Rune Factory 3’s Protagonist Design Goes Downhill

By Ishaan . July 1, 2009 . 7:42am


Rune Factory is probably one of my favourite games of all time. I loved the hell out of the first one and I’m still pouring as much time into Frontier as I can. Neverland Co. and Natsume seemed to have invested a lot into making sure the characters were varied and fun, and that is one of the reasons the original cast is so memorable.

Unfortunately, Rune Factory 2 didn’t quite grab me the way the first one did. Maybe it was because it wasn’t as much of an improvement as I hoped it would be. But certainly, the main reason was that I just couldn’t bring myself to spend more than a couple hours with Kyle, the ever-blushing shota protagonist of the sequel.

I think making sure that the character you play as appeals to as wide an audience of people as possible, visually, is important. Raguna looked and acted believable. He wasn’t OLD by any means, but he was old enough to be convincing as someone who would grow into an experienced farmer, get married and look after a family.

Kyle? Not so much.

And now, we have the protagonist of Rune Factory 3, revealed in this morning’s issue of Famitsu. Now, don’t get me wrong; I was…and still am perhaps…excited for this game. I don’t have anything against effeminate characters. I’ve played and loved enough Square Enix games, but this…this…manwoman…with his fringe (is that what it’s called?) and bangs and hairband is a bit too much.

This is the guy you’re supposed to be. Whatever the hell happened to preserving a sense of believability?

Oh, RF3 is about 80% complete and will release this year in Japan. This could be XSEED’s upcoming DS reveal, considering Frontier was published by them. The protagonist can transform into some sort of a…were-woolie. The main girl is very reminiscent of Mist and another one looks a little bit like a female Laharl.

I’m going to go sulk in bed now. I’d appreciate it if someone could tell me if I’m overreacting here. The only other time I can recall flipping out like this is when Nintendo made Retro Studios give Samus that horrendous anime makeover for Metroid Prime 2.

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  • Sulk away, I’ll join you. I’ve never been fond of overly masculine characters, but then again, overly effeminate isn’t that great either. I prefer just regular joe heroes. Can we nix the blonde haired, blue eyed guys already? We get enough of that in the latest batch of FF games anyways.

    • Yea, I’m getting a little tired of how western and eastern protags are extreme polar opposites of each other. On the one hand, you have the muscle-bound, deep-voiced, gun-toting jocks and on the other, you have the effeminate, often underaged bishies with silky smooth voices.

      Why can’t more protags be like Sumio Mondo? Or even Raguna for that matter. I love his design.

      • For some reason, when I look at Sumio, I keep thinking at some point in time he’s gonna just start spouting out, “Say hallo to mah little friend!”. XD

        • What the heck?! XD

          Btw, our Flower, Sun & Rain playtest is coming soon if you’re interested. I’m just about done with the game. :)

          • I think it’s the suit and the short cropped hair style.

            Oooh, sounds snazzy.

            Edit: For some reason, I was thinking of a different game. *slaps forehead* Now I remember what this one was!

          • Haha, what WERE you thinking of? Now I’m curious!

          • For some reason, I can’t reply to the last comment you put up… strange… ah well!

            The other game I was thinking of was FlOwer, that PS3 game where you’re petals and leaves floating on the wind.. all calm and relaxing…

            …and then I did a face palm because I realized you were talking about something completely different. X3

          • Ohhh, haha! Yea, FSR is the total opposite of that. Stressful, often infuriating (in a good way), has brilliant writing and loads of innuendo.

            I think the Reply thing has to do with us limiting the number of replies in a thread. It’s because they keep getting thinner and longer and that eventually breaks the rest of the comments. There are workarounds though, like what you just did.

          • Ah, the game does sound spiffy then (albeit maybe not so much the frustration-inducing part.. X3 ).

            At least it sounds like it’d picque my interest until they finally get to translating the second Layton game (which I must have!).

            *goes and sneaks past the disquus no-reply police*

          • zetagear

            i got lost here hehe hi kitn

  • doubletaco

    It’s like Tetsuya Nomura got a part time job at Natsume.


  • Gasshu

    You all do know Natsume had nothing to do with this, right?
    They only translated 1 and 2. With X-Seed & Marvelous entering the picture, I highly doubt Natsume will get the rights to 3, much like they didn’t with Frontier.

  • lostinblue

    hmmmmm… I want Rune Factory Wii 2.

    … with the original character design style

  • Serge73

    Wow, they’re really pumping out these Rune Factory games. I suppose it’s to be expected, they pump out the Harvest Moon titles too…

    I guess I’ll have lots to look forward to if I ever do get the chance to get into this series…

  • maxchain

    I… honestly didn’t even know it was a dude until I read this.

  • Stummies

    I’m with you completely, so if you’re overreacting, I am too. I love the Rune Factory series (yes, even RF2), and this is just… blech. I’ll still get the game whenever it gets here, no doubt, but this takes away a lot of the excitement. What a stupid-looking protagonist.

  • Lucky

    The upper part of his body looks like a loli. I’m fine with shota, but at least still make them look like guys. :

  • I don’t care for the character design, but I must admit that I am intrigued by the idea of a were-woolie.

  • Pichi

    Used to “trap” characters of looking like one gender but instead its the other. Doesn’t look too bad to me and I’m liking the art style and transformation stuff, so I’m looking forward to it.

  • He…vaguely reminds me of Sakura from Naruto. Same big forehead. Great, I can’t unsee that now.

    • Hahaha. Now I can’t unsee that either!

    • monnamaddie

      Omg he does! But I personally hate sakura’s guts and think hinata or temari could kill her ugly flat chested ass any day. Now i really hate the way this character is designed!

  • UFO

    Needs more belts.

  • Mr. Mee

    I too cried when i beat MP2 Echoes and saw the anime-ish redesign so I’m right there with you Ishaan.

  • M’iau M’iaut

    Yup thats one kinda pretty, not yet developed young girl.

    But it’s not like the precedent in the series hadn’t been set, several of the bachelors in both rune factory and harvest moon games were some hawt lookin chix.

    • Stummies

      This is true… but the difference is, this guy is the protagonist. You have to stare at him all the time and try to identify him. At least with the bachelors, if that’s not your cup of tea, you can ignore them throughout the game.

      • Stummies

        *identify WITH him. sorry

  • Abbandon

    I think its a pretty cool design except for the frilly vest. Take that out and he would look like a really cool character. The last two guys have been dark haired so I dont care if ONE guy is blonde.

    Anyways I cant wait for RF3!! 1-2 are freaking amazing. I just hope 3 has the same in-depth bad ass item creation system that 2 had!!

  • Diff

    I honestly don’t see what’s wrong with the protagonist.

    At least not in the face of the fact that Neverland hasn’t worked on a new IP since the first Rune Factory, hasn’t worked on one of their own IPs since 2003 (when they worked on the messy Lufia: Ruins of Lore), and hasn’t created their own IP since that same year (CIMA/Frontier Stories, which was planned as the first in a trilogy and essentially introduced all the game’s plot twists in the last ten minutes). Talk about being a shadow of your former self…

  • Kit-Kit

    I dunno, I really love his character design. Maybe I’m just so accustomed to shota that I don’t really care. XD;

    If anything, I hope he has a strong attitude. Being so cute and effeminate, and then having a bit of an attitude would just make me …. I dunno, something akin to cream my pants. XDDD

    Although it probably won’t happen, since he kinda has to have a mild personality to fit the player.

    I really liked Kyle. Raguna is awesome too, but Kyle just seemed better to me. He doesn’t look all that young to me.

  • monnamaddie

    COME ON! When i first saw the picture i seriously thought for once they’d make a girl’s version of rune factory! The storyline sounds great! But….COME ON! Is Raguna the only good character design they can do?! I mean he actually looks like an 18 year old boy. Kyle could be passed off as a kid. Now this one…..HE LOOKS LIKE A GIRL!

  • Avatar Chooser

    Why not let people design their own protagonist? A couple selectable changes is all that’s needed. Not like you need Saint’s Row 2’s level of customization for the game.

  • skitty say wut?

    I think I’m the only one that thinks that the protagonist looks nothing like a girl…

    sure he seems a little feminine, but he does not strike me as dickless at all.

    • Kit-Kit

      No you’re not, I feel the same way.

      He is feminine, I can’t deny that, but I definitely see him as a guy. Maybe it’s because of my long history in manga/anime that he doesn’t look like a girl to me, I dunno. *shrugs*

      I find him rather adorable. 8D

  • hailan

    Lets see you make a character that does everything you want hmm? Lets just see it cos You dont know how hard it is to make a character or a whole game and Btw Kyle is way WAY cuter than Raguna and He’s a sweety so suck it

  • Ragunette

    Yeah, he does look a letter girly…And I always thought Kyle only looked a few years older than his son…Raguna. Now RAGUNA was one hot dude…
    I want a girl verion of RUne Factory 2…TT_____TT (I wrote a letter, but I think they’ll just ignore it…)
    I really want to marry Barrett…And I would LOVE if they made a DS version of Rune Factory Frontier.

    And made it a girl version. Kross (or Cross) is hawt…8D

    • I’m surprised there isn’t a girl version of Rune Factory. Everyone from Capcom to Level-5 seem to be following the Pok√©mon formula, but Rune Factory is where it would make the most sense to have two separate versions of what is essentially the same game with a few alterations. I really hope Marvelous get on this with the next one.

  • myculong

    Haha, honestly my first thought was that he was a girl. Well with the hairband and funny vest. Anyone else think that those should’ve been removed?
    Age wise I think looks appropriate also anyone notice that Monica in the back is cannibalising Maisu? :D

  • MysteryGreenTea

    I don’t think theres anything wrong with the main character. ^^”
    He looks a little uke-ish but who cares. Hehe! xD

  • aycrin28

    Is there anywat to convince the game designers that there is reason that boys were made with more testorone and should therefore look like boys???

  • Dont worry, even with his gay look, he may be one of the most true man of most rpgs, since he gets to choose from too many girls and even gets to have like 3 childs max, so…. looks arent everything

  • xxbobbiie

    You’re kinda right about the protagonist of Rune Factory 3, I mean. It really does look like it’s a girl. When I first saw this picture, I thought: “Yeeh, finally a girlsversion (I’m a girl myself). But it appeared to be a guy XD. And about RF2, Kyle doesn’t look old indeed, but I still liked playing it though. It was my first RF game, actually. Played Rf after it, maybe that’s why ^^
    Still, I’m definitely gonna buy it when it’s out in english :)

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