It has been more than a year since Tree of Tranquility was released in the United States and more than twice that long since it was released in Japan (where it was followed by a sequel in 2008). Yet it is only now, in late 2009, that the Wii-exclusive Harvest Moon title has been made available, courtesy of Rising Star Games, across Europe. Was it worth the wait?
Tree of Tranquility begins as a violent storm strands your cutesy alter-ego (who can be either a boy or a girl) on Waffle Island. In standard Harvest Moon tradition, you're soon offered a place to stay and a farm to look after. In addition to your farming and social obligations, however, you’ll be given the opportunity to pursue a grander goal in resurrecting the "Mother Tree" for the good of the island. This is a fairly involved task that will take some time to accomplish, and it's a nice addition in terms of improving variety in the game, but it doesn't change the fact that the bulk of your time will be spent working on your farm and chatting to the locals.
If you’ve played a Harvest Moon game before you’ll know what to expect here: soil tilling, weed picking, rock smashing, crop planting/watering/harvesting, and so on. Crops are laid out in a grid, which initially forces you to perform actions on just one square at a time. This soon becomes tedious, but Tree of Tranquility offers a solution: as you become more proficient with your hoe, for example, you can till multiple squares in a single movement. Not only does this minimize tedium, it maximises stamina, the all important stat that determines how much you can accomplish in a single day. This is especially useful early on in the game when stamina is scarcest.
After a while you'll be able to start raising livestock. Everything from cows and sheep to ostriches (!) can be reared, and each produces sellable produce or serves as a trusty steed. Raising animals, however, requires buildings (such as coops and barns) as well as empty land. Both of these must be purchased, along with seeds and other items, from Waffle Island residents. Ultimately, you'll need to spend a good deal of time chatting up the locals if you want to get ahead. Tree of Tranquility offers a decent map-based interface for locating residents (who move about regularly), but navigating the island suffers as the result of another issue: loading times.
Waffle Island is a fairly large place but it's broken down into a series of smaller areas, moving between each of which results in loading times spanning multiple seconds. This might not sound like much on
paper screen, but it soon adds up to frustration. Certain features - such as a phone that allows you check if shops are open, or even place orders - eventually help to alleviate the nuisance, but nothing does away it with completely. It's a shame, too, because there's so much to do around the island - interacting with residents, fishing, and mining for gems, etc. - but travelling to do any of it feels like a massive chore.
The core mechanics are solid, but the tacked-on motion controls are a little too easy to initiate unintentionally, and the uncontrollable camera proves frustrating at times.
The cutesy visual style still manages to charm despite looking like a last-gen title (something not helped by a lack of 480p support) and a somewhat washed-out color scheme.
Background music is very subtle and unobtrusive, while sound effects are serviceable and voice snippets are low quality. Nothing repugnant, but little of note either.
If you can look past its flaws and fall in love with it, Tree of Tranquility has enough content to keep you entertained for countless hours.
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Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility has all the staples of a successful Harvest Moon title as well as a few new welcome additions, but it's not without its flaws. Irksome loading times, a completely uncontrollable camera, and a slow introductory period serve to severely limit the game’s appeal. If you can look past these issues, however, Tree of Tranquility boasts a wealth of content that will keep you entertained for a great many hours.
Ah, shame to hear it's not all that (but after Magical Melody I wasn't expecting much anyway... the 3D HM games have never been as solid as the 2D ones)
Since my brother and I both like the series we'll probably get it eventually. I just can't believe Rising Star finally brought it out! When will we see the probably superior sequel I wonder
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It's fun at first (if you already like Harvest Moon), but quite frankly after a while it loses its fun.
If you like Harvest Moon games, it'll be worth buying once the price goes down.
One glaring problem for me was this: When you gathering food, it goes to your rucksack (item menu). You can only carry like 8 items I think (which can be expanded later on). But, to save space, you can carry multiple items that are the same and they'll only take up one space. For example, you can carry a good tomato(x20) in one space of your rucksack. Good, right? However, if you want to sell just ten of those tomatoes and save ten for later, you can't. You have to sell them all or sell none of them. Such an irritating flaw that seems like it could have been easily fixed.
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ManaChwan (guest) 03.12.2009 14:08#4
The funny thing is, Tree of Tranquility lets you be pretty anti-social, especially compared to Animal Parade.
The rucksack is annoying. (Rising Star lets you stack!? I hate Natsume...)
I think the washed out color theme is kind of charming too, partially because I like theme and after playing AP/WakuAni, I miss that ...darkness? I miss the graphics in general actually.
And the loading times are a pain, but I think AP suffers worse. The land is too expansive and folks teleport (so you can't catch them walking.)
I look forward to the AP review when it comes out for you.
Unkn0wnGaM3r (guest) 10.12.2009 11:39#5
I agree, the rucksack is very frustrating when trying to accomplish major item collections. Another flaw that is a setback to this wonderful game is the fact that traveling just take so long. I honestly feel like I spend half of my day just walking and waiting for the different screens to load. xP very frustrating.
But despite some minor flaws, the game is actually fun! (even if you lose interest in the first couple months of play =D)
Greg137 (guest) 19.07.2011 04:41#6
The game disk I got from gamefly was defective, So I CAN'T PLAY!!! LOOKS good, though!!