One of the most common questions that players have with respect to Sunshine Islands, (apart from asking why characters refuse gifts) is how to make money early in the game.
As it is Harvest Moon, your primary source of income is farming, but in Sunshine Islands, you can purchase a Fishing Rod even at the start of the game for 5000G. That is a fairly hefty sum for a struggling novice farmer, but it is worth every penny.
There are a number of reasons why you need to begin to fish as early as possible. The first may be income, but Small Fish, Empty Cans and Boots all are items that make excellent gifts for the right individuals. Almost half of the characters in Sunshine Islands will respond 'with music' when given a Small Fish. These individuals include: Taro, Pierre, Ray, Martin, Kirk, Lanna, Denny, Shea and Wada. An Empty Can or Fish Bone is met 'with music' by the Witch Princess and the Boot is a favourite with the Witchkin (much like May in FoMT/MFoMT). Why little girls love a non-paired old Boot is a question for another article...
The other way to make a decent profit is through Cooking. This requires more of an investment than the Fishing Rod and therefore will take longer. Once you have a Kitchen, however, you can begin to enhance the value of Crops by cooking them.
In Sunshine Islands, new seeds are unlocked by shipping specific totals of Seasonal Crops, so you must weigh that consideration whenever you decide to cook a Crop instead. Even so, if you are desperate for money, transforming a Turnip into Pickled Turnips, a Potato into a Braised Potato or a Cucumber into Pickles or Salad can be profitable.
The approximate shipping value of a Turnip or Cucumber is 60G and that of a Potato is 80G. As the exact price is based upon Rank, Quality, Size and Freshness, these prices are 'approximate'.
You need to give Haila a Turnip in order to obtain the Recipe for Pickled Turnips. It is a 'single-ingredient' Recipe and a Pickled Turnip ships for 300G. Braised Potato is the SECOND Recipe you will receive from Nick when you give him a Potato, but it is worth acquiring at the earliest date. A Braised Potato likewise is a single-ingredient Recipe and ships for 385G. Pickled Cucumber, another single-ingredient Recipe ships for 300G. If you use the same Cucumber to make Salad, it has the same shipping value.
These are only a few examples of how you can make a profit by using a Crop in a single-ingredient Recipe and shipping it as a Cooked Dish. There are many single-ingredient Recipes in Sunshine Islands. In some cases, you can add optional ingredients to raise the Energy Values, but if you are cooking simply in order to profit in terms of income, you will do best in the early stages of the game simply to use the Basic Recipe. As previously stated, you do need to weigh the advantage of making a profit with that of unlocking new Seeds. Where Grain Seeds are concerned, however, you can order a Seed Maker from Gannon and simply convert the bags of Grain sold by Chen from the start of the game into Seeds. It is more expensive to obtain Seeds in this fashion, but it is a practical alternative when you have not achieved the shipping totals necessary to unlock the Grain Seeds at Chen's Market.
Single-ingredient Fish Recipes tend to require Medium Fish. Small Fish can be used as optional ingredients in many Dishes but cannot be cooked by themselves. You will not be able to catch a Medium Fish until your Fishing Skills are fairly high. In terms of total number of items caught, I believe I had to catch about 1000 items in my first game before I was able to catch my first Medium Fish. Once you have caught Medium Fish, they can be used in a number of single-ingredient Fish Dishes that are excellent sources of energy as well as another method of converting a raw item into a more profitable Cooked Dish for shipping purposes. Another reason for obtaining the Fishing Rod as quickly as possible is the need to raise your Fishing Skills as early as possible so that you can catch Medium Fish.
Never forget to take your Fishing Rod to EVERY Festival that is held on Meadow Island. Time always is limited in Harvest Moon and in Sunshine Islands, with characters scattered across many different islands, time is particularly valuable. During any Festival, the clock will not run and as Meadow Island IS an Island, you can fish there. Fishing does require Energy, so make certain that you pack a lunch or preferably, a stack of lunches. In the first Spring, your first opportunity to cheat the clock on Meadow Island will occur during the 'Mysterious Voice' Event that introduces Sun Stones. Try to have a Fishing Rod, therefore, before 10 Spring as you will be able to use it to advantage during that Event.
At that stage of the game, you probably will have few items that will restore your Energy, apart from Wild Herbs, Seaweed and Bamboo Shoots. If necessary (and it probably WILL be necessary), you can eat every fish that you catch. Remember that raising your Fishing Skill is almost as important as the items that you catch at this point, so even if you consume your entire catch on a Festival Day at Meadow Island, you will have benefited enormously. As you cannot see your Stamina and Fullness gauges during an Event (or Festival), make certain that you watch your Character carefully for the physical signs that announce energy depletion. When your Character waves a hand in front of him/her, it is a sign that the Stamina Bar is half-empty. It is usually safest to eat an item to restore Stamina as soon as this occurs as the next physical response only occurs when Energy is almost totally depleted.
At the beginning of Spring, it probably is better to ship as many items as possible on a daily basis than to give any as Gifts. Make certain, however, that you earn
+100 Friendship Points daily with every individual by 'meeting and greeting'. You do need to begin to give Gifts that are received 'with music' fairly early as five such Gifts will result in the reciprocal Gift of a Sun Stone, but obtaining 5000G for the purchase of a Fishing Rod must take priority. In particular, the Flowers that you can gather in Spring are a good source of initial income, although they are good gifts for many Characters.
There are many different ways to make money in Sunshine Islands but these are among the very first that will be available to you.
Incidentally,it was only when I was looking for the shipping values of raw Crops and Cooked Dishes made with them that I discovered I had not created an Items and Shipping List Guide yet for Sunshine Islands! Although the values of almost all items are given either in the General Guide or in the Recipe Cookbook Guide, I like to have easy access to ALL values in an Items List Guide. I therefore have created one and it should be uploaded to IGN on Monday afternoon.
I did not include Ranch Products in my description of methods of generating income in the first Season in Sunshine Island but when you do obtain your Ranch Animals, knowing how to maximise their value either thorugh processing or cooking will aid you in increasing income as quickly as possible.
For example, as raw ingredients, Eggs and Milk have the following average shipping values:
Remember that Rank, Quality, Size and Freshness all determine the actual shipping value. Values listed for items in any of my Guides for Sunshine Islands therefore may differ from the ACTUAL value of the item that you ship in your game. Notwithstanding this, it is interesting to see how you can make the greatest profit with your Ranch Products.
Again, it is by Cooking that you will increase profits. Hot Milk is a single ingredient Dish that requires only Milk.
Hot Milk: 470G
Ironically, if you add Chocolate (purchased for 100G at Chen's Market) to the Milk to create Hot Chocolate, the Shipping Value DECREASES to 85G!
As usual, however, there are other considerations apart from profit in Sunshine Islands where Ranch products are concerned. In Island of Happiness, you had to ship 100 of each type of Ranch Product to unlock a new subsidiary character. You had the option either to make those Products in your Kitchen or by using a Maker. In Sunshine Islands, you MUST use each Maker 100 times to obtain a Sun Stone from it. You therefore will need to make 100 Butter in the Butter Maker, 100 Cheese in the Cheese Maker, 100 Mayonnaise in the Mayonnaise Maker and so on if you wish to obtain all possible Sun Stones. There is no time limit, however, so if you need the profit that shipping Hot Milk instead would bring, you are at liberty to use your Milk for that.