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Tips for Buying EarthBound

November 11th, 2012 | EarthBound, MOTHER 3, Q&A

Okay, here’s the next set of questions and answers! Thanks to everyone who posted questions yesterday – hopefully the answers are helpful, insightful, or whatever-ful! I’ll keep doing these posts over the next few days/next week or so, so if you have any questions, just post them in the comments and I’ll get to them 😀

Apple Kid asks:

I have a question (that is unlikely to have an answer) why are most of the items in presents? Wouldn’t chests in like in Dallam make more sense for some parts of the game? Or maybe a picnic bag/box for food items? Thanks in advance.

Well, I didn’t make the games, but my take on it is that when Itoi first started working on the series, he was like, “Hmm, how can I make modern versions of everything found in Dragon Warrior-style games?” Villages became modern cities, evil wizards became hippies, potions became hamburgers… “But what about treasure chests? What modern equivalent is there? …Present boxes!”

I do think it’s silly that there are wrapped present boxes absolutely everywhere – in reality it’s actually really rare to see wrapped gift boxes except at parties and Christmas and such. But I guess it was that or generic cardboard boxes that look bland. And garbage cans.

That’s just my opinion though – if you have any other thoughts, share them in the comments!

Magicxgame asks:

1) The response for the Mother 3 fan translation seems to be overwhelmingly positive, and it’s the standard I compare all other fan translations to. However, have you received any criticism about the translation? What specific areas do you personally feel were lacking?

2) I’ve been following your Legends of Localization, and in a recent EBCentral post, you say that you’re interested in doing something similar for Mother 3. Assuming you get all the legal issues worked out, when would we plan on seeing it? Would it be one of the first ones you worked on, or would it be further down the pipeline? I’d love to see a LoL-type writeup for Mother 3.

1. Probably the biggest criticism I get about the MOTHER 3 translation is the fact that we localized some of the names, particularly Yokuba to Fassad. I covered the reasoning for some of these changes in the readme and in these preliminary translation notes, but there are people who still don’t like it. I can understand where they’re coming from – I’ve been translating stuff professionally for a long time now and there’s always going to be a group (or groups) of people who don’t agree with your translation choices.

If anything, though, I feel I didn’t localize names enough – an official Nintendo localization would’ve certainly changed names and such way, way more than our localization did. I guess I was trying to aim for the best of both worlds.

The issue of swearing comes up too, and I can understand the opinions on this too. To this day it’s still something I’m not quite happy with – I didn’t want to censor myself to meet player’s preconceived expectations (and it seems weird to worry so much about a few words but not care so much about the killing, death, blood, sexual innuendo, suicide, and more in the game) but looking back I really feel I could’ve done a better job. I’ll probably cover the topic in more detail in my translation notes someday, but out of everything this is in my top five or so of things I’m unsatisfied with.

2. Having put so much time into the translation it’s hard for me to see it with the eyes of a complete outsider, so maybe this is just me, but I’ve always felt that my translating style is a bit “wordy” and always maybe a tad too close to the original text. That’s a good thing and a bad thing, I guess. I’m always impressed by translators who are better at using colloquialisms that are a bit further from the original Japanese text. So sometimes when I’m reading certain lines in the MOTHER 3 translation I’m like, “Agh, this is terrible writing.” But from what I’ve seen during LPs/Funfests, nobody bats an eye at these things, so maybe I’m just a crazy perfectionist person, I dunno.

gwalms asks:

Why isn’t Kumatora’s name Leonita?

Was that someone’s suggestion way back then? It doesn’t ring a bell but then again we started on the project five years ago.

I remember a number of possible localized names were thrown around among the team. I don’t remember what they were off the top of my head, though, I’d have to check the old project discussion site. I think I finally settled on Kumatora for good when Brawl came out and she was mentioned in one of the descriptions as “Kumatora”.

Esper asks:

Are there any other RPGs or games deserving of a translation unrelated to MOTHER that you hope you can translate someday?

One that I wanted to do for years and years was Tengai Makyou Zero: Far East of Eden. I had to give up the project a while back (before even really starting) but luckily it’s already well on its way to getting a translation patch, courtesy of byuu and Tom. If I had to explain it, it’s like this: You know how EarthBound is a parody of Western culture as seen from Japanese eyes? Well, the Tengai Makyou games are like that, except they’re parodies of Japan/China/Asia.

But I would ESPECIALLY love to see Tengai Makyou: The Fourth Apocalypse translated into English. It’s an RPG set that takes place all over America – but it’s an America that’s based on the way Japanese people see America, with the stereotype level set to maximum. There’s more info here.

Some quick examples: You got your over-the-top cowboy characters, your native Americans, your motorcycle-riding werewolf characters, towns you visit include San Francisco and Seattle, and a map of America that’s hilariously inaccurate.

I’m sure there are a lot more games I wish I could translate, but those are the big ones that come to mind right away.

JamesBond007 asks:

In Mother 3 (fan translation 1.1), the game slows down for few seconds after entering all names. Does this happen in 1.0?

Yeah, sadly this is something I was never able to fix, no matter how hard I tried. I don’t understand why it happens – it’s just a simple fade-out that shouldn’t slow anything down, but for whatever reason our text hacks cause it to stutter for a few seconds. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever fix it; the menu text system was a nightmare to work on.

Daniel asked via e-mail:

Since Mother characters will most likely be in the next smash bros game do you think that Nintendo will reconsider a virtual console release or a full reboot since the subject is being brought up?

Honestly, I don’t think so. I think people hoped this would happen when Brawl was released too, but nothing came of it. In fact, Brawl had its EarthBound stuff REMOVED. At this point I don’t expect Smash Bros. to have any real effect on the MOTHER series.

Rhyselinn asks:

I know a lot of the names in Mother 3 were localized- Yokuba, Yoshi-Koshi, Tamekichi, etc. Yet several of the names were left alone for the translation- Hinawa (because that’s the name everyone knew her by already), Kumatora (because her name was mentioned in Brawl), etc. Yet, Murasaki forest seems to have kept its original name (as far as I know?). Was that name in English in the original or something like that? Teri forest became Sunshine Forest, but what was the story behind Murasaki? (and while I’m here, were Caeribe Falls and Chupichupyoi Temple the same names, respectively, in the original? I still have no idea how to pronounce them.)

The original Japanese name was “Murasaki Forest” as well. “Murasaki” means “purple” in Japanese. I remember sitting there trying to think of different names for this – “Purple Forest” sounded pretty lame and “Violet Forest” was: 1) too similar-looking to “Violent Forest” and 2) Kumatora’s alternate name was already “Violet” by this point in the project, so I didn’t want to make it sound like this forest was connected to her in any way. This is one of those things I wish I had done differently – although now that I think about it, the Japanese version was filled with lots of foreign-sounding place names, so this isn’t too out of place. Still, I wish I’d handled it better.

“Teri Forest” (as many people called the first forest in the game shortly after the game’s release) was actually more of a mistranslation – “Sunshine Forest” is likely much closer to the original intended meaning. I touch on this particular name in the prelim translation notes, actually.

I don’t have my translation files on this computer, but I do think Caeribe Falls was a localization change we made. I might be wrong though. Chupichupyoi was definitely the same in the original text – it was meant to sound weird and foreign and unusual so there was little reason to change it. I personally pronounce “Caeribe” as “Kah-eh-ree-beh” and Chupichupyoi is “choo-pee-choo-pyoy”, with that first “y” sounding like the “y” in “yes”.

Talking about all this stuff makes me want to do that MOTHER 3 translation notes project/book thing all the more 😯

PSIcicle asks:

Do you think there is still a possibility of Mother 3 being released in the U.S.?

I do, but it wouldn’t be anytime soon at all. I can see it happening maybe 10+ years from now, but I have no hope for the forseeable future.

BusterTheFox asks:

(…) it may not be directly Mother-related, but I sometimes wonder what you did to learn Japanese. For instance, was it a college course, or did you use something else, like that Rosetta Stone program? I would probably be better off emailing you about that one. :p I don’t have any Mother-related questions right now, really…

I pretty much started when one day I found a Japanese textbook for second year students in a local library. Trying to figure it out was fun, so I kept going with it. I taught myself from books for a short while, then I took Japanese classes at my (somewhat local) university during my high school summer breaks. Later on, when I finally entered college, I studied more there, then spent about a year in Japan, came back, studied more, did unofficial translation projects to learn more, and that’s pretty much it. At the time, things like Rosetta Stone didn’t exist.

If you’re interested in learning the language well, I recommend reading this, even if you don’t necessarily want to be a translator. I also touched on this subject a little bit in an interview I did for Gamasutra some years ago here.

Mr. Tenda asks:

Do you have an opinion on why Giygas is focused on attacking Ness in Mother 2 instead of Ninten? Since Giygas specifically vows to take revenge upon Ninten at the end of Mother, it seems strange that Giygas’ goal is to destroy Ness in Mother 2 and no mention is made of Ninten.

Some people are set in their opinions on how the games connect, but I don’t have any firm thoughts on the subject. If anything, it feels like Itoi made the first game, then, when it came time to make the second game, he didn’t care too much about making any sort of chronological connection to the original game – he just wanted to make a game with lots more ideas that he came up with or that he couldn’t put into the first game. So it has a lot of parallels to the first game but isn’t necessarily connected to the first game (despite the game’s subtitle). Contrast that with MOTHER 3, with which he DID clearly make chronological connections to MOTHER 2.

WheatThinEthan asks:

If an official Mother 4 was made today, would you expect it to be Japan only once more?

I ask this because of all the talk to make a new Mother game, I think it’d be a toss up of whether or not NA would get it.

Absolutely – despite all our efforts and Iwata’s past mentions, I don’t think NCL knows how strong of a following the games has outside of Japan. That said, even I don’t think the game would sell like crazy outside of Japan. I think Nintendo is more interested in releasing games that are safe and guaranteed to have good sales numbers – like Zelda sequel 95, Mario game 588, Animal Crossing Yet Again, and all the other big-name games that seem to be released on a conveyor belt-like schedule.

Bob0mb asks:

What made you guys enjoy the earthbound series (yes I am meaning all of you who made this blog if possible)

A common mistake is that there’s a staff on this site – nope, it’s just me, one dude who runs it.

I first got into the series because of the Nintendo Power coverage of the game before the game’s release. It had a lot of heart to it. The game itself was a blast. Helping build a community of fans was a lot of fun too. I also enjoyed digging into the game’s history, and when the prototype ROM came out that was a crazy new experience and revelation. Even digging into the game’s programming is like an adventure of its own – every time I go into the ROM I usually find something new to share or come up with some program or hack to share. There’s just so much to see and do with the game – even when it doesn’t involve playing the game itself. I think ultimately it boils down to the fact that the game’s generated a great community – even with only one official release it’s the fans’ creativity and joy that makes EarthBound/MOTHER fun for me. That’s why I post lots of creative fan stuff on here all the time 😛

Tourist asks:

I have a question. I’ve been playing through Mother 3 recently and I was wondering what’s the purpose of the rooftop area you can access in Chimera Labs. I think you enter it from the storage room with the old magazines.
Unless you revisit it at some point, I don’t think there’s ever any NPCs, events, or enemies there (unless I missed them)

I’m not 100% sure, but it might be there to help you escape if the Ultimate Chimera gets into that room. Anyone else got any ideas?

step asks:

This isn’t a huge issue, but there’s an issue with Mother 3 that causes Duster to only use one sound clip when regularly attacking enemies. I saw a topic about this and it was concluded that it would not be fixed in the translation. I find it really annoying, and I can’t find a fix. What was the team’s reasoning for leaving it in there? And do you think a fix could be made?

I actually only learned about this yesterday, so it’s not something the translation project would’ve dealt with. To be honest, I have no idea how the music combo/music programming works at all, so I wouldn’t have been able to fix it anyway. I’m sure it’d be possible to add his sounds back in if someone was skilled enough, but it’d be a lot of work and need some pretty smart brains.

Mariomaster2011 asks:

Would Nintendo of Japan or America ever remake Mother 1, 2, and 3 on to one disk or cartridge like they did with Mother 1 + 2 and also every body knows Mother 2/ Earthbound isn’t on the Virtual Console in America but what about Mother 1/Earthbound zero?

I can see it happening maybe in many years from now. But nothing anytime in the near future. Given the fact that MOTHER 1 and 2 haven’t been released on the Japanese Virtual Console I don’t expect ANYTHING much to happen with the games for many years. As much as it pains me to say it, the only thing I can suggest is to send NCL letters/postcards/whatever politely stating that you’d like more MOTHER stuff to be released. I made a post about this a few years back – you can see it here. Even then, I wouldn’t expect much, but it’s the best option I can think of at this point in time.

That’s all the questions I have for now – post any more you have in the comments and I’ll get to them in the next update!


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21 Comments to EarthBound Central Q&A #2

HpBoost said on Nov. 11, 2012

Thanks again for sharing your insight. Hardcore / curious fans like myself love learning more about the games and translation process! 😀

Also, that game trailer has fourteen me interested in the series that you mentioned.

HpBoost said on Nov. 11, 2012

Gotten* [autocorrect)

MrSaturn03 said on Nov. 11, 2012

This is a continuation of one of the questions that was actually in this Q&A.

You said that you maybe see Mother 3 being released in the next 10 years or so. Why? Wouldn’t the likeliness of it being released be smaller as time goes on?

I like these Q&A’s, Mato! 😀

Hukky said on Nov. 11, 2012

IIRC there’s a Memo entry in MOTHER 3 that says presents were originally going to be wooden boxes before the time skip.

Punky said on Nov. 11, 2012

I’m not into RPGs as much but the Mother series has really been my all time favorite. What are other RPGs that you recommend that have similar gameplay or settings, if any?

With the Wii being faded with the upcoming Wii U, would you rather see a virtual console release of Earthbound and Mother 3 on the Wii U/3DS or a disc/cartridge releas separate for each game?

Pwesty said on Nov. 11, 2012

You’ve mentioned watching Mother 3 LPs, but do any stand out in your mind? I mean everybody’s seen a little of Chuggaaconroy or NCS, but do you have any real opinions on them/other ones?

Also, unrelated question, but what would you say is your least favorite thing about the Mother series (mainly 2 and 3; if I recall correctly you said you were never a big fan of the first anyway)?

Kaneda said on Nov. 11, 2012

Do you feel Amber is a better name for Hinawa, or did you make the right choice by keeping it?

Halloween said on Nov. 11, 2012

Awesome Q&A. I’ve never heard of Tengai Makyou and the translator story was cool.

Ice Sage said on Nov. 11, 2012

A (very wordy) MOTHER 1 question: what are your thoughts on the naming convention (as in which one is more correct) for Loid/Lloyd and Ana/Anna?

From what I’ve been able to tell over the years, the first variants fell into common use somehow despite the fact that they seem kind of Engrishy. “Loid” seems like a pretty clear-cut Engrishy spelling for “Lloyd,” at least, and not a real name.

I’m less clear on Ana/Anna, since they’re both real names, but research into the two spelling variants indicates that the “Ana” spelling is mainly limited to Spanish, Portugese, and a few Eastern European languages, while “Anna” is much more widely used, particularly in English and Dutch. Since she’s blond and blue-eyed – stereotypical traits for someone with Northern European ancestry, and the MOTHER series plays with stereotypes a lot – wouldn’t “Anna” make more sense? (It’s also spelled this way on her official figurine.)

I’m really liking these Q&A posts, by the way. 🙂

edgethelucas said on Nov. 11, 2012

Hey, Mato. I’ve bought a Mother 3 cartridge to justify my playing the game on an emulator. I’ve been thinking of replaying the game for the first time in a year and a half, but I don’t want to sit in front of a computer just to play it in English. Is there any way to make my cartridge English? I know how free translations work, so needless to say if I get it in English I won’t try to make a profit from it in any way.

JesusLovesNess said on Nov. 11, 2012

I have a question. The Earthbound 64 picture that has someone who looks like Ness walking around in a grassy/forest like area. Do you know the story behind that picture? Is it a prototype hero character for the game or was Ness originally supposed to be in the game?

Saggy said on Nov. 12, 2012


I can actually answer your question. You can’t make the cartridge itself english patched, but if you get a flash cartridge for the GBA you can move the ROM onto the flash cartridge and play it on there. I forgot what the flash cartridge is called though. It’s like R9 or something.

gwalms said on Nov. 12, 2012

“Leo=Lion, Nita = Choctaw word for bear” Saw someone online suggest it as a name for Kumatora and thought it was interesting. Just wondered your thoughts? I forgot Brawl mentioned her though.

Tourist said on Nov. 12, 2012

I have another question if you do another Q&A. Do you think Itoi himself has anything to do with the lack of NA release of Mother 3? It seems like whenever a NoA employee is asked about it, they seem to give vague answers. Do you think it is possible Nintendo is willing but for whatever reason, Itoi isn’t?

BusterTheFox said on Nov. 12, 2012

Haha, my question was truncated. 🙂 I do have a tendency to run on and on in my online posts… I’ll give those sites a look. I have been wanting to learn, and using Rosetta Stone… Well, it works, but it’s just so stale that I can’t keep interest in it. Also, that game you mentioned looks amazing. I REALLY want to play it. I really liked the creative use of Mode 7 effects in that trailer!

As long as I’m asking you how you got started with stuff, I recall that you’ve written a number of programs, too. What language(s) do you know, and how did you get started with that?

P.S.: I made a forum account, yay~

heegemcgee said on Nov. 12, 2012

Re: Presents vs. Chests: I think the choice of a gift is kind of a “fourth wall” nod – it’s the game acknowledging that there’s no reason for there to be something for YOU out in the middle of nowhere. It’s a gift, from the game creators, to you, the player.

edgethelucas said on Nov. 12, 2012

@Saggy hey thanks. I’ve heard of flash carts before, and I guess one day I’ll find out where to get one (I’ve heard they’re lowering in amount or something). Still, if I decide to play an English Mother 3 flash cart, will it hinder the legality of me owning the original Japanese flash cart?

edgethelucas said on Nov. 12, 2012

*Japanese Mother 3 cartridge

Jeremy said on Nov. 12, 2012

I actually find the present concept part of Earthbound’s charm. They’re in all these weird places, yet…. they still find random presents around. It’s part of the surreal humor of the game.

WheatThinEthan said on Nov. 12, 2012

Thanks for the (expected) answer Mato. I suppose that’s just how everything fell into place…

Anonymous said on Nov. 13, 2012

Come on Mato, the new Animal Crossing is awesome


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