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Tips for Buying EarthBound

February 11th, 2009 | Hacking, MOTHER 1+2

This hasn’t been a priority of mine at all, so right now the first draft script of the MOTHER 1 part stands at about 15%. It’d be easy to finish this thing quickly, but I want to take my time with it. I don’t feel like there’s as much a rush, since people can play the NES ROM any old time, and my EarthBound Zero easy mode patch does what the Easy Ring in this M1+2 translation does. But it’ll get finished eventually.

For now, I decided I’d let people know about this neat little thing that may or may not get included with the translation patch. Basically, the NES could only show so many colors at a time, but the GBA can show a lot more. In the MOTHER 1 GBA port, the programmers just set everything to look like the NES version, but in technical terms, it’s completely possible to use lots more colors for everything.

So I suggested an idea to Jeffman a few months back: wouldn’t it be cool if we could use the enemy sprites from my EarthBound Zero remake hack? Jeff’s much better at graphic data hacking than I am, so he disappeared for a few hours and came back with some results. It’s not working perfectly yet, but this idea is definitely doable. Here are some comparisons:

(don’t mind the different fonts and window borders, I’m still messing with those)

It’s pretty cool stuff. I’m not sure if we’re going to actually do this or not, or if we’ll include it with the main patch. If we do include it, we’ll either have it as an option you can toggle on or off or as a separate patch. So if you want a super true-to-the-original experience instead of this fancy colorized stuff, you’ll be able to.

Theoretically, this same concept can be applied to all the graphics, not just the enemies, so it might be possible to make an upgraded-graphics version of the game while keeping everything else intact. Kind of like how original GameBoy games were upgraded to have more colors on the GameBoy Color and Super GameBoy.

Another simple thing that COULD be possible is auto-wins. I don’t know if we’ll actually mess with that, but if we do, it’ll again be an option you can turn on and off. I get the feeling we won’t be doing this particular idea though.

BTW, I’ve played through to Magicant with the Easy Ring on, and the game didn’t seem annoying or tedious at all. I didn’t have to stop to level up at all, and it was really fun and everything was a breeze. I think people will like this patch, whenever it’s done.

POLL: Would you use this graphic upgrade option?

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98 Comments to MOTHER 1+2 Translation Update 2

JB2448 said on Feb. 11, 2009

That looks so awesome! We may have no need for your EBZ Remake Hack after this!

Mato said on Feb. 11, 2009

That’s actually kind of my hope 😛 This stuff will be a lot easier than hacking the EarthBound ROM, which is basically a pit of deadly snakes in binary form.

Poe said on Feb. 11, 2009

The colors on that new oak thing look kinda muted. I think I’ll be playing with original graphics.

Zaxtur said on Feb. 11, 2009

It would be really awesome if the game had a major graphics overhaul, akin to MOTHER 2’s graphics. I’m sure it would be difficult, but the work you’re showing us looks awesome.

I thought of an idea… when playing EB0, one of my main gripes is that the controls seem kinda laggy when walking around. Compare how super-responsive EB’s walking around is to EB0’s walking around. Big difference. It would be sweet if the controls felt more responsive, if that’s possible.

kevinchai said on Feb. 11, 2009

In Mother 1+2, Mother 1 has pretty much the same style of free walking as Mother 2, as opposed to the grids of the original.

Food_Eater said on Feb. 11, 2009

That would be amazing. To me, the original NES shading always kinda gave a “scary” aura to the enemy sprites. I would appreciate this kind of update, but it should probably be done last so a patch without the graphical updates could be made for those who want it.

PriestessPaula said on Feb. 12, 2009

I love this idea…


Snakerope DX said on Feb. 12, 2009

I think it is an absolutely awesome idea and I would love to have it on the patch. As long as like you said people can still have the option to turn it “on” or “off”, I can’t think of a reason why people wouldn’t want it included. I for one would love to play through it twice using the original graphics and then the updated ones, to me options like that really adds length to the game and would make it a different and unique experience each time.

madammina said on Feb. 12, 2009

Gah! I don’t want to Emulate, but you are tempting me.

PSI Guy said on Feb. 12, 2009

How far can you go with the graphics hacking? Would JeffMan be able to alter other things in Mother 1?

Anyway, this is a really cool idea. Maybe try using Mother 3 sprites as a tech demo? Like, just to see if it works?

Matthew said on Feb. 12, 2009

One question is there any way to change to battle mechanics so that if one character kills an enemy then another character won’t miss with their next hit but rather automatically attack another character?

Zaxtur said on Feb. 12, 2009

I like Matthew’s idea.

Mato said on Feb. 12, 2009

It’d be nice, but it’ll probably be pretty hard to add in something like that without the source code. I’ll probably look into it though.

Linkdude said on Feb. 12, 2009

Updated graphics?! I love you, Tomato and Jeffman!! I really hope this becomes reality! 😀

Spade said on Feb. 12, 2009

Woah, you wouldn’t be taking any help for this, would you? Because i’ve done some revamps of earthbound sprites before, so I might be able to help.

Difegue said on Feb. 12, 2009

Hey, the fact to switch between original and rewamped would be absolutely awesome!

HAK2 said on Feb. 12, 2009

I like the original ones. if you remake the battle sprites, i’d say to remake the out side sprites too.

a good idea is to make different versions for different people.
make an original sprite version and a revamped sprite version,
make an easy version and a normal version,
stuff like that.

Mikhail said on Feb. 12, 2009

Looks great, you forgot one poll option, playing the game through with each.

Millhouse said on Feb. 12, 2009

Probably not going to happen but imagine:
An EBzero where grinding is no longer an issue.
An EBzero with nicer graphics and pull 16 bit color palettes
An EBzero with auto-wins, so old areas with weak enemies won’t waste your time
An EBzero where your characters don’t try to kill enemies that are already slain.

I think it would be pretty decent! Even for a modern game, EBzero would rock!

The Man from F.R.I.E.N.D.S. said on Feb. 12, 2009

Matoe-sama, I Have a Polite Request:

You said in a prev. entry that you were rewriting the script as the old one was very dry. Does this mean the new script will actually be humorous? Could you give like a comparison between old and new, if you aren’t too busy?

Dr. Meat said on Feb. 12, 2009

Dang Mato, that is sick. I can’t wait!

IWontGetOvertheDam said on Feb. 12, 2009

I would play it with the original graphics, then another run with the updated graphics. Either way, Mato, this is really awesome, and it’s great that you are doing this. 😀

BrickRoadDX said on Feb. 12, 2009

Yeah, the idea with the hits targeted at dead enemies just being transferred to other enemies is fantastic. That was a major frustration when I played.

Ryo said on Feb. 12, 2009

I M O, changing the graphics seems like a lot of unnecessary effort when that and all kinds of other changes could easily have been made if Itoi wanted to.

Q said on Feb. 12, 2009

Millhouse: Two and a half out of four ain’t bad?

ZombiePaul said on Feb. 12, 2009

I for one am all for the new enemy sprites. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll play it and love it either way, but it would be a nice improvment. I also don’t think they (the graphicalchanges) “break” the game or alter it from it’s original artistic intent in any way, shape or form. It’s not the same ripping up the plot or changing a characters personality completely. Disagree if you please, it’s you’re right 🙂

ZombiePaul said on Feb. 12, 2009

Hey Mato, any chance of an Edit feature being introduced here? I always fill my posts with stupid grammar/spelling mistakes I don’t ever catch until I’ve posted. Yes I should take more time and I’m really just whining, but still, an edit feature would be swell 🙂

JakeyBoy said on Feb. 12, 2009

Nah, I would play with the low res graphics. Firstly, It is a translation, not a remake. Also, the graphics would contrast to the ugly in-battle backround. It would be cool with the option, as long as it isn’t neccessary. If you have enough space on the ROM, totally go for it.

Triclops said on Feb. 12, 2009

I say go for it. Honestly, this is pretty awesome and could open up lots of hacking opportunities for PK Hackers. I would love to play it if you fully upgraded the graphics; plus, except for the battle system and music, you would have your remake project.

Forgotten Man said on Feb. 12, 2009

I would probably play it both ways. Just make sure to allow the player to keep it with original graphics as well.

On another note…

I’m assuming you’ll be releasing the MOTHER 1 translation long before the MOTHER 2 translation; would it be too much trouble to include menu translations with MOTHER 2? I want to replace my RPGOne translation with this one once it’s complete, but I really love having a menu patch.

Chad said on Feb. 12, 2009

If you’re going to do this, please do it right and do not use Earthbound’s graphics. That would be just wrong. The games are different, and they should be seen as such. I’m all for it, just don’t copy and paste Earthbound grahphics.

Mato said on Feb. 12, 2009

There aren’t even that many things that could use EB’s graphics anyway…

Manaphy Fan said on Feb. 12, 2009

Do it, it looks awesome.

Master of Ramen said on Feb. 12, 2009

I say give players an option to have the updated textures or not. The thing is, Mother 1+2 tried to emulate the two titles the best they could. Hacking the textures kinda removes the legitimacy.


If you are going to do a texture hack, I say DO IT AS A FEATURE THAT YOU CAN TOGGLE ON OR OFF. Or at least release two patches. I’m pretty sure that a lot of the data on the cartridge is just blank space, at least for Mother 1.

And if you’ll do the texture, why don’t you try inserting EarthBound’s original music into into its Mother 2 memory, to see how the tracks would sound on the GBA instead of the low-ish quality versions it already has?

Mato said on Feb. 12, 2009

Master of Ramen: Did you read the post fully?

Sans Serif said on Feb. 12, 2009

If you can add color, does this mean that color battle backgrounds will be possible? Or am I getting ahead of myself?

NovaMan XP said on Feb. 13, 2009

In the EarthBound Zero Easy patch the backgrounds had stars flying in the background, so it’s possible, but it most likely won’t have different BGs for different enemies like EarthBound and Mother 3.

Mato said on Feb. 13, 2009

Actually, you’re thinking of a different, much older patch. The Easy Patch doesn’t have anything added.

Anyway, no, I don’t think battle backgrounds would be possible, at least nothing like EB’s or M3’s. I probably won’t even try messing with that though. I’m pretty sure that the way the game is set up, there aren’t any available layers to do background stuff with. I can’t even remember for sure if the enemy graphics are actual sprites or not. They may actually be the background layer itself.

Matthew said on Feb. 13, 2009

My dream project was the Mother-Remake project using the Earthbound Engine. Is this where you are going with this…or does it stop at just a few sprites? If it does will there ever be movement to pick up that project again? Thanks in advance.

GoldenEevee said on Feb. 13, 2009

I wish you can continue with your EB0 Remake, maybe I can help…

Matthew said on Feb. 13, 2009

I’d help too! With funding if necessary.

Mato said on Feb. 13, 2009

I’ll discuss the EB0 make project in another update sometime, but here’s something that also links to further clarification.

Joshua johnson said on Feb. 13, 2009

your taking way to long withthis project that you said was “simple.” It would be faster for me to learn jappanese and beat the game then wait for you to make this patch.

Mato said on Feb. 13, 2009

rofl, if you want to play the game translated that badly, here you go:


I’m sorry that I’m not as good a monkey butler as you had hoped. But I would recommend learning Japanese anyway.

Forgotten Man said on Feb. 13, 2009

It seems like my post got completely forgotten, so I’ll just try again.

Any chance of having a M2 menu patch included in this hack?

Mato said on Feb. 13, 2009

Yeah, I’ll probably do something along those lines. It might not be as thorough as that other patch that also translates some of the battle text, but it’d be along the lines of the Mother 3 menu patch at least. It’ll probably be stuck with an ugly all-caps font though, like all the other patches.

NekoKnight said on Feb. 13, 2009

You know, I remember seeing what appeared to be a
Japanese screenshot of a 16-bit version of MOTHER that appeared on Starmen.net a while back, before any of the official MOTHER 3 screenshots were released. It looked almost EXACTLY like MOTHER, only with enhanced colors. If anyone still had a picture of it, it would be really neat if you could also upgrade the field graphics to look like the graphics in the screenshot.
And thanks for the fantastic MOTHER 3 translation, you are AWESOME.

Mato said on Feb. 13, 2009

Do you mean this one?

Like I mentioned, it would theoretically be possible to upgrade almost all the graphics in the game, but it might be a lot more work than is worth it. It’d be neat, though.

DrGlove said on Feb. 13, 2009

Looks awesome! Can’t wait!!!

captain_falcon said on Feb. 14, 2009

Super Mario All-star-izing the graphics? That would be awesome!

Would it at all be possible to include some form of psychedelic backgrounds in the battle scenes?

Also, would it be at all possible to upgrade the music? I heard some of the 16 bit songs you were planning on using for the EBzero remake. Very earthbound-esque.

Deathbydumb said on Feb. 14, 2009

Wow this is amazing! Cant wait for this!

Anonymous said on Feb. 14, 2009

Wow, impressive work as usual! Though to be honest, I prefer the 8-bit enemy artwork, but as long as it’s optional, it’s a rockin’ idea. I think this would work better as something you could toggle on an options menu rather than a patch, though. From what I understand, you don’t intend to update the graphics themselves but instead the colors, which makes sense since it’s the Game Boy Advance after all. I wonder if you’re also thinking of a music option to go along with that, but I think that’d be going overboard…

Just a thought – what if you did the same thing to Mother 2? Like, Mother 2 with 8-bit colors! That’d be fun to imagine… Though seriously, I think that, when or if you get around to Mother 2, there really should be an option to darken the colors to make it like the SNES game. I felt the GBA made it too bright even though there are some other GBA ports that had an option to adjust the brightness to your GBA screen.

Anonymous said on Feb. 14, 2009

On a side-note: I see you’ve gone with Territorial Oak! I wonder what the normal Woodoh enemies would be, if they’re remain Woodohs or have an EarthBound-ish name… Like Li’l Oak or Non-Lethal Oak.

Mato said on Feb. 14, 2009

The enemy names right now are very unfinished so what you see there probably won’t be final, but I’ll of course do my best to make everything match as much as I can between this and Mother 2/EB wherever there should be a connection. It’ll be tough in some cases though – I’ve already expanded enemy names as far as they’ll go without reorganizing the entire battle screen.

captain_falcon: I mentioned it before, but backgrounds probably won’t be possible – technical-wise I think the enemy graphics might be the background layer themselves.

NessRules said on Feb. 14, 2009

Maybe He dose a FLACON PUNCH

JoeWuzHere said on Feb. 15, 2009

no! keep the original graphics!

Tansunn said on Feb. 16, 2009

I’m all for a graphic update, especially since I’ve already played through the NES release.

jojjy said on Feb. 16, 2009

you know i love the updated graphics idea, but i’d love to put this on my flash cart…. and these extra graphics could potentially make it too bit to fit on my 256 cart. 🙁 that would be tragic.

nothing lamer than using emulators

Tansunn said on Feb. 16, 2009

@jojjy – There are no “extra” graphics, just changed graphics. It’s still a GBA game using GBA data, the original version was just colored it to look like a NES game. With the hacked graphics instead of telling a set of pixels to display as gray, gray, gray, gray, gray, it’s now being told to display as dark gray, gray, gray, light gray, white.

…this is how I understand it, anyway. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

Crysta said on Feb. 16, 2009

Obviously i’d love to see it done. If you still need work on any sprites to finish it up i’d be happy to do whatever is needed. 😛

Lothis said on Feb. 16, 2009

Ahh Mato, it is good to be posting in translation blogs again! Sometimes the build up is more fun than the end result. Of course MOTHER 3 is loads of fun, but anyways I digress.

If this were to be implemented as a turn on/off option, I would say take it to the max and update the graphics of everything. It would be pure win.

However, if it was one of those things that you had to choose between “do we want it at all or no?” then I would say maybe just the battles should be updated.

Whatever you do though, at least add some psychedelic drug trippy backgrounds, eh?

B oE AN said on Feb. 17, 2009

Hey man, if you end up doing this, please redo the MOTHER hippie instead of using the new age hippie from Earthbound/MOTHER2

Anthony said on Feb. 18, 2009

Mato if I can do somthing to help you, it’ll be my pleasure. I’ve study in programmation so maybe I can be a help for you…
Continue you’re work !!! It’s really great !!!

Aipe said on Feb. 18, 2009

I’m thrilled about the translation, but I feel like changing the way Mother 1 looks could change the feel of the game.

Hendricks266 said on Feb. 19, 2009

I’m really excited about the opportunity to play EB0 in its fullest glory. The tile-based movement and dry script of the NES EB0 was not very appealing.

Do you think you could fix some of the bugs on this page:


# SMAAAASH!! is always displayed in green. In the Famicom version it would be one of several colors.
# Enemy and ally attack sounds are mixed up. Could be a mistake.
# Giegue’s attack sound is a little bit off.
and the censored enemies, both in NES and SNES style?

skyrunner14 said on Feb. 19, 2009

Having beaten MOTHER 1 already, I’d have to say it’d be totally awesome if you re-did the graphics and such alongside the translation. Im usually against emulation, but I’d probably do so if it meant being able to play a totally-re-imagined MOTHER.

Lothis said on Feb. 19, 2009

Mato, since you’re in the neighborhood of changing the graphics around on this, what are the odds you could make the characters show their faces in battle like in MOTHER 3?

*imagines that one MOTHER 1 mock up under MOTHER 3’s engine coming to life…*

Mato said on Feb. 19, 2009

I’m starting to think that if we do through with this, we’ll have two separate patches for technical reasons. But I’m not sure yet.

Hendricks266: Not sure what can be done about the things you listed. I haven’t decided whether or not to uncensor the graphics, but if we do this graphic upgrade thing then I’ll probably leave the 8-bit graphics 100% as-is and have the colorfied versions be uncensored.

Lothis: No, that’s not a possibility. It wouldn’t even really make sense design-wise.

Eir said on Feb. 20, 2009

autowins would be cool! in my opinion 🙂

Stuffgamer1 said on Feb. 20, 2009

The half-remake with upgraded monster graphics but normal everything else looks kinda weird. I wish it was easier for you to finish that EB0 remake hack, as it looks AWESOME! For now, though, I’ll be reasonably happy if you finish the Mother 1 from 1+2 translation at all! I hadn’t thought you’d take this long since you said it’d be quick and easy.

Not meaning to sound like a greedy jerk, mind you. Beggars can’t be choosers and all that jazz, right? Thanks for the work you’ve done and are doing for the series in general. 🙂

Raj said on Feb. 21, 2009

It’d be nice if you were able to apply that Earthbound graphical update to the M1+2 rom, which has been something i’ve loved since Mario All Stars. But honestly at this point it doesn’t matter. Just best of luck whatever you decide to do.

gBev said on Feb. 23, 2009

Just so everyone knows, we have a Mother 3-style EarthBound Zero Remake going on over here: http://ebzr.blogspot.com/

Near said on Feb. 25, 2009

Earthbound 0 is just… ugly. It needs a remake, badly.

Son of Welcomes said on Feb. 28, 2009

Can you increase Ana’s offense stats? Those stats were TERRIBLE.

Soda said on Feb. 28, 2009

@ Son of Welcomes

Ana’s more of a PSI person IMO anyway.

Robert said on Mar. 6, 2009

Will the overworld’s sprites be updated too?

Zangetsu said on Mar. 9, 2009

So, after reading this I was kinda hoping for some overworld enemy sprites and not just random battles. What are the odds of that happening?

Mato said on Mar. 9, 2009

It won’t happen, it’d be way too much work, to the point that it might just be best to make a remake of the game 😛

Zangetsu said on Mar. 9, 2009

I figured as much, I guess I have high hopes though.

captain potato said on Mar. 13, 2009

to Son of Welcomes: then the the game would be
a)too easy
b)then whats the point of having her PSI abilities
c)newer fans won’t exerience EB0 like peple who who played the game already therefore making the game experience not as memorable

Claus said on Mar. 15, 2009

I’d keep the old sprites. For that classic NES feeling.

Anonymous said on Mar. 17, 2009

If there is an option for updated graphics, I wonder if those brown shadows will be cleared up. I know it was taken from the previous project, but personally, it looks odd against a black background.

Millhouse said on Mar. 29, 2009

So… Any news on the M1+2 translation front? I presume you didn’t work on it any further, right? How Are the chances for not-hitting-dead-enemies in this patch?

roido said on Mar. 31, 2009

what we need…is a expander

Koyuki said on Apr. 8, 2009

It would be fascinating to have an EB 0 remake. Definately do it, it would be very cool.

Poochy said on Apr. 19, 2009

The last time you played Mother 1 was in 1999?! What the heck?!

Man, EB Zero doesn’t get any respect. People think that you can just skip it entirely and go to Mother 2, but they’re wrong. EB Zero has a darker story than Mother 2, and is pretty deep once you get into it.

Freshly Baked Bread said on Jun. 9, 2009

Definitely updating the graphics would be a fantastic choice. So long as they’re not changed entirely, I think it would look really cool.

Pyroguy42 said on Jul. 22, 2009

Maybe I will finally get around to playing a Mother game besides EarthBound. Mato thank you for bringing the joy of the Mother series to the world.

Steve! said on Aug. 19, 2009

I’d rather just play the original mother without any special graphic enhancements. It would be neat to play but it kinda puts a different feel to the game

mukai night said on Feb. 18, 2010

I REALLY like the idea of this update. As long as the toggle option is there, I think it’s ridiculous to protest this type of thing. I love Mother as much as its sequels, but I’ve only played it in Japanese, so even without the graphical updates I’m excited to have a faithful translation (and a portable one, at that!). I truly hope this project doesn’t disappear, even if it takes a while.

Mr. Saturn said on Apr. 18, 2010

Has anyone else noticed that the enhanced Big Woodoh’s leaves are blue now?

Derrek said on Jun. 5, 2010

what about trippy backgrounds? is that possible?

Ness said on Aug. 1, 2010

I like it! But it would be nice if there was an option to choose between the 2.

PSI rockin' said on Jan. 30, 2011

Mato, I think, that this is mutating from Mother 1+2 translated, to new, improved versions of both

Mother Bound said on Feb. 24, 2011

I think for this that two roms would be available for download. One with updated graphics, the other with the original NES ones.

Cody baio said on Oct. 2, 2011

Hey mato,
Is it just me… Or do the original colors…
Scare you a bit? They creep me out when I play by myself :/
Any1 else think this?

Mr. Carpainter said on Sep. 19, 2013

Make it blue…

Vince94 said on Oct. 15, 2013

Woah, how have I not seen this article before?
This concept, combined with a less-sucky audio engine would make THE definitive version of the game.


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