Harvest Moon: Animal Parade is the latest edition in Natsume’s classic series originating on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. For the most part this game has stuck with the same basic features that have made the series such a success, with this newest release adding a few much beloved new features. Kiwi lets us know her thoughts on this latest Harvest Moon entry.
When you begin the game, you’ll choose your character from two different boys or two different girls and you will be asked a series of questions to determine a few simple details like your birthday and food preference. You will be led to your new worn down ranch home which you have been charged with revitalizing. You’ll be introduced to the storyline that will intertwine with everything you do in this world, which is much larger than previous Harvest Moon worlds and has been split into four districts for a more realistic feeling town. A basic reading ability is required to fully enjoy the game, but this game has appeal for all ages and affiliations.
There is a ton to do in the game. On your ranch you’ll grow crops and trees, care for your animals, befriend wild creatures and make them your pets, fish, mine and refine, purchase new outfits for your character, sell goods for profit, befriend the townspeople and woo potential spouses, upgrade your farm buildings and tools, furnish your ranch and vacation homes, start a family and participate in a variety of festivals. Crop growing has been tweaked a bit to add a soil-quality factor which affects how long some crops take to grow, and crop-quality which affects the sale price of each vegetable or fruit you grow. The cooking system has been simplified to require only one tool per recipe you are trying to cook and has added a quality ranking to some recipes which can affect the sale value of that recipe.
Building upgrades now include a requirement of stone materials in addition to the standard lumber and cash when you upgrade any building. You can find stone material and ore in the mines and lumber and stone in the forest, although time will not stop in either of these locations as it did in games past. Tool upgrades now require three ore that have been refined at the new accessory shop. The pet system and clothing system are new features added to the harvest moon repertoire, along with several slightly more diverse shops, a wider variety of more interactive festivals and the ability to dress up your children and watch them grow as they interact and aid you on your farm. Returning features are the crop growing system, cooking system, simple cartoonist graphics, building and tool upgrading systems, and gaining affection with the townspeople and animals.
You and your spouse can now have two children that will grow into a pre-adolescent stage. Your children can be dressed in any of your outfits and will each come with their own unique appearance and personality slightly resembling your spouse. They can also help you around your farm. Befriending the townspeople and animals is easy, but can take time and patience. Speaking to them and giving them gifts are good ways to make affection rise. A new feature includes a second person wielding a second Wii controller and using it to ‘rub’ a town-person or animal as you walk by during your day.
The festivals are an old favorite in Harvest Moon’s past and have been given a warranted revamping. There are now three regularly scheduled festivals each season, including the circus, a romantic-type festival, a town gathering and an additional festival in winter to celebrate the coming of the new year. The romantic festivals are a quiet retreat from the busy day to day life, and allow you to invite an affectioned date to share the moment with. The town gatherings are more upbeat, with more contests and and more prizes. The circus, hosted by a man named Theodore, is an all day event, but the main show starts in the evening. This seems to be another great festival, but you’ll find there are surprises in store once you’ve met Theodore the ringleader.
The wild creatures in Animal Parade can now be interacted with. Pet, feed and train these animals enter them in pet contest at the Animal Festival for fun and prizes. Clothing can be purchased primarily from the tailor and can be changed when you’re inside your home. There are many different outfits to choose from, so you can accessorize and customize to a style that’s uniquely you. Some of the old shops have been revamped and split into multiple shops with many new items for sale, including vacation homes and land, a photo store which sells cameras and frames for the photos you take, the carpenter and general store now also sell furniture for your homes, a tailor now will sell you clothes and other items of fashion, and the accessory shop will craft accessories for you to wear and will refine what you find in the mines into metals and gems for a small fee with a small chance of success.
The graphics are much the same as some of the earlier Harvest Moon editions, like Harvest Moon 64 and Harvest Moon: Back to Nature. I myself appreciated both of these games in their time, but was a little disappointed that the character still looks a little distorted during gameplay.
This light-hearted adventure is entertaining and pertinent for any age, and has countless hours of replay value once you satisfy the main storyline. If you like Harvest Moon or have an interest in puzzle games or RPGs this is a worthy buy.