I declare Rune Factory 4 “finished”. It was killing my buzz

I haven’t gone anywhere, I haven’t been playing anything other than Rune Factory 4, just trying to unlock that elusive final event. No dice. The event isn’t unlocking and RF4 is blocking the way so I can’t start something else. Putting story-critical events on a random trigger was a terrible, terrible idea. I’ve been playing RPGs for decades and I don’t think I’ve ever encountered anything quite so motivation-sapping before. Especially in an otherwise excellent game.

In a bad game I would have quit without a second thought, but here I keep playing and playing and playing… I can’t even enjoy the events I do trigger because I’m waiting for “the one,” it’s so sad. What’s worse is I’ve had a good run of games going since the start of the year, playing everything smartish and sharpish, and now it feels like I’ve been bogged down in mire for the past three weeks. But enough, this ends here.

No reviewish type writings for Rune Factory 4 this time. For one thing, despite the title, I don’t really consider myself finished. I haven’t beaten the final dungeon and I haven’t forged, fished or cooked enough to be satisfied with stopping here. Yet stop here I must, before I lose all motivation to play anything else.

And because I’m not satisfied with the way the last few hours have played out, I don’t think I can write anything fair or objective about RF4, nor do I even want to attempt to do so… nor am I known for my fairness and objectivity in the first place, come to think of it… Anyway, I can’t be bothered. I just want to play some other stuff for a while and maybe come back to this later.

Next up… I don’t even want to play anything any more… Wahh… Umm, on the 3DS I still have Legend of Legacy and Dragon Quest VII to play. And some other stuff on the DS and PSP and PS2. I’ll pick something and start, maybe tomorrow. Wahhh…

Update: Of course, a few hours after I posted this, the “Memories” event finally triggered. Tip to anyone having trouble unlocking Rune Prana, just whine about it on your blog and the game will see the error of its ways. ;-p Alternatively you can raise Dylas & Amber’s affections to 7, stick them in your party and sleep day after day after day until they get tired of watching you snore and run off to the flower shop. Then you can tail them secretly and eavesdrop on their conversation to set the event in motion. At last. I’m not even happy, but I’ll take it.

Rune Factory 4 – Finished the second arc (spoilers)

Rune Factory 4 is divided into three arcs. Every time you finish one arc,  you fight a boss, the credits roll, music plays and you’re deposited back in town to enjoy the love and adulation of your fellow villagers until the next crisis arises.

There was clearly unfinished business left at the end of the first arc, but the second arc is a full, complete experience. I don’t know if I want to keep playing after this or just call it a day while I’m still feeling good. Help yourself to some spoilers while I figure things out:

It turns out the “last” boss was some random old dude named Ethelberd who just wanted to be a dragon. Yeah, we all have our fantasies, but that didn’t work out too well for those who tried it in 7th Dragon 2020. Just FYI. And it didn’t work out too well for Ethelberd either, I made sure of that.

When I finally cornered him and started asking questions, he went on and on about how much he hated Frey and how badly he wanted to be immortal, blah blah blah. Apparently he had a grudge against Frey and other “Earthmates” like her because they defeated him a long time ago…? Eh? Is this about the time I foiled the Sechs invasion attack back in Rune Factory 1? I’m sorry, I’ve killed so many. For me, it was Tuesday.

NO U

Still, he wasn’t about to back down, so I had to do what I had to do. You’d think one ass-whooping would be enough for a lifetime, but you know how greedy some people are. Don’t worry Ethel-baby, Auntie will take good care of you. Come over here for a sec… *POW!* *SMACK!* *KA-POW!* And then Ethelberd was a Runey.

Aaaah, that was fun, I thought. 55 hours is a nice good length. What should I play next? Eh? There’s more? You want me to go save Ventuswill? Eh? But you don’t want to trigger the arc that will let me save her? Eh? You want me to keep playing forever until it maybe triggers by itself? Ehhhhh?

So as I said at the start, I don’t know if I want to do that. I don’t know if I want to keep dating Arthur and get married either. I was thinking of playing through till the end of winter to get the full year experience, but now I dunno about that either. I turned the portraits and voices back on and that really helps with getting to know the characters but it’s not enough to make me want to keep going. The guys are still pretty boring. The only ones I kinda wanna date are Volkanon and Porcoline and whaddya know, they’re not available. That’s ageism and sizeism, Japan. They’re not old and fat, they’re “mature” and “full-bodied”!

Porcoline especially is just a cutie-pie, he makes me laugh so much. ^_^ He has great chemistry with Frey and he’s always “jokingly” asking her out. His advances are always treated as repulsive, but why don’t you let me decide that for a change? I mean, look at the size of the rings on those fingers! He has a huge house and a thriving business and he makes a mean omelette to boot! What’s not to like? You want to me to date a bunch of freeloaders and high school kids instead? Haa…

As for Volkanon I don’t have any special feelings for him. I just want to see him blush >:-D And hear his confession :DDDD And to see him in a wedding tuxedo XDDDD And that’s all there is to it. It’s not because I’m closer to his age than to any of the younger guys or anything like that. Anyone who suggests such a thing will be shot.

Okay, I’ve decided. I’ll play RF4 till the end of the first year or until the end of the third arc, whichever one comes first. Don’t get me wrong, this game is still all kinds of fun, but there are other games I want to play as well. I can’t spend all April waiting for an event that might never trigger. I’ll google around about the last arc and work on marrying Arthur (meh) for the next couple of hours and see what turns up. See you next time for the final rundown!

Paradise Bay – Sun, Sea and an Endless Stream of Quests

I won’t have any Rune Factory 4 updates for a while, so I thought I’d fill the gap by talking about some of the casual games I kill time with here and there. I may be a filthy casual, but I’m still an avid gamer so I play not one, not two but six casual games to pass the time. In no particular order:

Rakuen Seikatsu Hitsuji Mura (now mostly dropped but I still log in occasionally)
Ring ☆ Dream
Candy Crush Soda Saga
Scrubby Dubby Saga
Blossom Blast Saga
Paradise Bay (the subject of today’s post)

Paradise Bay comes from King, developers of Candy Crush and all the other ‘Saga’ games you see in the list above. Unlike the others it is not a puzzle game. It’s more like… maybe Harvest Moon meets Animal Crossing? Or Anno but a very very dumbed down version? It’s a slice of life game where you fish and farm and craft items to trade through quests so you can get money and EXP to unlock new island areas and recipes and production mills.

In between all that you do events and develop relationships with the islanders by crafting even more items and doing even more quests. That’s the second best part of the game for me. The best part is the laid back low-pressure beach atmosphere. I loved the seafaring aspect of Anno 1404, it always seemed so watery and beachy and seagully and stuff, but there was time pressure and danger and a life-or-death aspect to it that stressed me out a bit. It’s comforting to know that no matter how many weeks I keep Finn waiting for his raft and grilled fish he’s not going to devolve into a peasant and start burning down my settlement.

But as I said, second best part, building relationships. I didn’t expect to like the cast as much as I do now, but they’re all kinds of fun. In a very laid back snarky-but-they-really-love-each-other kind of way. The original cast of Keani, Finn, Wesley and Pike have the best interactions. Finn as the lovable scamp, Pike as the lovable grump, Wesley the voice of reason who is not so above it all, Keani the voice of reason who is above it all but who manages to seem friendly and relateable anyway because she doesn’t nag too much.

That’s why I made the comparison to Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing, not just because of the farming and fishing but because a large part of the fun comes from hanging out with the characters. Without the cast, Paradise Bay would be just… blargh, not worth playing. You don’t actually talk to people as much as the promotional blurbs would have you believe, but there’s an ongoing story (of sorts) and each character has an ongoing character arc you reveal by grinding their affection up.

Best part is, it’s… uh, third best part is, it’s all 100% at your own pace. It really is paradisaical, nothing bad ever happens to anything or anyone. I don’t even log that often, maybe two or three times a day unless I’m doing the occasional timed dive. I’ve never been penalized for that. No bad weather, no withering crops, no dead pets, no angry guilt-tripping neighbors (Animal Crossing, don’t look at me, I haven’t mentioned your name) or weed-ridden town, nothing like that. There’s no stamina or HP system either, so you just play as and when the mood strikes you. Perfect casual fare for casual scum like me.

This is where I would normally post screenshots of my farm and show you guys around but… I can’t figure out how to take screenshots on my tablet. -_-;; I’m supposed to hold down the volume key and the home button at the same time… nope, no good. It sends me back to the home screen. You’ll have to settle for official Paradise Bay promo images instead. Official promo images like the one on the right where Keani’s skin is a few shades lighter than it actually is in the game. I’ll figure screenshots out and prove it one of these days.

In the meantime, no game in perfect, so time for the flaws:

Flaw 1: You can’t play it offline.
Flaw 2: Every time you leave Paradise Bay and come back you have to load the game from scratch and it takes anything from 30 seconds to 30 minutes depending on your connection and on whether there’s a new update or not.
Flaw 3: Updates are not optional. You have to install them before you can keep playing. I understand the reasoning but some of them take so long to download, it’s quite annoying.
Flaw 4: A lot of thing in the game are either very expensive or take a very long time to do. For example a well-paying quest will give you about 1000 gold as a reward. The most expensive item you can sell nets about 1600 gold. I’m at the stage where I need 100,000+ to buy new mills and clear new areas, so you can imagine how long this is going to take. The “solution” as you may have guessed, is to pay money for purple crystals to bypass such inconvenient requirements.
Flaw 5: The island is a bit oddly shaped so it’s hard to get your farm looking all neat and tidy like you want to it to be.
Flaw 6: You have to use Facebook to add friends. You can’t pay me enough to use Facebook again (though if you insist on trying…). There’s a non-Facebook ‘friend’ option, but that’s more like glorified stalking where you stake out their stores and visit their islands without them ever knowing about it. Kinda creepy tbh.
Flaw 7: There isn’t really much to do outside of quests, crafting and deforesting a small island. Occasional events are a breath of fresh air but they still involve more crafting and questing. At the same time I don’t want them to add so much stuff that the game feels “busy” so I guess it’s okay as it is.
Flaw 8: Needs more story. I’ve caught up with the story so far and it takes too long to raise character affection these days. Maybe they should do some story-heavy events to pass the time.

Aaand that’s about it for Paradise Bay. I’ve been playing it since early December, I think? Couple of months. And unless they mess up somehow I’ll be playing it casually for months to come. I’m a little worried they’ll take it down for non-profitability since it’s so easy to play for free but, eh, not my problem. Until then it’s more sun and surf and quest after quest after quest for me.

Rune Factory 4 – Slight progress (and slight spoilers)

I had played almost 14 hours of RF4 last time, now I’m around the 23 hour mark – or more like 30 hours if you take lost progress due to freezes into account. Rune Factory 4 is a slow-moving game so I won’t probably be doing too many updates on it. You’ll just have to take my word for it that I’m playing it and having a fairly good time. Some quick notes:

  • I figured out why the townspeople are so boring: it’s because I turned their portraits and voices off. It’s hard to get a hold of someone’s personality when you can’t see or hear them. They might as well be NPCs. At the same time, turning portraits and voices back on would greatly increase the number of freezes I incur so… uh… dunno, maybe I’ll risk it once I’m done with the story… only I’ll probably quit the game at that point… uh… yeah.
  • Rescued Dolce and Pico, now I’m doing the Rune Sphere quests. I already got the ones in Yokmir Forest and the Water Ruins and just entered the Autumn cave for the first time. According to the placard I should be level 30 and I’m actually level 40 so it’s fine. I just happen to have an Aqua Sword too. This should be a breeze.
  • I’ve been using mainly Short Swords, but I tried a spear recently and really liked it. The nice thing about spears is they keep the enemy away so you don’t take as much damage. I still pull out my sword for boss battles and new areas, but I’m going to try to forge more powerful spears and use them instead. I’ve sworded my way through most RF games anyway, it’s time I tried something new.
  • Summer time! Beach time! But there’s no beach so we go to the lake instead. IT’S JUST NOT THE SAME!! Plus I have portaits off, so I can’t see anyone in their swimwear anyway. I haven’t caught any new fish in a while either. My life is so… empty…
  • I’m not sure I like what they did with seasonal crops this time. It’s nice that you can grow things like sweet potatoes and spinach outside the usual fall season, but this makes new seasons far less exciting. Normally after a full season of growing turnips I’d be seriously looking forward to harvesting new crops in summer, but it’s just the same old things I’ve been growing since day one. It’s closer to real life, I’ll give them that, but from a gameplay perspective, farming is a drag. I can’t wait until my pets like me enough to take over the farm completely.

That’s about all I have to report for now. Unless anything super-exciting happens I’ll hold off on any further reports until I’m done with Rune Factory 4. This will take a while so don’t wait up for me.

Rune Factory 4 -Not fixed but much better

I don’t know how to check play time in Rune Factory 4, but I’ve played a lot more since I last posted about it. About 10, 15 hours more I estimate. It still freezes on me from time to time, but less often that it used to.

Freezing issue: I went into the game settings and disabled everything there: portraits, BGM, voices, sound effects, everything. Rune Factory without the BGM and sound effects is just so weird, it doesn’t feel right at all. But thanks to that I only get one or two freezes per day – real time 24 hour day, as opposed to several freezes per game day. I’m making real progress now.

Circle pad issues: RF4 lets you use the directional keypad to navigate so it’s not a big issue. Even though the keypad on the 3DS feels a lot stiffer and less responsive than the PSP and DS pads. As long as it works, right? The circle pad is actually much better though. It doesn’t stick in any particular direction any more, but it’s much happier going right than left and forget about running in a straight line.

Sticky Y button: Will you believe it actually fixed itself? It bugged me during Stella Glow (randomly undeploying and unequipping units, zooming in and out of maps), got worse during 7th Dragon III (pulling up the Field Skills menu all the time, taking people out of my party). At one point it got so bad I couldn’t run five steps without the Skills menu popping up.

I got so frustrated I… well I didn’t exactly bang on it, but I gave it a very firm, sharp press, like CUT IT OUT ALREADY! …And it did! I haven’t heard a peep out of it since! I haven’t dared touch it since, which means I can only map magic to X in RF4 and not Y but at least now I can play it without text randomly starting to fast forward. Too bad nobody says anything particularly interesting.

Current progress

I’m having a good time, though progress feels much slower than in previous RF games. You need a license for just about everything, then you have to unlock seeds and recipes in stores and then things are so expensive. But it’s a good thing compared to the first Rune Factory where you could be a multi-millionaire in just a few months.

I’m sure things will pick up once I’ve unlocked a few more seeds and fully-equipped my kitchen. At least forging and crafting are easier than before because you can use a fair number of substitutes AND failure rates are very low because of changes to the success/fail system.

And hopefully I’ll get bigger dungeons to explore too. Yokmir Forest and the Water Ruins are just too small! I just finished the Water Ruins, btw. The boss was so cheap, he pretended to be dying and then got up and attacked me again! That’s just not done. I gave him an extra-special beatdown just for that. I rescued the guy within who is kind of cute but an annoying jerk so I’m sticking to Arthur for life. Beside he has amnesia too. That’s my gimmick!

The festivals have all been fun so far, especially the defluffing festival. Fluff fluff fluffity fluff! I won handily with Dual Blades, and now I’m torn between sticking to Short Swords or switching to dual-wielding. Maybe when I have better armor and accessories to make up for the loss of the shield. Seeing all those numbers popping up all over the place is just too sweet. Fishing festival and bean toss festival were all nice in their own way. If I could get lures to attract fish faster I could really get into the fishing in this game.

The only real letdown in Rune Factory 4 has been the characters. Yes, they’re all nice decent people, and they have a lot of different things to say every day, which is great but ehh… they’re so… bland. So… boring. Just, zZzZz… you know? What a bunch of milquetoasts. Marvelous was probably trying to dial things back after going overboard on the crazy in Rune Factory 3, but now they’ve made a bunch of identical bores. I usually go wild at the start of RFs giving everyone presents and trying to learn about them but this time I’m not going to bother.

Also Ventuswill is doing that stupid “I know what’s going on but I’m not gonna tell you because then the game would end after 2 hours” nonsense I hate so much in RPGs. Booooo, hisssss. I make sure to fire a few fireballs in her general direction every time I go in there. It’s not like Rune Factory games ever have fantastic stories anyway, just tell me already!

Aynywayz, a luta continua. I’m on standby until the next bit of story unlocks/doesn’t unlock. In the meantime I’m doing quests and buying tools and growing crops and all the other stuff people play RF for. See you with another update in the near future.