EarthBound Preview in NP #70
Wowow, I finally made it to the other side of my move – I went from Old People Town, Florida to Tucson, AZ. It’s been crazy busy buzzy but a lot of fun – probably the highlight was getting to visit the Fangamer office and hang out with everyone. I’ll probably talk more about all that stuff later on, for now let’s get to the questions!
(Also, if you’re just now tuning in, I’ve been doing Q&A updates this week since I have limited Internet access/downtime. I’ll get back to the normal updates soon, I promise!)
What do you think Mother and Mother 3 would’ve been called if they had both been released in the states (Mother being released after Earthbound)? Do you think NoA actually would’ve called it Earthbound Zero and Earthbound 2? Or do you think they’d have switched it up so it all made sense? Thanks!
What would they have been called if they had been released after EarthBound? Hmm… I don’t know if they’d have called it EarthBound Zero, although it’s certainly a possibility. I could see them doing some sort of subtitle thing, like “EarthBound Origins” or something along those lines. I’d love to hear what other ideas readers could come up with, so if you got any, share them in the comments!
For MOTHER 3, I could totally see them just going “EarthBound 2″ with it. After all, they even called it “EarthBound 2″ in that little sign board in Fourside in EarthBound. Having precedent like that makes it way easier to plow through the “what should we call this” process of localization (at least in my own professional experience). I could also see them trying to fix the numbering scheme sort of how the Final Fantasy numbering scheme got fixed eventually, so “EarthBound 3″ could’ve been possible too. In fact, I think it was even listed as “EarthBound 3″ in some financial report for investors. You can see that report here. Looking back, I can’t believe we actually went so far as to research financial documents when doing the translation. I think we’re genuinely crazy.
The Man With No Name asks:
Was there anything in Mother 3 that was unfinished or rushed? Did you want to correct any of this during the fan translation?
Actually, while working on the translation/hacking stuff, I sort of got the impression that the actual programming, art, and other assets weren’t rushed at all. It was like the developers had had a ton of time to work on the game, building the framework. And then only near the end was the actual text and such added in. Looking back at Itoi’s updates on the project, it seems like that might’ve been the case (see here).
Off the top of my head I can’t think of anything that was necessarily “unfinished” – there was obviously a lot of stuff that was scrapped along the way but was never fully deleted from the game’s data. Stuff like the unused Memo menu, unused enemies, that weird Claus background.
In terms of the game’s content, the general feel I got was that in the attempt to condense the dozen or more chapters of the N64 version into just 7 or 8 chapters in the GBA version, some of the stuff had weird pacing issues. It might be just me, for example, but Chapter 8 felt super-rushed, like it came out of nowhere (“Hey the super bad guy you gotta go beat is Porky we never really mentioned him before though but never mind that time for the chapter to start”) and then there’s a lot of rushed-feeling text in Chapter 8. Maybe Itoi was getting tired of doing his work retreats by this point?
That might just be me reading too much into it all though. I could be entirely wrong!
What I want to know is what is your favorite of the Mother games, Tomato? Also, how much would you pay for any of the Mother games?
I’d probably have to say EarthBound. I really like the way the game has you hopping all over the world, never staying in one place too long. All the places you go and all the characters you run into are really memorable. MOTHER 3 is good too, but I think I’ve overdosed on it and can only take it in small quantities at this point
Working on the MOTHER 1 side of MOTHER 1+2 gave me a much greater appreciation for that game too. But I don’t think it’d be one of those games I’d play inside my head if I was ever sent to mega prison or made a prisoner of war or something. Hey, yeah, maybe that should be the new “what is your desert island game” question people ask themselves.
MOTHER 1 can be had pretty cheap – I bought a copy a while back for like $15 or $20. I can’t remember if it was a complete set or not, it had a bunch of level 99 saves though.
MOTHER 2 is pretty cheap too, just don’t let the crazy eBay prices fool you. The buy-it-now prices are pretty inflated. I see complete sets selling in standard auctions for much less. Maybe around $20-$30 for a complete set? I’ve seen carts sell by themselves for like $9 sometimes.
MOTHER 3 is getting crazy, just like EarthBound. There was a point a year or two after its release that it was in bargain bins everywhere in Japan, and you could even get copies for $15 from Play-Asia! But the price has skyrocketed ever since and it’s like you can only get a copy for $70-$100 nowadays. Reminds me so much of EarthBound’s price history.
Mobile Opponent asks:
What do you think led to EarthBound 64′s really long development time and eventual cancellation?
I think the project was overly ambitious at first – from the really early interviews you can see all sorts of stuff they planned to do with the N64 disk drive. They even planned to have a MOTHER 3.5! So eventually they realized they had to scale things back and switched to just the standard N64 cartridge format. But the project was still too ambitious and the resulting lack of streamlined focus and organization probably doomed it to be in development hell forever. By the time the project was cancelled the development costs had probably equalled or surpassed any potential profit the game would’ve had.
An interview/discussion also cites the fact that the programmers were having difficulty with 3D stuff, but I wonder if that’s really the case, or if it was as bad as suggested. They talk about 3D collision detection being a problem – I find it hard to believe that simple collision detection would be the reason the game would be halted. I don’t doubt that it was much tougher to program than MOTHER 1 or MOTHER 2 (which were actually tough in their own rights too).
Hey Mato. i’ve been following this site for a really long time and always check the section where you post the recent earthbound/Mother item listings from ebay, and always feel like i was window shopping from my computer. I’m tired of emulators and want to be as legit as possible with my growing love for this series, without dishing out what little money i have.
This made me wonder if you had any suggestions to what prices are reasonable for CIB mother 1+2 and Mother 3, and just the cart for earthbound on ebay. Or am i better off searching for a copy localy in thrift stores and yard sales. are there any other sites that i may not know about that you would recommend buying the games from? Thanks.
Oh, and one other thing, is there a way to access the debug rooms and extra content (Or all around just use cheats) in the gba games with my North american gameshark if i use the codes you posted?
MOTHER 1+2 carts seem to be going up in price lately too. For a long time the price was stagnant at around the $40-$45 level. Now it’s a bit higher than that – I sometimes see people trying to sell them for $70+. Don’t fall for it! You can still get decent deals if you’re patient. For MOTHER 3 prices, I mentioned them already a few questions above this one, so check around for it.
For EarthBound, the current cart-only prices are usually around $150+ but if you’re really really lucky you can get one in the lower $100s, and if you’re ULTRA lucky you can sometimes get one for less than $100. I got a bunch of tips and pricing info over on buyearthbound.com.
Hey Mato, would you rather see the GBA Mother 2 translated, or EarthBound re-translated and uncensored? Just wondering.
Personally, I’d like to have the GBA version translated. I know people might think that that’s crazy, but my reasons are these:
- It’d be a fun challenge to translate/hack the GBA game
- Once the game is hacked and translated, it would be possible to give the tools and files to other people so they could finally translate EarthBound into other languages. There do exist some patches for the SNES version that translate the game into other languages, but translating the SNES version is really, really hard because of how complicated everything is set up. I think this is probably my biggest reason for wanting to translate the GBA version.
- It’d be nice to finally have all the various MOTHER series releases (including ports) translated into English. It’d also be nice to have all the GBA games finally in English too.
Over the years there have already been patches for the SNES version that attempt to revert changes and mistakes in EarthBound’s localization. Personally, I feel that such patches aren’t TOO helpful – most of the time players won’t know what precisely was changed or why. That’s why I really like comparing localizations (like I did here) – players can see stuff in detail and learn more about what was changed, why, and things like that. And for the most part, people who are interested in de-censoring stuff like this are already familiar with what was changed.
That said – and fully acknowledging that EarthBound doesn’t really NEED re-translating, I think it’d be a fun challenge / a fun project to try to translate the GBA script from scratch. And along the way we could even see what script changes were made in the port. I only know of one or two right now, but maybe there were more subtle ones no one’s really noticed or said anything about.
Of course, I don’t have plans or the time to do the MOTHER 2 side, so that was all just hypothetical talking
I studied Japanese both in high school and college, but I never was much good at it. Lately, I’ve found that while looking at odd tricks and glitches in Japanese versions of games, I can make out tiny bits and pieces of the intent of a sentence. I’m wondering if I may have found a good way to rekindle my Japanese and get a foothold back in learning it.
I’ve found that a lot of games have a lot of stylized writing (everything from drunk speak to dialects I’m not yet familiar with) that leave me frustrated. Can you recommend some games, books, or other media that may be good learning resources? I can only imagine someone learning English from Dragon Warrior and speaking with “verily” and “thou” in every sentence!
Yeah, one of the big mistakes that I made when I first started out (and that I always see others make) is trying to learn Japanese by playing games, especially RPGs and the like. The problem with this – which I discovered the hard way – is that the text in games, manga, etc. is written the way people talk. In fact, if anything, it’s written in an extremely exaggerated way that people talk in real life.
The problem is that the way people talk in real life is often very different from what you learn in books and in a classroom. What you learn in schools and study materials is how proper Japanese is supposed to be, but you only see one tiny part of the huge picture. The language has a natural flow to it that you can only really pick up through immersion of some sort or another. I remember struggling with MOTHER 2′s text even after a couple years of Japanese classes, but then just like two weeks of living in Japan everything said in the game just “clicked”.
Sadly, the best thing I can suggest aside from actually going to Japan to study (which is another giant topic of its own), I’d recommend just picking up cheap textbooks and try to learn things little by little. For actual immersion, if you can’t get to Japan, then try watching Japanese TV online (but without English subtitles!) The more types of shows you watch, the more you’ll start to pick up the “flow” of the language, even if you don’t get all the words right away. The flow is key.
Hopefully that helps a little – I don’t want to bog down this EB Central update with Japanese-learning stuff. For a while I’ve been considering doing a simple site that teaches Japanese to people while trying to avoid/fix pitfalls I ran into when I started out. For now it’s just a dream in my head though.
(smile, smile) asks:
This seems like a good opportunity to ask an important question, but I can’t seem to think of any at the moment, haha. One thing I do wonder is how much and what kind of Mother/Earthbound memorabilia do you own?
I actually used to own a ton of stuff, a lot of it pretty rare. I was no mega super collector by any means, though. This time last year PoeTrader and I started slimming down our pile of belongings by selling it on eBay, so much of it has gone to readers of EB Central. Things like my EarthBound Anthologies, figures, guides, MOTHER 3 Deluxe Box, autographed copy of MOTHER 1+2, and more are in better hands now.
Currently I think I only have a complete set of EarthBound, a copy of MOTHER 1+2, MOTHER 3, MOTHER 1, and maybe a guide or two. I still need to pick up a copy of MOTHER 2 sometime, and a Super Famicom.
But yeah, my collecting days are mostly over, or at least not as crazy as they once were.
I was wondering if you’ve ever read anything in a Japanese magazine/website about Itoi’s cancelled N64 game called “Cabbage”? All I remember ever reading about it was that he was designing it with Shigeru Miyamoto and that it was similar to Tamagotchi.Anyway, thanks for responding to all these questions!
I’ve heard little things about this Cabbage game from old magazine snippets but don’t really know much beyond that. I heard it was some sort of pet-raising game and that it apparently morphed and got changed into what is now Pikmin. I don’t know if this is true or not. Does anyone have any more info on this? It sounds like an interesting, little-known subject to delve into sometime.
My question got truncated AGAIN. D: You’re doing this on purpose, aren’t you!? Haha.
Actually, I just try to make the questions short so that readers can get through these giant updates more quickly. I’ve slightly truncated many other questions too.
Mato, do you think translating mother 3 hurt the chances if it ever being released here in the US? And why did you and your team translate it when they did? In other words did you feel a rush to translate it or do you honestly think that was the only way we would be able to play it? Thanks in advance
I don’t think it’s hurt the chances of a release – I feel like if it’s ever going to be released, it won’t be for many years from now. There’s no way it was going to be released between 2006 and now; I feel the chance was 0% there.
At first, everyone was hopeful it’d get a localization after it was released in Japan in 2006. Some of our friends/inside sources at NOA kept us abreast of the MOTHER 3 situation there, so the Starmen.Net staff waited a few months and even planned a campaign to try to convince the actual decision makers who were involved. That’s actually an interesting topic I don’t think many know about outside of the staff, so perhaps I’ll shed some light on that in the future.
Anyway, after it became clear NOA/NCL wasn’t going to touch the game, the Starmen.Net staff went into action and announced the Do-It-Yourself Devotion stuff, where we basically said, “Since it’s now clear Nintendo won’t do it, we’ll just do it ourselves.”
So there was no initial rush for us to translate the game right after it was released in Japan (although there was a small group of people who attempted MOTHER 3 translations early on), the Starmen.Net staff and I waited for a while first.
I do think a fan translation was the only way fans were going to play it in English. I still do have some slight hope that a re-release or port far in the future might happen and that by some super amount of luck it’ll get an official translation. My offer to let Nintendo use my translated scripts and files with no strings attached still stands, but I don’t think I’ll ever get taken up on it for various reasons.
Thanks for answering my questions. I feel like it’d be pushing it by asking a third… but I’m curious.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think I’ve read on this site multiple times that you think it is unlikely that Nintendo would drop the legal hammer on fan projects such as Mother/Earthbound fan games and your (amazingly done) translations on the GBA titles. If this your opinion (correct me if I’m wrong), why do you think it is unlikely?
Well, in the history of ROM translations, I don’t think anyone has ever been hit with legal action. Well, at least projects that weren’t boneheaded – Pokemon games get a lot of fan translations before official releases, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of those ever got into legal trouble (but even then I’m doubtful).
So that’s part of the reason why I feel the MOTHER translations aren’t in danger of getting in trouble. Another reason is that NOA, NCL, and Itoi all know about the MOTHER 3 translation but have done nothing about it. And, although it has no legal standing whatsoever, the support we got from people within Nintendo and other companies was a nice surprise. Reid also pointed out years ago that it would probably be a PR disaster if Nintendo smacked down the fanbase, which I can kind of understand.
Also, keep in mind that there are lots of sites out there that actually go way, way further than translation projects and sell unauthorized reproduction cartridges without getting into any trouble whatsoever.
So all that together is why I feel (but don’t positively assert!) that the various MOTHER fan translations aren’t in any legal danger from Nintendo.
Hello there, my name is OmniM and I’ve been watching this site for a while and was wondering… Do you think the Mother franchise would be different with today’s technology? (At the time they have NES, SNES, and GBA standards to work with, but now we have something like the Xbox and the Wii. And there’s the amount of people working on the game, the localization, the advertising…yes I’m talking about the “Stink” campaign.) I was thinking about that and wondered if it made a difference in its fanbase.
Honestly, I can’t really imagine the MOTHER series being anything like what it is if it hadn’t been developed until now. I can sort of see how modern upgrades of the old games might look, though. I imagine them to look something like how the Animal Crossing games look and feel.
Again, there’d be the issue of how to market the games though. I honestly don’t really know how I would market EarthBound either, other than what Nintendo Power did in its previews of the game and good ol’ word of mouth. I don’t really fault the company Nintendo hired to market EarthBound, but I do feel it wasn’t as effective as it could have been.
Will you ever complete the translation notes/unused stuff sections of the fan translation website?
I actually brought this up last week – check out more here. Basically, I’ve been considering doing print versions of my game localization analysis stuff and high on my hope-to-do list is one for MOTHER 3. It’d basically serve as my translation notes and all that jazz. There’d of course be a free version online but the print version would have extra content and possibly goodies.
Details are still very fuzzy since I still need to do the actual planning, legal legwork, and all that. I also don’t know which game to start out with – I might do a poll on that in the near future. Right now I’m leaning toward MOTHER 1, MOTHER 2, MOTHER 3, or Final Fantasy IV.
MotherFan asks in response to one of my responses:
What Console is Star Ocean 2 for because I wanna give it a try.
It was originally released for the original Playstation, so it’s pretty dated by now. I had a ton of fun with it. You might be able to get it on the Playstation Store, I’m not sure.
A PSP remake was released a few years back too. I haven’t tried it out so I can’t vouch for its quality. I was unimpressed with the Star Ocean 1 PSP port though.
Thanks for replying to my question in Earthbound Centrals Q&A 2 and I have another question for you, is there any other way to play Mother 1/Earthbound Zero and Mother 3 in English not on an emulator and what is your favorite game in the Earthbound Series?
Flash carts/cards are probably the only other way to play the games in English. There exist flash carts for GBA, DS, and NES that you can probably use to play these games on the actual hardware rather than in an emulator. Be careful, though – I think some countries have actually banned these devices (I believe Canada might’ve been one?) so check into that before you place any orders
I like these Q&A posts, and it’s cool that you’re responding to every question so considerately!
What I’ve been curious about is how Japanese Mother fans have shown their love for the game over the past almost 20 years? I’ve heard some details of some of the stuff (conventions, doujinshi, websites), but could you maybe shed light on some aspects that get focused on? Any particular parts of the games or characters that had special appeal that never caught on the same with fans of the English version? Any famous lines for Japanese Mother fans?
Thanks for everything, I appreciate your hard work!
Correction: Could you shed light on some aspects that DON’T USUALLY get focused on?
Wow, tough question. I’m not really sure where to start, but here are some random thoughts I can come up with:
- The whole infamous fetus theory thing began with English-speaking fans, but every once in a while I now see Japanese fans post pictures made by the English-speaking fans on the subject. I don’t think the theory is actually taken seriously, though. It doesn’t seem to have the sort of staying power that it does with us, at least.
- For various reasons (many of which are probably a mystery to me), it seems like MOTHER 1 is just as much loved or more than MOTHER 2 is. Maybe it’s because the first game was so novel and inventive and fresh while the second game was more of just an upgraded version. That’s not to say the second game isn’t liked, though. It just seems to me like the first game gets just as much love or more. Particular when the context in question involves retro gaming.
- The general feeling is that MOTHER series fans now are mostly limited to the late 20s to mid 30s demographics. The same is probably true outside of Japan, but by some strange quirk, it seems like the fanbase outside of Japan is also producing a constant stream of new fans in their early teens. I don’t know why this is the case, I’d love to hear people’s thoughts about it, though!
- To my knowledge, the Japanese fanbase (which is really non-existent, it’s mostly just a bunch of individual, abandoned homepages and blog comments) hasn’t really done anything in terms of huge projects like Starmen.Net has. Captain Apollo of MOTHER Party (which was the only big, active MOTHER site for a while) commented to me that if people in Japan tried the sorts of projects we tried here, it’d be considered serious harrassment by a bunch of messed-up-in-the-head lunatics. I can definitely see how that would be the case, which is why I’ve always advocated the simple, nice postcard idea rather than try to blast NCL with the regular “let’s siege NOA” laser.
- Japanese fans online really, really like to bash MOTHER 3. It came as a real surprise to me. That doesn’t seem to be how it’s treated outside of Japan, so that’s an interesting thing to think about.
- I used to think Japanese fans cosplayed MOTHER series stuff a lot more than fans outside of Japan, but lately I feel like that’s just the opposite. Maybe it’s because cosplay is a new-ish thing here, I dunno.
Hopefully that’s what you were asking about – off the top of my head I can’t think of specific characters that were treated with more or less favorability than they were with Western audiences. I’ll try to think about it some more, though.
Mr. Tenda asks:
This may have been answered already, but are you going to be working at Fangamer? If so what will you be doing there? And will EB Central remain separate from Fangamer, or will your new job affect EB Central at all?
I’m personally not working for Fangamer – PoeTrader is. But since we’ll be living like 15 minutes from the Fangamer office I’m sure I’ll be involved more in the Fangamer stuff than I used to. So no worries – EarthBound Central isn’t going anywhere or merging or anything like that.
If anything, you’ll probably be seeing/hearing more from me via other outlets than just EB Central now. I might also do some collaboration stuff with Fangamer or other Fangamer people sometimes too. In fact, we already sort of discussed some interesting collaboration ideas for the near-ish future. I’d use the word synergy but that word is dumb. But it actually applies for once here! At any rate, I’m excited to see it unfold
Oh man, that’s a mountain of text to read! If you’ve read this far, you deserve a gold star!
The Q&A stuff will keep going for a tiny bit longer (gotta get moved in to the actual apartment and get Internet hooked up) so if you have any questions about EarthBound, the MOTHER series, this site, or anything related that you want to ask, post them in the comments and I’ll get to them in the next update!
Other Related Posts:
52 Comments to EarthBound Central Q&A #4
- DarklingDragon: Time sure does fly. I spent some time this week playing Earthbound on the virtual console.
- MysterySprite22: These are really cool. I wish I could have these. I don’t have any EB merchandise. I just drew pictures. That’s it.
- Mallowack: he’s right you know. the game’s a slog to start, it was designed to be simple (drawn by a child), it throws the creepy at...
- N7Kopper: @WVdUde Movements and treaties for a videogame series release worldwide? Sorry if I’m raining on people’s parades here, but I...
- Chivi-chivik: I need to make celebration pics for MOTHER and MOTHER 2′s anniversaries ASAP. I don’t need to bother about EarthBound tho...