Fleeing the City, A Trip to Olive Town Day 1&2

While not a fan of Harvest Moon games from the very beginning the franchise is celebrating 25 years this year—they didn’t hit my radar until around Sunshine Islands for the DS in 2009—I have played just about every title since then. Some I liked a lot. Some not so much. I still get excited every time a new game releases.

Today my Japanese copy of Story of Seasons Pioneers of Olive Town came in the mail. I popped it in and started my journey. Please bear in mind that I’m playing 98% blind. I have not endlessly researched bachelors and bachelorettes. I honestly don’t know who they are. Watching the Nintendo direct trailer is pretty much all the info I have.

When the game started it asked me if I wanted to play on or offline. It didn’t give any explanation to the difference, so I don’t know what that means really. I chose online. In between loading screens I think it shows other players pictures. Maybe this is all it does? Time will tell.

It also asked me the pointed question of whether I wanted to play normal or easy mode. Easy mode grants you:

  • more money from the the shipping box

  • less stamina loss

  • easier to raise relationships

  • more skill points (I think this is related to tool use)

  • cheaper items in shops

Ordinarily I would say “I’m not a filthy cas!” but times being what they are—hello thousand pandemic hobbies and new (online) Japanese class starting next week—I decided to play on easy mode.

The game starts with the usual character creation. Slightly unusual (but becoming more the norm) in that there was no option for sex. There were more feminine haircuts or eye styles and more masculine styles, but you aren’t limited to one style for girls and one style for boys. Of course I didn’t take screenshots while creating my character because that would have been too convenient to show you. There aren’t a terribly great amount of options, you choose skin color, hair style, hair color, your eyes, eye color, you can have odd eye color, voice, and stance (one is “powerful” one is “meek”), and pick from a jumpsuit or a skirt.

My character ended up looking like this:


Yumi and her motorbike

After you make your character you go to another creation screen in which you pick out the color for your bike. You then zoom off away from the city toward Olive Town to recapture the memories of your Grandpa and his farm. If it sounds very Stardew Valley, it is, but Story of Seasons came first.

to Olive Town!

To Olive Town!

It was during the cutscene as I was vrooming along that I noticed the video was a wee bit choppy. It wasn’t horrible, just noticeably not smooth. 

My bike started blowing black smoke as I arrived in Olive Town, but the mayor was there to greet me and get the game started. He had some questions for me, the usual “what’s your name”, your birthday, and “are you a boy or a girl”—how rude.

After which the mayor took me over to my shockingly dilapidated farm. It looks nothing like it did when I was little staying with Grandpa. But never fear, the mayor tells me about tools that can help with that and promises to stop by tomorrow to teach me how to plant things.

my rundown farm

What happened to Grandpa’s farm?

I spent the first day oblivious to the fact that I had tools in a tool pocket. I picked a few flowers, found some wild onions, attempted to make nicey nice with a stray chicken, and introduced myself all around town. It was in town that I noticed the game was *really* choppy. Inside shops and houses it seems ok.

Speaking of town, there were all sorts of shops, but it’s easy to get around. They’re all clustered together and they seem to have pretty standard hours. Most are open until six. I didn’t take note of whether they are closed on certain days. They had a grocery store which only sells ingredients for cooking, a restaurant, hotel and cafe which serves lighter fare, the usual general store, and animal store plus a few more.

grocery store items

Some of the grocery store’s wares

I took a video walking around town hoping to capture the choppiness. The video looks ok to me? Maybe it’s my tv? There’s nothing really going on in the video. Just me walking around town.

I also took a video meeting the Cafe owner. You can see me perusing the different menu options and looking at the drinks.

I spent the day looking around, noting places that were closed off to me:

the mine and a collapsed bridge

the mine and a collapsed bridge

When it was time for bed I went to bed…in my tent…this hearkens back to New Horizons.

tent sweet tent

I played one more day in game. True to his word the mayor came back in the morning and gave me some seeds and told me how to plant them and to water them every day. After the short explanation he left me to my own devices and told me he’d be back the next day to talk about the axe and hammer.

I couldn’t figure out where the watering can I supposedly had was though. Eventually I realized I had a pocket just for tools and I had to drag them to my bar to use them. Once I figured that out I planted some turnips, got around to getting rid of some grass, rocks, and trees. I was happy I didn’t have to wait to use the axe or hammer until the explanation.

Sometimes HM/Story of Seasons tutorials are soul crushing. They make you play six limited days teaching you  the basics before you can truly start the game. Fortunately so far Olive Town tells you what you need to know and then leaves you alone without restricting your activities.

The mayor—in Japanese his name is Victor, I don’t know what it is in English—gave me a well and a tree to plant, so I put those down. It doesn’t seem that you have to water trees. I put mine out of the way and couldn’t water it.

My new well


It’s also easy to tell what you have and haven’t watered, which is nice. And you can easily pick up the well and put it somewhere else if you don’t like where you put it. The gameplay seems easy and, except for the pocket for the tools, intuitive.

I was able to level up my scythe skill to 3. I now get three clumps of grass with each swing. hammer and axe got to 2, but my stamina started to go so I  called it a day. But it’s easier to chop wood and rocks now.

So far it’s pretty classic. Except for the choppiness I’m liking it. More to come!


RIP Harvest Moon…

Yesterday IGN announced that Natsume will not localize the latest Harvest Moon title and that XSeed is taking over localization. Because Nastume owns the Harvest Moon name, the latest Harvest Moon will instead be called “Story of Seasons.” It doesn’t quite have the same nostalgic ring that Harvest Moon carries, but in some ways it’s more true to the Japanese name which is translated as “ranch story” or “farm story” depending on who you ask.

I’ll admit I was sad for a minute when I heard about the change. It definitely feels like the end of an era to me. But this announcement didn’t really come as a shock and I don’t think is quite as devastating as some of the twitterverse makes it out to be.

I picked up Rune Factory 4 last month—admittedly late to the party—and I was curious why XSeed had localized it rather than Natsume since they had done all the other Rune Factory games. I looked into it and found that XSeed was a subsidiary of Marvelous AQL, the publishers of Harvest Moon in Japan. It made sense that XSeed would localize it here. And I wondered how long it would be until XSeed took over the Harvest moon localization. That answers that question…

I find it curious that people are saddened by the “death” of Harvest Moon. Really it’s just a loss of the beloved name. Natsume didn’t make Harvest Moon. They translated it and probably made judgment calls in some matters of cultural insensitivity for example:

Fucho / Diego Lucho / Enrique Mucho / Raul
Japan Jfucho Jlucho Jmucho
North America Jdiego Eenrique Eraul
Sprites found at fogu.com

I’m actually guessing about the judgment calls. I don’t know whose idea it was to change the sprites. But the localization team’s job is to translate the game not just verbatim, but also to keep the spirit of it, which sometimes gets lost in its trek across the ocean. I think if the two companies can work more closely together it should mean better localizations hopefully in a more timely fashion. Pokémon set the bar kind of high on that one with its simultaneous worldwide release.

Playing Rune Factory 4 has set my mind at ease about XSeed’s capability. I think they can handle the translation of Harvest Moon Story of Seasons. I haven’t played RF4 in Japanese, so I can’t make an accurate judgement about the subtleties of the Japanese to English translation, but in English RF4 is lively and engaging. I find it delightful.

My only concern about this new move is…


My collection of Harvest Moon plushies.

My collection of Harvest Moon plushies.