Rune Factory 3 Special Review

Game: Rune Factory 3 Special
Genre: Simulation, RPG, Action
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam (Windows))
Developer | Publisher:  Marvelous | Xseed
Age Rating: US Teen | EU 7+
Price: US $39.99 | UK £34.99 | EU € 39,99
Release Date: September 5th, 2023

Review code used, with many thanks to Decibel PR.

As the Nintendo Switch is getting older, more and more games that were available on other Nintendo consoles are making their way to Nintendo’s newest console. After Rune Factory 4 got a special version, now it’s the turn of Rune Factory 3.

Rune Factory was originally a spin-off game of Harvest Moon/ Story of Seasons: the farming and socializing ingredients were still there, but now fighting and crafting were added into the mix. This made each Rune Factory game an absolute must-have for me when the first game arrived in 2006. Subtitled “A Fantasy Harvest Moon” made one other addition into the gaming mix clear, too: magic was involved. Not only does the protagonist have HP (an energy bar) to keep an eye on, but you also have to manage your RP (Rune Points), which you need for using a tool, casting magic, cooking, crafting and more.

Special Edition for a 2009 DS Game

After the first Rune Factory game, the series progressed. The original Rune Factory 3 came to the DS in 2009, adding things like better interaction with the villagers and possibly having villagers fight alongside the protagonist. I played them all, even this one in the original DS version, and I remember Rune Factory 3 for the stellar storyline. Being able to transform into a golden Wooly added flavour to it, and I eventually managed to marry Raven, after which the story basically ended.

Now we have a special edition on the Nintendo Switch, which includes an extra hard Hell difficulty level and a Newlywed Mode. After successfully wooing one of the bachelorettes, you get a standalone adventure with this girl after you are married. And as there are 11 bachelorettes, that’s 11 extra adventures!

Protagonist Micah talks to Shara, and tells her he can't remember anything about himself
Yep, Amnesia, alright! This screenshot is from the 2023 version of Rune Factory 3

Aside from these obvious extras, Rune Factory 3 Special is special in other ways. As you can see above and below, the graphics have had a nice polish. I’ve noticed that the text is more polished as well. Small things that you won’t notice unless you see them side by side.

Protagonist Micah talks to Shara and mentions he can't remember who he is. This screenshot is from the 2009 version of the game.
This screenshot of the same moment is from the 2009 version of the game.

Living in the Sharance Tree

Enough about comparisons. Let’s see what the gameplay is like and if it holds up to the year 2023. As is customary in Rune Factory games, the protagonist Micah, finds himself in a town with no memories. Amnesia, of course. What is different from the usual start of these games is that it all starts with Shara helping a woolly (a monster) who suddenly appears and is unwell. She brings it in, but later on, it seems it’s Micah in sheep form! He’s gone before Shara wakes up, though.

The townspeople are very welcoming, well, most of them. Raven is very aloof even though she is tasked with showing him around, and Shara’s sister only wants to bite him. They have an unused farm to work on and make money, so no need to sleep outdoors. This farm is very special, located under the Sharance tree, with sleeping accommodations in the tree.

The Sharance Tree, a beautiful sight with pink blooms all around and a rustic door.
The Sharance Tree looks beautiful!

Micah (you can choose your own name for him, but you can’t change his gender) gets to work clearing the field, hoeing and sowing seeds and watering them. The usual things for a farming game. Getting to know the villagers, picking which bachelorette he wants to pursue. If you know farming games, you know the drill.

Outside of the flower store, you find the bulletin board on which the villagers put their requests. Fulfilling them raises their friendship level, and some will progress the story.

Seasonal Dungeons

Added to the standard, there are areas around town that are less hospitable than the village. Here, you will find monsters to beat in battle. And patches where you can sow crops fitting to the season these areas represent. The first area is Privera Forest, with a recommended difficulty level of 1. The monsters you meet aren’t too difficult to beat, but there are so many of them, and they keep on coming that it can still be overwhelming.

Levelling up in Rune Factory 3 Special means that you get more experience in just about every activity in the game. In various forms of battle, based on the sort of weapon you use, in mining, fishing and cooking. But you can also level up in walking, sleeping and eating (I’d do well on those three!).

Micah is in his monster form, and gets the tip that he can now use the Transform Belt
Of course, I named Micah YvoCaro, as I always do. This is the golden Woolly form.

The game opens up as soon as you’ve beaten the boss of the first seasonal dungeon, Privera Forest and when you’ve found the settlement of the Univer (more on how to do that in our starter guide). After that, you can acquire crafting stations for forging, chemistry, accessories and more. The recipes are learned by eating special bread that you can buy at the inn.

Still a Great Game

Rune Factory 3 Special delivers a wonderful combination of all the elements that make farming/crafting RPG so great. And even though the game is basically 14 years old, it holds up well. I love the interaction with the villagers. No inane answers that never vary. They respond to Micah according to his actions. For example, if he hasn’t talked to them for a couple of days, they will remind him of that. Plus, the conversations are sometimes interesting and make me smile with their silliness. The Newlywed modes add a lot of content, and if you want to try your hand at really hard gaming, you can unlock the Hell mode, too.

 The game has a story mode and a Newlywed mode, we see the screen of the newlywed mode
The game has a story mode and a Newlywed mode, which will unlock once you marry a bachelorette.

The monsters that you find in the dungeons aren’t just there to be beaten. They can also help you with your chores on the farm. An Elefun is great for watering your crops, and a Woolly not only gives you wool but can also clear your fields of rubble and weeds. Lastly, you can also take them with you in battle.

Another special way to get help in battle is by using special seeds, like the Jack Magic Seed and the Sword Magic Seed. Put them on the ground, and they will immediately grow into a big pumpkin that can munch away on the enemy. Or an intricate-looking plant that is a sword at the same time.

A scene in one of the dungeons. The Sword Magic Seed is attacking one of the monsters
The Sword Magic Seed is attacking one of the monsters; YvoCaro doesn’t even have to interfere.

Music, Graphics and Controls

As I already mentioned at the start, the graphics have been polished and beautified. I like these visuals; when I reviewed the much more recent Rune Factory 5, I already remarked that Rune Factory 4 Special looked better. The same goes for Rune Factory 3 Special. Just look at the scene below, the one where Micah and Shara had their first date. Looks so beautiful and detailed.

The background music is nice and fitting to the season or the activity. It is a relaxing tune while you are busy on the farm, a more rousing tune during battle. The controls on the Nintendo Switch work well, but here is the only place where I felt the game’s age. I would have liked some quality-of-life shortcuts. Equipping items and weapons was easy with the left shoulder, but I couldn’t find shortcuts for my last used tools and such. And I could accept requests, of course, but I couldn’t find a journal of what I should do.

The fields with all the crops sown in, like pink turnips. The protagonist is watering the plants
In Spring, I had the crops going nicely. Lovingly watering it all.


Although the base game is 14 years old, Rune Factory 3 Special still holds up well to what we expect from current-day gaming. And maybe even more, as farming really is harder than farming in newer farming sims. A summer storm can just as easily obliterate all your crops and leave you broke.

Some quality-of-life additions are missing, but the visuals look great, and the interaction with the villagers is great. You’ll have many hours of lovely gameplay ahead, especially after unlocking the Newlywed Modes.

The view of one of the outlooks, in a spring setting
Isn’t it lovely? I’ll take Shara there, for sure!

If you are a fan of Farming/Crafting RPGs, this is a must to complete your collection on the Switch. The storyline is great, and the magic adds depth to the battles and gameplay. After all, who doesn’t want a big pumpkin fighting alongside you or have an Elefun to water the crops?

Final Verdict: I Like It a LotI like it a lot



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