I'm going to take a quick break from the Harvest Moon game I am playing at the moment to write briefly about Rune Factory as I have been receiving quite a few emails from players who have asked about the game.
Quite frankly, it is one of my very favourite games, inside or outside the Harvest Moon series. I studied sabre fencing and collect edged weapons in 'real life' and to be able to play a game in the Harvest Moon series that allowed me to forge and use my own weapons afterwards was the ultimate fantasy fulfillment for me. Furthermore, as some one who loves jewelry and designed some custom pieces at one time, it was very exciting to be able to make accessories at my forge in Rune Factory.
Rune Factory has incredibly beautiful graphics. The characters are some of the most attractive I ever have encountered in terms of their 'portraits'. The plot is compelling and you actually have the opportunity to become the 'saviour' of your country... but ultimately, it all works within the framework of the wonderful Harvest Moon philosophy: it is Nature who comes to your aid! When you defeat monsters in the mines, you do not slay them. Instead, you send them back to their original pure natural state, one that is not hostile. In essence, your sword frees them.
If you wish, you can tame the monsters and keep them on your farm instead of releasing them back to their original world. There are varieties of monsters who give you eggs, milk and wool. Other varieties can be ridden. I really loved being able to ride a monster who looked and acted like a wolf.
My General Guide as well as my Bestiary and Caves Guide gives detailed information about all the monsters and their precise location as well as the method by which each cave is unlocked.
My General Guide deals with all aspects of the game, including courtship, but as usual, I wrote little specialised mini-guides as well. Links to all my guides can be found on the right side of this page...
In the general excitement about Cute (which I share completely), it is good to remember that there are OTHER magnificent Harvest Moon games out there, and Rune Factory is one that was made for the DS, my own platform of choice.
N.B. The DS platform appears to allow games from any part of the world. Players in Europe CAN purchase the U.S. Natsume version of any Harvest Moon game and play it successfully. I am adding this note because Rune Factory has not been yet released in any European edition...