Animal Paradise – NDS – Review

We’ve all
witnessed the overwhelming sensation of big-headed animal photos that swept
across the country not long ago. These disgustingly adorable depictions of
already cute furry pets even sparked a new line of stuffed animal, as well as a
short stint of McDonalds Happy Meal toys. But whether you loved those oversized
faces, or hated them with a passion, the art of Hana Deka was an undoubtedly
successful adventure into the world of strange, pointless, and irresistible.

Months, if not
years after Hana Deka’s success on American shores, Empire Interactive has
decided to bring the first “Big Nose” video game to the U.S., with hopes that
all those little children and giddy girls will remember their obsession and
rekindle that fire that once burned bright for Hana Deka animals. Animal
Paradise gives Nintendo DS players a chance to search for their own cute
animals, befriend them, and snap photos of their very own.

The entire
concept behind Animal Paradise revolves around finding animals, playing with
them through a series of mini-games, and eventually befriending them. Once you
and said animal are trustworthy enough, it’ll let you get photos for your
collection. Now, I use the word “get” for a reason. You don’t actually snap any
photos at all. The game will simply unlock a new still-frame photo of the animal
you just played with, which is viewable by you. The player does not get to
dictate how the photo is taken, at what angle it is taken, or the pose the
animal is presenting when photographed. In terms of gameplay, this lacking
feature is a huge letdown.

In order to
gain the animals’ trust, you must progress through a series of mini-games,
ranging from feeding the critter to bathing it. The actual games themselves are
tried and true in terms of gameplay mechanics, but they also bring nothing fresh
to the mini-game genre. Each game you progress through also lacks any form of
status bar to indicate exactly how far into the mini-game you are. After playing
through the same scenario for each animal you encounter, this process expectedly
begins to get tedious.

Unfortunately,
there is very little reward for all your hard work with each of the 18 animals
available within Animal Paradise. The player strives to gain the creature’s
trust, and once trust is reached, the player receives a photograph to stare at.
Occasionally, a new mini-game will also be unlocked, but the variations between
each of these are hardly worth mentioning.

Controls are
simple, as expected in a game with such little depth or involvement. While this
is a plus for younger children who will be easily drawn to the game, there is no
challenge at all for any gamer looking for more than a casual experience. Even
within the photo album, the player cannot interact at all with the actual
photos. The only interaction with the animals occurs during your strained
efforts to make them like you.

Animal Paradise
reads much differently from the outside looking in. Once you crack the case open
and begin to play, you will quickly realize that the emphasis on photography is
actually quite lacking, and the attention placed on animal interaction swiftly
gets less than enjoyable as you progress from creature to creature. If you enjoy
cute and cuddly, then you could very well still get enjoyment out of the game.
Animal Paradise possessed mounds of potential, but the piles left behind are
less than ideal.


Review
Scoring Details for Animal Paradise

Gameplay: 4.0
The gameplay
presented by Animal Paradise is linear and mundane after only a few plays. Each
of the mini-games (which actually make up most of your playtime) is similar, and
a lack of interaction with the photographs was disappointing.

 


Graphics: 6.0
The visual
presentation of Animal Paradise is probably the game’s best feature. While the
animals are not overly impressive, they represent their individual species quite
well. The Hana Deka style of art used for photographs seems gimmicky without any
form of interaction.

Sound: 5.0
All of the expected
sounds and noises of animals are included, and make their audio appearances in
accordance with the game. Nothing ever truly stands out of the audio crowd
though.


Difficulty: Easy
Animal Paradise is
not meant to present a challenge, and succeeds very easily in this right. The
only difficult exception is actually forcing you to complete each mini-game.
 

Concept: 5.0
The concept of using
cute “big nose” photography within a virtual world full of animals is compelling
and innovative. Unfortunately, Animal Paradise only makes the player believe
this gameplay mechanic will exist.

Overall: 5.0
While Animal
Paradise’s biggest downfall is a lacking camera mechanic of any kind, other
minor issues definitely plagued the game as well. The mini-games were repetitive
and melancholy more than they were enjoyable. The rewards for befriending
successfully befriending animals were hardly able to be considered rewards at
all. The concept was there, but the execution and misleading package really
forced Animal Paradise down the wrong path.