Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is the first game in the longrunning Harvest Moon series to feature same-sex marriage. That said, there is a catch.
While the English language version of the game allows the player to marry a partner of any gender, this is absent from the Japanese version. Japanese players can form a relationship with whomever they like, but the game won’t describe them as officially married.
So why the difference between two versions of the game? Because the localization team, rather than the developers, made the final call on this particular mechanic.
Marriage planning in Story of Seasons
In a detailed and delightfully thorough blog post, localization manager John Wheeler explains how his team approached the marriage mechanic in Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town.
While this new game is a remake of the classic Game Boy Advance title Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town, the decision was made early on to scrap much of the original game’s translation in favor of something that was closer to the original Japanese text.
Apparently, though, while aiming for accuracy in most aspects of translation, the team agreed that the Japanese approach to marriage in Story of Seasons wouldn’t fly in the West. In the Japanese version, same-sex couples can become “Special Friends” and even have a ceremony, but they’re not legally married.
POKÉMON GO: How to find Jesse and James
According to Wheeler, while the decision to add gay marriage was introduced by the localizers, the developers at XSEED gave their blessing from the start:
“This has been a very long time coming in the STORY OF SEASONS series, and the producer has been supportive of our decision from very early in development. One minor but important change for the North American and European releases of Friends of Mineral Town is that the “heart icon” indicating a marriage candidate’s romantic affinity for the player will display for all marriage candidates from the start of the game, where in the Japanese release it will only display for same-sex candidates after you confess and start dating.”
The decision to change such a fundamental aspect of the game rarely falls to the localization team. Adding gay marriage to Story of Seasons just meant changing a few descriptive words. Even so, it makes a big difference to the way the game feels for those who want to play it this way.
It’s fascinating to learn just how much a game can vary between different parts of the world.