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    I love farming games. They’re a time sink, and by nature can become somewhat repetitive, but when you’re in the mood to plant some crops, nothing compares to the Bokujou Monogatari series. Since playing the remake of Friends of Mineral Town last year, I’ve been craving something new, and before I knew it, I found myself stumbling into Olive Town ready to pick up my hoe and water some turnips.

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    The setup for the game is fairly traditional. Your grandpa has died and would you believe it, he’s left you a farm! After some pretty extensive customisation choices, at least for this series, you’re out on your merry way to see just what desolate state he’s left it in. You’re welcomed by the mayor and, quite surprisingly, aren’t all that bogged down in the formality of tutorials or extended cutscenes. Instead of tiresomely being shown how to use one tool after the next, you find yourself somewhat free to figure it out for yourself. Over the first few days, you’re visited by the mayor and a few others to give you basic tips, these presented in pop-up windows that can quickly be read and dismissed. Even on the first day, you’re kind of just free to do your own thing. And there is a fair bit to do.

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    Following my own series tradition, I set off to tidy up my farm. Now I’m not all that far into the game at this point, but I do assume you’ll get a bit more space over time. Once you’ve chopped down the trees, cut up the weeds, and cleared out the stones, you have a reasonable space to work with. Having said that, it lacks the same sense of scale as you might have seen in Mineral Town or Forget-Me-Not Valley. A broken bridge lurking in one corner of the farm though, I’m fairly set on the idea I’ll be repairing it down the line for some kind of expansion. What I did like from this cleanup operation is that resources feel more useful here. The game sharing similar menus to Stardew Valley, the items you’ve collected can be put to good use by crafting them into both functional and decorative items. These can then be places directly onto your available farmland. It’s surprisingly seamless, and it’s what I’ve enjoyed the most so far. Even placing buildings and watering wells down, you can pick them up and place them elsewhere later. You have a certain freedom I’ve never really found with the series before. Outside of this though, I’m a little more conflicted.

    To put it into one word: clunky. The game just doesn’t quite feel right. Your character feels like they move slightly too slow, when chopping, cutting, or smashing, you need to be right on top of what you’re interacting with. You have to keep hitting the Y button for each use of your item, you can’t just hold it despite most things requiring two to five hits to break. Trees and buildings obstruct your view as you’re working on tidying your farm, with no way to fully rotate the camera. They’re small things but they do add up to something not necessarily bad, but underwhelming in areas where you expect better. You expect better because you’ve frankly already seen better from the same series.

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    Looking to the traditional non-farming activities to the game, I again find myself split. Fishing is fun, reminding me once more of Stardew Valley with its minigame. Where it falls short by comparison is that every fish appears to do exactly the same movements. They’ll follow the same pattern of pulling your line at the same time, giving you a certain degree of muscle memory, and ultimately boring you before you really have a chance to get into it. I’m not sure if this is some kind of glitch with the randomness always being stuck at the same value, but it’s put me off something I would otherwise quite enjoy. The actual minigame would be fun were this to be addressed. This leads me onto mining, which shares a similar fate.

    At the start of the game, you have access to ten floors. Each floor has some rocks to break, and some ladders to find that will lead you to the next floor. The issue? There’s maybe three floor layouts, and the ladders aren’t in random places. The process of getting to the lowest floor is pretty much as follows: walk to where the ladders should be; are the ladders there? If no, break the rock that is where they should be. Proceed onwards. I really love mining, but the randomness was a huge part of that love for me. It's just stale and monotonous otherwise.

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    It’s easy to be swept up in negativity when aspects of the series you’ve come to appreciate suddenly aren’t what you expect, but I do just want to make it clear that I really am enjoying the game as a whole. For every small thing wrong, there’s another to redeem it. The game features achievements, even on the Switch version, that can act as objectives to work towards. You level up tool proficiencies by using them for bonuses, rewarding you for just following a regular routine in-game. Heck, you can even take in wild animals you see roaming your farm assuming you have the space for them. I’m quite on the fence as to whether this will be my next big binge of Bokujou Monogatari, but the game does enough to entice me further in. I want to know what rewards I might get for levelling up my tools, I want to see what lurks beyond the bridge, I want to interact with the residents of Olive Town and find what makes them tick. At its core, I’d describe Pioneers of Olive Town as a solid experience that’s just really quite rough around the edges.

    Time will tell whether I’ll remember this game fondly, but I'm somewhat optimistic for its future. For those still very much on the fence, keep an eye out for our full review closer to the game's launch.
     
    tfocosta, Angely, smallissue and 9 others like this.
  2. Discussion (20 replies)

  3. Ericzander

    Ericzander GBAtemp's residential attorney
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    This is a dangerous first impression for me to read. I'm looking forward to giving this game a shot. And unlike when I said the same thing twice in the Dead Rising Recommends, I really mean it this time.

    I love the idea that it gives you loose guidance on what to do but still gives you the freedom to play how you want.
     
  4. Lilith Valentine

    Lilith Valentine GBATemp's Official Cubi™ Genderfluid Gang!
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    I read that there are patches and updates coming out for the game. I do hope they fix the issues because I do enjoy these games and I am always looking forward to a new one
     
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  5. Angely

    Angely GBAtemp Regular
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    About the mining it gets a bit more complicated/challenging later starting from 2nd mine, but it still feels a bit off somehow. The 1st mine is just easy/beginner friendly? The later ones different. I also shared some gripes mentioned here. I also miss a basic feature like sorting (you have to do everything manually) & storage is horrible especially if you're a hoarder like me eventhough those chests look nice.

    The makers well heh it definitely needs balance I'm waiting for what they're planning I hope by the time the full review comes they will be adressed. I also dislike you can't put chests etc. on the flooring you made.

    The camera is also one of the things I disliked & took me long to adapt to. The game just feels unfinished, especially if you look at cooking & the characters gifting/events, it's like they forgot it was a Story of Seasons game as it has no crops rating events (the usual competition) you usually see when looking at the calendar etc.

    I secretly also wished the taming would be a bit more challenging too as you just get the animal. I really liked the animal in the wild idea, but it's very simply done the taming I mean there's nothing as taming you just pick the animal & give it a name.

    I think there's also no online trading yet.

    I like how you called it "clunky" it's a perfect word for this mess. It's pretty grindy too if you get further in the game which can be daunting & stressful. Especially cleaning up the farm, you'll have a jungle in no time, can be nice if you like that though it's not hard to get a forest it fits the pioneering theme. The game has so much potential so I hope I won't end up disappointed when everything is adressed, as it's a bit lackluster now. I'm glad we get it later as we might get the fixes at launch.

    I didn't mention positive thing so I'll add a few. I love the encyclopedia & achievements reward system! I also love how the map now tells you when the stores are open/closed. Also in handheld mode you can use the touchscreen to navigate through all the menu's, so if you play handheld mode it's easier to sort things in your storages & navigate in your notebook etc. using the touchscreen. This all look nicely done graphically.

    Edit: Oops ended up writing a review myself.
     
    Last edited by Angely, Mar 6, 2021
  6. Valwinz

    Valwinz GBAtemp Regular
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    Story of season die with this one trying to be stardew valley but then again what can you expect after they destroyed mineral town with pandering and ugly art
     
  7. Clydefrosch

    Clydefrosch GBAtemp Guru
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    sometimes it feels like these games looked better on gameboy...
     
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  8. lokomelo

    lokomelo Edson Arantes do Nascimento
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    I loved Harvest Moon on Snes and now I love Stardew Valley. Tried many, many others like those, but apart from Rune Factory 4, never put many hours in any.

    So I don't know about this one, Stardew Valley do so many things right that I don't feel compelled to try hard on other life-farming-sim-games.

    Anyway, that's why I read reviews, maybe I change my mind after reading the upcoming one... we'll see...
     
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  9. ehnoah

    ehnoah GBAtemp Advanced Fan
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    After we're done the English Patch I started Story of Seasons, but all this machines etc. makes the game quite bad. You have to run like 20 Smelters etc. to be effective.

    So at some point I just started to make all my Land farmland, with Automatic Water distribution. So I will from now on, only use Gold to buy the most Upgrades and stuff. Otherwise, it is way too annoying to run 200 Machines at the same time.
     
  10. wownmnpare

    wownmnpare GBAtemp Advanced Fan
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    The 2 SoS game in 3ds is so good for me! Been playing the english patch but think the 3ds is more enjoyable for me unlike this new one.
     
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  11. Valwinz

    Valwinz GBAtemp Regular
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    compare friend of mineral town to the remake an the gba one is better looking better art and better gameplay keeps the spirit alive
     
  12. Owenge

    Owenge GbaTemp browser
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    Stardew is looking great.
     
  13. bluedart

    bluedart GBAtemp Regular
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    So I'm a little over 50 hours into this game. I have two actual issues so far. Load times, and the fact that you can't put makers/chests on top of decorative flooring. Additionally, apart from the obsequiously numerous events that occur randomly in the town (there are purportedly hundreds), the villagers are pretty flat and have the same 4 lines of dialogue no matter how much affection you have with them.

    The rest of the game is honestly near perfection for me. I just got through 126 hours in Atelier Ryza 2, so this game being about 1/3 inventory management (what with all the makers and my penchant for organization) is actually fun to me. I feel like this is going to be a bit much for most people, and since it's a new mechanic for the series, I can see how they, likely accidentally, just went mental with it for their first foray.

    This game is basically a 3D, professionally-made Stardew Valley to me. I love Stardew Valley. It's come full circle. SV stole a LOT from Farm Story, and now vice versa. Some things, like being able to move a coop instantly, are actually more extensible than SV was too. I do remember interacting with makers almost as much in SV too. Maybe they could have simplified that one, eh?

    This game redacts many things that were either tedious or otherwise obligatory before. Mining takes less time, but still has all the elements that I enjoyed about it before. Fishing is basically just normal, non-stressful fishing like I tend to subjectively enjoy. They completely eschew obligatory animal festivals that task you with winning with each animal to get better produce, in favor of an oddly succinct one-week pregnancy system (during which time you can still milk them) that allows your animals to produce higher level items as the generations progress.

    BRB. Addicted.
     
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  14. Valwinz

    Valwinz GBAtemp Regular
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    Story of Season peaked on gamecube real farming
     
  15. eriol33

    eriol33 GBAtemp Maniac
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    I bought mineral town because of nostalgia bias. the game is boring. I kinda lost my faith to the franchise. I think the GBA remakes are much better.
     
  16. Estriole

    Estriole Member
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    i think the nicest thing in Olive to
    Mineral Town is remakes from old games... they need to stick mostly to the original game thus make the game might be boring for current era... but i think Mineral Town remake is a genius strategy for Story of Season brand name... this will make sure people know that the "original" harvest moon is Story of Season now...

    back to Olive Town... now they try lots of 'new' things FOR Story of Season... some of them 'inspired' by Stardew Valley (which originally also inspired from bokujo monogatari it come to full circle now) like placing 'makers' where ever you want... there's also some animal crossing vibe mixed in the game too... so this new formula is like combining Bokujo Monogatari (Story of Season) + Stardew Valley + Animal Crossing... so i think this game is quite good...

    of course there's still weakness there and there... like how cluttered the crafting is (also like stardew valley :D)... i kinda hope search function or filter function like SHOW ONLY maker would be helpful.
    but i hope they can solidify this "new concept" and make it better in the next Story of Season...
     
    Last edited by Estriole, Mar 7, 2021
  17. Skelletonike

    Skelletonike ♂ ♥ Gallant Pervert ♥ ♀
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    I still need to get Mineral Town and this one. z.z
     
  18. Valwinz

    Valwinz GBAtemp Regular
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    Play the gba one instead
     
  19. Jayro

    Jayro MediCat Dev and Gameboy Modder
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    I hate the whole Story of Seasons/Harvest Moon naming feud going on. Is anyone else confused by it?
     
  20. Scarlet

    OP Scarlet Pretty Pretty Princess
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    There's pretty widespread confusion tbf. I don't think it'd be such an issue if Natsume actually delivered on quality games. While I found the new SoS clunky, it still kept the same spirit of the old games. I don't feel that with the new HMs.
     
  21. wisnumurti

    wisnumurti Advanced Member
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    For me I like the Story of season series because the characters design. I like less the characters design of stardew valley because it seems the style tend to be more like westerner.
     
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