STORY OF SEASONS: A Wonderful Life – Localization Blog #1

STORY OF SEASONS: A Wonderful Life – Localization Blog #1

Hello, fellow farmers! We’re incredibly excited to be working on STORY OF SEASONS: A Wonderful Life, and we couldn’t wait to share a sneak peek at our localization with you. This title means so much to so many people (our team included!), and we knew that localizing it would require time, care, and a lot of love.

If you’ve never experienced A Wonderful Life (AWL) before, you’re in for a treat. You begin this STORY OF SEASONS adventure as a young farmer who wants to bring life back to an old, dilapidated farm that your late father and his friend Takakura found, in a place called Forgotten Valley. With Takakura’s support, it’s your job to raise crops, care for animals, and bring your father’s dreams to life.

This entry in the series takes place over the course of several decades, and as you find your feet in the valley, you’ll meet your future spouse, start a family, and watch your child grow throughout the years. The passage of time is a key theme of this game, and is a big part of the reason it’s so well-loved by fans to this day. Friendships, family, farewells…they’re all a huge part of your life in Forgotten Valley.

With that said, let’s jump right into the main topic of our blog, because we’ve got lots to cover. With many fans having deep attachments to this game, its characters, and its world, we felt that it was vital for us to talk about our approach to this localization.

“This is NOT My Beautiful Farm! This is NOT My Beautiful Wife!”

If you’re familiar with our Friends of Mineral Town localization, then perhaps you might’ve been expecting this, but when we were initially discussing the idea of an AWL remake, we felt that it was important to take on this translation as if it were an entirely new STORY OF SEASONS title. Our team knew this was going to be tough from the get-go—people knew and loved the valley’s residents by specific names, but as it was necessary for us to change names that did not closely adhere to the names in the Japanese version, we wanted to explain how we landed on the new translations.

So let’s take two marriage candidates that we’ve seen a lot of discussion about: the sullen farmhand, Matthew, and the stoic artist, Gordy.

Matthew (or Matt, as he’s called by his sister Vesta) is referred to in the Japanese version as マッシュ, or “Masshu.” Phonetically, this name is very close to the name “Matthew,” and so we chose to keep his original name from the Japanese version as close as we possibly could. He may be a bit rough around the edges, but Matt’s got a good heart once he can trust you.We hope you’ll get to know and love him all over again! (But fair warning: if you’re planning to marry Cecilia…we can’t guarantee he’ll be as friendly.)

Gordy is referred to in the Japanese version as ゴーディ, which is a phonetic spelling of the name “Gordy.” His name was actually one of the first we finalized, since we had quite a lot of discussions about him early on regarding his redesign and addition as a new marriage candidate (which we’re very excited about!). He’s still as kind and as dedicated to his craft as ever, so we hope fans will enjoy all of his new heart events and family events.

There were plenty of similar cases among the residents of the valley where their Japanese names were close enough to English names. So, we could localize them as-is or with very little change since they were already acceptable names.

There were others, however, where we knew this wasn’t happening. We knew we would have to localize a bit more to get the original meaning of a character’s name across. With that, we’d like to (re)introduce you to these characters and their new names, along with the reasoning for why we changed the names the way we did.

Charlie and Cole are pyrotechnic geniuses who live in the valley. Charlie claims to be the best in the world, while his younger twin Cole is equally proud to be the second best. Their names in Japanese are ケサラン andパサラン(“Kesaran” and “Pasaran”). When put together, this becomes “kesaran pasaran,” the name of a thistledown creature from Japanese folklore reminiscent of a tiny cotton ball with thin, stringy edges. These kesaran pasaran often look like—you guessed it—little fireworks!

Most players wouldn’t be familiar with this concept, however, so we felt that the wordplay in the twins’ names wouldn’t be as effective or as memorable. We wanted to name them something that was equally connected to fireworks, pyrotechnics, or fire in some way. This took some time to think up because, as we discovered, fireworks-related terms don’t often lend themselves well to realistic-sounding names with fun, easily recognizable wordplay!

We went back and forth on a few pairs but eventually had an epiphany with a play on the word “charcoal.” Thus, Charlie and Cole were given their names, and the spirit of the wordplay from the original Japanese version got to stay.

Look at him! Look at this funny little guy! (Actually, he’s closer to seven feet tall in-game, but the point still stands. He’s adorable and we love him.)

Vinnie is going to be your friend if you plan on cultivating hybrid crops, so we hope you’ll give him a warm welcome when he arrives on your farm! Surprisingly, this talking plant’s localized name was finalized quicker than most.

His Japanese name is ツルタン, or  “Tsurutan”. One meaning of the word “tsuru” is “vine,” while “-tan” is a more childish or cutesy way of saying the “-chan” suffix. We wanted to channel that same sort of playful “mascot” energy into his English name…which was how he became Vinnie the vine!

Unlike your average houseplant, Vinnie is very chatty, but he’ll always greet you with a happy little “howdy!” and mix you some rare hybrid crops once he gets to know you better. It is our sincerest hope that you will say “howdy” back to him.

Molly was, for sure, the most difficult to decide on. When longtime fans think of this game, one of the first things that probably come to mind are the scenes of her on the bridge, talking about all of her relationship troubles… Like many of the marriage candidates in this game, she’s iconic!

When it came to giving her an English name, we were in a tough spot because her Japanese name is ムームー, or “Muumuu”…which isn’t really a name we could translate 1:1! We wanted her new name to reflect her personality and her aesthetic while still trying to respect how the Japanese name sounded. There are quite a few early STORY OF SEASONS series characters that have odd names like this, and AWL was no exception, so we knew this was inevitable.

We went through a lot of names in the early planning stages (most of which sounded like old-fashioned, so those were crossed off our list pretty quickly). Ultimately, we narrowed it down to either Molly or Marilyn. It was a tough decision, but we felt that “Marilyn” might have been a bit too on the nose for her. “Molly” matched the general cadence of her Japanese name better and it would be easier for fans to get used to.

We understand that adjusting to a new set of names for some of these characters is a challenge, but we did want to bring some transparency to these topics, as we know how important they are to fans.

We also wanted to address the redesigns for a few of the characters. The first thing we want to emphasize here is that some of these redesigns were necessary after 18 years; there were several designs that did not stand the test of time and needed to be updated for 2022 in a way that would respect the character, their background, and their personality.

Of course, it’s important to talk about the redesigns for the bachelors as well. Once we knew we were going to be remaking AWL, we worked closely with the developers and Marvelous to write a list of points to address in the remake, based in part on fans’ feedback over the years. On the XSEED side, our project lead for this title had thoroughly played through every version of the original as a kid and kept a sharp eye on the fan communities back then.

Together with Hoshina-san, the director for this title at Marvelous, and Matsuyama-san, the character designer, we spent quite a lot of time discussing key details of every bachelor and what sort of new look would be the most fitting for their backstories and personalities. As fans of the original know, A Wonderful Life only had a male playable character and female marriage candidates. For Another Wonderful Life, the updated version with a female playable character released later, male NPCs were repurposed to be marriage candidates. For the remake, these characters were redesigned as bachelors from the start, while also preserving their core character traits and personalities from the original.

For example, Matthew was originally redesigned with fancier dress shoes, since he used to work at an office in the city, but…he does plenty of fieldwork at Vesta’s farm. So we recommended sturdier workboots on his design so that we could reflect Matt’s lingering attachment to city life as well as his job as one of Vesta’s farmhands.

Another good example is Gustafa, the valley’s local bard.

Gustafa’s outfit changed very little from the original. He still has the look of a down-to-earth traveling musician, keeping his green hat and iconic flower. We were surprised to see him with a clean-shaven face in one early draft, but thankfully some stubble was restored in honor of his original beard.

While these guys may look a bit different than before, you’ll still be able to jam out with Gustafa under the tree by his house and tell him how cool his guitar is! And, of course, if you were waiting for us to mention him, Rock’s got a slightly updated wardrobe as well, but he’d still rather be hanging out by the river than helping his parents with the inn!

One Chapter at a Time

In any case, we hope you’ll grow to love these characters and this valley just as you did 18 years ago.  We’re sure they’d love to see you again—or meet you for the very first time!

If you’re a veteran fan, you’ll be happy to know that you can spend your days in Forgotten Valley the same way you did back then—foraging for toy flowers to give to Cecilia, digging in the ruins to find cool statues to impress Nami, chatting at the café with Molly, or listening to Lumina play her piano warm-ups or Refrain du Gondolier from the yard of the villa.

We’ll have more info to share in the future, so keep your eyes peeled for more news as we get closer to our release date! For now, though, thank you for reading through to the end of this blog. We hope it’s answered some of your questions about the remake.

We’re looking forward to welcoming you back to Forgotten Valley this summer!