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WATCH: Nintendo game company helps funding Highland conservation park to save rare bug

By Gavin Musgrove

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The company behind a new farming game to the Nintendo Switch are crossing the boundary from the virtual to real world.

Story of Seasons is already a huge hit on other platforms and as part of the promotion to the cross-over to the console, developers Marvelous Europe Limited have donated £20,000 to help save one of the UK’s rarest species.

The funding will be used to bring the pine hoverfly back from the brink.

With its natural habitat restricted to just one site - a small forest patch in the Cairngorms - the species is so rare in the UK that no one has seen an adult pine hoverfly in the wild for more than seven years.

The farming simulation's latest outing Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town, launches this Friday (March 26) on the Nintendo Switch, players begin their journey in a pine forest and must work alongside nature to breathe life into their farm.

As part of the #SOSPOOT Campaign, Marvelous Europe's support will part-fund building new facilities at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s Highland Wildlife Park by Kincraig.

The pine hoverfly is one found in one spot in the whole of the UK and it is here in the strath (Photo: RZSS)
The pine hoverfly is one found in one spot in the whole of the UK and it is here in the strath (Photo: RZSS)

These will include a larval rearing room, space for the adult hoverflies to fly and mate, and preparation space for staff to ready the abundance of flowers the hoverflies need for food.

A company spokesperson said: "By helping to save the pine hoverfly, we hope to bring a bit of the game world alive, while also helping to save an endangered UK species from the very real threat of extinction.

"It may be small, but the pine hoverfly is an important pollinator, a role shared by many of the world’s endangered invertebrates.

"The breeding programme is ‘pioneering’ in its own right, developing techniques that could turn the fortunes of other species that are vital to delicate ecosystems around the world."

Other project supporters include The National Geographic Society, Cairngorms National Park Authority, Forestry and Land Scotland, and NatureScot.

Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is coming to the Nintendo Switch later this week.
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is coming to the Nintendo Switch later this week.

As well as the donation to develop the project, Marvelous Europe is working with partners to help raise awareness for the important work being undertaken by RZSS, with a Europe-wide seed growing competition for the gaming industry.

The spokesperson said: "This will kick off with a special Twitch live stream from comedian, games journalist and one half of the UK's Number 1 Parenting Podcast, “Scummy Mummies”, Ellie Gibson on Friday.

"Participants in the competition will get the chance to have a tangible impact on the species’ future, naming the hoverflies that will save the species, and winners will have a lasting impact, naming the new facilities that will keep this vital programme going for years to come."

Pioneers of Olive Town is the brand-new entry in the farm/life simulation franchise and offers players more freedom than ever before.

Gamers have to embrace the pioneer spirit to shape the untamed wilderness, discover new animals and produce, and help them flourish on their farm.

They can customise every inch of their new homestead to impress a new cast of marriage candidates from Olive Town, an aspiring tourist hotspot that grows and thrives along with the farm.

Gamers can even participate in local festivals as the town comes to life with events that are new to the series.

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