Rune Factory: Frontier surrounds players building a farm, and for those that are not abreast with all of the intrigue and issues regarding development, export rights, and the like, is related to the Harvest Moon series. Previous iterations of the Rune Factory series have been released on the Nintendo DS: Frontier marks the first transition over to the Wii. While I had very limited experience with the previous games in the series, it seems like Frontier brings much more of the Harvest Moon side of things to bear. That means that there are equal part simulation and Zelda-types of game play to be had.
On the one hand, players have to ensure that their farms are operating at peak capacity, but their social life has to be built up to ensure the success of the family (primarily through the creation of the family). The character designs in Frontier are less cartoony and more RPG-styled than Harvest Moon releases, whilethe gameplay itself does not feel to be as repetitive as some of the earlier releases in the Harvest Moon series. This means that there are consider amounts of RPG components littered throughout Frontier, ensuring that players that are fans of both genres will have more than enough to keep them busy.
The sheer amount of activities (besides running dungeons and faming, players can also fish, blacksmith, and cook) really makes it easy for me to draw parallels between Frontiers and World of Warcraft. While the central farming component spins it out considerably from WoW, the richness of the game experience is similar between the titles. Days are given around 25 to 30 minutes to complete, allowing for a realistic slate of actions to be completed, while a friendship meter attached to all living beings provides a way into NPCâ€™s heads that few games of any stripe are able to provide. Rune Factory: Frontier is the first sim/RPG that I can honestly say has kept my interest in more than a passing fashion, and I have no doubt that the following titles in the series will have the same amazing level to detail and rich experience.
Rune Factory: Frontier (Wii) / 2009 Xseed Games / http://www.runefactoryfrontier.com