While attending E3, I spent quite a bit of time at Natsume’s booth. Partially, because I really like Natsume as a company, and partially because Natsume had four great DS games that were playable on the show floor. One of them happened to be Rune Factory 3, the latest entry in a series, which combines the farming and relationship building aspects of Harvest Moon with dungeon crawling goodness.
The Rune Factory 3 demo available was pretty much a full game, where I could jump in and control the hero right away. In a way, I think I’d have preferred if Natsume had done like Square Enix did with Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light, and given a bite-sized demo to play. Mainly because with a game like Rune Factory 3, it’s hard to just pick up and start playing where someone else left off – you have no idea what they’d done.
Thankfully, one of the Natsume representatives was around to help me pick up an earlier save file. (Though, other demo testers had saved over the prepared slots.) There are once again two save slots in the game, which is about average for a Rune Factory title.
Prince, the name Natsume gave to the main character, then showed up in his own bed at his tree home. As mentioned in the preliminary game information, Prince lives in a tree, and has all of his planting areas around the tree, underground. After tapping the appropriate icons on the touch screen to check his inventory, and finding no seeds, I decided to step outside and see if there was anything to water.
Apparently, other demo players decided to focus on fighting, not farming. I figured I may as well do the same, since I didn’t want to hog Rune Factory 3. I asked the Natsume representative where an easier dungeon was, since Prince was only at level five, and was directed to go to the bottom right.
After entering the first dungeon, I noticed a few familiar enemy faces. The apple-shaped enemies and woolys were there once again, begging to be attacked. After wiping them out, I grabbed a few items from a field patch above me (a bamboo shoot and medicinal herb), then headed towards the left.
And saw Prince succumb to a wooly. Oh the shame.
Prince then awoke in an inn, being tended by the innkeeper. After that, I was told to head home and rest, to give Prince time to recover.
I had hoped to start up again after he awoke from his sleep, but there was a bit of a line so I contented myself to talk to the Natsume rep a bit more about Rune Factory 3.
What I found most interesting is that Prince could ask other townsfolk to join him in battle as partners. They would then fight alongside him and assist him in battle. I didn’t get to test this out firsthand (and neither did the two friends who visited Natsume’s booth with me), but it sounds like an interesting way to make dungeon crawling a bit more comfortable.
I also learned that the hero’s Wooly transformation is good for more than just finding out information the townsfolk might not willingly offer up to the hero. There is a war going on in Rune Factory 3 between the humans and monsters, and the hero, with his special transforming gift, may be able to help bridge the gap.
We’ll see if he can when Rune Factory 3 make its North American at the end of 2010.