Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cooking Tricks in Harvest Moon

My own introduction to Harvest Moon came rather late in the series in the form of Friends of Mineral Town, as the first gaming system I owned was the humble GBA. One of the great delights of playing FoMT was to be able to create new variations on Recipes and to work with the values of each Dish in terms of Restoring Stamina or Recovering from Fatigue.

In later Harvest Moon and Rune Factory games, the fundamental premises and mechanics of Cooking have had many different variations. In some cases, you must be 'taught' a specific Recipe either by being given or purchasing a Recipe Book or being told the Recipe by another character. In ToT, you could find new Recipes in the kitchens of other characters, displayed on the kitchen wall. Even in FoMT/MFoMT, you could learn special variations on Recipes from various townspeople, including actual cooking 'lessons' given by Anna and one special favourite given by various characters, including the Doctor and Carter.

In Island of Happiness, you 'learned' Recipes from the owners of the Diner and Cafe. Furthermore, each Recipe was triggered by the offering of a specific ingredient. The need to offer a specified ingredient before the Recipe would be given was an interesting variation.

In Rune Factory, Skill Levels in Cooking determine your ability to make a Dish successfully. Rune Factory Frontier offered a new element in making cooking interactive. You had to press a Button at a specific point on a gauge in order to make the dish successfully. One actually could improve the Dish by making it 'perfectly' or 'with expertise'

In some games, you must try to cook a Dish a number of times, even when you possess the Recipe, before you will be able to cook it successfully.

Whenever there is a possibility of adding optional ingredients to improve a Dish, you may be able to trick the game into believing that all Dishes made previously WITHOUT the optional ingredient have the value of the augmented Dish.

For example, if Pudding is made with Milk and Egg, you may be able to make 10 Puddings with Milk and Egg, then make an eleventh with Milk, Egg and an optional ingredient, such as Chocolate, then change the Recipe to make the ingredients in future Milk, Egg and Chocolate. It is possible that ALL Puddings in your Rucksack then will have the value of the new improved 'better' Recipe.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Site for Favourite Harvest Moon/Rune Factory Events

Still recovering from the events of the past few days, my energy is very low and I am not certain how many contributions I can make at the moment to the Harvest Moon/Rune Factory universe. I did, however, discover a site I had created some time ago yet never promoted (evidently) for Favourite Events in Harvest Moon (or Rune Factory.

Favourite Events in Harvest Moon

I had hoped that other fans of Harvest Moon or Rune Factory would submit their favourite Event from any Harvest Moon/Rune Factory game. Any one who wishes to do so should send the piece to me in the body of an email and I then will post it on the site.

A Note of Thanks

I would like to thank all the readers who expressed their concern for Beauty's little kittens, for those who sent their good wishes and those who prayed for the little ones. It is a tale, alas, without a happy ending for them, although I pray that Beauty is recovering fully. I established a very close bond with the two kittens and still find myself reaching towards the place where they rested in my pocket to see if they are warm enough. Even though the little girl exhibited more energy and interest initially, something must have been wrong internally with her as well. All the kittens were premature, although the two who were born live were fully formed externally, giving me hope that I could act as their surrogate mother.

I have neglected Rune Factory and Harvest Moon a little during the past few days, and only now resumed the Harvest Moon game on which I currently am working.

The irony is that I immediately experienced an Event in which I was offered my choice of kittens from two that were born of a large litter... I shut down the system without saving, simply because it reminded me of poor Beauty and her loss, but I have no doubt that I will enjoy the Event when I experience it again. Perhaps the Harvest Goddess is trying to ease my pain...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Foraging Tip for Harvest Moon and Rune Factory

I am playing a Harvest Moon game that is very similar to Island of Happiness and working on guides that will be available when the game is released. As in Island of Happiness, some items that are found in the Wilds are more common than others. In ANY Harvest Moon or Rune Factory game, however, you may note that there are specified 'drop' squares where items tend to appear. Keeping these squares CLEAR of any items will allow more items to appear. When the item is rather rare and is found only in a specific location, it can be vital to visit that location regularly if not daily in order to clear any other items from the spaces. Items such as stones and branches can be transformed into Materials for Building but even if you do not have time or a need to do that, pick up the stones and branches and stash them in your Rucksack. Doing so will clear all the potential 'drop' spaces, giving you a better chance of finding the rare item you seek on the following day.

This is true in Rune Factory as well as Harvest Moon. In any Rune Factory game, wild items can be found on tillable fields in the dungeons. Tillable squares can be cleared, ploughed and used to plant Crops but if you wish to continue to find wild coloured grasses as well as materials for building, you may wish to clear some fields in each Dungeon without tilling them. That way, you preserve a location for
branches and wild grasses to be 'dropped'.

In Rune Factory Frontier, Black and White Grass tend to be rare compared to wild grasses of other colours. They both can be found on your field randomly after a severe storm and throughout the Winter season. Set a tame Monster to the task of gathering them in order to collect as many as possible, and keep your field cleared of branches and stones in Winter in like fashion, with tame Monster labour. White Grass is an ingredient in Energy Drink X. It can be found in Urns in the Snow Ruins and in a Tower on the Floating Chamber of Whale Island randomly as well.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Update on Beauty and her Babies

I decided that the continuing saga of Beauty was better placed on the page devoted to my cats. If any one is interested in the latest developments:

Update on Beauty

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pocket Baby

I am posting here because one of the fundamental aspects of any Harvest Moon or Rune Factory game is caring for animals.

I am extremely sentimental about my pets and all my Animals whether in Harvest Moon, Rune Factory or the 'real world'. I can remember my horror when my first chicken died of old age in Friends of Mineral Town. I couldn't bear to go through that again so in future, I always saved last BEFORE I went to bed. If my character awakened at the graveyard, I would reload until a different result prevailed. I then promptly would sell my beloved Chicken before it was killed off again by Fate, thereby rendering it immortal in some vague unstated fashion. Certainly, neither Popuri nor Rick ever spoke of the death of any of the elderly chickens I sold back to them when they had outlived their life expectancy!

In any other game where livestock or poultry had a defined life expectancy, I would make certain to sell the animal before I had to face a corpse or a tombstone.

I always found the Witch Princess extraordinarily attractive but could not bear to kill off 50 Animals for her in HM DS. I know there are players who are very conscious of the difference between a game and reality, but to me, all the Animals I have spent so many hours feeding, brushing, milking and petting in Harvest Moon and Rune Factory make them quite real...

Not as well, though, as a little animal struggling to survive in this world. I have a little kitten in my care whose mother is very weak and who therefore cannot feed himself. He was born late yesterday afternoon but the mother still is not settling from her labour. She is very young and probably not ready for this responsibility. He is hungry and cold but almost too weak to eat.

I have taken over the responsibility of trying to keep him alive for the next day or two. It may be a lost cause but I have to try...

The first step was to find a warm place for him. I found an old shirt with a pocket and placed him in the pocket near my heart.

I once had everything one possibly could need for this sort of enterprise, but no longer do. I do not even have an eye dropper. I do not have Catmilk either. Nonetheless, I am determined somehow to wage a struggle for the little one.

The only reason for posting this is the hope that those who read it will send their strongest wishes or prayer for his survival. They say there is power in prayer. This little creature, who looks as though he may be a bluepoint Himalayan, needs all the prayers in this world and any other.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

New Harvest Moon and Rune Factory Cooking Site

While creating the little Trivia Test about Bianca, I became aware again of the odd combination of different cuisines that have become almost 'standard' both in Harvest Moon and in Rune Factory. Perhaps it is not odd at all to any one who lives in Japan, but from a Western viewpoint, dishes such as Doria and Gratin are associated with France rather than Japan. Furthermore, they are not really common dishes in English-speaking cultures at this point in time.

How many times have we made Doria or Gratin in our Harvest Moon or Rune Factory kitchens without ever baking the dish in the real world? How many players even know how to make these dishes?

I then thought it might be interesting to publish some 'real' Recipes for favourite Harvest Moon and Rune Factory dishes, so that fans of these games could cook them in their own kitchens.

My new 'Harvest Moon Cooking Site' is the result. I am not certain how many players actually will take the time and energy to make any of the Recipes I intend to publish there, but it may be of academic interest if not as useful in practical terms.

By the way, I am offering an invitation to Harvest Moon and Rune Factory fans to send me their own Recipes for these dishes if they are favourites in their own homes.
Please send only Recipes that you actually have made and tasted if possible!

A Completed Calendar in Rune Factory Frontier

One never should make assumptions in any game... and Rune Factory Frontier is no exception. Although once any new Festival appears on your Calendar, it will become a permanent fixture, the Formal Dates that are designated for each season do not remain on the Calendar.

Any Formal Date will appear on your Calendar with a Star and a description only after you ask a Girl on a Date during THAT season and she accepts the invitation. Once the season ends, the Date no longer will be marked with a Star.

It was only when I was trying to pinpoint the actual moment that the Date would be added to the Calendar that I thought to look at the Dates for previous seasons. Although I had taken an Eligible Girl on a Date each season, no Star marked those Formal Dates after the season was past.

The Formal Date Star and description therefore is a temporary Calendar addition.
The reason I am posting this is because a player asked me how she could add the Night of Holies to her Calendar. I told her that she needed to ask an Eligible Girl for a Date during Winter before it would be marked on the Calendar, which was correct. What I did not realise then, however, because I had not paid sufficient attention to my own Calendar was that, once the season is past, the Star disappears...

The Night of Holies may be an exception to the general rule as it corresponds to the Starry Night Festival in other Harvest Moon games. As I am in the Winter season at present, however, I shall have to wait until next Spring to see if it remains on the Calendar afterward or not.

Tip on Raising Skill Levels in Rune Factory Frontier

This is a common trick used by veteran players of Harvest Moon and Rune Factory but it may be useful to post it here for beginners. The information is included in my Rune Factory Frontier Guides by the way.

You can raise your Skills with respect to a particular type of weapon or tool simply by equipping it and swinging it. In Rune Factory Frontier, there are two times during the day/night when this can be done with the greatest benefit and least sacrifice of valuable energy or time.

Remember that time does not pass whenever your character enters a building. You therefore can use any Weapon or Tool inside your own Farmhouse or in any other building while time stands still. Energy, however, WILL be used.

The two best opportunities to increase Weapons and Tools Skill Levels in this way are whenever you go to the Laga Springs Bathhouse and whenever you return to your Farmhouse at the very end of your day.

Whenever your character take a Bath at the Laga Springs Bathhouse, all Energy is restored and both Health and RP bars are refilled. It therefore is wasteful for your character ever to leap into the bath before he has used almost ALL of his HP and RP. To do this, equip any Tool or Weapon and use it in the Bathhouse until your energy reaches the flashing red indication that respresents dangerously low levels.
Remember that every Tool has its own specific Skill and that Weapons and Magic are two different skills as well. Often a player will focus on one to the exclusion of the other in combat situations... if so, equip the type of Weapon in which your Skill Levels are lowest whenever you go to the Laga Springs Bathhouse or return to your Farmhouse at the end of the day.

When all your chores and tasks are completed and you are ready to leap into bed, do not do so without expending whatever excess energy remains. Remember, however, that you need to go to bed before 1.00 a.m. if you wish to awaken at 6.00 a.m. with both HP and RP fully replenished. Provided you go to bed before 1.00 a.m., you can use your energy to the point where the red flashing indication is displayed and still awaken in good health at 6.00 a.m.

If you employ this strategy on a daily basis, increasing skill levels that otherwise are not used sufficiently, you will be able to increase ALL Skill Levels to maximum without any difficulty.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Trivia Test about Bianca in Rune Factory Frontier

These are a few trivia questions that will separate the (possibly insane) Harvest Moon/Rune Factory fanatics (in which group I would include myself) from the casual players. They all concern Bianca. If I receive enough responses, I may do the same for all the Eligible Girls in Rune Factory Frontier.

The following video contains the Trivia Questions:

For those who do not wish to take the time to watch this very trivial video, here are the questions in text form:

1. What reason does Bianca give for hating Rice Balls? (Please be precise.)
2. What two fish did Tabatha combine in a gourmet dish and what sort of sauce did she make for it?
3. What large item did Bianca buy long ago that she never used?
4. What gourmet dish does Bianca request that you bring to her, telling you meanwhile that she 'won't hold her breath' waiting for it?
5. What birthday gift did Bianca toss away when she was a child?
6. Which room in the Summer Mansion does Bianca consider to be too small?
7. What rare flower was used to make a new perfume that Bianca bought?
8. What type of dish does Tabatha refuse to eat with Bianca?
9. What dish does Bianca mention that takes 3 days to make?
10. Does Bianca have a small or large appetite?
Bonus Question: What is the most hurtful insult that Bianca ever made to your character? (All answers will be considered correct, but again be specific.)

The player who can respond correctly to all ten questions soonest will be awarded the (dubious) distinction of being Rune Factory Frontier Trivia Grandmaster/Grandmistress for the day and I will dedicate an RFF Trivia Video to him/her.

Note that any attempt to make dishes in your kitchen that correspond to those mentioned by Bianca are doomed to be unsuccessful in impressing her. The dishes do not exist under the names Bianca gives, but even if you make Recipes that closely resemble the dishes, she will not respond with any enthusiasm or any response that differs from her standard response to a gift of a Cooked Dish. After all,she herself will tell you that the only items she truly likes are those made by Tabatha!

Although most of the general translations in the English version ofRune Factory Frontier are good, translations of the names of specific items, including some War Trophies and Recipes were careless, which can be unfortunate. For example, Danny asks for 'Good Cloth', an item that does not exist under that name. His request in fact is for 'Quality Cloth'. Likewise, Tabatha, in speaking of her Most Favourite Item, calls it 'Porridge' when in fact the Dish she loves best is Oatmeal. There are other text errors of this sort, causing me to experiment with gifts for Bianca.

Although most of the Dishes are given rather grand-sounding names, often in French, they are not complex dishes really. I myself gave Bianca the Cooked Dishes that I felt would correspond most closely to those named by her, including a Milk Pudding and a Stew. All she said in response was her usual: What is this? Is it for me? I suppose I'll take it off your hands.

However, I suppose I would have to think of a special award if any player manages to find a Cooked Dish that will be accepted by Bianca as the one she requests that you bring to her, telling your character that she will not hold her breath waiting for you to find it.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Circle Portals in Rune Factory Frontier

As I base my Walkthroughs and videos on my own games and experience, it was left to Robert to tell me that one of my statements was 'inaccurate', that a Circle Portal is created simply after you confront any Boss. That actually makes perfect sense, but since I never allowed myself to be defeated when I confronted any Boss, I simply wrote that the Circle Portal would be opened after your character defeated the Boss Monster.

I will have to start a new game to confirm this myself because I have defeated all the Bosses at least once in my current RFF game, but as Robert's comment actually is logical, I am going to accept it as true and revise my guides accordingly.

It is useful for players to know that the first confrontation, whether successful or unsuccessful, will create the Circle Portal. As my own character WAS successful, I never stopped to discover if the mere confrontation and not the defeat would be sufficient.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Birthday Wishes

From the age of 10, I often have found myself living on a different continent from my family and home on my birthday and therefore have experienced every sort of birthday emotionally as well as actually, from lonely to wonderful and incredible.

When I began to play Harvest Moon, I discovered that my character's birthday often would be celebrated by his/her family and therefore always chose the date that most closely approximated that of my real birthday. In Animal Crossing, your Animal Neighbours actually bring you a Birthday Cake on your birthday...

I often add my character's birthday to my Calendar Guide in jest. Only once or twice did a player email me asking how she could meet the character Freyr/Freya in her game!

In Island of Happiness, it was rather annoying to discover that I shared my birthday with Nathan... I believe there is an Animal in Animal Crossing with the same birthday as mine but there are so many Animals that the likelihood of having that Animal in my village on the occasion of my birthday is fairly remote.

So much for Birthdays and gaming... I really am writing this post to share two wonderful Birthday wishes that I received this morning from thoughtful friends.

With the power of the internet, I doubt that any Birthday of mine ever will be ignored, even if no one celebrates it in the real world in any given year... (I do suspect there may be some one locally who will organise something later in the day... at least one hopes so. One can't orchestrate one's own birthday really. It simply isn't done!)

I would like to thank the friends who went to all the trouble to send me special Birthday Greetings this morning! Now, if I only could find my ACWW cartridge and persuade a Neighbour to bring me a Cake despite the fact that the village no doubt is choked with weeds and the house infested with cockroaches in every cluttered room from LONG, LONG neglect on my part.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Upgrading Items in Rune Factory Frontier


A question was asked as to how items can be upgraded in Rune Factory Frontier. Items that are made in your Kitchen or Laboratory as well as those created in your Forge or at your Workbench all can be upgraded to Level 10. You always need to be aware of the primary rule of upgrades in this game: the actual level of the upgraded item AT BEST can be only 1 Level above the level of the LOWEST LEVEL of ingredient used. The result will be 1 Level above the level of the lowest level of ingredient ONLY if you manage to create the item 'perfectly' or 'with expertise'. Otherwise, the Level of the Upgraded Item will EQUAL that of the lowest level of ingredient.

All tools can be upgraded using nothing more than two pieces of Scrap Iron. The ordinary rules of RFF still apply, however. If the level of the Scrap Iron is LOWER than the level of the Tool, you actually will DOWNGRADE your Tool when you reforge it!

It is with respect to Recipes that include Flowers as ingredients that players usually come to realise the benefits of using Greenifier, for many important Recipes for Weapons and Accessories include one or more Flowers as ingredients. For the common Flowers that can mature within a single season, the task is fairly easy. If you are diligent in watering the Crop and use both Greenifier and Formula C on one square, you can upgrade by three or four levels sometimes in the course of a single season.

Remember that you can use Greenifier ONLY ONCE on any single square, which means that the level of any Crop that you grow can improve only by one level. You can use any of the Formulae on a daily basis, however, and with Formula C, you will speed the growth by three days. I usually use Greenifier on the middle square only and then use Formula C on the same square on each subsequent day. Otherwise, if I choose other squares to upgrade randomly, I tend to forget which square has the upgraded Crop in it!

Where the Crop is slow-growing and rare, I try to grow it on the Floating Chamber near the Water Tower. With all my slow-growing rare Flowers at the same location, I can visit them daily without spending much time or effort to do so. Until you defeat the Giant Squid in the Water Tower, however, you will spend a fair amount of time, even with the rope shortcut, simply traveling to and from the Floating Chamber. It is not as practical to grow all the Crops there until you have established the Circle Portal. Until then, you may wish to confine your rare Crops to the various dungeons in Trampoli.

A general rule of thumb is: Don't use high level ingredients on Tools, because you can upgrade them from Level 1 simply by using 2 pieces of Scrap Iron. Use your high-level ingredients ONLY when all ingredients are high-level. Otherwise, you are wasting the level because the result will be based on the lowest level of ingredient.

N.B. My advice would be to take all four Elemental Capes and create a Black Robe instead. Even a Level 1 Black Robe would be superior to all the individual Elemental Capes.

The screenshots show a Level 2 Tiara, created using Level 1 Ingredients 'with expertise'.

Frantic Farming Strategies and Request

More than a week after Frantic Farming was released, I am beginning to hear from other players who have found the game challenging in Story Mode and have not had an easy time completing every Story.

I wrote a little General Guide for Frantic Farming. Ultimately, I would like to include the actual text from each Story in the Guide, but I haven't had the time to transcribe them yet.

As I believe I wrote previously, my Strategy would be as follows:

Complete the game in Story Mode for both Chelsea and Mark, thereby unlocking the other two 'Modes', the Music player, the Records and some of the Character and Endings art. In doing so, you will unlock two new characters in the form of Shea and Natalie as well.

I did not find it that difficult to complete either Natalie's Story or Shea's Story.
In doing so, I then unlocked two more characters in the form of Vaughn and Elliot. It was after this that I met with my first real defeat in the final Chapter of Vaughn's Story. I still haven't completed Vaughn's Story...

In fact, this took me to the alternative strategy of playing the game in Story Attack Mode to unlock the other six characters. Doing so gave me vital practice in seeing how the Harvest Sprite moves and waters Crops. The tutorials are excellent but there is no real substitute for actual gameplay.

My biggest problem in Story Mode is running out of time in the Puzzles with a time limit. I don't run out of mature Crops as often as I run out of time.

I believe that the key to success is being able to use the Special Skill of the Character you are playing effectively. You need to 'set up' your Grid so that use of the Special Skill will have the greatest effect.

Another vital element in successful strategy is setting up the grid so that the Harvest Sprite's watering ALWAYS has the greatest effect. Chains, for example, increase his field of influence. When you are in a Mode that includes Stone-dropping, you need to make certain that you are able to break apart all the stones that fall on your field quickly without using all the watering efforts to do only that.

My own Touchscreen is worn out, which means that my own speed in moving crops is impaired. I think speed in moving crops is another vital element... and avoiding unnecessary or ineffective movements of Crops would be important where there is a time limit to the puzzle.

Big Crops and Gold Crops must be utilised to the maximum effect. Remember that, whenever a Big Crop is harvested, the Sprite will water a far larger area than usual. Set up your field accordingly BEFORE you harvest the Big Crop. Knowing when the Big Crops are set to appear is important as well. Don't allow nearly ripe Crops to be caught within the highlighted area... I often move Stones into those spaces when the puzzle includes those.

Gold Crops have two separate uses: when harvested singly, all other Crops of that type will become ripe instantly and be harvested. When they are at the end of a Chain, you receive a point bonus. Whenever the puzzle has a time limit, you need to bring any Gold Crop to the ripe stage as quickly as possible in order to maximise the benefit it will bring. Many times when I have been defeated, I had Gold Crops ALMOST at ripe stage in my grid.

At least, these are elements that I perceive... any other strategy tips from players would be appreciated!

Bluebomr2 mentioned a facet of gameplay that I neglected to add to this post: Favourites. It is extremely important to take note of a character's 'Favourite' Crops BEFORE you begin any puzzle as his/her Special Skill oftens affects only 'favourites'. These are not the same as 'Most Favourite Gifts', by the way. They are favourites specifically designed for the purpose of the puzzles in Frantic Farming. Each playable character has two 'Favourites'.

Actually, I'd like to make a Request:

If any player(s) would be willing to help transcribe some of the Stories in Frantic Farming for me, I obviously would credit them in the Guide and they would earn my eternal gratitude. The Stories I definitely still need are:
Lanna's Story, Denny's Story, Julia's Story, Sabrina's Story, Pierre's Story, Witch Princess' Story.

The only part of Vaughn's Story I am missing is the Ending...