This month has been a busy one in terms of farming sim games! In case you missed it, earlier this month was the official release for Harvest Moon: One World (which, honestly, I wasn’t super impressed with). And then, last week, came Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town.
It was kind of interesting, at least from my perspective, to see both of them coming out so close together.
If you’re not overly familiar with the history of HM/SoS, they actually were the same game for a long time. Harvest Moon is the North American localization of the original Story of Seasons games, which was published by Natsume with permission.
In 2012, Marvelous (which made the original Story of Seasons games) stopped licensing the series to Natsume. So basically from Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley on, Harvest Moon games have been strictly Natsume, and have actively competed with Story of Seasons, which Marvelous brought to North America on its own in 2015.
To my knowledge, though, this is the first time they’ve directly competed like this in terms of release dates.
And let me just say, as someone who’s loved Harvest Moon forever—it may not have hit the market first, but I think Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town wins in just about every other way.
This is why.
It’s got great character creation.
Story of Seasons has been pretty creative with this ever since it started coming to North America. And well, at first, the bar wasn’t very high—all it had to do was beat out a couple of little jellybean sprites.
Pioneers of Olive Town has probably the most intense character creation of any of its predecessors. It lets you customize so much about your character; you can pick your hair, hair colour, your eyes, even your overall face shape. You can even set individual eye colours!
One thing that threw me, though, was that you don’t pick your character’s gender or anything until after character creation. It was a neat idea, and very appropriate for our world’s views on inclusion, so I did like it! It also made for a very natural conversation about the subject once I’d gotten into the game.
I think if I could improve anything, though, it would be a little bit of clarity about the subject. I wasn’t sure what was going on, so I was worried that I’d clicked on something somewhere and was just inadvertently cross-dressing a poor unsuspecting dude.
The farm is completely customizable.
One of the things I was really looking forward to with this game was the idea that you can do just about anything you want with your farm.
We got the start of this with Trio of Towns, where you could move little modules around to build your farm, but Pioneers of Olive Town (which in case you hadn’t noticed, I refuse to abbreviate) takes it to another level.
It actually reminded me rather strongly of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. You can build fences, lay roads, pretty much anything you’d like (aside from messing with where your house goes, of course!). So far, I’m still unlocking all the possibilities, but I’m experimenting with laying roads just to stop rocks, weeds, and sprouts from showing up all over my farm.
On a not-totally-related note, this isn’t the only ACNH inspiration, either. You start the game living in a tent (a HM/SoS first), and have to save up so you can upgrade to a house. There’s also a museum that you can fill with fish, relics, and photos of wild animals.
So I see what you did there, Marvelous.
It involves crafting.
Shane always jokes that if a game has crafting in it, I’m bound to love it. And he’s right!
I didn’t know going in, but this game is really heavy on the crafting aspect—which is kind of new for Story of Seasons. And it goes far beyond the makers we’re all familiar with; you can actually craft things like fences and furniture right out of your inventory!
So far, I’m finding that the inventory is maybe a little limited for this, but hey. One of the things you can craft is your own storage boxes, and as many of them as you want, so I’m sure it’ll be fine as long as I remember where I store things!
Spoiler alert: I won’t remember.
It features quite a few quality-of-life upgrades.
I know a few of these were in the trailer as well, but the game has a lot of quality-of-life improvements especially for veteran players.
Along with a nice, short path into town, no hidden pitfalls in the mines (except below rocks, but they’re easily avoidable), and not needing individual tools to take care of your animals, one of my favourites so far has to be the fact that they added sprinklers. That’s right—you craft one up, plonk it down in the middle of your crop plot, and it waters your crops for you every morning.
Call me a lazy farmer (I absolutely am), but it is so nice. Ever since they phased out the Wonderful system from Island of Happiness/Sunshine Islands, watering has always been the thing that stops me from growing large amounts of crops because I just don’t want to deal with it. The Friends of Mineral Town remake was probably the closest I got to not hating watering again, but even then, I had to wait until Year 3.
So now I don’t have to worry about it, and I can use that stamina to gather more things for crafting!
Obviously, I haven’t gotten too far into the game. I started playing Friday night, and have only made it to Summer 12 so far. But I’m looking forward to what I find as I play and as the expansion stuff starts to roll out!
Have you tried Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town? What did you think?