Been playing Rune Factory: A Harvest Moon Fantasy obsessively. As the name implies, it's what you get when you put a generic Japanese fantasy RPG and a bizarrely popular farming sim franchise into a blender and set it to "disintegrate." Those two genres don't sound like they'd mix very well--and they don't. They removed none of the standard Harvest Moon trademarks (you have a farm, some upgradable farming tools, some sheds for livestock, a town to buy seeds and socialize; you can gradually court one of several townswomen into marriage by bribing her with baked goods), and, indeed, you could play this game indefinitely without ever doing any of the RPG stuff. What's new is the addition of a few generic RPG dungeons, which you must fight through to advance the plot and finish the game. The catch is that swinging your sword or using attack magic depletes your Rune Points, of which you have a finite amount to use per day, and once those are gone they will start depleting your HP. For most of the game, the only feasible way to restore Rune Points is to grab these little blue Rune Orbs that appear once a day above every 3x3 patch of unharvested crops. Therefore, the only realistic way to beat most of the dungeons is to clear and till fields inside them, slowly cultivating delicious vegetables inside these monster-infested underground death traps until you are producing enough Rune Orbs per day to support a trek to the end. (The concept is, for lack of a better word, insane.) You will have to balance these endeavors with maintaining your farm at home, however, as all farming-related actions (hoeing, watering, cutting grass, etc.) use up Rune Points also. And then there are other potentially lucrative tasks you can do in the game's resource-rich dungeons, like fishing, mining ore, or gathering cooking and crafting ingredients to use at home--all of which use Rune Points.
Essentially, what looks on the outside like a one-player MMORPG is actually an elaborate exercise in opportunity cost. Do you go farming or dungeoneering? Do you plant your crops in the dungeon or at your farm? Which crops? Do you go fishing at the pier, where you get fish more suitable for cooking, or in a nearby dungeon, where you get fish that are worth more at market? If you tame a water elemental and force it to water your crops, is the extra daily cost in monster feed worth the Rune Points you normally spend on watering? Should you risk a run to the end of the dungeon now, or spend a few more days getting that spinach garden ready to harvest? All of these decisions will affect your gameplay experience, and the wonderful thing about the game is that there are no wrong answers.
Some of the Brooklyn-native Oberlin creative writing major turned editing assistant cabal (formerly referred to in this journal as the Brooklynites, though I don't use that term anymore because it's extremely confusing) threw a "VD Awareness Party" on Valentine's Day. Ironically, I couldn't go because I was sick. Gave me a good excuse to spend that day alone, though.