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Tips for Buying EarthBound

March 3rd, 2013 | MOTHER 1, Uncommon Knowledge

You may not know it, but trust is at the heart of translation – whenever you’re reading or playing a translation, you’re trusting that the text you’re reading was properly translated by the translator. Otherwise, how would you know, unless you could see the original text AND understand the original text yourself?

As a translator myself, this comes up a lot. I often see comments like, “Oh, that part is just something the translator made up.” or, “The original text wasn’t like that at all, the translator screwed up.” So it wasn’t too much of a surprise when I got this e-mail the other day:

I have a friend who is a major fan of both of Earthbound and of old NES games. He’s never played Mother 1, and I’d like to recommend that he play the Earthbound Zero rom, as I did, but it seems most people who have played your patch of Mother 1+2 recommend it over the original translation. However, I’m hesitant to recommend your translation to him because, as a fan of EB0, I’m not entirely sold on the notion that your script is better than Phil Sandhop’s.

Why? Because over years of visiting this site I’ve gotten the sense that you are biased against Mother 1. From the experience hack to the original easy ring patch, to your attempts at remaking Mother 1 in Earthbound’s game engine, it seems that aside from that 20th anniversary Mother retrospective you did once, whenever Mother 1 is mentioned on this site it has something to do with you or someone else’s attempt to “fix” the game. Why does Earthbound Zero need to be fixed? I’ve never seen a game undergo so many modifications to make it more “palatable”, i.e., like it’s sequels. It’s just like any other RPG of the NES era–you grind, and you grind, and then when you win there’s a sense of elation. Where is the sense of accomplishment when you don’t even have to work hard to beat the game? You admitted that it was years before you were able to get into EB Zero, and that the game’s text didn’t feel “Earthboundy”. Was it ever meant to feel Earthboundy? How is your average Mother fan who does not speak Japanese supposed to know? For example, I know that Marcus Lindblom and Dan Owsen did a pretty good translation of Mother 2 because your site Mother 2 vs Earthbound shows where things were changed and why. There is no such page for your Mother 1 translation, and I so wish there was.

I’ve watched long play videos of both your and Sandhop’s translation and compared them side by side, and there are so many jokes and bits of incidental dialogue that I have no idea why they were changed. Why does your school jantitor complain about his wife getting fatter while Phil Sandhop’s janitor complains about his wife spending all of his money? If Mother 1 GBA is based on Earthbound Zero, doesn’t it include Ana’s extended speech during the dance scene? We know from the interview with Phil Sandhop that Lost Levels did that lot of EB Zero’s changes, such as the running and the added ending scenes were requested by NOA and approved, then implemented by Itoi and his team back in Japan. So how do I know that those changes to the dancing scene weren’t approved by Itoi himself? I don’t, because I don’t read Japanese. You do, but you never seemed to like Mother much anyway, and I’m supposed to, like everyone else, take your word for it that your translation is accurate and not based off of some desire to make the NES game seem more like its SNES counterpart. To make Earthbound’s darker prequel lighter for some reason. Like I said, I wish you’d do at least a quick write up of the changes you made, why, and how it compares to the original Japanese text.

In conclusion, I have to say that I am a huge fan of this site and of many of your other translations, but these are things I needed to get off my chest and I hope you are not offended by my fowardness. Thank you.

I’ll touch on some these very quickly before I get to the main point of this post:

  • While I, like many others, was disappointed when I first played the game the day the EB0 ROM got out, over the years I’ve come to appreciate the game a lot more and genuinely enjoy it now. What I needed to do was view it as its own thing and a product of its own time, which is why I wrote these tips up.
  • The code and data from EarthBound Zero are in MOTHER 1+2, but not the main script text. I think this is because when the programming changes and additions were introduced for EarthBound Zero, they were originally done by Japanese programmers on the Japanese version of the game. The result of this would be a version of MOTHER that had all the code and data changes as EarthBound Zero, but not the text. Given that the text changes introduced by EarthBound Zero aren’t in the MOTHER 1+2 script, I don’t think we can assume anything about Itoi giving them approval or not.

I realize that I’ve never actually gone into great detail about what exactly my MOTHER 1+2 translation does to improve over the EarthBound Zero translation, or how the EarthBound Zero translation differs from the original MOTHER 1 text. It’d take more time than I have today to put together a full-length comparison, so here are just a few examples to tide you over until I can put together a full comparison!

Examples of EarthBound Zero’s Text Differences

Here are just a few examples of how EarthBound Zero’s text differs from the original Japanese script. Not all changes are necessarily bad, but I wanted to show some samples since I’ve never really done it in detail before.


EarthBound Zero MOTHER 1 / MOTHER 1+2
It’s poisonous, but Isecticide works Bug spray works wonders on it!

EarthBound Zero MOTHER 1 / MOTHER 1+2
Have you heard that their is a ghost house in Spookane? Have you heard about Halloween’s haunted house?


EarthBound Zero MOTHER 1 / MOTHER 1+2
[NAME]! You’ll never make it… Hee hee hee hee. [NAME]. You’re going to die. Heeheehee hehehe! …Keeheeheehee!

EarthBound Zero MOTHER 1 / MOTHER 1+2
I remember walking through the tunnel when I was young. I went to see what was on the other side. I walked through the tunnel once when I was young. I went to see a dead body.

EarthBound Zero MOTHER 1 / MOTHER 1+2
Ahhh…George! This is your wife, Maria. I’m coming to join you, my purpose is complete… Oh, George! This is your wife, Maria. I know you’ve been waiting… I’m on my way to join you in heaven now…

EarthBound Zero MOTHER 1 / MOTHER 1+2
[NAME]’s house is a chateau, not a mansion. But, I’ll bet you already knew that. [NAME] lives in a temple… Err, I mean a church. Oh, you already knew that?

EarthBound Zero MOTHER 1 / MOTHER 1+2
As strong as on ox. This thing is devilishly strong.

EarthBound Zero MOTHER 1 / MOTHER 1+2
The gym teacher made me do extra push-ups again. I’d rather do sit-ups though. The gym teacher hit me. Maybe I should drop out and become a thug…

EarthBound Zero MOTHER 1 / MOTHER 1+2
“Who has lost his tail?” “Where is the god’s tail?”

Content Changes

EarthBound Zero MOTHER 1 / MOTHER 1+2
Then, when she does get up, she goes shopping. Luckily, I hid the credit cards from that woman! Don’t you think she’s a terrible wife. All she does is get fatter and fatter. Isn’t she a terrible woman?

EarthBound Zero MOTHER 1 / MOTHER 1+2
”Now entering the Mislay Triangle. Watch out!” It is easy to lose items in the vicinity of this sign, so please be careful.

(The English line here also has a grammar issue:)

EarthBound Zero MOTHER 1 / MOTHER 1+2
Hey [NAME], how’s your asthma? Mine has gotten better, but car exhausts still sets it off. I’m starving.

(I talked about this line by Ana here too:)

EarthBound Zero MOTHER 1 / MOTHER 1+2
Oh [NAME]? I’ve loved you for such a long time. I’ve loved you since I saw you in my dream. …I’m so glad.

EarthBound Zero MOTHER 1 / MOTHER 1+2
This game I heard of was titled ”EARTH BOUND”… don’t know exactly why… because it really doesn’t matter. So if you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover… Don’t judge a game by its title. I heard there’s a Famicom game called “MOTHER” now. They totally copied that from John Lennon, didn’t they?

Translation goofs due to lack of context checking
(These are things most people won’t immediately notice are wrong but will make players go, “Huh?” in their heads.)

When Loid/Lloyd shows up to save Ninten’s party near the end of the game:

EarthBound Zero MOTHER 1 / MOTHER 1+2
Oh shoot! I missed! Oh no! I’m too late!

EarthBound Zero MOTHER 1 / MOTHER 1+2
The girl was so cute. That girl you brought with you sure was cute.

The EarthBound Zero script also has lots of little things that were cut down to save space or just feel “clunky” or “off” when you take them all as a whole. There are too many to count right now, but just a few quick examples:

EarthBound Zero MOTHER 1 / MOTHER 1+2
Slam. (Click! Beep-beep-beep…)

EarthBound Zero MOTHER 1 / MOTHER 1+2
Aim on the rock… OK! 1-2-3 Fire!! OK! Now I just flip this switch and… Oh!

EarthBound Zero MOTHER 1 / MOTHER 1+2
Yes, you’ll go? Great, great great! Now make sure to get a Key from my assistant, Abbott. Oh, you’ll go check it out? That’s wonderful! [NAME], you certainly do love to play games! Have my assistant Abbot give you a key to the zoo.

EarthBound Zero MOTHER 1 / MOTHER 1+2
You’re a pretty straight looking dude, Go ahead. Ha ha ha. Ahahaha. You’re a real straightforward guy. Here you go.

Again, keep in mind these are only a handful of examples that I threw together. I’m sure I could write pages and pages of text differences and compare everything in great detail.

Which has gotten me thinking – it’d take infinitely less time to do a comparison of EarthBound Zero and MOTHER 1 than my current MOTHER 3 translation comparison. Maybe it would be worth it to get MOTHER 1 comparison out of the way, especially since a bunch of translation choices I made for MOTHER 3 were related to MOTHER 1 stuff.

I dunno, what do you think? Would you like to see a detailed MOTHER 1/EarthBound Zero comparison soon? Let me know in the comments!


Other Related Posts:


61 Comments to Some MOTHER 1 and EarthBound Zero Text Differences

Miles of SmashWiki said on Mar. 3, 2013

Despite the Sandhop script being maybe a little bland, I still feel like it’s the definitive version of the game script we should look at. I mean, had the NES prototype actually been released, it’s what we would have gotten. I just feel like we should support the version of the game which is the closest we’ve ever gotten to an official release in the US.

Mato said on Mar. 3, 2013

Holy moly you read that all that fast? 😯

man said on Mar. 3, 2013

That e-mail is a good example of how to make constructive criticism.

I’ve been playing the 1+2 patch on and off since it was released. I still haven’t finished the game. While the script is mostly better than EB0’s, for instance removing some of the frustrating grammatical errors and obfuscation, I have found myself missing some of the “translation charm” from EB0.

But honestly, it doesn’t bother me, since EB0 will always be there for me to play. I just view it and the 1+2 patch as different entities.

Reminds me of the Dragon Warrior 1+2 remake on the GBC, where they removed the thees and thous and the olde-worlde speak, probably due to the smaller screen size. If, by a blue moon, Mother 1 did receive a localised GBC port, it would probably been given a more concise script as well.

TheZunar123 said on Mar. 3, 2013

I definitely think it would be cool to have a Mother vs EB0 comparison. When it comes to differences between versions of the game, I find stuff like that interesting. For example, how the original Final Fantasy 4 is different from the Easy type.

SoreThumb said on Mar. 3, 2013

I think that …

A) EB0 is a product of its time, so should be recognized as that.
B) Your M1+2 translation I’d likely view as “How it was meant to be read”. You seem like the kind of person who’d never let favoritism ruin your integrity. 🙂

I also think that you’re looking for an excuse to postpone the big work of the M3 translation notes. I say write this down, and if anything you come up with, add it to those notes, but don’t research until you’re done with M3.

Mato said on Mar. 3, 2013

Haha, well I actually really want to do the M3 notes so I can turn ’em into a book. I just haven’t had time this past month due to heavy work and programming a game and moving LoL to its own site.

Miles of SmashWiki said on Mar. 3, 2013

I read fast, sorry.

Wutwut said on Mar. 3, 2013

I agree completely. Earthbound as a whole needs to stop with the modifications. How many people really BEAT Mother 1 anymore? With the easy patch, different translations, and all this other jazz, you might as well be using game genie. And, well, for me, although it may seem petty, the official version, released or not, will always hold more value, and will always be more canon to the series than anything fan-made. Unless, for whatever freak reason a fan thing were to get licensed.

gBev said on Mar. 3, 2013

Personally I’d like to see the Mother 3 notes finished first, now that you’ve started them I’d hate to see them put on hold again.

ClockworkFridgeworth said on Mar. 3, 2013

This was pretty cool. Mother 1 is probably my favorite one in the series, and to see this comparison was, again, pretty cool. It does go to show that your translation is a bit more complete than the official Nintendo translation.

thelucaskid482 said on Mar. 3, 2013

Mr. Lindblom *giggle*, I have one thing to say to you: HATER!!! While I agree with you that Mother 1/ EarthBound “Zero” is a game that doesn’t receive the credit it deserves you don’t take it out on Mato! It doesn’t matter that some stupid janitor in a school that is not vital whatsoever to the story says. I love Mr. Sandhop’s because to me, EB “0” was the most enjoyable of the three games, and I love to see it in it’s original form, but I also love Mr. Mato’s translation because I like to see how the game feels when it’s got different plot and dialogue. It gives it a totally different feel… Which is awesome! So don’t beat up Mr.Mato!!! Let me at him, Mato, let me at him!

Acedio said on Mar. 3, 2013

I like the idea of a Mother to EB0 comparison that considers all three versions of the text 🙂

Gaffer Tape said on Mar. 3, 2013

I think this was good constructive criticism, and I know that Mato has admitted that M1 is his least favorite. There’s nothing wrong with that, though, and I doubt it seriously affects his value as a translator, although I can see the myriad examples of “improving” the first game as somewhat justifiable reason to worry. But, yeah, it’s also true that translations just couldn’t be terribly perfect or reliable back then due to space limitations and censorship. It’s always good to carry a certain bit of wariness and not just trust blindly everything you read, so this is a good lesson.

That said… Mother is NOT a prequel to Mother 2. Sorry. That’s a pet peeve of mine. =P

Anonymous said on Mar. 3, 2013

“I’m not entirely sold on the notion that your script is better than Phil Sandhop’s.”

You’re not putting money down on this either way, so what’s it matter? Just tell your friend how you feel and let him go from there. He’s a person with autonomy enough to make their own decisions, so instead of clouding his judgment with bias from either side, just point him to the facts and let him make up his own mind.

I realize the push for a more comprehensive factual resource is being made here, but jesus christ it’s not like choosing the “wrong” version of a 23 year old game is going to end anyone’s life. This entire email just reads like vitriolic elitist autofellatio based on an imagined grudge over one of the most trivial subjects I can think of. I fail to see how it is in the least “constructive criticism,” as someone else suggested.

Vince said on Mar. 3, 2013

I think that your translation is awesome, and probably better at making us feel the same way that a Japanese-reading player might have felt.
Too bad about the music though, the drum sounds really got murdered. Other than that, It’s great.

Krikonn said on Mar. 3, 2013

I’d actually prefer to see a complete MOTHER 1 comparison before the rest of the MOTHER 3 pages. To me, the former is a lot more mysterious than the latter. Having clarification on a lot what is being said in the game, as well as your interpretation of it as a translator, could add depth to the mystery. Besides, like you said, if elements of MOTHER 1’s text influenced your translation of MOTHER 3, you’d be able to recall all of those moments and jot them down before it’s too late to add them to your MOTHER 3 notes.

Anonymous said on Mar. 3, 2013

(Click! beep-beep-beep) is also used in Mother 2. I never knew that.

Alex said on Mar. 3, 2013

All these notions that these old games MUST be played in their ‘pure’, original unaltered selves is a little silly. At the end of the day, Easy Patch/minor translation preference aside, they’re still playing Mother. Yeah, this or that little detail may be off, but you’re still getting the feel and experience from sitting down and playing the game.

I feel like a lot of NES games are just so distant and ‘classic to us (especially EB0) that we tend to overlook a lot of problems with them. We don’t have the experience or hindsight that we do now, and if we have the opportunity to go back and gently tweak our old games to make them more playable or introduce them to a new audience, why not? I love my NES games, but they are far from perfect.

I could understand this level of ‘slightly offended backlash’ if the translation was sloppy or all challenge had been lost to the game, but the changes here only make it easier to experience Mother, where the Japanese-only release or grind-heavy gameplay may have turned away throngs of new players.

Halloween said on Mar. 3, 2013

I don’t care whether the translation was made by someone who works for Nintendo or a super-fan of the series, I just want the most honest translation. I think it’s kind of ironic how the email chides Mato’s translation for “changing” Mother’s script when it is in fact less censored and less liberal. If you want to have an experience closest to the original it’s probably best not to remove references to death, religion, etc.
Not implying at all that the Nintendo translation is poor, but now that we have the new translation I easily choose Mother 1+2. There will never be a time when everyone shares that opinion though :D.

And as for the easy ring, I can see where he’s coming from, but it is optional and I think Itoi said that they never tested the game enough and admitted it was too hard. So you could argue that it’s a “bugfix”. But if you want to use my argument of “the original experience” then it’s true that it shouldn’t be there.

johnr754 said on Mar. 3, 2013

Eh, even though the MOTHER 1+2 translation is perfect, I kinda prefer the Earthbound Zero translation, for what it is worth. I mean, if EBZ was released normally, I would not mind.

Tourist said on Mar. 3, 2013

@Gaffer Tape
How is Mother NOT a prequel to Mother 2? I think it’s pretty obvious that it’s a prequel when you look at the main antagonist.

I’ve started both versions at different times (and left off around the same area). I found Mato’s treanslation easier to chew (and I’d never doubt it’s dedication to the original script). I would like to play both versions to completion just to see the differences. Also, if Mato wrote some translation notes, I could understand better the reasons for certain translation diferences.

skyrunner14 said on Mar. 3, 2013

Mother, personally, is my favorite game in the series. There’s something about it that… I dunno… I like Earthbound, but the original MOTHER has a charm all it’s own, and while I like both, I prefer MOTHER (and before anyone asks, I haven’t yet played MOTHER 3, though I want to).

If it doesn’t trouble you too much Tomato, I’d LOVE to see a LoL of MOTHER/EB0.

Tayo said on Mar. 3, 2013

I avoided all this trouble of under-appreciating Mother by playing it first. I loved Mother! It was actually the story that first drew me to it, and then also the gameplay. I bought a cartridge of Earhbound for $126 to play on my SNES.

G.Wicks said on Mar. 3, 2013

The only reason I enjoy the original, messy script is because RPG’s back then (actually, ALL game dialogue) was like that. Awkward and almost Engrish-y.

But I gotta say, I stand by your translation, Mato. The religious references and mentions of death, the blood graphics, in my opinion, make it darker than EB0’s script, so tyour accuser’s comments about EB0 being “darker” is just invalid. I loved the first time I went through the haunted house and instead of it saying “You’ll never make it” it said “You’re going to die”. After seeing your dialogue translations of Mother 2 and plaing the Mother 3 fan-slation, it’s clear to me that the reranslation you did of MOTHER1 is, in fact, more in line with Itoi’s “voice”.

Any complaints I’ve had are more personal preferences; I prefered Ana’s love messahe in EB0, and I remember when I first played it, my stomach churned a bit, and I felt embarrassed in a “GULP!” kind of way. Even though it wasn’t Itoi’s dialogue, I enjoyed the effect, which is very EarthBoundy.

Anyway, so you were a bit disappointed with Mother the first time you played it? Was it the old-school RPG quality about it or just the awkward translation? I remember flipping out when I first played it. Loved it to pieces, especially the ball-busting Dragon Warrior 1 style level grinding. Brutal!

Anyway, I just wanted to end this by saying I support your work with the Mother series, I’ll be playing your translations over and over again for a long time, and I look forward to your future projects and EBCentral blog posts 🙂

Mato said on Mar. 3, 2013

Well, a little before the EB0 ROM first got out, there was a lot of activity and excitement about how someone had found a prototype cart but wasn’t going to let anyone dump it, but then a group of people got together to pay to dump it, and all sorts of other stuff.

It was a flurry of excitement and activity, and once it was finally out, it would crash/not run for some people, or hit anti-piracy screens for some people, stuff like that. Plus, over the past previous years Nintendo Power had done things like, “This is an amazing game that’s Japan only! It’s amazing and a huuuuge hit there!” It really got my expectations high.

From what little was known about the game at the time, a lot of EarthBound fans expected it to be just like EarthBound, but with simpler graphics. Maybe how you might compare Mario 3 and Mario World? I dunno, but for me personally it didn’t live up to the hype that came before the ROM release.

Hype is one of those things that can actually hurt an experience, which is why I say that if I hadn’t had any of that and had looked at it as a product of its time only, I would’ve appreciated it a lot more a lot earlier. I like it now, and if I could go back in time and tell myself one thing, it’d be to avoid the hype. And if I could say a second thing, it’d be, “Go to all the black dots on the map! They’re all there for a reason!”

Mr. Awesome said on Mar. 3, 2013

In the past couple of years I’ve gotten back into video games after ‘growing out’ of them back in the early 90’s. I’d played Dragon Warrior and Destiny of an Emperor back then and was very impressed with them. About a year ago I played the official translation of EB0 and loved it to pieces. Actually, it’s the first time a video game affected me emotionally, I was surprised to find myself moved when it was over.

My RPG experience is pretty much stuck in the NES era. EB0 didn’t require my adjusting expectations and accomodating its old fashioned graphics and so on. I’m in the middle of playing EB for the fist time right now (the lights just went out in the department store) and though the game is great, and I can appreciate the improvements over EB0, so far I still like EB0 better. I haven’t played your translation, Tomato. I’m not sure if I will, honestly and so I really appreciate your translation comparisons. I’m on the fence about the two versions too. Sometimes one textual variation works better to me than the other and vice versa.

As well, I really like the Mother soundtrack album. I felt like the lyrics added to my experience with the game, elaborating on themes and feelings that the game didn’t quite hit home sometimes. In fact, I’ve gotten into Moon Riders through the game and soundtrack. What I’m trying to say is that EB0 is my first EB experince and I really do love it unconditionally. In its way it has changed my life. Thanks for a cool website too!

earthbounder said on Mar. 3, 2013

“The gym teacher hit me. Maybe I should drop out and become a thug…” lol wow.

Neko Knight said on Mar. 3, 2013

I’ve played through both Earthbound Zero and your translation, Tomato. You did a really good job, keep up the good work! I think the key to a good translation is finding the right balance between staying faithful and making a translation relatable to the receiving audience. I think you accomplished that quite well in all of your translations.

Opinionated Vector Chimera said on Mar. 3, 2013

If I remember correctly, the Check command was not in the original Famicom version, so the line “As strong as an ox” (which you get by Checking the Mega Borg) was probably totally made up. I don’t know how the porting team came up with “This thing is devilishly strong”, but whatever. Speaking of commands, it seems that certain other commands were not in the original Famicom version and were added to the prototype, which might explain why the porting team translated that instead. I think one of them might have been the “Escape” function, which explains the presence of a spell called “4th-D Slip” that instantly ends a random encounter battle. (Imagine getting through Mt. Itoi without any means of escape…yeesh.)

Anyways I love love love Mother 1, or at least EarthBound Zero (at least until Mt. Itoi). I’m under the notion that people who play EarthBound Zero seem to ignore buff spells such as Offense Up and Defense Up, which are broken beyond belief (they raise your stats by three digits, and have single digit PP costs). The only exception is Quick Up. Also, PSI Stones are reusable (but can be broken after use). You know where that is headed.

I actually attempted to get into the M1+2 patch a while after I played through the original prototype ROM, under the impression that the translation was superior to the prototype, but for some reason it felt *harder* (more accurately, I was fighting PseudoZombies without Lifeup and the Easy Ring). So I went back to the prototype. I recently finished it (with Teddy, don’t ask), so I might look into restarting the translated GBA port.

And finally, that e-mail in the article…I’m pretty sure that the translation effort of the Mother 1 side of the GBA port was meant so that it’s easier for people to play (I mean, why is there an Easy Ring?).

kenisu said on Mar. 3, 2013

Well, it was refreshing to see somebody defending the game for once. I always get so upset when people say, “Skip MOTHER 1, it’s so terrible!”

I keep getting these confirmations that the reason EB Zero and I clicked so well was because I don’t remember ever once coming across a site saying “Avoid this game, it’s awful!” 13 years ago when I first played it. That would have painted my perceptions of the game so much, and I would have been left with a bitter taste in my mouth. Nowadays M1-hating is all over the Starmen.Net community. It’s no wonder people are so harsh on the game: public opinion has skewed their view.

kenisu said on Mar. 4, 2013

Oh and hey, I thought your translation was fantastic, Mato! I might have had a little beef with changing Giegue to Giygas (especially when so much emphasis was placed on seeing M1 as its own thing, rather than an inferior prequel to EarthBound), but I lived.

Darien said on Mar. 4, 2013

Oh geez, I didn’t even realise you’d moved LoL to its own domain. How did I miss that? I’m apparently the worst.

That said, I’d love to see an EB0 / Mother comparison. But, then, I’m always interested in more LoL stuff.

Anony-mouse said on Mar. 4, 2013

Hi, I’m the one who sent the e-mail Tomato
posted above. I want to thank Mato for responding and for deciding to
make a translation comparison.

My name isn’t Lindblom. And why are you saying that the two translations have
a different plot? As someone who loves the original translation that worried
me. How could the actual plot itself be different?

Gaffer Tape said on Mar. 4, 2013

@Tourist: Because the term “prequel” does not apply to just any old work that chronologically takes place before another work. A prequel is a specific kind of *sequel* that takes place chronologically before its predecessor. In order for anything to be a prequel to anything else, it has to be a sequel to it. Is Mother 1 a sequel to Mother 2? Is it a sequel to *anything*? No. Therefore it cannot be a prequel.

To illustrate: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace IS a prequel to the original Star Wars Trilogy. It is NOT, however, a prequel to Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.

Ostricho said on Mar. 4, 2013

Thank you for clearing that up, Gaffer Tape. The abuse of the word “prequel” is horrifying…

Max_H said on Mar. 4, 2013

I find it fascinating that some people express allegiance to Nintendo’s original translation for a game they never officially released. Aside from the few people who actually could afford to buy the authentic EarthBound 0 prototype, the majority of us have only played the game (gasp) “illegally” via ROMs and emulators. You can’t really argue that it’s the closest thing we have to an official release. It was either officially released, or it wasn’t–and I’m sure Nintendo doesn’t view Demiforce as a business partner.

Personally, I think it’s great that Mato has brought attention to the gray areas of game translation. Most games in the 80s had rushed translations, and the average player didn’t devote much intellectual analysis to the text on the screen because–let’s face it–most of it wasn’t very memorable. The MOTHER series has the distinction of being created by a famous copywriter and television personality who went out of his way to write inventive dialogue. That’s part of what set it part from other series in Japan–other than its modern-day setting. It’s great that Mato has given non Japanese speakers the opportunity to explore the nuances of the dialogue, as well as the challenges for translators. Had he not originally started his MOTHER 2 vs. EarthBound site, I probably would have assumed that no localization changes were made to the game.

Every few years, some person re-translates Chekhov’s short stories. Sometimes the translates suck, and sometimes they’re superior. Not that retro video games are the same thing as classic literature, but why should we care what Nintendo thinks about unofficial translations of the MOTHER series? Apparently, they’re even aware of all this stuff going on, and they still haven’t taken legal action. That’s about as good as I expect it to get with them. We should be grateful, really.

(smile, smile) said on Mar. 4, 2013

“Why does your school jantitor complain about his wife getting fatter while Phil Sandhop’s janitor complains about his wife spending all of his money?”
Maybe because Mato was translating what the actual Japanese dialogue said…?

“To make Earthbound’s darker prequel lighter for some reason.”
If anything, I think the Mother 1 translation is darker, including references to killing/dying, heaven, as well as uncensored graphics.

It’s fine to prefer one translation to another, but I feel like it’s a little rude for this person to assume that Mato just made all kinds of things up while translating the original script.

Darien said on Mar. 4, 2013

Well, in all fairness, if the two translations diverge, clearly at least one of them is not entirely accurate, and the question “why should I believe your translation is more accurate than the other guy’s without any evidence” is a pretty decent one.

Which said, I’m not sure Mato really needs all these knights in shining armour protecting him from criticism. If he weren’t comfortable being questioned about his work, he wouldn’t have taken the exchange public in the first place, yes? So let’s all just relax a bit on bashing poor Anony-mouse.

EmeraldWind said on Mar. 4, 2013

I ran through EB0 a while back. I had myself a good old time with it.

But I almost want to try out Mato’s translation because I think it would likely be pretty true to the feel the Japanese intends. I mean, reading his EB/M2 comparison really showed me the kind of integrity he puts into translating and the Mother 3 translation notes show the consideration he puts into the translation.

I had no complaints about EB0 at all though. But then again I played Dragon Warrior many many times, so it wasn’t like the game felt all that unfamiliar to me.

TheZunar123 said on Mar. 4, 2013

Whenever I want to play Mother 1, I pull out Mother 1+2. I barely touch EB0 (though the music is ten times better). Why? Because it’s so slow. I understand that it’s because of the NES’s hardware, but I think I remember hearing/reading somewhere that the text could’ve scrolled faster since it has to render an extra line between each actual line, or something like that.

To summarize, I think EB0 was trying to be a little ahead of its time. Sure, there were other NES RPGs along with it (Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior, etc.), but I think the design of this game was stretching the limits of what the NES could handle.

I may be overanalyzing it, however. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong on something.

Anonymous said on Mar. 4, 2013

You know what I’d really like?
A section dealing with the references in Mother 2 to Mother 1. I played EB0 first before EB, so it brought a lot of nostalgia.
Remmember the Monkey maze in both?
The desert?
The snowy area?
Red baseball caps?
Strawberry tofu[Trout Yougurt]?
The sky runner preview of future areas-Plane in yucca desert?
et al.

Anony-mouse said on Mar. 5, 2013

I just really like Earthbound Zero’s story, that’s all. It baffles me to hear some people refer to its translation as Engrish when its leagues better than other RPGs at its time and comparable to some SNES RPGs even. All I want to hear from
Tomato is that his translation doesn’t alter the feel of the games storyline, which to me was considerably darker and more fantastical than Mother 2’s: a town full of children whose parents were abducted, a mysterious diary, a magic kingdom ruled by the unrestful spirit of
the protagonist’s great-grandmother, the “nowhere man”, etc..

And, one more thing about the janitor line. I think the reason they changed that line wasn’t only because they thought that the

Anony-mouse said on Mar. 5, 2013

(continued becau

Anony-mouse said on Mar. 5, 2013

(gah! my phone is being stupid! continued from above)
I think the changed thenjanot

Anony-mouse said on Mar. 5, 2013

Never try to comment on this site using an iPhone and the Dolphin browser app. I think they changed the janitors line because the original just did not sound like the way most American men would complain about their wives. how often do you see guy complain about their wives getting fatter and being terrible women for it? Not very often I would guess, but a man complaining about having to hide his credit card from his wife sounds very true to life.

Jdaster64 said on Mar. 5, 2013

Having seen a playthrough of EB Zero before playing the 1+2 translation, I like both versions, and admire Tomato’s adherence to the original intent. That being said, I really like the original script for its slight mistranslations and such, as I feel that it’s truer to games of that era, and doesn’t really impede progress through the game. Also, am I the only person that found the line “Oh shoot! I missed…” hilarious? If anything, it makes the next scene’s dark tone all the more unexpected.

Chivi-chivik said on Mar. 5, 2013

I’d like to see all differences, that would be so interesting to read.

The Great Morgil said on Mar. 6, 2013

Frankly, why i think the guy in the email had a good point, he sounded to me a little snarky in his approach, like he was attacking you for supposedly hating Mother 1.

That being said, i would love to see a side-by-side comparison of the game. But then you already still have Mother 3 and Final Fantasy IV that are still awaiting completion, and i wonder if it would be a good idea to take on a third game without finishing up those other two first.

chaz gidnats said on Mar. 6, 2013

often when getting into a series I make sure to play the games in release order that way I get the same experience all the other people who were fans for much longer had.

ex: I got that gcn Zelda collection, I was probably the only person who beat Zelda 1 and 2 before I went for Oot and MM. (2003-4 was the first time I played Zelda)

When I decided to get into Mother I made sure to play EB0 first, then, I played M2, and M3, then I went back and played M1 when the GBA version was translated.

In this way I am and never was biased against an older game because I experienced its successor first.

Geppu said on Mar. 8, 2013

People often underestimate the sheer amount of effort it takes to complete a translation for any language. It’s never as simple as “This word in X Language means this in the Y language!,” and as such, there are times where a translator has to make creative adaptations in order for the text to make sense to the target audience. Each language and culture has its own distinct jokes and twists on the usage that doesn’t cross the gap. An example of this would be the pun- if the audience is unfamiliar with the original language the joke is lost- and if they are familiar with the language, the translation isn’t necessary in the first place.

A good example of this in EarthBound is the Picnic Lunch. In Mother 2, it mentions that there are octopus wieners in it. No one in America at the time had any idea what octopus wieners were (and most still don’t). Nintendo was attempting to reach a wider audience with the game and thus translated it to say it had a piece of cake (a reference most Americans would understand).

My point is that Tomato did an excellent job of making Mother 3 “make sense” in places where it wouldn’t have normally. Very few translators adapt a work completely word for word due to the fact that there is a very narrow audience for such work (consider the Shin Megami Tensei games- they’re fun and entertaining, but hardly appealing to everyone). Mato avoided that by trying to give Mother 3 (and by extension, 1) a broader flavor so more people could enjoy it, and at that, he achieved great success.

Vukadin said on Mar. 8, 2013


This is what I’m listening to now. You should too to add a bit of enlightenment to my post. Replay it if it stops.

The music that plays when Buzz Buzz tells you everything.

That song is the last ray of hope for the Mother fandom which is falling apart.

You know those Mother 3 fans that say things like “I have never played Earthbound or Mother 1 and I have no plans to. Btw Mother 3 is best I feel so sad for Lucas made me cry blah blah blah”

They are the same people that made me dislike Mother 3.


Yeah, Mother 3 is sad. But you don’t have to exaggerate yourself because of it or pretend you cried just because everyone does so. You don’t have to be part of the ignorant crowd that relates Christianity to Mother 3 even if they have nothing in common. You’re no different than those “Put this in your sig if you love Jesus and anime” people. No different at all. What do Jesus and anime have in common? Nothing.

And lastly, you don’t have to be a part of the crowd that is ignorant towards the rest of the series. Just play the goddamn games and forget about Lucas and Claus for a second. You’re missing out on such a great adventure, like the song I gave you. It describes both Earthbound and Mother 1. An innocent boy goes out alone with nothing but a bat and a pair of friends to save the world. There is a sense of hope in there, just like in the song.

I have that sense of hope for this fandom. After I saw that email, I witnessed awareness of the ignorance of some people.

And I cried.

I cried because there is still hope.

There is still hope for this dying fandom of ours, and it makes me happy.

A lot of people got carried away with Mother 3, thinking it had spiritual meaning and trying to make deep thoughts out of it. I’ll be honest, there are no actual deep thoughts or spiritual meanings. It’s all in your brainwashed Christian-obsessed heads.

Mother, the series as a whole, is about a group of friends saving the world. That is Mother at it’s finest. Mother isn’t about death or the lose of a loved one like Mother 3 fans seem to think.

They think that because they have obviously never experienced the older games, due to their ignorance.

These people are also the same people who go out and cosplay. The Mother series is becoming mainstream because of them, and in a way this is bad.

Because all we worked on all these years on the Starmen forums is turned into rubbish. If the Mother series became instantly mainstream, Starmen would likely die in favor of some new forum about Mother 3.

I hope we have our own saviors. I hope we talk about them in future generations. I hope we build statues for them. I hope they unite the fandom once and for all and end all the evil in it.

And let’s not forget the Buzz Buzz that made this happen, someone whose name started with a V.

But just like Buzz Buzz I will die. I will instantly get flamed by the Christian fanatic Mother 3 fans and will die like Buzz Buzz.

But I don’t care, if that’s what takes to raise awareness then so be it.

Come at me enraged Mother 3 fans. Do your worst. Use your cosplay swords on me. Shoot thunder. Do whatever you want.

Mariotti said on Mar. 8, 2013

Oh my goodness. You are awesome! Thank you! Most creative and thoughtful comment I have seen since I started going on EB Central!

Pico said on Mar. 8, 2013

…I’m actually a little confused by what he posted…
Do people really connect Mother 3 to Christianity? That’s a little strange, in any sense, but…

Don’t try to take others too seriously when it comes to this kind of thing. The Mother series, or it’s fandom, isn’t ruined, simply because it’s become more mainstream, or because people who’ve only played Mother 3 don’t yet understand the meaning behind the other entries in the series…

Sure, it can be a little disheartening to hear people are missing out on how great EarthBound and EB0 are, but if that’s their decision, you can’t change it and shouldn’t let it bother you…
Just play the games yourself and enjoy them for what they are. Let others enjoy them how they want to, as well. It doesn’t affect you in any way, really.

Brian said on Mar. 8, 2013

@Opinionated Vector Chimera: Yes, Phil Sandhop said in an interview that he made up item/enemy descriptions; they weren’t translated from Japanese ( http://www.lostlevels.org/200407/earth-01.shtml ). It seems like these descriptions were then translated into Japanese for MOTHER 1+2, and then Tomato translated them back into English. As a result of the whole English -> Japanese -> English thing, a few of the enemy descriptions in Tomato’s translation either have references lost or sound a little awkward.

For example, there’s the Bear enemy, whose description in EarthBound Zero makes an obvious reference to Goldilocks and the Three Bears (the Polar Bear and Grizzly Bear enemies make similar references). But in MOTHER 1+2, “porridge” was changed to the more generic “food”, and the reference was lost.

I also remember Groucho/Bonus Swoosh having what I thought was an awkward description in Tomato’s translation, but I can’t remember what the description was.

I don’t mean to downplay Tomato’s efforts on his MOTHER 1+2 translation (the rest of it is great), but it was just something I noticed.

Brian said on Mar. 8, 2013

Ah, now I remember: Groucho’s original EB0 description was “If he was a mask, someone might mistake your identity!” But, IIRC, the M1+2 description of Bonus Swoosh was something like, “If he wore a mask, someone might mistake his identity!” The former makes a lot more sense, since he kinda looks like joke mask. Seems like the line was mistranslated somewhere down the line.

Vukadin said on Mar. 9, 2013


Believe it or not, there are actually people who connect Christianity with Mother 3.

I know I, or we, shouldn’t care about what other people are missing on. But the fact that this ignorance exists in this fandom kills me.

It came to the point where some Mother 3 fans bashed the N64 saying that it sucks, just because of Earthbound 64.

How can you bash a gaming system that so much of us grew up with?

I just want the fandom unified, to be one. Earthbound or Mother 1 don’t have to be your favorite entries in the series, but at least try them out.

That is all I wish.

Anonymous said on Mar. 11, 2013


thelucaskid482’s post barely made any sense (for example, as you pointed out, he called you Mr. Lindblom) so I would take anything else he said with a grain of salt. Tomato’s translation doesn’t have a different story. It’s the same as EarthBound Zero and the Japanese original.

kumatora cosplay said on Mar. 11, 2013


That’s a really bad post and you’re probably 14

Anonymous said on Mar. 16, 2013

What I find the most ironic of all about your little speech is that you’re bashing on MOTHER 3 fans for bashing on EarthBound. It’s a little hypocritical, if you ask me.

But, on a more serious note, the entire trilogy is great. The fandom is amazing, and one of the best fandoms standing today. Sure, there are some people who might hate on others because they like x game in the series, but all in all you gotta admit: we’re a lot better of a fandom than most. Little debates and arguments are all part of a fandom, and you just gotta accept that. The least you can do is not become a hater yourself. I love MOTHER, I’m atheist, and MOTHER 3 just happens to be my favorite game in the series. I have never played EB0 or EB, but I really, really want to after playing through MOTHER 3. So you can’t generalize a growing fandom by labeling us with the remark that MOTHER 3 fans are Christian.

Before reading your “comment”, I had never known that people connected christianity with MOTHER 3.

2% Milk said on Mar. 16, 2013

I would go to see a dead body

The Guy said on May. 15, 2013

This is a complicated subject, I have actually had some people tell me both translations are pretty accurate. Some say Tomato knows more of what he’s doing. I have a hard time deciding between officiality or accuracy. This is why Mother needs a proper release in the USA.


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