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Story

Rune Factory 2: A Fantasy Harvest Moon shares many story elements of it's predecessor, Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon.  The story takes place after the events of the first game but story arc links are very limited.   As with the previous title, the story begins with your character wandering memory-less into a strange town.  This time the character, Kyle (default), runs into a young lady by the name of Mana.  Mana and her over excessively protective father, Douglas, offer you the oppourtunity to live and work farmland they own that has been out of use.  The exchange of course is that you'll be buying supplies from them as they own the local store.  


Gameplay


Rune Factory 2 : A Fantasy Harvest moon takes place in a real-time world where each day is comprised of 24 minutes and there are six days a week.  Visually the game is reminiscent of other Harvest Moon titles, though the presence of combat in the Rune Factory series brings comparisons to the Zelda series on the SNES.  The game contains the typical farming components present in the Harvest Moon series with the addition of RPG elements.  The player has two status bars a health bar (red) and a rune point (RP) bar (blue).  Practically every use of the action button in the game expends RP (hoeing, watering, combat, spell casting, etc.).  When RP are depleted the player then loses HP when the action button is used.  Spells cannot be case when RP are depleted.  Both health and rune points are replenished by either consuming certain items, collecting runes, or taking a bath at the bath house, or retiring for the night.

Gameplay in Rune Factory is quite varied but generally revolves around the collection of resources for further character development.  The primary resources utilized in the game are monetary (gold), lumber, and ore.  All items in game require gold for purchase while construction of new buildings or equipment utilizes lumber and ore (of varying sorts).  The primary source of gold in game comes from the farming portion of the game.  Lumber and ore on the other hand come from the use of the axe or hammer tool on tree stumps or mineral deposits in the game.   

One of the most significant aspects of Rune Factory is the ability for the player to marry one of the female characters after achieving a very high "heart" and "friend" ranking (and sometimes the use of a special item).  The game continues after the marriage with the players wife living in the house.

Beyond the core components that derive gameplay there is a wide variety of side tasks that the player can undertake.  Some of these include: fishing, cooking, and taming creatures.

Changes from Previous Title


The changes made from the previous Rune Factory title are quite minimal.  Some reviewers cite this as the single largest detractor from this game, though it's predecessor received fairly good reviews.  The game features noticeable visual upgrades, and the presence of a centralized message board which is essentially the place to get in-game questions.  The player initially uses to unlock several in game tools and familiarize themselves with the surrounding characters and area.  Most of these missions are simple fetch quests but occasionally requires the player perform different tasks such as killing a certain number of a particular enemy. 

Another change in the title is the location and accessibility of the "dungeons".  In Rune Factory 2, the various regions are are placed as different land types surrounding the city.  Unlike the first Rune Factory, which feature progressive dungeon unlocks, in Rune Factory 2, each "dungeon" has preliminarily accessible spaces that are fairly easy in difficulty.  Further along in the game, these "dungeons" open up and the difficulty scales appropriately. 

Probably the most significant change in Rune Factory 2 is the presence of the 2nd generation.  A short time after a player is married, his wife becomes pregnant and eventually gives birth to your child (male or female).  The player then takes control of the 2nd generation of your character.  This second generation can then also make relationships in game, though they resolve in an eventual "Love Ceremony" instead of a wedding, as the 2nd generation is not old enough to marry. 

Farming


As in the Harvest Moon series of games, Rune Factory puts great emphasis on farming.  The player starts with a weed, rock, and tree stump filled patch of land and must clear and till the land to make it suitable for planting.  Seeds are obtained from a local store and vary in season, pricing, and difficult to grow.

Crops must be planted in the appropriate season and must be watered daily  before they can be harvested.  In Rune Factory there are four seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.  Each season has a separate group of crops that can be harvested.  The various dungeons in the game also have farmland and seasons associated with them.

When a crop is ready to be harvested a glowing blue sphere will appear over one of the crop squares.  This sphere is known as a rune and can be collected by the player to replenish the players RP.  Having enough ripe crops in your field will allow the complete refilling of an empty rune bar. The runes reappear each day after a rune is collected from the crop.  One strategy is to place crops strategically in dungeons to extend the duration a player can spend in a dungeon (without running out of all RPs).   This is where the title Rune Factory comes from, as ripe crops act as a factory for production of runes.  

Combat


Combat in Rune Factory is very similar to other action RPGs.  The player equips a primary weapon and a secondary skill.  The primary weapon can be multiple forms of a: sword, axe, hammer, or staff.  Upgraded weapons can eventually be obtained from the weapon smith in town.    If the player loses all his HP in combat it is a game over, whereas if the HP are lost out of combat the player simply faints and is brought back in his home.  The player can equip defensive items such as a shield and boots of different quality to reduce the physical damage taken from enemy units.

There are three grades of attack in Rune Factory the primary attack (performed by pressing the action button), the secondary attack (pressing and holding the action button), and the spell attack (pressing the spell casting button). 

Combat can also take place with the aid of a tamed beast.  Beasts also feature special attacks and their health bar shows up on screen to indicate how they are doing in combat. 

Enemies in Rune Factory vary in the typical fantasy fashion.  Each dungeon has an associate boss battle as well which features significantly more difficult combad against a larger foe.

Relationships

In Rune Factory 2 the player can develop relationships with all the characters in the game.  The player can only develop romantic relationships with the female characters of roughly the same age.  There are two relationship rating in Rune Factory 2 the friendship rating and the love rating.  Relationships are built be conversing with the characters in game, giving them items of their liking, or asking them on "dates" for various in-game events.  Eventually the love relationships will end in marriage (if the player chooses) and in Rune Factory 2 this marriage produces offspring which the player then takes control of as the 2nd generation.


Beast Taming

In Rune Factory, the player has the ability to tame any of the non-boss monsters they come across in game.  Beast taming can only occur when the player has a taming glove, a Barn has been built, and is not currently occupied by beasts.  Once captured and in the barn, beasts must be fed and interacted with so they maintain a positive standing with the player.  To feed the beasts the player must keep a supply of  "feed" in each of the barns.  This feed can either be purchased or grown by the player.

Once a beast has been tames it can be used for several different purposes in-game.  Below is a list of the possible uses for beasts:

  • Combat Assistance - The beast can participate in combat with the player
  • Honey, Milk, Wool - Certain beasts can be harvested for honey, milk, or wool at certain times during the game
  • Farm Work - Some beasts can be assigned to automatically do farm work (harvesting, watering)

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