The best Switch Farming Sim on Nintendo Direct

Micai and his fiancée come down the steps.

Screenshot: Wonderful / Nintendo

During the last day I have seen many jokes this the were too agriculture Games shown at the Nintendo Direct. Calm down, there were like four. But an announcement immediately made me sit in my seat: Rune Factory 3 Special is coming to the Nintendo Switch. I’m thrilled that Marvelous is finally bringing its best farming simulator to a modern console.

Rune Factory 3 was originally an agricultural RPG on the Nintendo DS. While the main objective of the game was to grow crops on a farm, there was also a dungeon crawling component that allowed players to harvest animal products from the wild. Players could also tame and fight alongside these monsters, or recruit NPCs as allies. RF3 has an event and quest based story system that would allow players to further develop their relationships with the townspeople.

When I saw Rune Factory 5 earlier this year I used Rune factory 3 like the gold standard. The warm, painterly environments were so distinct that I rarely had to glance at a map. Even the dungeons didn’t seem computer generated, which helped with setting up RF3 feels more like a house instead of just resource nodes for me to gather herbs and monster drops. When I look later rune factory games, I lament that they seem to have sacrificed that kind of thoughtful world design in exchange for fidelity and scale. I can’t wait to play a rune factory in which I actually care about dungeon rooms and secluded streets.

Wonderful / Nintendo

But the best part of RF3 for the Nintendo DS was undoubtedly its complex characters. Most of the time, I find the female love interests in farming games to be very bland and nondescript. You’re supposed to want to marry them and start a family, so they can’t stray too far from the cookie-cutter perfection of an ideal wife. Sofia tends to speak cruelly to those she loves. Karina is lazy and despises the village. Raven has a hostile and distant personality. While some characters become more likeable over time, their evolving character arc helps them feel more like people with their own issues and insecurities, rather than candidates for motherhood.

Farm games are about routines and schedules, but our relationships with our friends and communities aren’t simple or straightforward. RF3 offered me interpersonal friction which made the game more realistic than other farming simulators. My friendship with Raven was more meaningful because we had struggled to understand each other.

Rune Factory 3 special arrives in the spring of 2023.