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== HARVEST MOON: ANIMAL PARADE ==
Harvest Moon is one of my all time favourite games. Its fun, addictive and suitable for just about everyone. This is yet another farming simulation game from developers Marvelous Entertainment and publishers Natsume and Rising Star Games. The game is only available for the Nintendo Wii. Harvest Moon usually revolves around running your own farm in a small little town with a bunch of friendly villages that you can befriend and even marry should you wish too. There are three different official release Harvest Moon games on the Wii which include Magical Melody, Tree Of Tranquility and of course this one and I would say Animal Parade is the most intriguing with more options and a little more variety in its gameplay. The story to the game is just like any Harvest Moon game and to be honest it doesn't get old with the similarities in the story.
=== STORY ===
You pick either a boy or girl as your character but note the story is the same for each. The town of Harmonica is struggling because all of the animals of the town are deciding to up and leave because the divine tree which stands in the middle of the Harvest Goddess pond is withering away. The only thing that can save the land is the Harvest King but he is nowhere to be found and time is running out. Also five bells around the island have lost their powers and need to be rung again. Your missions are to ring the five bells, find the Harvest king and revive the Goddess Tree. All of which must also be done whilst you run your own farm and live your life. Can you save the land and most importantly save the animals!
=== GAMEPLAY ===
After deciding on whether you want to be a boy or girl in the game then you will be asked a few questions such as your birthday and favourite food. Answering these questions doesn't alter the game at all that much. When the game starts up you will be shown around town and you will also notice that the island is one of the biggest in a Harvest Moon game and there is far more exploring to be done than previous Harvest Moon games. You're given a small house that looks a little rundown but its a home nonetheless and then the game starts properly. There are a few people around the island that can help you and might also give you items of use. Some of the island you cannot reach until you help out a guy who is working on fixing the bridge to a new part of the island. The island is reasonably big and you can spend hours exploring it.
Around the island there are places such as the mine that you can go into to find rare materials to create items for girls or to upgrade your tools and so on. You can also visit different shops that sell different things such as tools, animals, seeds and more. Also around town are eligible women that you can marry and start a family with but that's only if you're a boy character. If you're a girl then you can find eligible males to marry and you can also get pregnant too. The game revolves around animals this time around hense the name Animal Parade and there are tons of different animals scattered around the island that you can have join your farm as long as you make them happy enough. There are animals from cats, dogs, boars, bears, rabbits, lions, elephants and many more.
When farming you will notice on your farm that there is certain places where you can grow crops but only one from the start of the game. You can grow all kinds of crops but there are 4 different seasons in the game and different crops can only grow in the right seasons. There are all kinds of crops that you can grow from tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, corn, turnips and many more. All of which can be used for cooking or you can sell them for gold to buy more seeds and earn even more money. Selling crops isn't the only way to make gold in the game because you can also sell eggs, milk or wool from chickens, cows and sheep or you can use eggs by putting them on an incubator and in time it will hatch into a chick. Milk and eggs can also be used for cooking and other needs. You can also go fishing with your fishing rod and sell the fish for gold or you can store the fish in your refrigerator and use it for cooking later. There are tons of recipes in the game and a lot of outcomes when you're cooking.
Along with growing crops you also have to water them daily which can be a pain if you have lots to water because your character has a stamina bar and if the bar empties then your character will faint. There are also tons of different tools to use but nothing really new from older Harvest Moon games. With your Wii controller you can do movements towards the Wii Sensor which can do things like cut lumber, water crops, fishing, dig and care for animals. In Harvest Moon Animal Parade you can upgrade your home and other buildings to increase the size of your farm and also you can buy plots of land so you can grow more crops. Your character has a rucksack in which he or she carries all their items and tools but there is only a limited space to store things. If you run out of space then don't threat because you can store plenty at home or you can sell all unwanted items in your shipping box in your farm.
The games time moves slightly slower than previous games but that's a good thing later in the game because you will be doing more exploring. Something new to this Harvest Moon is the added feature of clothing. You can now dress up your character to look snazzy or you can dress up to look smart its entirely up to you. You will also receive a camera in which you can take photos and hang in your home. There are still festivals in the game and these are probably part of what makes a Harvest Moon game. There is also a circus you can visit and have fun at. There really are endless possibilities in Harvest Moon Animal Parade and if you play this you will be definitely hooked on it because its a lot of fun and full of variety in the gameplay.
=== GRAPHICS ===
Harvest Moon Animal Parade is one of the better looking and better designed Harvest Moon games to date so far. Animal Parade along with Tree Of Tranquility are the two better looking games over Magical Melody on the Wii but that doesn't mean they are better. There is more character options in Animal Parade with the fact you can choose a boy or girl and dress them how you want and I do feel they look better in this Harvest Moon overall. The town and other parts of the island are probably better designed but the only real problem being there tends to involve a lot of travelling on foot to explore other areas with it being a fairly big island. Other characters look fairly good, animals both on the farm and wild animals look really good at times and also things you see around the island such as houses, trees, the beach, woods, a mine and more all look reasonably good but for a Wii game they look fantastic and this is by far one of the best graphical games on the Wii itself.
=== SOUND EFFECTS ===
Sound effects are very similar to all the Harvest Moon games and to be fair there isn't a whole lot of difference in this one than a few previous games. Most the animals sound the same with the noises they make, the music is a little similar but probably the only real part of the sound effects that changed a whole lot and also the overall sound effects when you're watering crops, digging in the mine, fishing and all your everyday bits to running a farm sound reasonably good as always. I still think the game would benefit more if the characters actually spoke for dialog rather than you having to read every little thing that pops up but that's something to work on. Overall I was quite impressed with the sound effects and it wasn't really that much of a surprise with how good they were going to be.
=== DIFFICULTY & LONGEVITY ===
Harvest Moon Animal Parade is one of those games that can be enjoyed by the majority of gamers and it also can be enjoyed as a family game. Its very enjoyable even to just watch someone play the game but even more fun to play the game yourself. Its not at all difficult in anyway. You cannot die in the game but animals of yours can if you don't tend to their needs. They also die of old age but you can replace your animals with new animals. Growing couldn't be any easier because it tells you what crops grow in which seasons so you just basically plant them and water them, its easy. If you are struggling with the game then you can visit your home and read books about how to do everything in the game which will certainly help you out. The controls are ridiculously easy and will not cause any problems at all.
Now the length of the game is very interesting indeed because Harvest Moon games have their replay value but most importantly most of the Harvest Moon games just let you carry on playing and playing and playing with no end to the game. This is no different but only if you don't do everything in the main quest such as ring all the bells, and then get the hero status and go up the mountain a second time to see the Harvest King. After doing that the main game is over but you don't have to do that for as long as you like and you can make the game last you a lifetime. I have had the game for around 6 months now and still play it quite a lot even tho the main game has pretty much ended. Overall I think the Harvest Moon games are the kind of games that can last forever!
=== PROS ===
*Running a farm whilst living your life trying to find a wife and much more.
*Take part in many different festivals, challenges and more.
*One of the best looking graphical games for the Wii and the sound effects are really good as well.
*Lots of different animals to tame and try to get as pets.
*The game is almost endless and you can just keep playing and playing over again.
*Very simple controls and a very easy game to play suitable for almost everyone.
=== CONS ===
*Not much of a story overall.
*The island seems a little too big at times with a lot of space not used in the game at all.
*Can get a little repetitive with the daily things you do but it doesn't get boring at all.
*Some of the loading screens are a little ridiculous when going into a new part of the island.
*No multiplayer but that's not surprising really.
=== FINAL THOUGHT ===
Harvest Moon Animal Parade is definitely one of the best farming games around so far to date with tons of exploring available and tons of options available as well. Harvest Moon Animal Parade isn't just a farming game because its actually a fun adventure game with other bits mixed in. The thing I like about these type of games are the replay value. There is so much fun available and some of these Harvest Moon games never end.
I'd definitely recommend this Harvest Moon to fans of the series because its enjoyable and rather fun. The game does pass the time and it is a little repetitive with the daily things you do but it doesn't seem to get old at all. Also if you're a fan of that silly Facebook game Farmville then you should seriously think about ditching that because this is much better with more options. If you miss combat in a good RPG then you might want to check out Rune Factory games which are similar to these but involve exploring dungeons and combat whilst running your own farm.
The price of the game is quite reasonable for a Wii game that's a lot of fun. I got the game a good 8 months ago and it only cost me £19.97 from Amazon. The game is a little bit dearer now on Amazon and there is chance this game could go rare one day. Its currently on Amazon for £22.97 but I still think its very much worth it. The game manual that comes with it is fantastic with colourful pictures and tons of useful information. The game also has an age rating of 3+ and is suitable for just about everyone!
I love this game series and this one is one of the best in the series. I would give Harvest Moon Animal Parade a solid 9/10!
Review also on Ciao under the username: MrBrightside1987!
Harvest Moon: Animal Parade is a RPG game in which you control a small character and control their lives, while caring for their farm and animals at the same time. There are many small missions around the town to, which add to the storyline and give some structure to the game. The list of things to do throughout the game is longer than most, as the developers have put loads of side things in the game to enhance your gameplay. I was given it as a gift, but apparently most of the GAME stores don't even have it and you have to buy it online for around £25.
The game itself probably only appeals to those who like the satisfaction of levelling up a character while building up successful relationships and gaining income in various ways. It's almost like a farm meets The Sims type game, and is definitely an acquired taste with people willing to do repetitive tasks.
You start off with a character that has already been created with a preset look, however throughout the game you have the ability to unlock costumes so it isn't completely uncustomisable. From that moment on you then follow their journey to creating a successful farm in a place called Harmonica Town. When you arrive at your newly bought farm, your Harvest Spirit named Finn says that you need to help the Harvest Goddess get over her lack of power. This leads you on yet another journey to release all the Harvest Spirits and give nature back its power.
Time passes in the game as you complete various tasks, so it isn't as boring as a real time game and allows you to skip through days as fast as you want using the sleep feature which will start a new day. The time that passes isn't too fast or too slow, so it gives you just the right balance to allow you to do enough on your farm. Your health decreases throughout the day as you do various tasks, so you have to make sure you get home to sleep or go to the sauna part of your farm when you have low health.
One bonus of the game itself is that there is no goal that you have to reach within a certain time frame or a way in which you have to play the game. While there are goals to complete to follow the storyline or just unlock small little features, you can complete them whenever you want as they are always available in all the seasons to finish. The missions that they give you are relatively hard to complete, but are similar to the previous Harvest Moon games in that you have to work out how to solve them and usually this involves collecting items, harvesting specific crops or visiting specific people.
The main thing you do to gain money in Animal Parade is to grow crops, harvest them and sell them. The seeds for these crops are bought at another farm near yours, and then you must care for them by watering and fertilising them every day until eventually they are grown enough for you to harvest. Once you have harvested them, they are then graded in their quality from Decent, Good, Perfect to Shining with prices altering for quality when you sell them. Some seeds have the capability to grow the crop back, whereas others you will keep having to buy seeds.
The way in which you farm was done well, as you could use the Wii remote features to do multiple things on the plot or an area at a time. Most of it just requires you to shake the Wii remote to water, put seeds down, mine or chop wood. I didn't find it to be as repetitive as I thought it would, as if you time your crops well enough, you don't have to sit and harvest 500 crops all at once.
Aside from raising crops however, you also have various other things to do throughout the town where you can use the things you get from them to make jewellery, build extensions to your properties, build furniture and cook food. These tasks include fishing, mining, finding herbs or cutting down wood. While you do need equipment to do some of these things, they can be purchased relatively cheap and as you do them, you level up equipment which adds yet another satisfying element when you level them up to the end.
Similar to The Sims game, there is the option to build relationships and friendships throughout and this requires you to build up hearts with the other characters. I've been playing this game for 6 months, and I still haven't levelled up all the characters friendships as it take so long to make their favourite gifts and to give them enough to even get one heart. I would recommend anyone who starts playing this game to start levelling up friendships from the beginning if this is something they are interested in, as it does take a while and you may need help from an online guide to find what their favourite things as there is hundreds of items in the game to choose to give or make for them.
Having a relationship within Harvest Moon is something else that you can choose to do, as it leads you to having a family. This is as easy as making friends within the game, and I don't think that it's too difficult as long as you put some effort in. While trying to marry your selected character, you do get shown different events, and having this added thing to do adds even more gameplay to a game which has so much to do from the beginning.
While the game is split up by a lot of loading screens, overall the graphics of Harvest Moon are well designed and cute looking . While the locations aren't as detailed as some other games on the Wii, they do fit in with the overall look of the game as they are bright and colourful when they need to and the mines are dark and gloomy. The game changes with the seasons which is nice as you can see the change that occurs throughout it.
Overall, this definitely is a game which some people will love and others will hate, it all depends on your ability to sit through repetitive actions to get the satisfaction of completing a game in full. There is loads to do whether it be harvesting crops to gain profit, getting products from your animals, mining and chopping wood and gaining relationships with characters in game, so if this is your kind of game there is rarely a time when there is nothing for you to do.