Well done.

Whilst our European readers are still waiting to play the second handheld instalment in the farming-and-fighting series Rune Factory – though Rising Star Games is bringing it to Europe in the coming months – Natsume has gone and jumped the gun by announcing the third entry, smartly titled Rune Factory 3: A Fantasy Harvest Moon, will be released later this year.

Delivering more of the series' acclaimed farming and action RPG elements, Rune Factory 3 also introduces the ability to build up a squad of comrades with unique abilities to accompany you into battle and features an all-new multiplayer mode that lets three players team up to explore the dungeons, vanquishing – sorry, "returning" – monsters to retrieve rare items.

With a half-human, half-monster hero capable of unleashing his beast form, presumably for massive damage, team battles and a multiplayer mode it sounds as though the RPG elements are going to be significantly beefed-up over the game's predecessor, so we await news of any improvements to the series' harvesting features.

Natsume is set to show off the game at E3 next week, so until then enjoy these screenshots and official announcement.

Burlingame, Calif., June 8, 2010 - Natsume Inc., a worldwide developer and publisher of family-oriented video games, announced today that Rune Factory 3: A Fantasy Harvest Moon will be released for the Nintendo DS later this year. The Rune Factory series combines the fun and rewarding gameplay of Harvest Moon with the fantasy and excitement of an action-RPG, offering Harvest Moon fans and traditional RPG players the best of both worlds.

"We can't wait to give fans their first look at this title at the upcoming E3 tradeshow," said Hiro Maekawa, President and CEO at Natsume. "This game has a powerful story, a compelling new cast of characters, and a lot of exciting new features. It's the best and deepest Rune Factory yet!"

The people of Sharance and their horned Univir neighbors are embroiled in a bitter conflict. An age-old hatred between humans and monsters divides them. Micah is an adventurer with an unusual secret: he's half monster! He'll have to unite the humans and the Univir in time to stop the growing evil force that threatens to destroy them both!

Rune Factory 3 introduces a number of exciting new features to the Rune Factory series: befriended villagers will now join you in battle and lend you their unique skills, players can transform the main character into his monster form to unleash a savage new arsenal of fighting moves, and the game's new multiplayer mode lets up to three players work together to conquer unique dungeons packed with rare items and fearsome monsters.