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January 14th, 2012 | MOTHER 3, Uncommon Knowledge

Just before we released the MOTHER 3 translation patch back in 2008 – like the night before or something like that – a mysterious e-mail was sent to the address I list on my online resume but don’t use for anything else. I haven’t posted this anywhere before, but Reid’s talked about it on camera a few times (such as here). So here it is, for your reading glory.

Subject: Appeal from a member of the game industry

Hi Clyde,

I know you’re having a pretty busy (and significant!) week with the Mother 3 patch’s release right around the corner. As a member of the game industry, I have to say I’m REALLY impressed with the results. It looks every bit as good as some professional localizations, and way better than most. Congratulations on all your hard work!

The reason I’m writing, though, is to appeal to your professionalism and ask that you don’t release it. I’m a little scared of all the Furies of the Internet this will unleash, but this might be my last chance to express an unpopular opinion.

It’s true that no company has ever brought legal action against a fan translation–and I think so far, that’s been the right decision, since fan translations in the past generally haven’t posed any threat to an IP. This project sets a new precedent, though: never has there been a fan translation this good, and never has there been one this public. This time it doesn’t feel like a fan translation; you’ve taken your work to a professional level, and for that reason you’re suddenly stepping on people’s toes.

Yes, Nintendo of America has chosen not to bring Mother 3 to the US. Yes, lately they seem to be pretending the entire series doesn’t exist. But why are you putting an expiration date on their right to do so? Series like Kid Icarus and Punch Out!! were ignored for decades, and now they are coming back. The first installment of Fire Emblem is being released next year in English after 19 years in the vault. It was always possible that Mother would make a return. But if your patch comes out, there go all its chances.

A lot of fans on the Internet will be very happy because they’ll get their Mother 3 (and a superior translation of it, at that), but you will effectively be dealing a fatal blow to the IP’s future. Why would the publisher give Mother another thought when their largest target audience for the series would rather bombard their office with phone calls or tacitly condone what basically amounts to mass piracy than wait patiently for them to find a way to release the game in a way that’s profitable (part of those profits go back to the Mother creators and future development of the IP, by the way) whether they do it next year or 10 years down the line?

If you love the series as much as you say, why would you be a driving force behind killing it off for good?

I know you don’t see it that way. I know you mean well and that you adore the series, and that this patch is a labor of love. I also realize that among the people who download it, a very (very!) small percentage have actually bought the Japanese game legally and would otherwise never dream of downloading a ROM. These people deserve to get Mother 3 in English, as does the general public who have never heard about the title’s troubled history, or starmen.net, or your patch. I hope the publisher decides to deliver, and I believe that eventually they will…but that’s their call.

So please–be proud of the work you’ve put into the patch. Be proud of the fact that you have such a significant sway over the future of one of the best game series out there. But please, please, please, as a fellow professional who wants to see these games survive in the long run, I ask you: please don’t release the patch.

Anonymous Localization Producer
(Who Knows He Will Not Be Popular For Writing This)

(Note that all the italics were that way in the original e-mail)

We did indeed have a policy of, “If Nintendo announces anything or even just asks us, we’ll halt the project immediately.” This e-mail came from an anonymous source from what was clearly a throwaway Yahoo e-mail account, so even though I suspect someone at Nintendo sent it, it could very well have been any random person. The fact that they chose to send it right before the patch’s release (rather than the two years or so they had to say something) also made me a little doubtful.

Anyway, there are some excellent points in here, so I’m curious to know what other readers think. Some of them are debatable, like the fact that fan translations = dead IP; I released a Star Ocean translation in 2002/2003 yet an official release of the first game still happened years later on the PSP. Persona 2: Innocent Sin, Final Fantasy V, and Tales of Phantasia are other examples I can name off the top of my head. Still, the guy does make a good point.

So, what do you think? Was releasing the patch good, bad, both, neither, or something else?

Update: I forgot to mention, we checked the mail header info and it seemed to have originated from Japan, but that’s all we could figure out.


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106 Comments to The MOTHER 3 E-mail

Pikachu said on Jan. 14, 2012

That is… eh, odd.

The First said on Jan. 14, 2012

…….I Don’t Know what to say……

Johnwalt said on Jan. 14, 2012

Im not sure what to say here… lol

Johnwalt said on Jan. 14, 2012

Just realized the post above me said the same thing ._.

Satsy said on Jan. 14, 2012

As you said, you not only stated if asked by Nintendo you’d have ceased the translation, but a translation also doesn’t necessarily cost the series. There are many reasons for the Mother games to not be hitting the western shores, the translation just meant people could enjoy it in our language, as was meant to be played.

It’s like harsh criticism for the release of the NES EB ROM dump as Nintendo could have chosen to release it at a later date. Fact is they didn’t, and I honestly don’t believe the option was ever in the cards. Same for Mother 3.

If there were some future for this series, I doubt the translation would have nicked it.

emerson999 said on Jan. 14, 2012

I would argue that given the game translations you mentioned, which had later official translations, that he doesn’t have a good point. 15 years ago it’d be a good theory. But it has been tested and proven false.

blazevoir said on Jan. 14, 2012

I think it was the right thing to do. I doubt Nintendo would’ve released a translated Mother 3 when the GameBoy Advance era was already ending.

Kage said on Jan. 14, 2012

Not sure what to really say but… Personally I don’t really think it made much of a difference whether or not those fan translations went out with such a long time before an official localization came out.

I played the Star Ocean fantranslation as well as Tales of Phantasia. Funny thing, I also bought both Star Ocean PSP game as well as the Tales of Phantasia GBA game.

I would do the very same thing for Mother 3.

Ilhui said on Jan. 14, 2012

You know, there are good points in this, i don’t exactly know much about this stuff but, take for example the fan translation of Tales of Graces F. When it was announced that it would have a US release they stopped the project even when they were about to finish.

Probably (as the letter says) most of the people using a fan translation won’t buy the original cartdrige (or CD or whatever) but for me, and a friend of mine (the “Tales Of” series are for him what “MOTHER” series are to me) i know we would buy the original even twice just because we love those games.

I think i lost the point on what i was writting, but i’m happy to have a translation AND an original MOTHER 3

Poe said on Jan. 14, 2012

Should MOTHER 3 or any other game in the series ever get an official release (or re-release), the fan campaign to get as many people to buy the official game will undoubtedly be massive. The EB community has been waiting for the opportunity to throw money at a new official release, and we won’t back down just because we got an amazing fan translation.

We WANT Nintendo and all the people involved with the MOTHER series to have our money, but we haven’t been given that chance in North America since 1995.

So to answer your question, you did the exact right thing, Mato. You gave us what Nintendo refused to give us.

FlyingManCourage said on Jan. 14, 2012

Personally, I think his points are only valid if you completely and toalky ignore the fact that the availability of an English-version of Mother 3 can (and clearly already has – a point that couldn’t be proven at the time this was written but should have been considered nonetheless) bring TONS AND TONS of new fans to the series. These are fans that wouldn’t have supported the series in any way before but are now heavy supporters simply because they had the opportunity to play a game they could understand. I know retrospect is 20/20, but just look at how many people say, “I didn’t know about the series but the I played Mother 3 and now I think they are all the greatest games ever!”

Seriously, just take a look at “What got you into EarthBound?” thread on sm.net or a few of the “thank you” posts on the forum here. Releasing this patch has drastically increased the plausibility of a potential official relase being profitable. Personally, I think this guy is way off. The supplied examples of other titles would suggest I am correct.

FlyingManCourage said on Jan. 14, 2012

Again, hindsight is 20/20 but is also consider how much the prices of EarthBound carts and all other Mother-related merchandise has gone up since the release of this patch.

Clearly, Mato’s patch has done nothing but increase the popularity of the entire series. With SNES carts that are falling apart going for $60-$80, it is really tough to argue at this point that Mato has done anything to decrease potential profits.

Nathalie said on Jan. 14, 2012

I’m one of those who believe that NOA wouldn’t have ever localised MOTHER 3 anyway. Don’t hate me for this, but I believe they just don’t prioritise the MOTHER series as much as other video game series that people want localised. Even though they simply can’t release EB for VC because of legal issues, even if MOTHER 3 wouldn’t have as many issues, I highly doubt they were ever thinking of localising it.

So, I think it’s a good thing you released the patch. People have gotten the opportunity to play a game they might not have discovered or even understood in the first place. This guy seems to be a “troll” or… well, someone from Nintendo of America.

kenisu said on Jan. 14, 2012

Wow, when Reid mentioned that email it gave me the impression it was downright threatening. This is a whole lot friendlier than I was expecting it to be, though its authenticity is still up in the air.

Leeaux said on Jan. 14, 2012

I don’t think this kills off the series at all. Especially when the entire series life depends on Itoi himself. I also agree that Nintendo had two years to stop this, and if they really wanted to they would have sent a cease and desist. This seems like someone that maybe was a little more worried than he probably should have been.

Why would Nintendo release it after a translation has been offered? I think because people would buy it, and they would make money that way. They are first and foremost a business.

Dave said on Jan. 14, 2012

I think Poe’s comment up above hit the nail on the head. If an official English translation of Mother 3 is released, the EarthBound fan community will throw as much money as they possibly can at it. This doesn’t mean that the anonymous e-mailer’s points are untrue or invalid in general, but I believe that they might be in the case of Mother 3. If and when the time finally comes that they go “ehh… let’s figure out a way to get that game out in English”, I suspect that our community will do everything in its power to make that game reach the top of all lists of everything ever. We’ve been waiting for the opportunity to throw our money at them for over a decade now. I don’t even have any money right now, and I think would still buy it, even if it came out for a system I don’t own.

Bionic said on Jan. 14, 2012

Eh, I don’t agree with that guy at all. I am very thankful for the work that Mato has put into this patch! I wanted to play Mother 3 for years and even started the long task of trying to learn Japanese until he released it. And to show my support, I bought a Mother 3 Deluxe Box and basically every piece of EarthBound merch I can get my hands on!

Anyway, Nintendo had the opportunity to do something about this for a long time, they didn’t and I don’t think the patch has reduced any profits they could have made, only increased them because now fans know about it. Nintendo has really been unfair to the EarthBound fanbase and it was high time we were able to play the other games in the series.

Dave said on Jan. 14, 2012

(Continued.) — sorry, feel free to merge my posts together.

That’s not to say that I think his e-mail is entirely incorrect, though. It’s possible that, as a result of the patch, Nintendo might decide to put the localization on an even further back burner than it was already. Or even totally give up an any plans they may have ever had. I don’t think we know how these things work. They’ve probably been over the numbers and they are the ones who know how much they’d need to invest, and how much they’d stand to lose, or to gain. But I believe they’d be making a mistake if, in underestimating the strength of the EarthBound fan community, they decided we would not toss every cent we have in their direction simply because the fan translation exists.

Neko Knight said on Jan. 14, 2012

The MOTHER series is already finished, Itoi-san said so himself. And I still believe that most gamers prefer official releases, I know I do. You and everyone involved did a great job, Mato. If we ever get an official release, maybe they’d use your translation! Or would that be against Nintendo policy?

Halloween said on Jan. 14, 2012

Ha! I laugh at that guy. He clearly has an opposite opinion, but I don’t think the translation patch dealt a fatal blow to Mother’s future at all.
The chances for NoA to release the Mother games are gone, because of poor timing in both the NES and GBA life cycle.
And you never translated Earthbound, what is stopping them from a virtual console release??

NoA pretends the series doesn’t exist. Is this guy saying you are more powerful than Nintendo by “putting an expiration date on their right to do so?”

The translation was obviously NOT a driving force behind killing the series. Thousands of people would have never completed the Mother trilogy if it wasn’t for your path, therefore it would be less known. I know personally I got into Mother/Earthbound only after learning of the translation project (I thought to myself “if this guy is giving this game a pro translation for free, it must be SOME game!!”)

So this guy (whoever he is) has a very unpopular opinion. And by unpopular I don’t mean ‘sad but true’ but ‘minority.’ There aren’t going to be any more Mother games anyway, and NoA can obviously do whatever they want whenever they want.

The one looking out for the fans this time is MATO!

Mato said on Jan. 14, 2012

kenisu: It might help if you try to think of how hectic everything was since it was like the night before the patch’s release – getting something like this out of the blue was a real “wtf, really? NOW?” surprise.

Darien said on Jan. 14, 2012

The idea that Nintendo would even consider the fan translation when deciding whether or not to localise a game is nuts. The long-time, high-profile existence of Zelda Classic has somehow failed to dissuade Nintendo from rereleasing The Legend of Zelda on Game Boy Advance, Wii Virtual Console, and 3DS Virtual Console, and so too would it be with Mother 3. The fact is, no matter how popular your patch (or remake, or port, or what-have-you) is, it won’t reach anything like as many people as an official Nintendo release, what with being advertised on web sites, in Nintendo Power, and especially in retailers. No; if Nintendo considered the fan translation at all, it was a point in *favour* of releasing a proper translation, since it showed that significant interest did exist.

Nintendo ultimately did not release Mother 3 for economic reasons. And, though painful, I have to admit that Nintendo was probably right. The game came out too late in the GBA’s life cycle, and would have had some issues with the ESRB; there’s a non-trivial quantity of adult-leaning content in Mother 3, so it would either have to be significantly censored (which series fans would hate) or up-rated, which would put off potential new audiences. Fact is, a “cutesy” GBA RPG rated T (or possibly even M, with the flywheels at the ESRB) wouldn’t have sold in 2006-2007. The subsequent translation didn’t change any of that.

Hyperstar96 said on Jan. 14, 2012

I’m not going to lie: I downloaded the translation patch and ROM without buying the original Japanese game (not that buying it off eBay would benefit Nintendo anyway…), but if Nintendo were to release an official English translation, I would buy it on day one with no questions asked, even if it were an inferior translation.

Mato said on Jan. 14, 2012

I just updated the post with an extra tidbit of info I almost forgot – the mail most likely came from somewhere in Japan, although I’m not 100% sure of it.

Alxprit said on Jan. 14, 2012

You had something to do with Star Ocean’s translation? Neat.

Mato said on Jan. 14, 2012

Yep! I’m a huge Star Ocean fan too.

I have a fuller list of stuff I’ve done here: http://matotree.com/translations/

OKeijiDragon said on Jan. 14, 2012

I honestly have to say, despite the decent points he made about any *possible* chance MOTHER 3 *could* have gotten being diminished at the time, which back then even I doubted, the fact that the sender didn’t have the courage to unveil himself in the private e-mail suggests that it was just a random person under the facade of a professional.

Why would any industry professional use such a throw-away email address to contact someone like you in private, Mato? Why would he/she need to cover his/her tracks like that in this manner? Did he/she really expected to be exposed by you?

It does not even seem to read like a letter from someone who claims to be an industry professional, but more like a friendly and social “hey, great job dude, but don’t do drugs or pirate! =)” letter. From how its worded also, I’d have expected formality by any professional from any field.

“”If you love the series as much as you say, why would you be a driving force behind killing it off for good?””
^This comment is irritates me too.

The sender placed you in a position where you had power to break or make the series’ future outside of Japan, which is both pretentious and non-sense. When this e-mail was sent, the GBA passed on three years prior, along with any chance that any sort of software would be made for it.

If there was any intention from Nintendo to bring MOTHER 3 to the west, they sure as hell wasted so much time executing that plan, and for this “professional” to ask why you’d be “killing [the series] off for good” at such the wrong time (just days before the fan-translation was released) when the series had already officially ended, is asinine.

And for the record, and this is not meant to be a troll comment, this series’ future in America was already ‘killed’ by Nintendo when EarthBound didn’t do so hot in retail in the first place. Not even at the end of the N64 era did there seem to be any solid assurance that MOTHER 3 was to be released in the US, despite the reports I’ve found and researched for my documentary project.

Otherwise, that letter was an interesting read. Sorry if this post was beside the fan-translation point, but I just couldn’t help but point out the sender’s flaws.

Anonymous Soul said on Jan. 14, 2012

This person didn’t need to write such a long letter for this. Just looking to profiteer off the title. Thank you for ignoring this blatant request and going through with it, Mato. Not only did we get the game for free, but it’s better than any other super censored and ultimately butchered version of the game that NoA would come up with.

Alex said on Jan. 14, 2012

You did the right thing Mato and thanks again for releasing the mother 3 English patch that many around the world have played and enjoyed alot.

TS said on Jan. 14, 2012

Though this letter is perfectly kind and respectable, it represents a great evil that plagues the world: Greed, albeit I believe unintentionally.

The general basis of the letter’s argument seems to be that you shouldn’t have released the patch because its popularity would discourage Nintendo from doing anything with the game further down the future. Well… what’s the problem with that except Nintendo potentially losing some money? Nintendo has not been kind to Mother fans in America and even as fans prove that they can make a difference with Operation Rainfall, there are just so many legal hangups about the Mother series that prevent it from expanding over here.

The letter writer makes the argument that there’s always a chance in the future, but what reason is that to prevent spreading love of the game *now*? The first Fire Emblem was brought over 19 years later, really, that just further backs the reasons why this translation needed to be done, because people who like Earthbound like it NOW, who knows where they’ll be five, ten, fifteen years in the future? We can’t prevent the spreading of something that makes people happy in the hope that it may be released more (forgive me) more “legitimately” further down the road, especially now when it looks like it will be a long, long, looong time down the road.

Mother games are true examples of how video games can be art, and Mother 3 was a touching piece of art. Without that translation, the only look at Lucas the general population of the US would have is the one where he’s crying and running away all throughout smash brothers brawl.

With my own intention to be a writer, I can say that I would be overjoyed if somewhere in the world where my work was never translated a fan would take their own time to do it themselves and expose it to a whole new audience because its not about the money, or how public the release is, its about spreading the message and people enjoying the creation. Though a non organization affiliated group making a translation may discourage a larger group from doing it themselves and spreading it to more people, I think, really, that the group that has spent time longing for the work deserves it even more. I know that doesn’t wholly promote “spreading to a whole new audience” which is important, but I think loyalty is something that deserves to be rewarded.

Also, this is Mother we’re talking about, if it ever came out through Nintendo people would be shoveling dump trucks of money over to Reggie.

Also, thank you for that Mother translation, it was a great game, a great translation, and a great effort that gave me a better appreciation of a character who before I only thought of as a tiny version of Chad from the Alltel commercials.

Zinco said on Jan. 14, 2012

What, is he really suggesting that fans should wait for ten years or more to see whether Nintendo of America would bring the Mother series back? I mean, besides the fact that we waited about that long for Mother 3 in the first place, that’s kind of putting an awful lot of faith into a big maybe. And I think your list of counter-examples of fan-translated games that were either brought over later or saw their series continued overseas is evidence enough.

The IP of Mother, really, is only strengthened in the English-speaking world by having so many people excited about the Mother 3 patch. There aren’t going to be more people excited about the eventual return of the series (in whatever form) because fans decided not to translate the final installment. That’s an entirely counterintuitive argument.

Pepper said on Jan. 14, 2012

My opinion has been stated by everyone. I honestly have no idea as to whether this letter is fake or not, but I have to agree with OKeijiDragon here. Asking you to discontinue such a widely anticipated project the day before its released because Nintendo MIGHT release it in the future is absolutely ridiculous. I could never comprehend how Nintendo could barely acknowledge the efforts you and SM.net put forth for so many years. That little “bargain” in the letter is honestly like a slap in the face.

Both you and SM.net have been more than generous and cooperative in your efforts. Everything that has been done has been done simply for the love of the Mother series and that means something. Nintendo should know very well by now that if they released any of the Mother games (separately or as a compilation) many, many people in America would buy it because of these fan efforts. I’ve played every game and would still buy them three times over. Like I said, I don’t know how legit this letter is but if it happens to be, then shame on them.

GiegueStrikesBack said on Jan. 14, 2012

I didn’t know you did FFV mato! I actualy just finished hat not to long ago, and you did a great job!
On a MOTHER related note, I think that it could have possibly been a gag from somebody who wanted to give you that last minute surprise.
His logIc however is severely flawed, Seeing as how FFV was released (I think) for psx, as well as other of your well translated titles.

Mato said on Jan. 14, 2012

Oh, no, I didn’t work on FFV, I was just citing an example there.

Now that I think about it, Fire Emblem 1 had fan translations before it was released officially in English (which he cites in this e-mail), that’s another good one to add to the list of examples.

EmeraldWind said on Jan. 15, 2012

I don’t think it hurt its chances at all. In fact, I think the translation patch helped us better understand how GOOD Mother 3 is. I had heard it was good, but after playing it I found it to be one of the best games I played in terms of how it made me feel.

As a result, I recommend it to everyone who asks about the game. Also considering Nintendo’s penchant for remaking games and retooling series, particularly games and series brought up by Smash Bros, I think it wouldn’t be long before Mother gets some level of revival.

G.Wicks said on Jan. 15, 2012

I’m glad you didn’t heed the email’s advice… but honestly, after years of working on it, I don’t know who honestly would have expected you to say “DUH OKAY!” and hit the cancel button on the project. I remember those fan translation updates. I distinctly remember one where the game blarfed menu graphics during hacking and you posted something like “Please work, Mr. Evil Game?”

And seriously, I still play the game to this day. Thanks again 🙂

Nintendonerd said on Jan. 15, 2012

I never really thought about the project this way before, and it did make me discouraged, but I think, that, in the end, a 100% chance of fan translation is better than a 30% chance (or less) of an official release. As far as that goes, thousands of Mother fans (myself included) would never have been brought to the series.
PS. I feel somewhat honored to be one of those people who bought an actual Japanese copy of Mother 3 and never downloaded a ROM for any other game. I love it that much.

Clumsy Robot said on Jan. 15, 2012

First of all, if this is legit, this guy’s a jerk. Why would he be telling you this now when he’s had two years to speak up? If he told you when you were maybe like 10% into the project, I guess it wouldn’t have been as bad, but when you’re almost finished… geez.

Second of all, I don’t think his points are solid. He’s saying that Nintendo won’t release it in the future because people are playing it on an emulator? I’m pretty sure everyone agrees that playing games in their original format is much more satisfying than playing it on an emulator, therefore people will buy it.

But it doesn’t affect our enjoyment of Mother 3. We got to play it in English when NOA turned the other cheek. Mato, thank you for all the great work.

Clumsy Robot

kenisu said on Jan. 15, 2012

So it was possibly sent from Japan? I think I’d laugh my head off if it turned out to be Alexander O. Smith. Not that he’s the only localization producer in Japan or anything, that was just my first thought. 😀

Animegame97 said on Jan. 15, 2012

Well if they would just have released Mother 3 and then Earthbound for virtual console then they wouldn’t have piracy problems… They got what they got :-/

awesomelozinc said on Jan. 15, 2012

I feel like this should be the topic of an episode of the Twilight Zone. A mysterious message from a mystery author who tells of a future… that just may come true! Spooooooky

John H. said on Jan. 15, 2012

His argument is, basically, instead of working hard to unofficially bring this marvellous game to a wide, appreciative audience, it should be left in the localization ghetto LIKE HUNDREDS OF OTHER GAMES WESTERN AUDIENCES ARE JUST NOW LEARNING ABOUT.

If the real reason NIntendo didn’t localizate the game is because it samples Beatles music, then localizing it yourself won’t do a thing to make it more or less saleable later. This situation is far more the result of Nintendo’s own decisions, and the bizarre state of copyright law producing unintended consequences, than Tomato’s actions.

Crav said on Jan. 15, 2012

I could understand why they’d want to keep their email anonymous. Giving a statment like that could cause all sorts of problems for a higher up in the industry if they weren’t officially supposed to recognise a project like this. It could be taken as an official company statement, which could potentially even cost them their job if they stepped on the wrong person’s toes. Even a personal letter could cause problems.
And even if it didn’t, could you imagine all the possible hate mail it could generate from the fans? The guy was fully aware of how active the EarthBound community is. I could definately see him being worried about being the target of an email onslaught.
I think it’s likely, that whoever it was really did just want to give some friendly advice.

As for why it came so late, The greater bulk of fan projects fall appart. They might have just been hoping the problem would go away. Or maybe they weren’t supposed to make an official statement because of company policy, but as it neared finish he felt like he needed to try warning us that it could damage the IP.

Regardless, the Mother series is finished now. I’m still extremely grateful to Mato and everyone else that helped with the translation.
I bought the game when it first came out. I’d have bought it again if an english version was released. I’d still buy it if it came out in the future. Heck, I’d probably buy more than one copy so I could give it to friends.

I’m not sure we’ll ever know if and how translation patch affected an official release, but I’m happy I didn’t need to wait another decade or more to play the game in a language I could understand.

Cre'lus said on Jan. 15, 2012

I still believe that NOA would butcher MOTHER 3 for their target audience if they decided to put their grubby little hands on it..

? said on Jan. 15, 2012

I think the dude/dudette is a jackass. “NINETEEN YEARS IN THE VAULT.”, you know what I take it back I think they’re a fanboy jackass.

Nintendo fanboys are super delirious, or children who are too young to shoot shit on the Xbox.

Cre'lus said on Jan. 15, 2012

Wait a minute.. I’ve had a revelation.



RandomGuardian said on Jan. 15, 2012

Ok so this has to be fake. why? Only Nintendos/Itois opinion matters. Unless it was Itoi, an individual also won’t matter. The fact that he is posing as an anonymous individual already blows this letter out of the water.

Also there is no mistake that this translation was the best thing that has happens to EB. It attracted alot of attention and Brawl converts that help solidify the fan base.

EByay said on Jan. 15, 2012

This guy has absolutely no point at all.

His claims are beyond ludicrous.

His opinions are ridiculous.

His fears are unfounded.

His logic is extremely shakey at best, and entirely incoherent and worst.

His entire demeanor is condescending and whiny.

And his agenda seems pathetically self-centered and passive-aggressively aggrandizing. He even fully admits his opinions if going to be “unpopular”. Gee, I wonder why. Probably because all of the above reasons.

This letter, to me, looks like the blatantly obvious work of a two-bit troll, poorly attempting to sound legitimate. He makes absolutely zero point. The whole thing is rambling, and bizarre, and makes the ludicrous assumption that a translation can somehow “kill” a series that never even reached the US in the first place. Laughable and sad.

I can see why this pissy little douchewad was cowardly enough to remain anonymous. The whole thing reeks of simpering, butt-hurt, passive-agressiveness, and the entire email, every last word, from top to bottom, sounds like batshit insane, gibberish from a two-bit troll trying to bait you guys.

I’m actually very happy that not only did all of the team completely ignore this ball of douche, but didn’t give him the satisfaction of even replying.

EByay said on Jan. 15, 2012

P.S: Short version… Yeah, this is obviously nothing more than the work of a two-bit troll nobody, merely attempting to amuse himself by trying to see if his ludicrous gibberish would scare the patch away from being completed, for his own perverse shits’n’giggles.

I think it’s a cause for happiness, to look back on this in hindsight and laugh openly and derisively at this letter.

Good on the team for ignoring an obvious troll, who merely wanted to disrupt the release, just for the sake of poorly giving it a “why not” shot, with this teary, non-nonsensical, pretentious, passive-aggressive threat, wrapped up in the transparent guise of a “polite request”.

It’s irritating to even see someone this insane even think he’d be taken seriously, whatsoever.

But seriously. Let’s see this letter for exactly what it is. Some random 14-year old, who wanted to see if he could scare you guys into dropping your work, so that he could snicker about it, like he got one over on you.

Poe said on Jan. 15, 2012

Yikes guys, let’s keep name-calling out of this. We got our fan translation, and that’s what matters in the end.

Alex said on Jan. 15, 2012

From the start the person who wrote this letter lost all credibility by not even saying who he/she is,also its already been proven that many old games that have been translated like Final Fantasy 3,Star Ocean,Fire Emblem to name a few have been released in English on different systems.

man said on Jan. 15, 2012

As long as Itoi says he has no more plans for the series I’m not bothered.

SamuelTurn said on Jan. 15, 2012

I think were good, also, Mato, you worked on KHII and Summer Wars? You are now the most awesome person in the world!!!

Anoymous said on Jan. 15, 2012

I think, that it’s a good opinion, but, it’s not as if the Mother series would COLLAPSE because of a fan-translation, I mean, it’s a direct translation, NOA would change it to be a little more kid friendly if it was released.

Dan said on Jan. 15, 2012

I bought a copy of the Japanese game from a Super Potato in Tokyo in 2010 before I downloaded the patch to support the game anyway. Just because the patch exists doesn’t mean you can’t still buy the game.

JohnLeir said on Jan. 15, 2012

Anyone who played MOTHER3 knows a game like that could never be released in the west(without butchering it beyond recognition), for reasons that would be too spoilerific to mention here. I would love to see it in 3DS’s virtual console, but the west just isn’t ready for it.

Bucky said on Jan. 15, 2012

Oh Lord.

This email is not professional at all, actually. Despite big companies fear of piracy, within the past five years, its definitely cooled down on their end. For instance, the RIAA mafia doesn’t sue little old ladies for millions anymore.

You spent a long time working on something so more fans overseas could enjoy Mother 3, and no one from Nintendo (In their right, human minds) would want to stop you. On the greed side of things, I can see a lot of people pissed, but if I had a game in English, I’d be honored if someone released a Japanese patch for it. I wouldn’t send an email, pretending to be nice, to discourage anyone. Nintendo is a big company, and the only thing they have to do to stop any of this is to release the Mother series to America. No company is going to be discouraged because some people already made a translation, because they have that “superior” attitude, and always want to make money.

Now, why they haven’t done so if anyone’s guess. I don’t buy the reasons Fil-Aimes gives.

RedToad said on Jan. 15, 2012

This is from 2008, correct? He mentions Kid Icarus is coming back… But Kid Icarus: Uprising wasn’t he announced yet… Huh.

RedToad said on Jan. 15, 2012

(I ment to spell “even” not “he”)

gar said on Jan. 15, 2012

i think they did the right thing, i mean, i respect this guys opinion, but as long as we can debate whether it was ethical or not to release the patch, the owners of the IP, the owners of the last word, are Nintendo, and if they did nothing to stop the project, that’s the final word.

Bucky said on Jan. 15, 2012


I think Nintendo has more important things to worry about, in the grand scheme of things. 😉

Jack said on Jan. 15, 2012

I find it interesting that he mentions revivials of Punch-Out!! and Fire Emblem when these two titles were only announced in early October 2008 – and Kid Icarus, when Project Sora was only founded in early 2009.

Of course, that’s just conjecture, he could have been talking about Pit’s inclusion in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and if you got this email later in October that’s that theory shot down as Punch-Out!! and Fire Emblem will have been common knowledge by then.

Mato said on Jan. 15, 2012

That’s interesting about the Pit thing, I never realized it. That kind of narrows it down to people in the know probably.

Zib said on Jan. 15, 2012

Some valid points. But I don’t think the release of the patch damaged anybody’s wallet. The world is better off being able to play Mother 3.

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I will buy any new localized Mother-related product, with or without an unofficial localization existing. It didn’t hurt anyone to make the game playable to non-Japanese audiences.

Anonymous said on Jan. 15, 2012

Releasing the translation was the correct thing to do.

It does not directly hurt Nintendo’s sales figures because the fan translation is not competing with an official translation. Nintendo isn’t offering a version of the game for people to buy, so they get zero revenue from the game regardless of if people download the fan translation or not. It may affect sales indirectly by diverting people’s attentions away from buying new games while they play Mother 3, but if that were noticeably the case, Nintendo could simply license Mato’s translation for free as offered and collect revenue on the game.

The availability of the fan translation also won’t hurt sales of Mother 3 if it ever is released. The fact that people already own a game, for instance, hasn’t stopped them from buying another copy on the Virtual Console and hasn’t stopped them from buying re-release of old games for new systems. If a game is good then people will want to buy it, just as long as they know of its existence. The problem Mother 3 faces is that few people know of it, and the effect that the fan translation has is of introducing it to a larger audience.

Mother 3 hasn’t been released because Nintendo’s marketing department didn’t expect it to be profitable. If anything, the fan translation shows that there are people who want an official release, so instead of ignoring it completely, they may potentially consider releasing it some time in the future that makes sense to them.

angryrider said on Jan. 15, 2012

Killing the chances of Mother 3 by releasing a patch? Laughable. Nintendo of America will only release games here only if it sales in huge volumes, and rarely will they release niche games, especially the Mother games, for fear of unpopularity, even though there are smaller companies in the states that are doing just fine.

The translation was a great idea to allow video game fans from around the world to be exposed to the genius of Mr. Itoi and the rest of the development team.

Leeaux said on Jan. 15, 2012

It may go without saying, or it may have been said already. But I always kinda thought Nintendo just looked the other way on mother 3 patch. Maybe thats just the bit of me that wants to know they care enough to at least let us enjoy the game however we can.

RetroJaro said on Jan. 15, 2012

In all honesty, I think this guy is wrong, wrong, wrong.

1: Earth Bound was originally to be released in NA. Along comes the SNES, pretty much killing that game. Now known as Earthbound Zero.

2: Earthbound comes to the SNES. They make a awful marketing gimmick of “this game stinks” and decided to make it expensive to produce, and even then, they butchered the localization so much… that’s sort of why I was looking forward to the fantranslated portion of mother 2 to be done, so we can get the game as it was originally intended to be, and not a censored, watered down version of mother 2. At the very least, maybe the SNES version of mother 2 should be re-translated and uncensored.

3: Mother 3 is announced. Nintendo gives the big middle finger to the US about the mother series, and don’t even bother with Mother 1&2 either, even though games of the genre are immensely popular, and starmen.net fans more then proved there’s people willing to throw down 50 bucks, and then they say “well, there’s a lack of interest” and that cheeses me off so much.

Nintendo doesn’t give a damn about western audiences when it comes to games like that. Super smash bros wasn’t going to be released in north america either, except it exploded in japan. Nintendo prefers to stick to franchises they know will make money. We’re up to mario kart 7. How many mario party games has there been? I honestly lost count. Now they have a crossover party game with dragon quest!? So yes, I firmly stand by the belief in fan patches. They gave nintendo plenty of chances to say “hey! we’ll buy it! localize it!” and did nothing. Then the GBA cycle ended and this guy says “Don’t release the patch! You’ll hurt sales!” Baloney. Nintendo doesn’t care about us westerners in the slightest. They never really planned on bringing mother 3 over, they never will.

It’s this sort of thing that makes me sad. I love nintendo, especially when I was a kid, and SNES was the system to own. Had so many games, took so many chances, had lots of choices of games, and even if the games weren’t awesome, they were at least playable. now? they choose to stick to the familiar, refuse to take chances, and their library is small. Zelda’s moving into pure motion controls now. I can understand why but at least give me the OPTION to use the classic controller. They don’t care about gamers anymore, they just care about making a profit.

I know my opinion will be unpopular. Save the hateful comments.

Bucky said on Jan. 15, 2012


No, I don’t think your opinion is unpopular at all. More and more, game-designers and companies are less interesting in making art and more interested in profit. Which boggles my mind, because Nintendo can only gain from releasing the Mother series in America.

Anonymous said on Jan. 15, 2012

That Pit thing is likely about Pit’s reappearance in Brawl or something related to that.

Seifer said on Jan. 15, 2012

I don’t think the patch dealt anything close to a death blow to Mother 3’s IP or future profitability should they decide to release it. If they ever decide to release it in the US (and I’m still betting they won’t), it will sell like hotcakes. Even the people like myself who have played Tomato’s patch many times will repurchase it, partly because we have loyalty and appreciation of Itoi that far and away transcends any vaguely-held notions about protecting IP.

Furthermore, I don’t think Nintendo would have even had a case had they brought legal action against you. And if they had just asked nicely without threatening anything, I personally would have released it anyway just to stick it to ’em. But then again, I’m a very axe-to-grindy kind of guy. And your powerword IRL name is out there, so that may well be a bad idea to burn those bridges among industry friendlies.

Naja said on Jan. 15, 2012

I can’t think of anything bad about the english patch at all.
The game wasn’t going to be released outside of Japan, when Earthbound never made it to Europe, and neither in America since the DS was already out.

Mother 3 became a new classic in the west thanks to the fantranslation.
If NoA ever solve their issues about Mother/Earthbound, then maybe someday we will have a Mother Collection and people WILL buy it because everyone is dying to support the IP.
If an official Mother 3 release is ever confirmed, the same passion and hard work that was put in the english patch will be put into spreading the word and advertising the release.
If Mother 3 stayed in Japanese, I don’t think that many people would be interested.
Mother fanbase probably grew a lot thanks to Mato’s work.

So if anything, Mato greatly helped keep the IP alive, excuse me.

Dosei-san said on Jan. 15, 2012

I think you shouldn’t have released the patch.

Bucky said on Jan. 16, 2012

Dosei-San sent the email! hahaha!

Joseph said on Jan. 16, 2012

Why not, Dosei? Are you against people having the option to play a game in their native language? Would you rather all games had no text at all, and we were forced to GUESS at what people were saying to each other, and what you’re buying in the weapon shop, or item shop? While we’re at it, let’s remove the electronic component entirely, and go back to pen and paper games. But since we’ve no text, you’re staring at a blank sheet of paper! WHERE ARE WE THEN?

Hayley said on Jan. 16, 2012

If it makes the series more popular by releasing this patch then nintendo should have the good sense to buy it off you for a lot of money. Oh look a completely professional fan translation, we could use that, the works already done. Here’s money for a shared license or even better- complete license to your work, with royalties attached. Then they could release it to america and europe. Even better, they skip mother 3 now and make a new one complete with translation into english. If anything you are lightening the load of work that nintendo need to do and therefore can bring out another product.

spiffy said on Jan. 16, 2012

Definitely raises some interesting points and concerns, but I think it’s very poorly written and it loses a lot of effectiveness through excessive pathos. The “If you love the series as much as you say, why would you be a driving force behind killing it off for good?” part reflects this especially well.

Bucky said on Jan. 16, 2012


It is possible for Nintendo to just download the translation for free, modify it to their pleasure, and take complete credit for it, too. I certainly don’t condone it, and I don’t think N would do that, but there’s always a risk.

I remaster music of my favorite artists, and always upload it to Youtube for free. It’s always possible someone from a record label could download my hard work and sell it as their own. I wouldn’t like it, but it’s fairgame when you’re dealing with someone else’s intellectual property.

Alex said on Jan. 16, 2012

Its Phil Sandhop!

Nick said on Jan. 17, 2012

It’s reggie :O

A-wel Cruiz said on Jan. 17, 2012

I downloaded a ROM of Mother 3 and the patch. However, were Nintendo ever to officially release Mother 3 in some capacity, I delete them and buy that. That’s how much I love this series.

AltoMaximus said on Jan. 18, 2012

Sometimes you end up looking like a fool when you post @Anonymous, when your name is Anonymous.
Or sometimes your post doesn’t make sence.

Fobbies & Saturns said on Jan. 18, 2012

Sounds like this guy was trying to keep you from releasing the patch so that we would not be able to play Mother 3, and Nintendo can be happy knowing no one in America will get to play it.

I think you made the right decision by releasing the patch. If Nintendo won’t support the series, we’ll have to play the games any way we can, even if we resort to piracy. If there is a future for the Mother games in America, it won’t be for a while, but we’ve gotten used to this sort of thing, right?

Also, congrats on your marriage. I hope your future makes you…feel…happy…

BOX said on Jan. 18, 2012

This e-mail certainly seems a little weird, but I think you made the right decision.

Were it not for the translations of Mother and Mother 3 that you provided, I never would have experienced those parts of the series. Oh, and I am in that hopefully-only-supposedly-small group of people who bought the originals before getting the translations. (This is my policy for translations/hacks — it’s okay as long as I own the original game and legal way to play it, and of course, I don’t get caught.)

By making the translations available, you have helped bring about increased interest in the series. If NOJ/NOA could deal with the issues surrounding rereleases of the games, they would see a significant profit based almost entirely on YOUR (and other contributors’) work.

Let me say that again. We mostly have YOU to thank for such a strong Mother series community. So, THANK YOU!

I don’t doubt the validity of the e-mail. Sure, the tone is a personal/friendly one, but that’s exactly what I would expect from someone “on the inside” who wrote such an e-mail.

neonix said on Jan. 18, 2012

I kind of also get the feeling that this was a troll. The professionalism and sincerity of the sender’s writing could very well be a troll tactic that was meant to attempt to convince you to throw all your work away, and effectively make a lot of people very upset.

JM said on Jan. 19, 2012

Agreed, probably a troll. Either way, the world is a better place having the patch.

Thank you!

TPN said on Jan. 20, 2012

Quoting the Gamasutra interview that Mato did a while back;

“We know what we’re doing isn’t 100% legal. But even so, we try our best not to step on companies’ toes. In fact, I’ve received a number of e-mails in the past from professionals inside major game companies giving their thanks, offering to buy me drinks sometime, stuff like that. What we do is appreciated, but in a hidden way, I think.”

This is a bit of a stretch, but was there anything about this email that could be figured out by comparing them with the emails from certified professionals? In terms of the email’s tone or anything like that.

But more likely this is from one of those “Anonymous” groups who get off by pretending they can actually play a role in making an actual difference to anything in this world.

Mato said on Jan. 20, 2012

If anything the use of my portfolio address and the use of italics for every game title made me think it was a troll e-mail written to seem official – overly so. But I did once apply to work at Nintendo using that address and spoke with a few people during interviews, so it’s possible they had my info on file.

In the end I decided it didn’t matter either way and forgot about it for years to come.

Salsa said on Jan. 24, 2012

well i purchased my copy of mother 3 way back in 2008 right after the patch came out. i still play them both daily!

Potater said on Jan. 24, 2012

Great, now I feel like everything has been screwed up.

nesstron said on Jan. 25, 2012

if i had the patched rom (which i used to) once an official copy had been realeased i would delete the rom as soon as i heard about it and preorder the game. why would anyone keep the rom? 🙁

Anonymous2 said on Jan. 27, 2012

I disagree that the translation is going to hurt them in anyway. The star ocean one didnt… I still bought, played and loved star ocean 1 on psp, especially because of the upgraded graphics, battles, and voice acting made it so worth buying, whether you played the translated SNES one or not… infact, I think its better that way, people can play the snes translation to see what star ocean was like on that system compared to the psp…. I highly doubt mother 3 was ever going to be officially translated, and if it was, it will probably be an “enchanced” version for the psp or ds or something, that tons of people would buy

Moo said on Jan. 30, 2012

Nintendo would have something to gain by re-releasing games from the Mother series.

My money.

I have played the heck out of the translation and I would still buy an official release of Mother 3.

Minifig2401 said on Feb. 4, 2012

Mato don’t be watered down by this crap. besides this makes no sense. you guys clearly stated that if nintendo ever made an official translation(which they never will) you guys would delete it. and you guys might have saved nintendo work! i’ve heard that some video game company used a fan translation(i believe it was Ys: The Oath in Felghana) and you made the series even popular! besides a lot of us will buy it if Nintendo will release it.

anon said on Mar. 3, 2012

Between the music copyright issues with the entire Mother series and the opinion NOA seems to have of it, it’s incredibly unlikely that any Mother games will be released again in any form outside of Japan, since they love the series, and copyright laws are less strict.

Even if Mother 3 was officially brought to North America/Europe/etc., a fan translation probably wouldn’t hurt anything: *most* people seem to prefer having an actual, physical copy of a game that they can play outside of an emulator, and are too lazy to get one of those rewritable carts to play a game on.

I personally think it was probably a troll, but my main point is that everything they argue for is kind of pointless.

Anonymous said on Mar. 8, 2012

Don’t worry Mato you did the right thing, as Nintendo of America only releases games that will make them millions in days. So there is really only a tiny chance of the game getting released in America.

Earth Saturn said on Mar. 18, 2012

You know, if this person REALLY wanted the translation to be cancelled, he/she would’ve sent the e-mail when you were early in the translation process. They had around two years to speak up, why wait until the NIGHT BEFORE THE RELEASE?

Mato, please believe me when I say this, it was DEFINITELY the right call to release the fan translation. Whoever sent that e-mail was just trying to scare you. His/her opinion is outnumbered hundreds of thousands to one.

Opinionated said on Apr. 18, 2012

Guess why NoA doesn’t want to localise Mother 3?

EarthBound had poor sales, because Americans loathed JPRGs. As Wikipedia puts it, thank Final Fantasy 7-which came out almost 2 years later, so EarthBound wouldn’t have been saved anyway-for changing people’s minds.

And NoA probably still thinks that the localisation will fail to sell.

Ness1985 said on Apr. 19, 2012

@Opinionated Well thats funny, cuz I only really like JRPG’s rather then WRPG’s and I live in America. I actually hate american entertainment as a whole(mainly this gen)its generic. I was raised as a Japanese gamer and I’m going to die as such.

JOsh Johnson said on May. 12, 2012

Well Nintendo was well aware of the fan translation and it was pretty public at the time that if anything was announced about an official translation or if Nintendo asked, the project would have been pulled. Nintendo never announced or asked anything, so they released it. And frankly, I think it is just as good, if not better, then what Nintendo could have released themselves.

Spidey501 said on Jun. 9, 2012

Mato, you made a good decision releasing the patch, i mean its not like Nintendo would have ever released it, we’re lucky Lucas was even IN SSBB. I don’t have an emulator to play the english patch, and i’m never gonna buy the actual copy since the price is outrageous, but i’m still satisfied that i can watch walkthroughs of it, see the unused content of Mother 3 that we never would have seen if it was officially released(unless we used PK Hack), and experience the love and hard work that Itoi put into this game for ourselves. As far as i’m concerned, you only brought more people to enjoy this game, espicially since most people wanting to find out more about this game and even play it after seeing Lucas in SSBB and the fact that you released the patch at the time of SSBB made even more fans come to love the series. I salute you Mato, as being one of the most awesome, amazing, and legendary people i will ever know.

jinxkatty7 said on Jul. 8, 2012

I think that the fan translation release was good. Sorry to sound pessimistic but I doubt that Mother 3 is coming to America. 🙁 If Nintendo of America does eventually decide to release it in America then nothing is really stopping them. In a way I can understand this guys point of view. And it does feel a little bad if the fan trans. does REALLY affect the official release. But weve gotten NO news about the games release in America. I still am very happy about the fan translation. 😀

Anonymous said on Sep. 2, 2012

I’m more amused by how he’s factually incorrect about the “original Fire Emblem” being released in America after 19 years. Shadow Dragon, the DS remake which DID get released in America around that time, is a completely separate installment from the Famicom original, which still lacks an official English release (as do the next five games in the series).

Seriously, his key example is wrong. There goes everything else in the argument.

(though this makes the fact that Shadow Dragon’s sequel, also a DS remake, didn’t get an official international release mildly amusing)

Ken said on Oct. 12, 2012

Gee, this letter feels like a troll trying to make te EB community upset….


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