After what felt like a bit of a drought for Story of Seasons titles, Marvelous has delivered with a second offering on Switch only a year after Friends of Mineral Town gave us a much needed dose of cutesy farm goodness. Pioneers of Olive Town has some striking differences that expand upon gameplay, but also several subtler alterations that make it just that bit smoother to play. Friends of Mineral Town is a wonderful remake of its Game Boy Advance original, but stepping into full-on new entry territory with Olive Town, it’s been interesting to see the new ways the series is evolving, so here are six ways Pioneers of Olive Town has built upon Friends of Mineral Town.

Character Customisation

Character customisation at salon
Looking sharp!

Character customisation hasn’t played a huge role in the Harvest Moon/Story of Season games, so the limited player character options beefed up with a few different outfit choices in Mineral Town came as a pleasant surprise altogether. Comparatively, though, Olive Town blows it out of the water, adding on options for hairstyles, face types, and plenty more clothing. You’re not locked into your original look, even in terms of hair and body, with a salon in the town allowing you to change things up. What’s more, all of the choices are available to you regardless of the gender you choose to play as, including the new voice options, which are surprisingly effective despite the player character being far from talkative.

Makers

Maker example
Finally, a way to put all those weeds to use!

New to the Story of Seasons series are Makers, where you can input raw items to have them processed into something fancier, such as iron ore into iron ingots and eggs into mayonnaise. Getting a new Maker feels like quite a leap in terms of what you’re able to do on the farm, and the range of things they can do makes discovering the new processes quite exciting. They may not be the most aesthetically pleasing additions to your homestead, but they’re an excellent way to boost the crafting element and soon become an instinctive part of your daily rounds.

Mine Close To The Farm

Inside the mine
It's easy to sink lots of time into this place.

While Mineral Town’s mine benefits from a hot spring just outside allowing you to recover stamina, in Olive Town you can recover some by taking a bath inside your house so farm work and mining can both benefit. Having the mine located an iron ore’s throw from your farm however also means it’s a lot quicker to offload your finds into your shipping bin or pop in for a little mining in between other tasks on the farm, rather than having to go literally out of your way for it.

Tool Bag

Tool Bag

Having enough space for everything in your bag is troublesome (just like real life!), especially if you’re the kind of player who likes to keep one of every item or worries about selling things in case you’ll need them soon. As in Mineral Town, you can pay to expand your storage space, but Olive Town also introduces the Tool Bag feature. In addition to your usual inventory, you have an extra few slots in the Tool Bag where you can quickly stash your tools in order to carry more important things, like random wildflowers you found on the side of the road, or 3 different qualities of potato. You can’t access your tools straight from the Tool Bag, so it really is just to make Towers of Hanoi with your inventory easier, but it’s amazingly convenient for such a small feature.

Time Passing Inside The House

Placing furniture and decorations
Apparently, I've stared at this lamp for 3 hours...

While it’s usually the opposite problem where you’re clamouring for a few extra hours to get all your crops watered, animals fed, and court all of your love interests, there are times in Story of Seasons where you are just done for the day. With more ingredients at your disposal thanks to the introduction of Makers and the ability to buy furniture from most shops, there’s more to be done in the way of cooking and decorating your home and time continuing to pass inside the house means you can always go indoors when you’re done for the day but don’t want to just go straight to sleep at 6pm and don’t have the stamina to be mining or fishing long into the night. It’s also perfect for those moments of dead time while you wait for your love interest to make their way across the town as part of their daily rounds.

Crafting and Building

Mayor makes a request

As its title suggests, Pioneers of Olive Town has a much stronger focus on restoring and expanding your farm than Friends of Mineral Town, and so introduces many more aspects of crafting and building. On top of clearing weeds and stones as before in Mineral Town, you’ll be scooping up clay, turning wood into lumber, and even making your own thread to be exchanged for new clothes at the salon. There’s a notice board with requests from the townspeople too, where residents will ask you to bring them particular supplies, more akin to games like My Time at Portia. Farming is still the heart of the game, but it’s a fun way of expanding the gameplay and driving home Pioneers of Olive Town’s from-the-ground-up, DIY feeling.

From the big additions to the subtle adjustments, Pioneers of Olive Town is the full package and is truly taking Story of Seasons in an extremely promising direction. It’s anybody’s guess when the next title will be, but it will be interesting to how the next entry tweaks and boosts things even further!

Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is available now on the Nintendo Switch.