Harvest Moon: Twin Villages

By now everyone must have heard about the latest upcoming Harvest Moon game for the Nintendo DS: Twin Villages. You can pick either the Westernized village of Bluebell or the Japanese-style village of Konohana to farm in, and what you get to do depends on where you choose to live. Bluebell is more about ranching, and you get to raise alpacas and other creatures, and keep an apiary too. Konohana is farming-oriented, so you can grow and process all kinds of crops. The mayors of both towns try to woo you and get you to come to their villages. Long ago the two villages were friends, but now they’re rivals. I bet anything the main objective of the game is to make them friends again through farming/ranching.

Anyway, I found shots and descriptions of the main characters on the official site, so I thought I’d post them here.

The Hero

According to the website he loves natures and has dreamed of living in a place with lots of greenery since he was a child. He moves to the villages in order to fulfill this dream. He’s a curious person who never gives up or backs down from a challenge.

The Heroine

Normally I like to pick the guy in Harvest Moon games, but this time I like the girl’s design and outfit better. I won’t even complain that it’s sexist that the guy is all “bold” and the girl is all “gentle” in this kind of game.

So far only 6 marriage candidates have been introduced, but I’m thinking there’ll be a total of 4 for each hero(ine). I’m all for reducing the number of candidates, so long as there’s an accompanying increase in things to do in the game. None of the HM games have been able to avoid getting boring after a year or two, but maybe HM:TV will be the first. I’m looking forward to it!!

Harvest Moon: Twin Villages comes out February 25th in Japan!

Rune Factory 3: Character introductions

rune factory 3 castSomewhere in my heart I’m not quite ready to let Rune Factory 3 go yet, though I am looking forward to the upcoming “Twin Villages“. So while there’s still lingering affection in my heart for this game, I thought I’d do a quick write-up of the villagers in the game (excluding the marriage candidates) and their likes and dislikes. If I still feel up to it later I’ll do the marriage candidates as well.


Head of the village. Monica and Shia’s grandfather. Dislikes monsters but is generally a good guy.

Birthday: Winter 19
Favorites: Dango (だんご), expensive flowers (高級な花), mago no te (まごの手).
Also likes: Japanese food, grilled fish, sashimi, ordinary flowers.
Hates: Jams, cakes.


Wells’ granddaughter, Shia’s little sister. Cries easily and has a penchant for biting. Dislikes anyone who takes Shia’s attention away from her.

Birthday: Spring 26
Favorites: Expensive flowers (高級な花), rings, arm rings and other accessories.
Also likes: Jewels, knit items, ordinary flowers.
Hates: Fish, sashimi (刺身), grilled fish.


Touna’s guardian/brother figure. Owns the weapon store. A quiet considerate guy who understands more than he usually lets on.

Birthday: Summer 12
Favorites: Curry udon (カレーうどん), gold (金), platina (プラチナ).
Also likes: Metal ore (including junk ore), udon dishes.
Hates: Sashimi (刺身).


Father of Chocola and Rusk. Runs the town restaurant. His cooking is so good travelers come from far away to try it. Likes chocolate so much he named his daughter after it. No, seriously.

Birthday: Fall 10
Favorites: Chocolate cake (チョコレートケーキ), hot chocolate (ホットチョコレート), chocolate cookies (チョコクッキー).
Also likes: Sweet snacks, honey (ハチミツ), chocolate (チョコレート).
Hates: Wine (お酒).


Gluten’s son, Chocola’s younger brother. A notoriously finicky eater who hates vegetables of all kinds but loves sweets.

Birthday: Spring 26
Favorites: Chocolate cake (チョコレートケーキ), hot chocolate (ホットチョコレート), chocolate cookies (チョコクッキー).
Also likes: Sweet snacks, honey (ハチミツ), chocolate (チョコレート).
Hates: Vegetables.


Marion’s wise grandma. A sensible old lady with a wealth of knowledge about magic and medicines. Will revive you if you pass out (for a healthy sum of money).

Birthday: Winter 11
Favorites: Relax tea leaves (リラックス茶の葉), relax tea (リラックスティー).
Also likes: Colored grasses.
Hates: Cheese (チーズ) and cheese dishes.


Karin’s hot but sharp-tongued mother. She’s openly critical of her daughter but really loves her and wants what’s best for her.

Birthday: Spring 8
Favorites: Diamonds (ダイヤモンド), diamond ring (ダイヤモンドの指輪), diamond brooch (ダイヤモンドブローチ).
Also likes: Vegetables, cakes
Hates: Desert fish (砂漠の魚) and desert fish dishes.

Don Charcos

What’s Rune Factory without a fat, food-loving rich guy? Don Charcos is Eliza and Sophia’s dad. Like Sophia he has a habit of saying the opposite of whatever he means.

Birthday: Summer 8
Favorites: Fried sand flounder (焼き砂ヒラメ), boiled rockfish (岩石魚の煮付け).
Also likes: All cooked food.
Hates: Ores.


Don Charcos’s daughter, Sophia’s older sister. A fashion designer with a very unique sense of fashion, Eliza also runs a store that sells home furniture and clothes. She’s got a very nice, mature personality, I really wish she was a marriage candidate.

Birthday: Spring 21
Favorites: High quality fur (上質の毛皮), ball of wool (毛糸玉).
Also likes: Sheep down (モコ綿), pretty spider silk (キレイなクモ糸), fish.
Hates: Mushrooms (きのこ).


Runs the local inn and bathhouse. Smiles a lot but is tougher than she looks.

Birthday: Winter 26
Favorites: All sashimi (刺身).
Also likes: Mushrooms (キノコ).
Hates: Fruits and fruit dishes.


Aion’s overprotective, overloving big brother. Has a sunny, thoughtless personality. Loves fishing and runs the fishing hole with his sister.

Birthday: Summer 3
Favorites: Shining tai (カガヤキタイ), tokimeki tai (トキメキタイ) and all tai (sea bream) dishes.
Also likes: Fish.
Hates: Bread (パン) and bread dishes.


One of the horned people. A bookish, knowledgeable guy who supports Cururufar from behind.

Birthday: Summer 30
Favorites: Premonition of love (恋の予感), gold juice (ゴールドジュース), rune staff (ルーンスタッフ), magic broom (魔法のほうき).
Also likes: All juices and staves.
Hates: Items dropped by monsters.


Hyperactive dwarf who lives in the monster village. Kinda cute, really.

Birthday: Fall 26
Favorites: Tempura udon (天ぷらうどん).
Also likes: All udon dishes.
Hates: Sweet dishes.

Rune Factory 3: Bad points (beware spoilers)

Phew, where do I begin? Because Rune Factory 3 is not a bad game at all, by any means, but there’s all these little and not-so-little things that made me wonder, why do it this way? Why do that? Why didn’t they do this instead? Anyway, let’s get down to the flaws, from major to minor.

1. Story: The story is whack. I don’t want to spoil, but they trotted out the same old same old “I have…amnesia!” story again. It was fun the first time. It was nostalgic the second time. Now it’s just old. But that’s not the worst part, the worst part is that you find out what your past is all about and it’s shallow, nearly-nonexistent and laaaaaame.

Okay fine, I’ll spoil it: [SPOILERS FOLLOW, avert gaze!]

[SPOILERS FOLLOW, avert gaze!]

[SPOILERS FOLLOW, avert gaze!]

See, there’s these monster creatures and they’re at odds with humans. Luckily enough, Mais is half monster so a powerful being wipes out his memory and tosses him into a village to try and make peace. This will somehow make some magical tree bloom and magically save the land from destruction. Gee.

Seems the monsters and the humans had a huge falling out years ago, and, like, nobody remembers what it was about but they’re all still mad anyway. Then Mais shows up and he’s like “Let’s have a party!!” (no, srsly) and then they have a party and everyone’s happy. So anyway that was the boss’s plan and somehow he knew you could do it even without your memories, and whoopee, it all worked out, congratulations! See? I told you it was whack.

2. Transformation: The woolly transformation gimmick…wait, let me explain that. Since you’re half-monster you can turn into a woolly using a magical belt…wait, what kind of sick woman would have a baby with a sheep?! Ewww!? And if you’re half-woolly, why do you need a belt to transform? The whole thing is silly and useless. It was marketed as a cool option where you could get the girls to tell you secret things they wouldn’t tell your human self, etc etc. Puh-lease, we should be so lucky. They just make throwaway comments about what a cute woolly you are, and it plays a role in a few of the (lamer) quests, but it doesn’t add anything to the game. If anything it takes away from it. And the big reveal, when the townsfolk find out the cuddly golden woolly and Mais are one and the same? They’re all like, meh, cool, whatever, so what. Whaaat? That’s it!? I just told you guys my ultimate secret on which the whoooole game hinges! React a little, dammit!

3. Recipes: The system for learning new recipes SUCKS. It suckssssss!!!! First you buy “bread” from a store – it doesn’t fill you up but it’s still called bread. Cooking recipe bread, pharmacy recipe bread, forgery recipe bread, accessory recipe bread. Fine. But after you waste your money on this bread, you’re not guaranteed to learn a recipe. Nope, it’s all about your current level in that skill. Not high enough? Tough cookies, you just spent 2000-5000 on empty air. See you tomorrow.

4. Rune Points: You know how in previous games, after you run out of Rune Points your skills/magic start using up your HP? And take it little by little? This time once you run out of Rune points, the very next move you make takes up HALF your HP. Next move you make, you pass out on the spot. I mean, eventually you learn your lesson and watch your RP like a hawk, but it’s an unreasonable and inconvenient system nonetheless, especially in the beginning before you get the hang of it.

5. Crop system: The soil in your garden has fertility levels. The more you grow something on the same spot, the lower the fertility gets. Lower fertility = greater chance of your crops dying. The theory is that you need to use fertilizers and practice crop rotation to keep optimum fertility. The theory is good. The practice is not. And that practice is, unless you pour buckets of fertilizer on your crops every round, they’re going to be dying left and right. Either you analyze every single square before you plant on it or you make fertilizers by the ton. Either way it’s tedious and unproductive. This is the second-fastest I’ve ever giving up on growing crops in a Harvest Moon game, next to Island of Happiness.

6. The dungeons are really small and simplistic. Maybe if I went back and compared the previous games I’d realize they aren’t so small, but I doubt it. The dungeons are small and boring, the enemy variety is very low (almost all recycled from previous games) and the bosses are all pushovers, including the final one. Get in, do whatever quests and errands it takes to get the boss to appear, fight the boss, move to next dungeon. Rinse, repeat. Oh, and try to stay awak….z…zzzz…

So there you have it, the minor and not so minor things that made Rune Factory 3 a bit of a disappointment for me. I think what bothered me most of all was the weakness of the story though. Everything else I could live with, but when you battle, forge and woo your way through a game for a silly denouement – lol you were carrying out my plan all along, enjoy the lack of a proper backstory or afterstory – I can’t help being a leeetle bit peeved. Maybe they rushed this one out a little too fast. Take your time with the next one, Marvelous, and remember: an RPG is nothing without a good story.

Peace out.

Rune Factory 3: Good points

I finished Rune Factory 3 a few days ago! Well by finished I mean I killed the weaksauce last boss and got married, but I didn’t grow every crop or make every item or have kids or anything like that. The storyline of RF3 was the shallowest of all three, but for today’s post I’m going to focus on the good stuff.

1. The girls are pretty cute. They also have very different personalities, some better than others. It’s a nice variety. For the record I like Touna best.

2. There’s a lot of forging, pharmacy and cooking to do. Each successive Rune Factory game has more and more things recipes to play with, which I think is wonderful. Unfortunately…well, we’ll get to the ‘unfortunately’s in the next post.

3. The battles are easy, but not too easy. You can’t just tap A mindlessly, but you won’t be seeing the Game Over screen often either.

4. All the game characters have differing schedules and a range of things they do from day to day. They won’t be standing at the same spot at the same time every day, though you can predict where they’ll be from time to time. It livens things up a lot.

5. Growing and leveling up crops is much easier and faster this time. You even get free seasonal seeds from the ground sometimes when you hoe, yay. Also fertilizers are cheap and easy to make in your workshop.

6. The animals on your farm are very helpful. This time even produce animals like woollies can help out on your farm, and they don’t just water. They’ll also clear the ground of weeds and debris and harvest your crops too. Nice!

7. You can find Runeys (or whatever they’re called) left behind occasionally when you harvest, and they’ll give you random stat ups. This makes leveling up even easier!

8. This is a big one: Items you carry can stack! Remember how in all the other Harvest Moon games you pick one turnip, put it in your rucksack, pick another turnip, put it in the sack? This time you can pick and hold 9 items in a row, pop pop pop, and then put them in the bag or the shipping bin together. You can even leave them on the ground and they’ll be neatly piled as one. Awesome!

9. As I said, you can put stuff on the ground and it won’t vanish. Not only won’t it vanish immediately, but it will stay on the ground for hours, or unless you leave more than 9 items lying around on the same screen. To the best of my knowledge only Grand Bazaar and Rune Factory 3 have that ability (haven’t played Rune Factory:Frontier yet). Double awesome!

10. Drop rates are way better in this game. Just about everything drops, and drops frequently from the monsters in the field, so there’s none of that killing 2000000 monsters just for a 1/90million chance drop. It was so bad in RF1, got better in RF2 and I think they’ve hit the right rates in RF3. Good show.

And other assorted little details. My next post will be on the not-so-fun parts of this game, but even if I get negative don’t let that discourage you. I still played and finished this game with glee, so it can’t be that bad, okay?

Playing so many games!

I haven’t posted in a while, have I? I’ve been busy actually playing the wealth of games that have come out recently: Dragon Quest 9, Saga 2, Love Plus (a disappointment), Mana Khemia 2, etc. I’m also looking forward to the new Ar Tonelico 3 just announced, and Rune Factory 3 is coming out next week, woo-hoo! So that’s why I haven’t been posting, though I’ll be getting round to writing up those things soon enough.

But first I want to migrate this blog to my own domain so I’m investigating hosting right now. I’m thinking of Bluehost or something, but we’ll see how it works out. Anyway, no new posts until I move, but look forward to the new domain! Ja ne!