real time, hours into!

James

#9

James said:

@Zotzman - Great to hear it's a good game. I wouldn't like to say how many hours I put into this preview build and I haven't even passed Spring yet! I'm a huge HM fan and this one turning out well has pleased me greatly. Can't wait for the finished article now!

ZOTZMAN

#10

ZOTZMAN said:

I have many question and critiques to make about this fine website but, one I am curious about is: Are all the moderators British? All of them seem to be, or at least the active ones. So, in order to review many of these games you have to own a NA Wii, correct? So, how often do, if any, the releases differ in the UK? Is it managed and localized in this case by a completely different entity? (I did find many grammatical errors in our NA version - really makes me want to be involved with the process so, as to, create a better finished product) Also, did you consider playing through the NA version or is it a matter of prefernce to play the UK version? I know I'd own a Japanese Wii if I could understand Japanese better! They always have a slew of excellent games and many never reach our shores.

cyrus_zuo

#11

cyrus_zuo said:

My favorite game of last year. Highly, highly recommend. Really easy to get into, lots of fun things to do, great NPCs.

Vinsanity

#12

Vinsanity said:

You Europeans are in for a treat. Rune Factory is an excellent production. I personally usually can't even stand this kind of game; I mean, the aimlessness gets to me - Do I concentrate on farming, dating sim, dungeon crawling? But even I loved this title. It's charming as hell, and while the stamina bar is a tad annoying at first (or wish the day lasted longer), it's an excellent game.

Radbot42

#13

Radbot42 said:

the reasons the runeys ruin the game is the fact that you have to take care of them from the beginning and continue do so every day. If you dont it could severely ruin your game and make it unfixable. They are tedious little creatures

Egg_miester

#14

Egg_miester said:

this game is one of the best 3rd party game that came out last year in N/A and just near perfect

TwilightV

#15

TwilightV said:

@ZOTZMAN: A few of the mods, like Corbie and Chunky Droid, are American. They usually do a review if a game is released here first. :)

On topic: I need to pick this up! I had a copy of the first DS game (which I lost during a move) and I loved it. Definitely one of my favorites in the series (that and HM64). :)

James

#16

James said:

Actually Twilight, Chunky Droid is Australian :)

Zotzman - The site is British-owned and run from the UK, although we have a huge American readership and employ many American staff: Panda, Corbie, Spencer, Des, Vendetta and more.

I'm British, as is Damo, Dazza, Phat_Ant and Nanaki, and sometimes we get invited for previews of games that are yet to release in Europe, even if they've been out in America for a while, this being a prime example.

Often there are some differences - HM games are notorious for their poor translations, although RFF seems refreshingly accurate on that front. Normally we have issues with 50/60Hz, meaning our games are bordered and run nearly 20% slower than their US and Japanese incarnations, which is the cause of much frustration.

Taya

#17

Taya said:

This game is awesome. I'm playing it right now (mid-Fall year 1). Runeys are easily manageable if you put a few game days of effort into controling them. After their populations are stable, it takes hardly any time to keep your whole town prosperous. Every few days I spread around some grass runeys and forget about them for another few days.

The characters are fun and there are lots of little events and conversations and stuff to find. I'm always impressed by how deep the characters are. Cooking/forging etc is pretty much the same as Rune Factory 1 and 2.

I still haven't chosen who I will marry. I've narrowed it down to Cinnamon, Anette, Iris, Eunice, Melody and Mist... that's still a lot to choose from!

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