I recall the first time I saw my former roommate playing a Harvest Moon game and it baffled me. Why would anyone on earth want to play a game that simulated farming? Then I found out that farming was only one part of the overall game and that relationships with between you and those in the community were also, if not more so, vital elements to the game. At that point I tuned out completely because the appeal of such an obviously niche game failed to compute for me.

Several years later I tried them out and finally understood the appeal.

Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon takes the existing formula of a farmer who must buy seeds then till his farm based on the four seasons while engaging in dialog and romance with the local villagers and turns it on its head. Now players take up their hoes as an amnesiac former soldier named Raguna, who has a knack for working the land. But in this game he can learn spells, must explore dungeons, and fight off, or even befriend, a slew of monsters.

The graphics scream out “old school” and feel like you

The music is very enjoyable, if a tad repetitive, throughout Rune Factory and each dungeons has its own theme. Since each dungeon represents one of the four seasons, the music reflects this. The winter dungeon comes up just short of outright mournful while the spring dungeon is up tempo and energetic.

Since the game is on the DS, there isn

The controls are very well done for this game. Holding down the L button while hitting A will sort through items in your inventory, and hitting the B button will sort through equipment such as swords, hoes, and the like. If you want to flip through the available spells, hit the X button while holding down L. The A button is your primary button the rest of the time because this is what initiates conversations, how you pick up or throw away objects, give an item to someone in front of you or place an item in a container in front of you. The B button controls tools and equipment, and the X button casts spells or puts items in your backpack after you pick them up.

The menu is well laid out and organized, but it may throw you at first. There is a lot of information in this game, not only about Raguna but also about the game world and the items in it. For example, all seeds have levels and if you buy a bag of fertilizer from the doctor you need to know how to use it. There is no obvious way to tell you have successfully fertilized a patch of seeded earth because when you drop the bag onto the seeds it looks like you just threw the bag away. But when the crop sprouts that item will appear in your menu with full stats complete with what level it is.

Everything in the game is like this, so if you are in to excessive amounts of information on which monsters are in your house or how much wood you have, this is the game for you.

The game play of Rune Factory is stellar, but you have to be in the right mood for it. The game is slow, despite the combat you

This game has plenty for every one and is the perfect thing to bring with you on long trips, or to just play on a weekend when you