Rune Factory 3: A Fantasy Harvest Moon
Platform: Nintendo DS
Publisher: Natsume
Developer: Neverland
Genre: Action RPG
Format: Cartridge
Release: US Q4 2010

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She loooves you, she wants to cloooothe you.
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Faster-paced combat.
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Festivals are still alive and kickin'.
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So manly!
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Kimberley Wallace
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Kimberley Wallace

Slated for a Q4 release, Rune Factory 3: A Fantasy Harvest Moon is offering fans a completely new 40 - 60 hour long journey to partake in. It's safe to say that after two installments, it looks like the third time is going to be the charm for Neverland. With this newest title, the character you play as is half-human and half-monster. This extends onto the battlefield as you can transform in battle into your monster form. With your dual forms, however, comes a burden of responsibility: the role of peacemaker. There are two towns in Rune Factory 3, a monster town and a human town. Both towns stopped talking to each other years ago and it's your job to get them back on speaking terms.

While you strive for a peaceful resolution, you'll be exploring four main dungeons along with one big bad ass final dungeon. Combat plays similar to the past titles, mainly the game is still sticking with its Action-RPG roots. However, Neverland has taken the time to improve all aspects of battle by making it faster and more fulid, even while you can choose new weapons. One new weapon to take note of is the dual swords, where you can focus on purely bringing offense to the table. Needless to say, I wasn't surprised when Natsume dubbed the combat the best in this entry of the series. Some other parts of combat are of note, such as that if you befriend people in the village, you can take them into battle with you. Not only will this raise your skill levels, but will also increase your friendship level with the character you choose to bring into battle with you. Also, all characters that you can befriend have their own special skills and assets for battle. You'll really have to strategize who is worth bringing along for battle and which characters would just hinder your progress. It's important to remember all NPCs have their own level and attacks for battle. NPCs aren't the only battle companions that can join you, you can also plant magic seeds. These seeds will grow little monsters to fight with you. For example, you can plant a magic seed and grow a pumpkin who will turn into a monsterous pumpkin ready to fight and take names.

Another great part of Rune Factory 3 is that it appears that Neverland really listened to fans and tried to improve on as much as they could. Everything moves faster, from stacking items to picking your crops, so no longer are you wasting any time doing the most simple tasks. There's also no longer any slowdown when you battle multiple enemies. Monsters will even drop items for you more frequently. Fishing also has become much less of a burden. When you are sitting there waiting for a fish, now you can see the fish coming toward you so you know where the best place is to cast your line.

All the other staples of past Rune Factory games are still intact: there's a request board, but this time around you have an owl you have to seek out for requests. Additionally, your mailbox is still there for you to receive messages from others characters. The dating sim aspects are also still alive and kicking. According to Natsume, Neverland really pushed the enevelope in this installment and created some wonderful, wacky, and quirky characters. Let's just say there's bound to be a potential partner for even the most selective player in the mix. Not to mention, for the first time ever there's real-time weather changes, so just because its not raining when you wake up doesn't mean you're in for fun in the sun the whole day. It does add some realism to the game.

However, the most impressive trait about Rune Factory 3 has to be that the series is finally taking advantage of wireless play. You can battle with your friends in randomly generated dungeons in local wireless play. These dungeons are also geared more toward the hardcore players, who put a lot of time into the game, since you need to be at a really high level to beat these generated dungeons. The game also will let you connect over Wi-Fi to trade items with other players. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to Rune Factory 3's Q4 release, it seems to have improved on many aspects of past entries in the series along with adding enough new and unique aspects to make it a must play for Rune Factory fans and those newcomers who are looking to play what appears to be turning out to be the best in the series.


© 2010 Neverland, Natsume. All Rights Reserved

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