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October 25th, 2012 | EarthBound

The other day Manny sent me this e-mail, which has an e-mail inside of it too:

A few days back, I sent NOA a message regarding Earthbound.

“For the Mother series, released in Japan, Why was Mother 2 renamed Earthbound in America? Why not Mother 2 or just Mother? What is significant about the name Earthbound?”

This is their response,


Thank you for taking the time to contact us with your question. I can certainly understand your interest in finding out why the series was renamed Earthbound for North America. Unfortunately I need to let you know that I’m unable to answer your question as we do not any information pertaining to why this decision may have been made. I realizing this may be disappointing as you were hoping for more information, and I appreciate your understanding.

If you have any further questions or concerns you’re welcome to contact us again.


Crystal L. Odam
Nintendo of America Inc.”

The grammar is a bit off, so I don’t understand whether they could not tell me( if it even matters?) or if they were unaware why? I mean it has to either be, NOA does not know it’s history, or they don’t want to share it. Either way, yes, I was disappointed NOA 🙁

It’s always been my experience that NOA’s reps don’t answer much unless you have a really important question/issue or have a question that relates to something really recent. Also, this rep’s repsonse almost sounds TOO wordy and robotic, like it’s Data from Star Trek talking or something, heh.

Incidentally, as we’ve looked at before, Nintendo almost called the NES game “Space Bound”. I guess since the game had so little to do with space though they changed it to Earth Bound, but then the game was canceled. And then when the SNES sequel was about to be released, they dug that name out of their attic and went with it.


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20 Comments to EarthBound and its Name

TragicManner said on Oct. 25, 2012

I, for one, am VERY glad they localized the name for the US release. Mother is a very awkward title for a game out here, and it would have condemned the game to do worse than it actually did, I’m pretty certain.

I mean, in the end, it’s good localization practice. The title Mother has so many other connotations, and unless people already knew about the series at that point (and judging from the reaction of Earthbound Zero, almost nobody did) it was a completely random and, at best, only slightly related to one of the many themes in the game.

CerealQueen said on Oct. 25, 2012

The response was humorous nonetheless, but it’s quite sad Nintendo can’t answer questions about their old games and won’t even both looking into it.

TragicManner said on Oct. 25, 2012

@CerealQueen Ah, well, the issue here is mostly the resources available with NOA’s support system. Their representatives really aren’t trained or paid to answer questions like this.

This would be, on the other hand, a great question for someone who was actually involved in the process of making the decision to name the game Earthbound. 😛

Opinionated Vector Chimera said on Oct. 25, 2012

Keep in mind that the Mother prototype cart was named “Earth Bound”, so the name isn’t exactly new to the SNES “sequel”.

MrKoopan said on Oct. 25, 2012

well, that’s disappointing, I’ve been wondering why they changed it in localization too

Punky said on Oct. 25, 2012

This would have been a good question for that Phillips guy that was answering questions.

The only relation I can think of is how they were thinking of the localization of Mother and maybe thought of something related to that. The logo is Earth, so maybe like Mother Earth? Earth? Earthbound!

Halloween said on Oct. 25, 2012

lol that response is crazy wordy. I remember asking them (stupid) questions as a kid in the ’90s and I don’t remember the wording being that formal.

liarxagerate said on Oct. 25, 2012

They changed the name because “MOTHER” is a really goofy title nobody would want to buy—particularly no 9-16-year-old boy, or whatever Nintendo’s target market was for the NES and the SNES at the time.

The English word mother doesn’t mean the same thing to an American audience as it does to a Japanese audience. The idea that they were choosing between keeping it the same and changing it is based on a false premise, because there was no way to make the title read the same to American and Japanese players.

Liar X. Agerate
Crotchety EarthBound localization defender of America inc.

Mato said on Oct. 25, 2012

Heh, yeah, I probably would’ve assumed it was some sort of baby sim like those Dolly Alive dolls from back in the day (if they don’t still make them…) and would’ve avoided the game like a baby plague.

A Tenda said on Oct. 25, 2012

I always wondered if the word “bound” in the title referred to someone being on their way to Earth (i.e. Giygas) or someone being stuck on Earth (pretty much everyone else). I’m thinking the former.

"That Guy" said on Oct. 25, 2012

I always thought, since the Earth replaces the O in MOTHER, it kinda meant like a Mother Earth kind of thing. I can understand why MOTHER would be a bit of a weird name; it’s cool in japan because it’s in English. I think they , made a wise decision renaming the game. If only they made the campaign a little less…stinky. 😛

Neko Knight said on Oct. 25, 2012

Unfortunately, the game sold poorly regardless of it’s title. A friend once told me he didn’t bother trying out Earthbound because “it didn’t look that good.”
sigh…. A common tale, no doubt….

PsiPaula4 said on Oct. 25, 2012

You know, with the grammar errors and stuff in that email, I think it was just an automated response. In fact while I was reading it, in my head I read it with a Microsoft Sam voice. I don’t know, that would explain the grammar errors.

I’m not even sure why people email NoA about EarthBound these days, NoA never seems to tell anyone anything if the email contains the words “EarthBound” or “Mother” anywhere in it. NoA just doesn’t want anything to do with the series in general, it’s not that they hate it, because as we know it isn’t Reggie’s fault that Mother 3 wasn’t released here, EarthBound’s not on VC, etc, it just doesn’t concern them really.

NecrosaroIII said on Oct. 26, 2012

@Neko Knight

It’s so strange. The whole reason my father and I bought the game was because we saw the back of the box and we saw screenshots and we thought it looked amazing.

BusterTheFox said on Oct. 26, 2012

PsiPaula4: Interesting you should put it that way. I think that makes a lot of sense. Regardless of the one localization the series got, it never sold very well, and even if it is a “cult classic” with a following like ours, we aren’t guaranteed to make another localization a success. You could say the same thing about a few other Japan-only RPG series’… Maybe ones that got a few localizations and maybe even some fan translations, but never sold very well. We might look at those and think, “well, that’s just another Japanese RPG. There’s a million of ’em. We don’t need ALL of them”. That could be how NOA views MOTHER and the MOTHER fanbase in general.

joe said on Oct. 26, 2012

@psipaula4:does that even include mother as in mom?

AdelinaX said on Oct. 26, 2012

@PsiPaula4: What kind of reasoning is that? The fact that it contains a grammatical error does all but ensure that the e-mail was not automated as generally an automated (or canned) response goes through at least minimal QA before being saved in an e-mail system. At the end of the day, though, even with the missing word there is little room for interpretation as to what was meant.

I am pretty sure they changed the title because, as other have said, Mother sounds stupid to English-speaking audiences. Furthermore, you hear “Mother” and think “F**ker” (sorry – it’s true).

Radiostorm said on Oct. 26, 2012

Liar’s explanation makes perfect sense. Gender bias is a rampant problem when marketing things to children.

A good example is with children’s fiction. Boys are dramatically less likely to read a novel written by a woman because they perceive such books as “girly.” It’s the reason JK Rowling chose to publish the Harry Potter books under her ambiguous initials instead of her first name.

Looking back, 10-year-old Radiostorm may have felt the same way about playing a game called Mother.

Jason said on Oct. 27, 2012

@A Tenda

In order to contain the meaning “heading to”, I think it’d be more natural/correct to call to “Earthward bound” (as in “homeward bound”). While it can definitely be interpreted to mean “toward”, I think the more natural interpretation would be “stuck to/on/limited by”. So I’ve always assumed it’s kinda mean to show how the game is more grounded in the real world than most fantasy RPGs, in that it’s “bound” to “Earth”, and your characters use buses, go to drug stores, etc.

Just my take!

Random Person who likes Looking up Words in the Dictionary said on Jan. 29, 2014

No one seems to know this, so I thought I should point it out.

Before finishing EarthBound, I looked up the game’s name in my dictionary, which told me that it meant “to be attached to the Earth”.

Remember what the “Your Sanctuary” locations are for?
To connect Ness’ spirit with that of the Earth’s.

They did a very good job when changing the name.


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