Friday, September 14, 2007

Idealism in Harvest Moon

The unwavering idealism that underlies all Harvest Moon games never fails to touch my heart and soul deeply. Rune Factory demonstrated this beautifully in the 'Grand Finale' to the main quest.

Warning: Do not read this post if you wish to be surprised by the 'end' of the game.

Your character, a young man with amnesia, proves his worth, his valour and his essential compassion both for human beings and other species by taming monsters rather than killing them and ultimately refusing to use his weapon against his
arch-enemy because any weapon of his could kill a human being.

He then faces the entire mechanised Sechs Army in order to protect the town of Kardia although he believes the cause is lost, as the Sechs Army has mustered a hundred tanks against the small village of Kardia.

The great Dragon God, Terrable has been awakened by the machinations of the Sechs Empire in the hope that he could be used as a super-weapon against their enemies. Instead, Terrable confronts the army of tanks and breathes his 'fire' upon them.

What occurs then? Rather than being incinerated, the tanks are surrounded by plants!
The leader of the Sechs Army orders his soldiers to burn the plants in order to free the tanks but the soldiers respond that this would destroy the tanks themselves, as the tanks are completely entangled in the vegetation.

The 'great' Sechs Army then is forced to WALK back home, to the ridicule of the people of Kardia!

Throughout the game, characters remark upon the need to live in harmony with the earth and the importance of being aware and respectful of the power of Nature.

Rune Factory is great fun. The philosophical messages are delivered with gentle humour and yet, the game always remains true to the essential principles of Harvest Moon.

One aspect of Harvest Moon games that may be less than welcome to the more 'puritanical' Western players is the position that alcohol occupies in traditional Japanese culture and therefore in Harvest Moon as well. In every Harvest Moon game, there is at least one character who constantly extols the virtues of alcohol and Rune Factory has quite a few! There even is a peripheral quest that is centred on a bottle of rare wine named Rollabouti. Harvest Moon games usually include one girl who can outdrink the men in drinking contests.

When English editions of a couple of Harvest Moon games attempted to 'convert' alcohol to 'Milk', the results were rather absurd. Conversations warning against the strong properties of 'Milk' or telling children that they were not old enough to drink the stuff were rather bizarre, to say the least. Fortunately, Rune Factory in its English version has remained true to the original Japanese in this respect.

Like most Harvest Moon games, the game itself does not end with the credits. In fact, 'winning' the game usually merely unlocks new options. A devoted Harvest Moon player never needs to regret the act of completing the main quest as there always are more quests to discover and complete...

Note: For players of Rune Factory who have requested detailed 'maps' of the dungeons, I have created a 'Bestiary and Cave Guide' now that gives step by step descriptions of each cave and the locations of each Monster generator in the caves of Kardia.

No comments: