Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Nayu 25.03.2021 1

Review for Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town on Nintendo Switch

Fans have long waited on a new Story of Seasons title for the Nintendo Switch, with the recent Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town being a remake of an older entry. Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is an original tale from XSEED Games and Marvelous Interactive Inc. with all new characters, crops, and creatures. It starts with a motorcycle breakdown near Olive Town, once home to the protagonist's grandfather's farm. The mayor happens to pop by to say it will be mended and invites the protagonist to stay on the family's abandoned farm. Thus starts an adventure of farming, friendship making, and animal taming!

From the outset, Pioneers of Olive Town looks amazing. The charming style with soft and bright colours appeals to those who love anything cute. The player character's initial outfit has minimal choice, but the same can't be said for the character themselves: for what feels like a rarity in character selection, it is possible to choose different colours for each eye. With around twenty eye and hair colours, as well as twenty different hairstyles, creating a character that feels unique is made easy. It's possible to colour coordinate with the protagonist's motorcycle, too. Later on, players are able to buy a vast wardrobe, so it's easy to be oneself in this Story of Seasons adventure.

The usual introductory tutorial will be familiar to anyone who has ever played a farming sim, but it's still helpful for those new to the genre. There are two levels of difficulty, including one for newer players that provides bonuses such as more money given for produce sold and faster friendship forging. As further features are unlocked, tutorials are given for any new system and can be looked at in the relevant menu. As part of the opening hours, you are tasked with going around town and introducing yourself to the residents. This helps in learning where the shops are and who runs them. Key places including the museum and the town hall are explained in due course. In the main menu, there is a handy area that lists all the shops' opening times, as well as which days they are closed, so there is no need to commit them all to memory. Almost all the NPCs are friendly and eager to help get the new (hopefully permanent) member of Olive Town settled in as quickly as possible.

Each day starts similarly with the player character waking up in their home, be it a tent, log cabin, or larger house. Before the day gets underway, there may be a cutscene with either the mayor or someone else visiting to explain an upcoming event or how to do a particular task. After that, the day can be spent in a myriad ways.

Screenshot for Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town on Nintendo Switch

There is an incredible amount of content in Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town. There are many town occupants to befriend: the stronger the relationship, the more unique scenes can be witnessed which are important if marriage is being sought. It is important to speak to everyone because being sociable unlocks titles that result in various prizes; these can be an item exchangeable for money or a useful piece of machinery for the farm.

It is perfectly fine, however, to ignore the town's population and focus on the vast area of the farm which has an insane amount of work to do. There are three areas to the farm which unlock once bridges are mended using a set amount of materials and/or money. These have their own beaches where items can be collected from the shores, different types of trees and weeds that are equally essential to producing certain items, and space for animals to graze and live. The first area has a coop with space for five chickens (with expandable capacity); the second area has a barn, again with expandable space for five or more larger animals. Multiple coops and barns can be purchased later on, including the larger ones. Oddly, when going to upgrade farm buildings, instead of the existing building being worked on by the carpenter an entirely new coop or barn is placed in the inventory, which then has to be re-placed before the animals can move in. It is amusing to get rid of an old building because the animals then all wander around homeless with question marks beside them. To get them into their improved accommodation, all that is needed is to re-tame them by petting and allocating them to the upgraded home.

Taming is a fun mechanic, especially at the beginning when exploring the farm areas daily is a must - not only for the collectible flora that can be sold or used in farm produce, but you never know when there may be new livestock waiting in the trees to be given a new home. The standard black and white cows are the only cows to have the unique bell on their tails, but that is forgivable for the sheer variety of cows, sheep, goats, alpacas and, for the first time, buffalos! Almost all the animals retain similar sound bites from Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town, but there might be a huge disappointment when it comes to hearing the sound of the rabbit. Instead of the adorable snuffling noise that led to many rabbits being purchased by this reviewer in Friends of Mineral Town, plans for a rabbit army dissipated upon hearing what would better suit a bear or maybe even a foghorn. That menacing sound should not be given to a cute and fluffy bunny!

Part of Pioneers of Olive Town's delight is the ability to put up a large quantity of both barns and coops anywhere on the farm that space can be found. Creating barns exclusively for one animal takes farming to the next level; watching the sheep and goats frolic in and out of the barns, literally jumping with joy, leads to many happy moments for the player. Deciding which species to house together is also fun when there are fewer barns due to lack of funds. Unfortunately, expanding the farm by adding lots of buildings, pathways, fences, and machinery creates new assets that have a negative effect on gameplay, and this currently detracts from the enjoyment.

Screenshot for Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town on Nintendo Switch

For the purpose of this review multiple barns were erected, paths laid, and many machines created. No fences were used, which many enjoy putting up. The more items and animals that were added, the slower the frame rate became. Sometimes frame rate dips can be accepted as a necessary compromise but that can't be said of Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town in its current state. The frame rate drops in the farm area are significant and so far have not been fixed with the pre-launch patch in the European version. Entering the central area, which should be filled with joy at seeing the animals and going about using the different farm machines, is instead an experience fraught with doom. Seeing your farmer move about in slow motion and having to wait for the game to process various information is painful. After spending more than forty hours with Pioneers of Olive Town and enduring these issues most of that time, this reviewer's enjoyment was significantly affected.

There's also a weird glitch in which some barns weren't placed properly where the highlighted area on the screen is, instead moving several squares backwards despite no obvious obstacles in the way. Being unable to align some barns as desired messed with the aesthetics of the field. The inability to sort item menus is another major disappointment; needing to constantly check each item to find the correct one takes up too much precious time. Item sorting is a basic time-saving feature that every farm simulation should have.

Another major issue is with the town events. One of the first optional events to attend is the Egg Hunting Festival. Waking up on festival day drew great excitement - just how many eggs would be found in the time limit? Disappointment reigned supreme, though, when on attending the festival there was simply a short cutscene showing the character looking about town for some eggs and finding them. It would have been far more enjoyable to be an active participant, racing through the streets on the hunt for eggs. Considering festivals are an important element of the Story of Seasons series, this felt like a huge let-down.

There are many new aspects to Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town which are fun, though. Some secret areas and characters (whose identities will be saved to avoid spoilers) add a fantasy-like feel to the experience when they are first discovered. Fun mini-games are thrown into the mix to break up farming duties and some useful prizes can be won here. Regularly visiting one of the secret areas results in many bonus items being given as rewards for completing various farm duties, in addition to the items given in the town hall for reaching milestones. Instead of one mine in the town there are several, each holding a different number of levels and requiring stronger tools to surpass. They also house a few enemies who can be quite brutal to the health bar.

Screenshot for Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town on Nintendo Switch

As mentioned earlier there is the new animal, Buffy the buffalo. Buffy has a fine pair of horns and acts as the mascot in Pioneers of Olive Town. Naturally, this reviewer thinks that any buffalo bought from the shop or birthed in a cute cutscene should have a name that is a version of Buffy, like "Buffelina". Only animals in the larger barns/coops can be made pregnant through the animal shop, as any animals sold from the shop are full grown adults. Weirdly, it isn't even possible to put a chicken egg on the relevant platform to hatch a chicken from it; the process has to be done at the animal shop. Adding automatic feeders that take food from silos really helps automate the running of the farm, leaving more time to use the wide variety of machines that can create ingots from ore. Processed goods can also be produced from base animal products, such as eggs becoming mayonnaise and milk making cheese or butter.

These machines can be gained through collecting prizes for achievements in the town hall, or with the correct materials can be made and placed on the farm. This provides a more lucrative way of earning money through crop harvests and tree produce than cooking, as the machines state how long they take to create the finished item - usually several in-game hours. Cooking a dish removes thirty minutes from the clock instantly, which can be a shock if the first experience in the kitchen involves creating many dishes one after the other. Before you know it, the daily farm chores of petting animals, collecting produce, watering plants, and harvesting crops can be missed due to cooking chewing through the in-game clock.

Time passes at a set rate, though, speeding up only occasionally during events and when cooking. Seasons are important because out-of-season crops simply won't grow when planted. Thankfully, unseasonal seeds can be taken back from the earth by using the hammer, a tool that also removes small saplings from bigger trees when used instead of the axe. All the tools need to be upgraded at the tool workshop, and in this title the tool upgrades are immediate, taking no time other than that needed to collect the necessary materials. The tools must be selected individually, though. They can be stored in the item bag but at the start when the bag is relatively small, there is a special tool bag for tools to live in. This frees up space for other items in the main bag.

Screenshot for Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town has the potential to be the best entry in the Story of Seasons series. Sadly, the combination of major and minor bugs, including frame rate dips on the farm itself, severely decreases gameplay enjoyment. There has been one pre-launch update and further updates are on the way. This will hopefully address some of the issues encountered and maybe even allow active participation in more of the events. It is still a fun experience so long as the noted problems can be tolerated. There is a huge variety of animals and crops to tend to, fantastic range in character customisation, and the usual aspects of a Story of Seasons title that long-time fans have come to love.

Developer

Marvelous

Publisher

XSEED Games

Genre

Simulation

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

It's such a shame that this was rushed to the market. The negative feedback in Japan have totally cut the legs off the game. Apparently one of the team on Twitter was bombarded by so many fans that they had to fast-track the fixes. Sad that it took fan outrage to instigate such a response, and even then not all of the fixes have been implemented in the Japanese edition yet.

Very fair review, Nayu! It's still a great game at its core, but the bugs hold it back from what it could/should have been.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
hinchjoie, lukezeppo, Ofisil, Renan, Sandy Wilson

There are 5 members online at the moment.