Rune Factory Frontier: My Life as a Blacksmith

By Ishaan . May 3, 2009 . 10:01am

If there’s one noticeable improvement Neverland Co. made to Rune Factory Frontier, it’s the pacing. It isn’t very noticeable at first, and initially it even makes you feel like there’s less to do in Frontier than there was in the original, but it’s there and it’s for the better.

 

http://www.siliconera.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/rf_fish.jpg

Take the fishing rod from Rune Factory for instance. The first game gave you fishing rod early on. Once I had the rod, I quickly learnt that fishing was a fast and convenient way to make money. Farming and dungeon-crawling took a backseat to my fishing activities. I made a schedule for myself by which I would water all my plants by 10 AM, then fish until my Rune Points were deleted. Then, I would go to the bathhouse, recharge, dungeon-crawl till my RP was down to zero, and then fish some more until my HP was a few pixels short of dry. Same thing over and over, every single day.

 

It was an extremely tight schedule and one that I took seriously for about a year’s worth of in game time, until I finally managed to snap out of it and see what else the game had to offer. Unfortunately, I was used to spending most of my money on buying health potions and weapons, so I never quite spent as much time with the cooking or forging elements of the game due to the lack of a kitchen and forge until much later.

 

Actually, I don’t think I got any cooking done at all.

 

Rune Factory Frontier, on the other hand, doesn’t give you the fishing rod early on. Or doesn’t make it easy to find because 20 hours into the game, I still don’t have one. And I’m actually kind of glad I don’t, because I have a forge, a kitchen, a full barn and lots of crops growing in the Green Ruins in its place. Instead of spending all day fishing like I did in Rune Factory, I find myself tending to my crops, doing lots of cooking and dungeon-crawling, and forging new items all the time to upgrade my stats.

 

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This past weekend, I crafted a straw hat, a neat-looking bracelet and a staff with fire magic. I think I’m going to play the magic route this time, instead of focusing more on a melee setup. It really is a lot more fun being able to experience different aspects of the game.

 

And then there’s the size of Trampoli as compared to Kardia. There are less people to interact with in Trampoli and the village is smaller than the town from the first game. Again, initially, it feels like a bit of a cop-out, but as you get further into the game, you realize that this is very deliberate. Unlike in Rune Factory, I find myself making frequent visits to the library in Frontier to learn more about the game. The letter system also helps you further your relationships with the various townspeople and the holiday events are lots of fun to participate in.

 

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More people move into town as the game goes on and you start to discover more that you can do with them. The game doesn’t overwhelm you with a gigantic list of activities to pursue all at once. It introduces them to you the more you invest in the game. It’s a smart design choice because it makes for constant discovery.

 

Combat in Rune Factory Frontier has been improved, too. Since the game encourages you to forge new items, you’ll find yourself having a slightly easier time here than in the first game because your equipment will be better and you gain levels pretty quickly at the start of the game. Oh, and it’s nice being able to see changes in armour and equipment clearly reflected on Raguna.

 

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Monsters are better balanced, too. For example; the bugs in the first dungeon don’t take away a large chunk of your HP like the insects from RF1. The only complaint I have is that the camera doesn’t make it very easy to aim ranged attacks like fireballs. I once stepped into a dungeon and wasted more than half my Rune Points just mis-firing fireballs.

 

I’m having an absolute blast with Rune Factory Frontier. Emphasizing what I said in my previous feature, story is a bigger focus this time around and alongside the sense of discovery, it completely makes up for the non-portable nature of the game. RFF is extremely addicting and so hard to tear myself away from. My goals for this weekend are:

 

1. Upgrading my forge

 

2. Getting rid of all the tree stumps in my field

 

3. Crafting new armour to help me get through the Green Ruins


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  • lostinblue

    I imported this game expecting… well, expecting something good but hell… was I blown away.

    I hope XSEED is having good sales with this product because, in my book it’s the best Harvest Moon since Harvest Moon SNES (yeah, I now starting from frontier it’s not subtitled “a fantasy harvest moon” anymore, but it really feels as so)

    What a game, harvest moon is back; and god bless marvelous for actually getting the kind of support they should give the platform. I can only hope they have more of this after Arc Rise Fantasia, Muramasa (not XSEED anymore, but still Marvelous) are out.

    • Volcynika

      It’s really a fantastic game, but I’m not so sure about sales. It actually was an Amazon deal of the day barely a month after release for $30, but it also sold out before half the day was over, I think. Still, hope a lot of people take the opportunity to check this one out.

      • lostinblue

        Well, this is a niche game, and just like all Harvest Moon’s it doesn’t need to sell a lot to be successful. Hence why the harvest moon series can be considered successful and have so many instalments, I’m confident this is the same.

        The thing is… I’m really in awe with the game and I think it should sell a lot more regardless of doing according to projections or not. It’ll never get the response it should, just like Tales of Shin Megami games won’t sell in the Final Fantasy league… but they’re the better products to me.

        This game is awesome, go buy it people. A real gem.

        • Mazen

          Well am quite sure Harvest Moon Snes sold a million world wide 500K in the US alone, being nearly the last SNES game helped it,
          Harvest moon franchise is just huge, not niche at all, especially in Europe I remember reading in an interview that the first Rune Factory sold 600k in Europe alone this is earth shattering sales for a DS game not from Nintendo, also one of the Harvest Moons for Gamecube was the third most successful 3rd party games on the system after Sonic Adventure 2 and DX, yes it sold better than Resident Evil 4 on the Gamecube.

          • lostinblue

            By niche I meant not a million seller. On the SNES case I dunno, but I know the N64 and GC versions didn’t sell through the roof and if it’s any indicator… A wonderful life got ported to the PS2 and didn’t sell as well as on GC, a niche console in itself.

            Now… I’m not saying they sell badly, far from that, but they aren’t million sellers, just other’s aren’t but they sell well enough.

            It’s a question of semantics though, I don’t think we’re disagreeing here.

            Now, I can debunk the Rune Factory european sales though. It’s impossible that it moved such ammounts when the game only came out in february 2009 here. Nor did it do a big splash on the DS tops.

            Probably 600k in US and Japan instead, which isn’t bad at all.

        • Mazen

          Wow just checked this is the first time they release Rune Factory without the name Harvest Moon this will have effect on its sales I think, especially with the kind of people this will sell the most to (they may not know what this game is).

          • lostinblue

            I think what it needs is hype, hype and word of mouth. I for instance, hadn’t purchased Rune Factory on NDS (it’s on my shopping list now though) but jumped on this one without blinking. I mean, the effort and love going into this game is obvious, I couldn’t simply skip it.

            Plus I really like the engine, reminds me of Persona 3/4 engine with more color and better geometry, and pretty powerful in artistic direction too.

            And speaking of word of mouth; here’s the shameless plug:

            The game is awesome, if you’re reading and don’t have it go buy it NOW, you won’t be sorry, in fact the only thing you’ll be sorry for is why did you took so long to get it, it feels like classic harvest moon perfected, it’s better than loads of RPG’s out there who have more style than substance and it is without a doubt one of the best games available for the Wii and next gen platforms in general. it’s worth every penny.

          • Mazen

            Yes unfortunately I think that Rune Factory 1 number is a world wide number it was in an interview in Kikizo I think but I remember he noted that Harvest Moon best territory is Europe.

            I still wish they subtitled this one with a Harvest Moon subtitle like the other Rune Factories, now if this one sells worse than the DS versions they will blame the Wii or at least other people who compare this game sales with the DS ones will do, they will miss that Marvelous discarded the important name in this one, it seems Marvelous want to turn Rune Factory into a separate IP more story RPG based maybe.

          • lostinblue

            Well, it was meant to happen sooner or later, Marvelous wants to make Rune Factory it’s own IP. And I gotta say, I’m all for a more story heavy installment :p That and “if” they did a sequel and allowed to switch to 3D Zelda camera type (third person behind the back)… would rock. (not that what it has now is bad, and it is very hack and slash in feel, but I feel the option to do so would make the game more epic)

            Plus, like I said the way the engine works (even the way it uses transparency on objects) reminds me of a beefed up Persona 3/4 engine… I’d totally drool if Marvelous was using this engine for a similar game (not rune factory or harvest moon); speaking of story heavy. I really like this engine, hope they manage to keep using it even if outside the scope of it’s original purpose.

  • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

    One thing I didn’t mention is that the music is great. There are some recycled tracks from Rune Factory present but all the new tracks are very good. The Whale Island theme in particular is awesome!

    • lostinblue

      On that account… yeah, it’s very rhythmic and atmospheric… but I just hate the fanfare that plays when I go into the inn and some other houses. I can’t stand the stuff meant to be “silly music” these days and I feel they could have done so much better. But that’s really my only complaint in that area (usually I nitpick a lot more).

      Also on the sound front, shame for no dual audio, and if you turn down the voiceover sound suddenly the animated cutscenes cease to have voice overs… but they aren’t subtitled so that kinda clashes (silent videos with people talking). Of course, playing without vo’s is not playing the game as it should be played and it is a minor problem, but still.

      I hope XSEED manages to kick dual audio in on Arc Rise Fantasia (starts praying) and Fragile! (prays even harder)

  • DannyHibiki

    Just in case you did want the fishing rod, all you have to do is repeatedly talk to Cinnamon to have her hand it over.

  • Aimee

    Check out my site on more about Rune Factory Frontier (Wii)

    http://www.blogaboutit.blogs.experienceproject.com

    By the way.. you said you didnt have a fishing pole. Talk to Kanno that lives at the light house. He will tell you about his grandchildren. Then his grandchildren will come. Talk to Cinnamon when she fish’s in the homestead (Which is were your house is) until she gives you a fishing pole.

  • jessica tiell

    i’m married to melody. our daughter aria just turned 1 recently. uzuki has gotten word from her brother. there’s soooo much to do…i’m only 282 hours into the game, lol. i’ve ‘beaten’ the game twice (seen end credits and such).
    jessica (pookie)

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