Game: Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town
Genre: Farming simulation
System: Nintendo Switch
Developer|Publisher: Marvelous Interactive | Marvelous (XSeed)| Marvelous Europe
Age Rating: EU 3+ | US Everyone
Price: US $49.99 | UK £44.99 | EU € 49,99
Release Date: March 23rd (America), March 26th (Europe) 2021
Review code used, with many thanks to Mindscape!
The long-awaited new entry in the Story of Seasons series of farming simulations is here. Even though there are some Story of Seasons titles out on the Nintendo Switch already (Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town and Story of Seasons Doraemon) this one is brand-new and truly the next step in farming adventure. Let’s see if Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is indeed what we have been waiting for!
Destination Reached: Olive Town
After a long road trip on her snazzy red motorbike, my little YvoCaro took up a career in farming. She’s going to Olive Town, the town where her grandfather had a farm and the town she visited as a child. Mayor Victor was there to greet her and direct her to the farm: a derelict place that has clearly seen better times. Fortunately, Victor supplied YvoCaro with tools and a tent to sleep in. The adventure starts!
The next day, the first order of business is to rid the land of the trees and grass that have reclaimed the place. And with those materials, fix the Coop that can house the chicken that is roaming around freely. After doing that, she went into Olive Town, getting to know her new neighbours and checking out the stores for her supplies. The Olive General Town plays an important part at first, supplying YvoCaro with the seeds she needs. If she has the money of course.
She found the Town Hall, important too as it has requests listed for town development and things that the villagers need. Plus, it’s the place where she gets rewards for the new skills she has reached. The Olive Museum is another important place, YvoCaro got a photo camera there. The Camera could capture the image of wild animals, which then can be turned into 3D models at the museum. And once she got a fishing rod, she could populate the Museum’s aquarium as well.
There really was too much for her to see in one day, but at least she was off to a good start. And if you want to know more about YvoCaro’s adventures and get some guidance to get you going too, be sure to check out our Beginners Guide here.
All Facets of the Best of Story of Seasons
Leaving YvoCaro to her work, I can safely say Marvelous has really put everything in Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town that is important to the fans. There’s a storyline that I won’t go into because I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it’s a nice touch. Of course, you start out small with sowing crops, as money is tight, as is stamina.
You can choose to go in seedling mode, giving you a bit more cash for your crops. I chose normal mode, and it’s hard going at first. But that’s okay, all part of the management part to the game. The fun is in trying to make it go more smooth by for instance adding sprinklers in my sown fields. This is where the Makers come in too, the Makers are your little factory that you have to keep going to get materials for building and products to sell or cook with.
Meanwhile, it’s your choice what part of the game you want to emphasize. Do you want to spend most of your time rearing animals or sowing a very wide variety of crops? Or would you rather explore everything as quickly as you can, discover new parts of your property or go down as far as you can in the mine? You can also choose to interact with the villagers as much as you can. Maybe get a romance going.
One thing is for certain, you won’t be able to do it all at first, there’s simply not enough time in the day. And staying up all night has a penalty to it, with your next day being even shorter. I absolutely love this management part of Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town, and at the same time it can give me a rushed feeling, running around trying to be as efficient as I can be. I do realize though that this is my own doing, trying to make the absolute most out of every day. While I could also decide to not let it rush me and enjoy the exploration and interaction with the villagers more.
New Elements Added
In Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town there are some new elements added too. There’s the Sprite Village too where you can decide which activities should get the most attention from the Sprites, like logging, mining or farming. There are other Sprite areas you can visit to do mini-games.
In other games, you usually went to the carpenter in town to whizz up a barn or coop for you, clearing the patch of land it would stand on at the same time. Now, all buildings and facilities are already there but in a dilapidated state. You can clearly see your aim as to what you want to achieve next and you can choose to build it with your own materials or use your in-game money.
The game also has online features. At the Tourist Counter in the Harbor you can register for online play. This means that while you play, people can visit your town and appear as tourists and you can appear in other people’s games too. It also means that the photos you make with the photo cameras in the game can go into cyberspace and pop up in other people’s games. Like you see theirs during the loading screens in the game. I do wish there was more to the online feature, I remember in older games that you could actually milk each other’s cows and wander around on their farm. That would have been a great addition.
Like in Animal Crossing games you can bring fish and relics to the museum even though that part is not as fleshed out as in AC games. On the other hand, taking photos of animals in the game leads to a nice 3D model of that little critter in the museum, nice touch.
With all of this, there’s never a dull moment, especially when you add some 200 events into the mix.
Sound and Graphics Set the Scene
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town looks lovely, the graphics are great, crisp and colourful but in muted tones. The characters look lifelike, the animals look cute and plump. The camera can move a little bit, though you can’t look all the way around.
I played the game on handheld only. The loading times are a bit on the long side, going from one area to the next. But the shared photos from around the world help pass the time. At times I feel the surroundings, while YvoCaro runs around, are a bit stuttery. And it seems to get worse once you’ve placed more items, crops, paths etc on your farm. Hopefully we will get an update for that soon but it’s not something that influenced my fun of the gameplay.
This is one of the games where I’m hoping that they will release the soundtrack too. Every area and house has its own music, with sound effects thrown in that mark the time of day. From the chirping of birds that are searching on the floor of your land for lost seeds (or so I imagine) to the chirping of insects late at night.
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town has all the important elements accounted for. There’s farming with a wide range of different crops and seeds, you can take care of animals, there’s mining and fishing, you can craft items in Makers, there’s a huge town with many people to befriend or romance and it wouldn’t be called Pioneers if there wasn’t a lot to explore too. Plus, a nice little feature is added in the form of the Sprite Village and the various special areas you can visit there. Finally there is some online gameplay added into the mix, though I do feel that could have been fleshed out some more.
Overall, a very complete package that will sometimes leave you wishing for more hours in the day, in real life and in the game. There’s so much to do, that Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is not only a farming simulation game but also a management game. The only way to let the farm thrive and have time for all the other activities is to plan ahead and make use of your little factory of Makers and recipes for crafting as best you can.
As I love a good farming simulation game and am in my element in management games, it’s not difficult for me to give Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town it’s rating. The game has the right rhythm of keeping you interested by adding more new things at the right time too.
I know there are more good games in the genre available on Switch, but in my opinion, this one is ace!
Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up!