Animal Parade is a suiting successor to the first Wii title, Tree of Tranquility.
For fans of Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility, the new Wii title Animal Parade is a nice transition. It contains lots of elements of Tree of Tranquility, such as the option to play as male or female, but also introduces new features and even a few improvements. The idea is that a circus comes into town and all of the animals get loose and the ringmaster (previously known as the mayor in Magical Melody) persuades you to round them all up for him. Finn serves as your constant companion to dole out advice and remind you of your tasks. Simultaneously, the divine tree is weakening and you must ring five bells in order to awaken the Harvest King to save its life.
Perhaps most important in Harvest Moon are the eligible bachelors and bachelorettes. I know that the first thing I did when I got Tree of Tranquility was open up the booklet and select my new lucky lover. Likewise, in Animal Parade I went to the menu and made sure that Owen was listed under the people that I knew; he was. Animal Parade includes all of the same characters with four new eligible bachelor/ettes: the witch, the wizard, the Harvest God, and the Harvest Goddess. I was told that these take longer to court and marry, but perhaps they are well worth the wait.
Another similarity is the island itself. The town is in the southwest quadrant, a mountain up on the northeast, and the location of your house is in the middle east. This is nice because it doesn't completely throw off those who were so used to Waffle Island. The town is very different and much more complex, as it is situated on a hillside, so there are actually rows of buildings on top of one another, which is fun because there are lots of homes and businesses that have easy rooftop access. Unfortunately, I was playing on Sunday, and many of these were closed. New buildings that I noticed were the photo store, the school, and the lighthouse that you can enter (although I am unsure if you can go up to the top or not).
A camera shop? Yes, one amazing aspect of Animal Parade is the camera feature, which allows you to take pictures of anything and everything, including yourself using the timer option, and post them using Wii Connect 24. This is a great option, since I found myself taking pictures of my TV screen a lot when something I like came up on the screen. (Yes, I am that bad.)
And you will need the camera once you start playing, because the pet options in Animal Parade are even better than in Tree of Tranquility. Dogs, cats, a snake, a turtle, a weasel, a badger, a baby boar, a panda, and a baby panda are all available to not only domesticate but also to train. By blowing a whistle around a pet, he automatically does his signature trick. You can also pick up and cuddle your pets to have a better relationship with them, which improves on their trick abilities.
The options of farm animals are also expanded in Animal Parade, as any beast of burden with four legs is now available to ride. The demos had the cow as the animal to ride, a slower but arguably cuter option to the horse. What is especially cute is that the character rides the cow as if she is in a rodeo, with one hand up in the air. I can only imagine how amazing this looks once you purchase the cowboy hat.
And speaking of clothes, the entire wardrobe possibilities have expanded. In Tree of Tranquility, there were set outfits which were available for purchase in different colors. In Animal Parade, there are many more options of clothing which to wear, which according to my attendant was most frequently asked for by fans.
And don't forget that when you play Harvest Moon, there is also a ranch that needs to be tended to. The ranch buildings in the demo that I played were more run-down, but appeared to have been there from the start. This means that you may start with a house, a coop, and a barn, and then work towards making the necessary aesthetic and size improvements. Seeds are also planted in a 3x3 format, not a 6x1, a logical choice. In Tree of Tranquility I never did understand why I planted seeds in a 6x1 formation, and my watering can was formatted to a 3x3. However, this is changed in Animal Parade. Another added feature is the ability to have an aerial view of your crops with the touch of a button.
The controls are all very similar, if not the same. One difference is that you automatically walk through doorways instead of selecting A to do so; this seems like it has potential to muddle things up. I was unable to try to pick up chicken eggs around chickens and see if the problem with recognition still remained. I am also highly disappointed to say that from the demo available on the E3 floor, the load times were not improved upon. While this is annoying with Tree of Tranquility, it was worth it then. With all of the added features and new gameplay, I do not see slow loading times as a problem for me Animal Parade. I am even more excited to buy this game when it comes out in September than I was before.