Gamertell Review: Rune Factory Frontier for Wii

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Rune Factory Frontier box

Title: Rune Factory Frontier
Price: $49.99
System(s): Wii
Release Date: March 17, 2009
Publisher (Developer): XSEED/Marvelous Entertainment USA (Neverland Co.)
ESRB Rating: “Everyone 10+” for Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes and Use of Alcohol
Pros: Looks gorgeous, dungeon crawling is entertaining, lots of characters to interact with (and have Raguna marry), lots of skills for Raguna to learn, decent amount of monsters to tame and a great story.
Cons: It can be difficult to know what to do to advance the story. People have to spend substantial amounts of time both farming and dungeon crawling to advance the story, which could discourage people who want to only farm or dungeon crawl. Runeys makes the farming portion of the game incredibly complicated complicated.
Overall Score: Two thumbs up, 90/100, A-, * * * * out of 5

The Rune Factory series began as a handheld franchise, and has done particularly well there. There’ve been three DS entries, and the first two have received stateside releases thanks to Natsume. (The third comes out in Japan in October, 2009.) The series itself is an offshoot of the popular Harvest Moon series, and the first game was created for the 10th anniversary of that series. The series now makes its console debut with Rune Factory Frontier.

Rune Factory Frontier

Raguna picks up his watering can and sword to farm and fight once more.

Rune Factory Frontier is a direct sequel to the original Rune Factory DS game. Thankfully, you don’t need to know too much about the first game to enjoy the second. All you really need to know is this – in the DS game Raguna was an amnesiatic who came to the town of Kardia in a near-death state. Mist found him and helped him recuperate.

Rune Factory Frontier begins with Raguna searching for Mist. She just up and left Kardia one day, without saying goodbye. Raguna wants to find her, make sure she’s okay and bring her back home, since everyone is worried about her. He stops in the town of Trampoli on the way, and rests in the church there. When he wakes in the morning, he’s surprised to see Mist. Apparently someone’s been calling her to the town of Trampoli in her dreams, and she thinks it has something to do with a whale-shaped floating island above the town. She convinces Raguna to move to the town as well and help uncover the mysteries of the floating island.

Rune Factory Frontier

A delightful and perfect combination of farming sim, life sim and dungeon crawler.

The most striking part of Rune Factory Frontier is the depth of the game. It looks gorgeous and there is plenty to see throughout Trampoli. There are plenty of activities to keep players busy, and since everything has this majestic, fairytale appearance, its a delight to explore everything. Animated sequences are peppered throughout the game, and at times it feels more cohesive than the DS entries. Simulation and RPG fans alike will enjoy Rune Factory Frontier because of all the activities and options available.

One of its few faults is the fact that Rune Factory Frontier does no hand-holding. Read the instruction manual, as the game isn’t going to tell you how to perform tasks. Might as well check online and find a guide too, because it isn’t going to give you any hints as to what must be done to advance the story. People who’ve played Rune Factory, or perhaps even Harvest Moon, before will understand what they’re supposed to be doing, but newcomers will have no clue.

The second fault comes from Rune Factory Frontier‘s new concept – Runeys. Runeys are little spirits that inhabit areas of Trampoli and keep the balance of nature and prosperity. The probably is you have to keep these Runeys in equal proportions around the town, otherwise they could go extinct and your crops will take an eternity to grow. There’s a Runey food chain as well. Water Runeys eat Rock Runeys, Rock Runeys eat Tree Runeys and Tree Runeys eat Grass Runeys. So a lot of your incredibly valuable time, which would be better farming, dungeon crawling, fishing, talking to villagers and so on, is wasted trying to keep the Runeys balanced. The worst part is, even if you think you’ve got a perfect balance, the Runey status still somehow seems to be based on luck.

Rune Factory Frontier

A wonderful game for people who enjoy genre-breaking games.

Despite the troublesome Runeys and the fact that players are left with little to know direction, Rune Factory Frontier is a wonderful Wii-exclusive RPG. It combines life sim, farming and dungeon crawling elements into a single massive and alluring game. Players may experience some initial frustrations, but once they develop a schedule for Raguna and decide what goals they want to achieve, they’ll find themselves captivated by this title.

Site [Rune Factory Frontier]

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