Rune Factory 3 Special – Localization Blog #1

Hello Earthmates and welcome to our first localization blog for Rune Factory 3 Special. This blog will serve as a short introduction to the game, our approach to localization, and what’s new in the Special version.

About the Game

Rune Factory 3 Special is a remaster of the third mainline entry in the RPG/simulation series, originally released for Nintendo DS in North America in 2011. The game follows Micah, a young man with amnesia, who lands in the pastoral town of Sharance. He is given a new home, fields to tend, and soon finds himself embroiled in a longstanding conflict between the humans of Sharance and a settlement of non-humans. Complicating this is Micah’s monstrous secret—he can transform into a sheeplike monster called a wooly.

Regarding Character Names

When Marvelous first told us about their plans to give Rune Factory 3 the same Special treatment that Rune Factory 4 received a few years ago, we were thrilled to be able to work on a fan-favorite entry in the series. As with other recent remakes/remasters of titles that were originally localized by a different publisher, we needed to retranslate the game’s roughly 1 million Japanese characters of text, approaching the game as a completely new project without referencing the original translation.

However, when we took over localizing the Rune Factory series with Rune Factory: Frontier and Rune Factory 4 over a decade ago, we understood it was important to maintain series continuity with character names from entry to entry. This is why Barrett and Raven, characters from Rune Factory 2 and Rune Factory 3, respectively, make appearances in Rune Factory 4 under the names that fans already knew. The comprehensive artbook that came with the limited “Archival Edition” of Rune Factory 4 Special refers to these original names for all characters. (Just don’t ask us about the Zzyxz Empire…) We’ve kept this going through Rune Factory 5, and sharp-eyed fans might have caught references to some place names from past titles in Lucas’ dialogue, including “Dragon Lake” in Sharance.

So, for the most part, character names in Rune Factory 3 Special remain consistent with the original game, as do major place names like Privera Forest and Oddward Valley. We did take the opportunity afforded by the transition from the strict character limits of the Nintendo DS screen to revisit and expand upon sub-area names within dungeons, and there are other updates here and there, but from Shara to Ondorus to Sherman, the main cast will all be referred to by the names you know and love.

Of course, even though the character names remain the same, we still needed to translate the in-game text from scratch. Rune Factory 3 features an absolutely incredible cast, and even though the translations have been redone, we think players returning from the original game will find the characters they know are still as lovable as before. Not that they were always easy to localize into English…

One character who proved to be a major challenge is Pia, the mermaid proprietor of the baths at Sharance’s inn. Pia forms one half of a manzai duo with Sakuya, the traveling merchant and daughter of the inn’s owner Shino. Manzai is a popular form of Japanese standup comedy that is notoriously difficult to translate. The humor derives from the interplay between the two roles: a boke (fool) who says absurd things and tsukkomi (straight man) who reacts to them. Pia plays the boke role both in Sakuya’s comedy routines and in her everyday life; her dialogue is full of non sequiturs, plays on words, or just plain nonsense that keeps characters on their toes. Trying to wrangle her sometimes seemingly random turns of phrase was as much a challenge for our localization team as it is for Micah, but of course we love her sweet, goofy personality as much as the game’s characters. (Even if she had us pulling our hair out from time to time.)

The Japanese text is a play on Sakuya’s name, which can also mean “last night.” We tried to maintain the spirit of the joke without need for a translator’s note explaining the wordplay in Japanese.

I could spend a few thousand words talking about each marriage candidate’s personality and the challenges presented to rendering it in English, but we need to move on…

What’s So Special about Rune Factory 3 Special?

The remastered Rune Factory 3 Special features the same content updates as Rune Factory 4 Special. The game introduces Newlywed Mode, side adventures starring each of the 11 marriage candidates after they marry Micah that feature new character animations and voices, as well as a “Hell” difficulty setting to challenge experienced players. Players can also enjoy the “Another Episode” DLC, fully-voiced side stories narrated by the marriage candidates, which will be available for free download for a month after launch. A recent update to the Japanese version introduced a new extra large storage option for the refrigerator and storage box that quadruples the largest size from the original game. This update also added the ability to throw items directly into storage, previously only present in Rune Factory 4 onward. These new features will be available in the overseas version from launch.

We are really excited for you to experience this classic entry in the Rune Factory series, remastered with gorgeous character art and lovely character models. In a future blog, I’ll discuss the fun and challenging process of English voice recording for this game.