By Jenni . December 8, 2008 . 12:02pm
The second half of Rune Factory 2’s storyline may seem a bit unbelievable, but provides much more challenge and story than the first generation provides. After the player steps into the shoes of the hero Kyle’s seven year old son or daughter, the opportunity to level up, explore the world’s storyline further and build new relationships presents itself.
Kyle leaves mysteriously, and so his wife and child are left alone. His son or daughter decides to take it upon his/herself to find out where he is and bring him home. This means exploring dungeons, building relationships with the townspeople and learning to make items at the school in order to successfully save the town, the land and possibly the world.
The whole plotline in generation two is unbelievable. After all, it is difficult to expect a seven year old being able to take down fearsome monsters, traverse all the areas around Alvarna and save the country – all while still visiting school and possibly finding a boyfriend or girlfriend. And yet, in this fairytale land and game, it works.
Personally, I was bothered more by the idea that Roy and Cammy could be eligible as a boyfriend/girlfriend for the new hero/heroine, rather than the age of the hero/heroine as they take on the dangers of the world. Roy and Cammy were the town’s two children in the first generation, so by the second generation they could be between the ages of 12-16. In fact, they “may” even be 17 or 18. And yet, these two older children joyfully and willingly interact with the seven year olds, and even are willing to date them. If they’re 12, it could happen, but the older I considered Roy and Cammy, the more it bothered me. Since there are so few children in Alvarna, I guess I could see the older kids hanging around with the younger ones. Dating them, however, still seems out of the question.
I also would have liked to have seen new character portraits for Roy and Cammy. Kids grow up quick, and it seems unlikely that those two characters would still look the same after seven years. Plus, Roy’s voice actor could have changed his voice to make it sound more mature (and thus made it less annoying). Its nitpicking, I know, but I couldn’t help noticing it.
As for the boyfriend/girlfriend system in general – its adorable. You build relationships with the children of the bachelorettes and rivals from the first generation. You can’t get married, but you can have a pretend wedding at the church with the girl or boy that likes the hero/heroine best. It would have been nice to see a new family or two move to town, so you’d have more people to interact with and more possible boyfriends or girlfriends, but three possibilities for each gender still works.
Much of what was said in the review of the first generation of Rune Factory 2 holds true for the second generation. The controls are improved over the original Rune Factory. The background music is wonderful, and the scenery is beautiful and changes with the seasons. Alicia is still one of the most useful NPCs. The message board quests still provide more motivation to play and make friends with the townsfolk. Sadly, most all of the annoying issues are also applicable. Voice acting doesn’t change from the first generation to the second, there is still a noticeable slowdown in crowded areas and some translation errors pop up. The “black outline aura” also still surrounds every character portrait.
There is a little hope, at least in the realm of voice acting. The voice actors for the next generation’s children, Leann, Orland, Sera, Serena and Leonel are all easy on the ears. After hearing voices like Jake’s and Roy’s, theirs are a joy.
The way school is handled is pretty ingenious as well. You can stop by during the day and talk to either Mana or Barrett, the two teachers. There, you can learn recipes for cooking, how to make medicine, how to make badges and how to forge. Once you build workshops and a dojo, you can begin making items and participate in monster battles.
It is awkward, how Sera and Serafina’s situation is handled. Roy and Rosalind’s daughters are twins, and inseparable. So, if you play as Kyle’s son, the two of them together are considered one girlfriend. Yes, its crazy and almost seems lazy. And yet, it’s somewhat realistic – the twins want to share everything, and since all the second generation children are seven, it doesn’t seem that unnatural to have them share a boyfriend. Things are going to get pretty complicated when they grow up though.
The best thing about the second generation is the challenge. The first generation felt like it was focused on farming and socializing with the townspeople. The second generation feels more like the original Rune Factory, where challenges from the dungeons and message board give you an actual incentive to dungeon crawl, improve your tools, talk to townspeople and develop your farm.
Rune Factory 2’s first generation was undeniably addictive, but the second generation is even better. It hooks you in with new quests and expanded dungeon paths and bosses that will make you want to play as often as you can, just so you can succeed and prove that a seven year old can save the town and have a huge effect on the world.
Images Courtesy of Natsume.