There is a drastic change to the "farming" in this runefactory compared to the rest of the series. You don't hoe, plant, or even water your crops. Once you find and revive a petrified island you place the monsters(up to 5) that cultivate certain crops onto the island. Then your character uses a wand on the planting points to produce sprouts(the resident monsters determine which plants sprout). I have tomatoes(summer), potatoes, strawberries(spring), and toyherb flowers all growing on the same island even though every other Harvest moon game I've ever played seperated the crops by season. Otherwise, the actual gameplay is similar to other games in the series(except even fishing is a crafting mini game like the cooking, forging etc. in the frontier game). There is a bulletin board in the inn where you can accept quests(only one at a time but they can be canceled and there is no limit but time as far as how many you take on in a day). The board also tells you the weather for the next day, rumors to look into, and what items are selling well(most profitable) that day. Unless you need money for something, you should save anything you grow, find, or make until the board tells you to sell it. Supposedly you can get better deals or more money, the higher your friendship is with someone. There are also several sales during a month(even on the price to upgrade your house) that you should wait for before making any major unnecessary purchases. You do have to keep monster cookies on hand if you have tamed monsters, though. Despite the map, you might get a little lost at first(even around town) but unless you're even more directionally challenged than I am, you'll get a feel for it fairly quick. Over all, I think this is a great game, even though stick in the muds(me included) will still miss the traditional farming.
The game started off halfway fun, but one of the first characters you meet is a priest who goes gaga (complete with hearts and smitten look) over your young teen boy character. Me and the kids looked at each other grossed out. I thought that would possibly be it, sort of game start up "joke", but each time you have to deal with the character its the same. The rest of the game might be awesome, but after a time or two of that we quit.