Pioneers of Olive Town hopes to bring “new life to the series” •

Pioneers of Olive Town hopes to bring

Harvest Moon for the SNES might have been lost in the wave of great games released in Japan in 1996, but the Farm Simulator has grown into a well-established series celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Over the years, Harvest Moon visited multiple platforms, experimented with different playstyles, and was even rebranded as Story of Seasons when, in 2012, Marvelous Inc. stopped licensing the series to Natsume. Starting in 2014, Marvelous Inc. instead used its own publishing brand, Xseed Games, to localize itself for Western audiences, while Natsume began releasing its own series of agricultural simulators using the title Harvest Moon, which , naturally, confused many fans.

Along with its Silver Jubilee, Story of Seasons is celebrating its latest addition – Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town for the Nintendo Switch. This game was produced by Hikaru Nakano, who has a long history with the series; been part of the development team since the days of Harvest Moon 64 and directing the 2020 remake of Friends of Mineral Town.

Story Of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town – Game Features Trailer – Nintendo Switch

Speaking to Eurogamer in a new interview, Nakano explained that the series started with “the general idea of ​​not having a fighting game, but one of those peaceful games that you just walked around on a farm”, and grew around the idea of ​​“what kind of lifestyle would you actually live if you worked on a farm?”. When it comes to Pioneers of Olive Town, Nakano sees the game as a “new chapter” that “really brings the series to life.”

The inspiration for the pioneers of Olive Town, Nakano revealed, came “from a feeling of wanting to do a lot of things from scratch and start over, start over, and so with that we naturally came to the theme. of the pioneer, of the exploration “. With this idea in mind, the developers decided to place the farm in a forest, rather than just an open field, hoping that it “gives the impression that it is. [the farm] you have been here much longer in history and you are also really connected to mother nature ”.

These feelings of exploration and history are definitely present in the game’s opening hours when your starting area is a small patch of land with a broken bridge on its eastern edge. My goals quickly shifted from creating money to repairing this structure; I wanted to know what secrets lay on the land beyond and how far my land extended.

These crumbling structures, like the bridge and dilapidated chicken coop you first encounter, also help create the idea that you’re not just starting a farm, but rebuilding a lost colony. Many Story of Seasons games start with you arriving at a farm ready and waiting for an owner – the buildings can be quite dusty, but after you earn some cash you can easily buy your first chicken or your first. cow. In Pioneers of Olive Town, however, you must make your way through the undergrowth to reach the chicken coop, craft the materials needed to repair it, and finally tame the wild chicken roaming your farmland, which can be a distant relative of those raised by your grandfather. Only then will the Olive Town Animal Shop start selling chickens, making a connection between what you do on your farm and the development of the town itself.

The forest setting also had an impact on the activities that the developers chose to include in the game, a process that Nakano gave us insight into: “the most important thing we keep in our hearts and our hearts. spirits is obviously what works well with the scene we’re in in this case it’s a forest – what kinds of functions work well with this environment and make sense so to speak, then on top of that it’s is obviously a farming life simulation, so what sort of stuff do you expect to have in that kind of game as well? ”This is why traditional mechanics like growing crops and mining are returning, alongside more unique mechanics like beekeeping and mushroom cultivation because the game is, in Nakano’s words, “just using nature’s blessing.”

SOS_Poot_2You can also find wild animals on your farm.

Where Pioneers of Olive Town differs from previous Story of Seasons titles, however, is the sheer number of manufacturers – machines used to convert items into something more useful or profitable – that you can use. Nakano explained to Eurogamer that the stronger focus on crafting came from the desire to give the player more choice: “We wanted to do where, of course, you can still bring the money to town and buy what you want. need, but we’ve added in this option, if you also have the inclination, the motivation to do it, you can chop down the trees, mine the rocks and you can also make it yourself. “

Creator unlock is tied to leveling up all 12 skills available to your character. These range from beekeeping and mining to communicating with the citizens of Olive Town, and each manufacturer’s purpose is tied to their assigned skill. If you want to convert crops to seeds to save money, for example, you need to focus on fieldwork until you unlock the seed maker.

Skill progression is seamlessly integrated into the game, with each action granting a small amount of experience, achieving the goal of the development team, as Nakano described it, of implementing “this kind of natural development of skills. skills like, whatever you do, there’s this thing in the in your mind that it’s going to be rewarded in one form or another, ”and make sure that“ whatever your actions, whatever you do, it doesn’t is not wasted ”.


Where manufacturers hesitate, however, is both in the space each person occupies – the field outside my farm is quickly becoming a manufacturer’s town – and in the way some have similar goals. At one point, I wanted to convert sheep yarn into fabric and I wasn’t sure why the fabric maker, which I used to use to weave yarn into fabric, couldn’t create this item. While leafing through my list of plans, I discovered the Cloth Maker, which is the specific machine for transforming any type of yarn, whether it is sheep, alpaca or rabbit, into fabric. Having two creators whose purpose is basically the same feels like a busy job for the sake of a busy job, especially when the game can be easily streamlined by combining the two machines or unlocking the animal fabric by upgrading the Textile Maker.


One aspect in which Pioneers of Olive Town is successful is the inclusion of queer relationships, which first appeared in the Story of Seasons series in last year’s Friends of Mineral Town remake. Nakano explained that the continued inclusion of LGBT + relationships is a desire to “keep it [Story of Seasons series] modern, we want to make our players happy and adding LGBT elements to the game is a given here ”, and“ the whole ethic behind the game is about the freedom, to play the way you want. We want our protagonist to be able to fall in love and have that kind of relationship with an NPC regardless of their gender and sexual orientation. ”He also hopes that“ this time around we were able to express it a little more naturally, so things seem a bit more natural and fluid, almost seamless ”.


For queer gamers like me, the ability to have a relationship with a character of the same sex is very important in games like Pioneers of Olive Town, where the aspect of mock dating is a crucial part of the gameplay. By giving you the freedom to explore this aspect of yourself in the game, it in turn becomes more immersive – as if an invisible barrier between you and her has been broken down. It’s the little things too, like having the NPC character bios faithfully reflect the change in your relationship in Pioneers of Olive Town. These help create that atmosphere and demonstrate how the developers have taken the time to ensure that every aspect of the feature has been included for both gay and straight relationships.

Pioneers of Olive Town was released in Japan in February this year, and while the game has been successful in the charts, players have reported experiencing a number of bugs and framerate drops. Personally, I have experienced long loading screens, especially when moving between the farm and Olive Town, and framerate drops, which became more noticeable when riding through my farm on horseback.

SOS_Poot_4Currently, transitioning between different parts of your horse farm can result in frame rate drops.

The team behind the game is aware of these issues, however; producer Dia Takemura wrote about planned fixes on the Japanese site for Bokumono, which is the shortened version of the series’ Japanese name, Bokujō Monogatari. These fixes include improving loading times for certain areas and fixing issues that cause the game to freeze, such as when the fishing rod is equipped in the mine. There are also plans for future fixes and updates, which will provide long term fixes to the game.

Whether Pioneers of Olive Town becomes the new chapter in the story of the seasons that the developers are hoping for depends on how these upcoming fixes improve the overall quality of the game. Hopefully the fixes will rework load times and, in particular, the creative system to create more engaging gameplay, which doesn’t suffer from its weird overcomplications. (Fabric made of yarn is always a textile.)

Despite these issues, Pioneers of Olive Town still has the same atmosphere of peace and tranquility found in every Story of Seasons titles. You never feel rushed to reach a certain goal, and you always have time to sit down, go fishing, mining, or even just take a walk around your farm. It is commendable that, as Nakano says, “the theme of the game remains unchanged and even after these 25 years, deep down, it’s still the same game.”

Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town will be released for Nintendo Switch in Europe on Friday, March 26.

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