Long regarded as the pinnacle of the Rune Factory series, Rune Factory 4 thrilled fans when it broke out from Nintendo 3DS jail and received updated ports on a range of contemporary platforms. XSeed and Marvelous made the decision to go a little further in the past and offer the same care to Rune Factory 3, the series’ frequently overlooked middle child. What is the form of the remaster on the Nintendo Switch?
Regretfully, both enthusiasts and novices will have to contend with the fact that this is really a remaster of an older Nintendo DS game. This entails using 2D symbols to represent your objects or crops, and chibi 3D models set against 2D backgrounds. Some people may find it unimpressive upon first inspection. However, the 3D models seem sharp and detailed, a far cry from the blurry models on the previous DS screen, and the icons are highlighted, bright, and easy to notice against the backgrounds. All in all, this is the finest this series’ graphic style has looked since the Rune Factory 4 remaster. The backdrops are rich and colorful, even though they may have been pre-drawn, and they clearly indicate where you can and cannot walk. There are times when a dungeon tree has more fruit than I anticipated that I was unable to see for layered cruft because of certain foreground effects that obstruct your view of what’s accessible. However, despite its flaws, Rune Factory 3 Special serves as a reminder of the forgotten art of how gorgeous 3D models on a 2D backdrop may appear in a game.
The lack of player personalization possibilities compared to Rune Factory 4 and 5 is just one of the game’s drawbacks. Another is that you can only play as a male character and romance women. Same-sex relationships are not an option, despite the fact that certain bachelors would make excellent paramours—poor Gaius. This is yet another drawback of translating a very old Nintendo DS game; I suppose there was no possibility to add additional romantic alternatives. Still, this is a letdown, especially considering the two subsequent Rune Factory titles that came before it. Although you can change your player character’s attire using items you purchase in-game, if you have the Rune Factory 5 save data, you can even access a new bonus costume. Because of the isometric perspective, the costumes even read reasonably nicely.
After then, any more complaints will be about aspects of the game’s quality of life that players in later Rune Factory games took for granted. Fighting monsters lacks a lock-on mechanism, so your only option is to swing aimlessly and hope that your blows land. You lose the bread and whatever money you spent on it (I hope you have enough money) if you consume Recipe Bread but your skill level is still lower. There’s only one task you can do per day from the town message board, or two if you use your home mailbox. The series’ main feature, monster taming, also functions differently: you can’t tame your monsters with a Petting Glove or special spell; instead, you have to win their affection by giving them food, which you must cook yourself. Taming monsters also requires more resources, as you can’t just hire them to help out in the field or harvest eggs, wool, or milk.
However, let’s be honest for a second: anyone who plays a game like Rune Factory should be prepared for some jank. We were reared in this domain ever since we put those cartridges into our DSes, thus it’s ours. Rune Factory 3 Special continues to offer a plethora of enjoyable experiences. The most notable of these is the newly recorded dialogue for the entire cast, with extra recognition going to Casey Mongillo for playing both the protagonist and his Wooly form. In relation to that, the main character has the ability to transform into a Wooly. In keeping with the main idea of the game, you must exercise caution when managing your Woolification (name pending); you can do it whenever you choose, but it’s best to avoid doing it in the vicinity of your human neighbors. Similarly, it’s unlikely that your non-humanoid companions will find it amusing if you appear to be anything other than one of those cuddly, non-human animals. Along with special strikes and combat skills, your Wooly form also features an entertaining grapple system for times when monsters are left prone.
The fact that Rune Factory 3 Special offers us all a second opportunity at a neglected entry in the series without making us pay what are essentially new game pricing for an old used copy on the DS will no doubt be appreciated by longtime fans, especially with the improved graphics. Even if I find it difficult to suggest that newbies begin with Rune Factory 3 Special rather than, say, Rune Factory 4 Special or the more recent Rune Factory 5, it’s still a good option that will undoubtedly win your heart.