Friday, November 28, 2008

Rune Factory 2, the ultimate fantasy fulfillment!

When the original Rune Factory game was released for the DS, I was overwhelmed by its incredible beauty and the combination of classical RPG elements with traditional Harvest Moon activities. The plot was strong and the characters were interesting. Beyond that, however, the ability to forge weapons and make accessories was far more extraordinary to me than anything experienced in any other game. I love Cooking in any Harvest Moon game, but forging a weapon or creating an exquisite, powerful magical ring or pin is even more thrilling!

Rune Factory 2 is not merely a second Rune Factory. It actually spans two generations and each generation has its own unique game. There are new characters in the 2nd Generation and the ability to cook, forge and create potions is not available until you reach the 2nd generation. The characters are even more developed than those in the original Rune Factory. With over 420,000 words of text in Rune Factory 2, it is a complex interactive novel that rivals any printed fantasy epic!

The graphics continue to amaze and delight. In every season, there are unique special effects. In Spring, cherry blossoms float through the air throughout Alvarna. In Summer, fireflies glimmer in the fields in the evening. In Autumn, falling leaves of various rich hues accompany your character as he walks or runs through the village areas. In Winter, when snow falls, snowflakes in unique patterns and forms are displayed. Finally, on any Festival day, multi-coloured confetti rains down upon you wherever you go in Alvarna.

The landscapes are extraordinary in their delicate beauty. It is the most incredibly gorgeous game I ever played. Moreoever, with two full generations to span, it is a very long, complex game with the value of three or four games made by any one else.

In terms of the way it spans two generations, I am reminded most of Phantasy Star III, although there are significant differences. In Rune Factory 2, the characters are developed far more fully and the game has far more options than Phantasy Star III. On the other hand, the latter actually had a myriad of different characters for you to play depending on the individual you married previously. In Rune Factory 2, your child can be either a boy or a girl, but his/her character will not vary according to the woman you married. The two games cannot be compared in terms of the options that exist in Rune Factory 2, such as cooking, forging, mining, farming, ranching, fishing and so on... The only point of comparison is the fact that both games actually encompass different games for each generation of character.

For players of Harvest Moon who enjoy the rituals of Courtship, Rune Factory 2 offers a wide variety of eligible girls in the 1st Generation as well as unique 'Heart Events' in the form of Requests for each. There is romance in the 2nd Generation as well, but your character can focus more on this aspect in the first generation, when there are not as many enemies to defeat!

I would recommend Rune Factory 2 even above and beyond any other Harvest Moon game, although every Harvest Moon game offers a wealth of experience and detail to any player. Island of Happiness is another recent release that is perfectly amazing and deserves a review of its own. I would not declare that Rune Factory 2 is superior to Island of Happiness or Harvest Moon DS/Cute DS... for me personally, however, the option to forge an edged weapon is too wonderful for words and that is what may place Rune Factory 2 ultimately at the top of my list!