MOTHER 3 Notebook Cover
A good while back, a writer for Hardcore Gamer Magazine asked the MOTHER 3 fan translation team to do a write-up for their magazine. Being exhausted and not wanting to be all “hey hey look at me woo”, I gave all of the project’s PR duties to reid 😉 So he wrote up some stuff for the magazine and sent it in. The other day, he got a copy in the mail, and here’s the article, heavily edited up.
For fun, I went back and tried to find reid’s original text. I think this is one of the last drafts.
MOTHER 3, a sequel 11 years in the making, looks and plays like an SNES-era RPG. For an industry drowning in high-resolution, low-content sequels, this might seem like a liability. Unless, that is, you played EarthBound (MOTHER 2).
MOTHER 3’s utopian storyline is the centerpiece of a game filled with unexpected gems. EarthBound fans will feel right at home with the game’s many carryovers, including the rolling hit meter, which now rolls even slower when your character defends. Such a simple tweak might seem insignificant, but these kinds of details are what make the series great.
Released in Japan in 2006, MOTHER 3’s ad campaign seemed designed to prepare its Japanese fans for a departure from the boilerplate optimism of MOTHER 2. The short commercials were devoid of gameplay and, instead, featured the testimony of a popular actress. Speaking to an offscreen interviewer, she explained her feelings about the game, at points barely choking back tears:
“You wouldn’t think its just some game. It’s heartrending.”
And so went the game’s slogan: “Strange, funny, and heartrending”, a disarmingly apt description for a game filled with stories that are profoundly sad, hilarious, and weird—sometimes all at once.
For example, the main character Lucas (who English gamers will recognize from Smash Bros Brawl) befriends a mystical being who claims to be ageless and genderless, but who dresses and talks like a 45-year-old drag queen. When she (he?) is suddenly confronted with her own impending death, she quietly accepts her fate and offers Lucas an encouraging speech. She is then abruptly carried away by the wind like a piece of paper.
This kind of unusual writing and character development is a rule with few exceptions. The glassy-eyed NPC, a staple of literally every RPG in existence, is nowhere to be found in the world of MOTHER 3. Most characters have distinct names, personalities, and sprites. Some of them even have their own background stories that you’ll never discover if you don’t take time to explore the game.
MOTHER 3’s “Fan Translation” team, a group of fans who localized the game for English-speaking audiences, stumbled across dozens of such secrets during the two years they spent hacking the game. For example, there’s a newspaper sitting in a junk-filled, dilapidated house which many players understandably neglect to read. In spite of its insignificance, though, the newspaper’s headline changes after every small event in the game.
This devotion to seemingly inconsequential details is the hallmark of Shigesato Itoi, the popular Japanese copywriter responsible for the MOTHER series. Shortly before releasing the game in 2006, he posted a message on his website for his fans. “MOTHER 3 is a playground with plenty of room for your imagination to run free”, the handwritten note read. “The more you think about it, the greater MOTHER 3 will become.”
His words, like his games, are packed with truth and meaning. Just like a great album, MOTHER 3 is a masterpiece whose intricacies can only be appreciated with time and attention.
Incidentally, I think that might’ve been the last issue of Hardcore Gamer ever, so if you can find a copy of this issue, you’re sure to have a lucky day.
Also, I think reid did a ton of other write-ups and interviews for other places, but I haven’t been paying attention at all so there might already be a bunch of other stuff out there too.
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15 Comments to M3 Translation in Hardcore Gamer
- Jason: http://www.ipokiso.com/company /2017/hobonichi.html The anticipated price per share is 2,300 yen. As for those wishing to purchase a share...
- Leeaux: Hey I just saw this! Really interesting watch to. Lots of little fun facts.
- Mary: The “behind the scenes” video on how the Ness animation was made is great too. The animators channel is A + Start.
- NecrosaroIII: Itoi setting up his retirement
- Kamrom: My Recipe For Earthbound Rock Candy: 1. Get rock candy 2. Pour sugar on it 3. Watch as the sugar falls off 4. Eat the rock candy, clean up...