Since it's inception in 1996, the Harvest Moon series has become a staple of our games collections. Between the many first person shooters, hyper-realistic racers and myriad of sports games, it's peaceful mixture of tending to crops, caring for cows and romancing the local villagers has remained much the same, year on year and game on game. To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the much-loved series, the decision was made to launch a more complex, fantasy oriented spin-off, which paired the laid-back farming and socialising with more action-y combat – and so Rune Factory was born.
And like a rubber ducky in a whirlpool, from the moment we played Rune Factory 3 on the DS, we were sucked in like never before. Essentially Harvest Moon but with swords and monsters mixed in, Rune Factory 4 was set to mark the series first foray onto the 3DS, and another awesome entry in the series - with it's unique mix of farming, flirting and fighting, all wrapped up in a cutesy story full of oddball characters, it was one of our most-anticipated titles of 2014. Unfortunately, for reasons that aren't entirely clear, the guys behind it have decided to cancel the European release – and with the 3DS being region-locked, there's no possibility of importing from America either. Publisher Marvelous' rather vague statement on the situation is as follows:
"We regret to inform you that the European release of Rune Factory 4 for Nintendo 3DS has been cancelled. While Marvelous AQL has made every effort to secure the title's release for this territory, it is, unfortunately, not possible to do so at this time. MAQL and MAQL Europe would like to thank everyone for their support and enthusiasm for their European releases. Please look forward to announcements on new MAQL titles over the coming months."
Sadly, this isn't the first time Europe has been diddled out of a Rune Factory game either, even if the last time wasn't quite as drastic as this. While the Wii release of Rune Factory Oceans was canned in 2011, fortunately, the Playstation 3 version survived, even if it perhaps wasn't the most logical choice. The first time the series had been seen on anything other than a Nintendo platform, abandoning the Wii didn't exactly seem like the most logical of plans, even if it was six months after the launch of the console's successor, the Wii U. Looking back now, it was perhaps a sign the company was starting to struggle.
By November last year, the company behind the games – Neverland – had filed for bankruptcy, barely a month after Rune Factory 4 for the 3DS had hit American shelves, putting the future of the series in question. Yet as a spin off of the main Harvest Moon series, with translations into other European languages being handled by the publisher and on track for a spring 2014 release, a cancellation seemed pretty unlikely at the time, especially considering the exceptional sales figures it received both in Japan and the USA. We suppose there's still a chance another publisher could come along and pick it up, perhaps even just putting it as an eShop download to save on printing and distribution costs – only time will tell.
Now, excuse me while I go and cry into a turnip.