A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Rune Factory 3: A Fantasy Harvest Moon is an action role-playing game for the Nintendo DS. Players assume the role of Micah, a half-human/half-monster character who must unite two feuding towns and lead them against an opponent threatening to destroy them both. While combat plays a significant role in the game, it's quite benign, with enemies disappearing in flashes of light and/or puffs of smoke. The game balances the combat with a nearly equal focus on farming and social interaction. Players can spend hours planting and harvesting crops of plants that can help them (whether in battle or in making friends). A big part of the game's fun is to interact with the townspeople -- which can eventually lead to marriage and raising a family. Also, as players befriend townspeople, they will help in quests. The game does not feature online features, but up to three people can work together to conquer dungeons in local multiplayer.
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What's it about?
In RUNE FACTORY 3: A FANTASY HARVEST MOON, the people in the village of Sharance have been involved in a long, bitter conflict with the horned citizens of Univir. When Micah, a half-human/half-monster literally drops into Sharance, he has amnesia, but quickly learns that he will need to unite the two sides to stop an evil force threatening them both. Along the way, Micah will do a lot of farming (an important element in the game) and will interact with the citizens of Sharance, eventually marrying one and raising children with them. He'll also fight a number of monsters as he takes on quests that take him to various dungeons. (The quests are found at the "town request board"- where citizens post errands and missions they need help with.) The combat is real-time and moves quickly.
Is it any good?
The Rune Factory series is a hybrid game that appeals to a niche audience. It's one part farming, one part finding a mate and one part action. That's an odd combination and won't appeal to some people -- but those who enjoy this type of title, they will find plenty to like here. The game offers lots of customization and numerous things to do (including tilling crops, cooking, crafting, fishing, or just wandering the town to talk with people). The town is actually one of the most interesting aspects of the game, as every citizen seems to have a distinct personality and their own quirks. That's vastly different than many similar games, where non-player characters are more robotic. Combat is challenging -- characters move freely and in a very fluid method. It's anything but boring -- a common complaint in earlier entries in the series.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can discuss the relationships in the game. Why are the humans and monsters so mad with each other? Which character do you want to marry and why? Why do you think certain characters act as they do?
Families can also talk about how to manage the amount of time it takes to play a game like this one.
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