Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life Interview with Rika Hoshina: A Love Letter to Life & More

Published: July 5, 2023 10:28 AM /


Flora in Story of Seasons A Wonderful Life

Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life has made its way to consoles and PC, and the remake of the 2004 farming sim is a well-developed, faithful rendition of its predecessor. The original A Wonderful Life was one of the first games I played as a child, and it has continued to top my list of farming sim games ever since.

Director Rika Hoshina answered a few questions about the game. Her answers give a bit of insight into just how special Forgotten Valley is in the series, the process of remaking the game, and how new players may want to approach the game – especially players who tend to focus on profit margins. 

child in Story of Seasons A Wonderful Life
One way life is captured in Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life is through your growing family. 

Brittany Alva: Life can be a complex theme for any game, even more so in a game that is so heavily focused on the passing of time. Was it difficult to balance life (and death) given how much the original embraced death?

Rika Hoshina: Life is indeed a difficult theme to navigate, but the life you experience in this game is relatively peaceful. Compared to the original game, you might say the balance now leans more heavily toward life than death. There are several reasons for this, one being that recent Story of Seasons titles tend to focus on positivity, and our players’ perspectives are becoming more diverse.

Because the passage of time remains a core theme of the game, the subject of death is unavoidable. However, a major example of the shift in tone is animal lifespans. Animals could die in the original game, and this explicit portrayal of death was one of the ways in which we explored life as a theme. We’ve removed animal death this time, instead emphasizing life by allowing all animals to reproduce.

Alva: Forgotten Valley has looked different through the years and the various games it’s been part of. Were there any substantial changes to the town that had to be made because of updated character designs or outdated features?

Hoshina: Yes, there are several changes from the original. The common factor in each of our considerations was how best to present the game to modern players in 2023.

In terms of character design, for example, Sully now wears a smartwatch rather than a stopwatch. As an athletic coach, he’s as passionate about sports as ever, so it is only natural that he owns the latest gear.

On the other hand, Rock, one of our marriage candidates, hasn’t changed much from the original game. He values his own unique point of view and aesthetic sense, so we decided to portray him in the same style even after 20 years have passed in the real world.

Harvest Festival in Story of Seasons A Wonderful Life
Festivals in Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life felt like natural ways a community would get together and socialize.​​

Alva: What was the most challenging part of bringing the game back to life going from the original GameCube version to the Nintendo Switch?

Hoshina: One of the difficulties we encountered during development was figuring out all of the many dialogue variations. As mentioned in the Localization Blog published by XSEED Games on their site, everyday NPC dialogue plays out under complex conditions. Even if they are in the same location, residents may respond differently depending on the day, or they may only engage in certain conversations when their location and mood meet specific criteria. We worked diligently to establish these dialogue rules one by one.

Alva: The original game didn’t have too much of a focus on festivals, which is pretty different from Story of Seasons titles today. Considering that the remake focuses on memories and relationships more than ever, were festivals added/expanded on to fit this idea?

Hoshina: We discussed revamping the festivals with our overseas group companies in the early stages of the project. The number of festivals remains the same as the original game at one per season, but we redesigned the content of those festivals to make them even more memorable in players’ hearts. For example, the summer fireworks festival has become an annual family event. I hope players can feel their relationships change and grow as they continue to visit festivals over the years.

Fireworks Festival in Story of Seasons A Wonderful Life
Characters like Gordy had significant changes to better suit Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life on the Nintendo Switch,​​​​

Alva: Are there any parts of the game that you think players will need to adjust to coming from more recent Story of Seasons titles?

Hoshina: A Wonderful Life is quite different from other recent entries in the Story of Seasons series. In this game, the protagonist grows older as time passes.

While I know that many aim to play Story of Seasons games as efficiently as possible, my hope for this entry is that players will be able to enjoy it at a leisurely pace, less as a game and more as a second life.

Alva: Was it challenging to revamp Forgotten Valley and its residents considering all the different games they’ve appeared in, including the DS games, the original A Wonderful Life, Another Wonderful Life, and the PS2 Special Edition version?

Hoshina: Working on this remake was consistently challenging but also fun. The most difficult part was balancing the expectations of older fans with those of new players. I myself am an old fan, a resident of Forgotten Valley since my elementary school days.

Unfortunately, I’ve found it difficult to convey the good qualities of the original title to others. The tedious gameplay that old fans find rewarding can be a big hurdle for newcomers. Of course, there’s no perfect solution to this dilemma, so we stayed mindful of balancing the game to be enjoyed by as many people as possible.

However, as I said before, development was incredibly fun. It brings me endless joy just to imagine welcoming today’s players to the Forgotten Valley I know and love!

Nina and Turtle in Story of Seasons A Wonderful Life
Enjoying the little things in Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life is one way to play the game.

Alva: From a creator’s perspective, is the game meant to be replayed to get the full experience of Forgotten Valley?

Hoshina: If your definition of “completion” is to experience life with all the marriage candidates, then you’ll need to replay the game multiple times. However, just like in real life, there’s no single “correct” way to play. You can spend your time working towards a specific goal, or you can simply let the hours pass as you gaze at the sea.

To answer this question from a creator’s point of view, I’d consider experiencing everything in the game to be only one playstyle of many. Ultimately, I hope that everyone who visits Forgotten Valley will be able to enjoy it in whatever manner best suits them.

Alva: Do you have any advice for the players who haven’t experienced the original game?

Hoshina: The content of this game simulates living another life. Though there are time constraints in the long term, you can spend your days freely without any pressure to accomplish a certain amount of work. With this in mind, we hope that players will enjoy a peaceful, stress-free life in Forgotten Valley.

Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life is available on Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox Series X|S, and PS5.


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