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Tips for Buying EarthBound

August 24th, 2013 | EarthBound, Interviews

Good ol’ Jason Schreier from Kotaku recently had an interview with good ol’ Marcus Lindblom, who was the localization director for EarthBound. As always, Marcus provides lots of really fascinating and interesting info about the project – check out the interview here!

I think long-time readers might like what he has to say about the Giygas fetus theory too:

“I think that this is a great instance of people reading in stuff that was probably never really intended,” Lindblom said. “There’s certainly nothing wrong with people doing that kind of thing. In reality, as far as we were ever concerned, nothing like that ever came up.”

Check out the rest of what he says here!


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28 Comments to Kotaku Interview with EarthBound’s Localization Director

Ness1985 said on Aug. 24, 2013

Amazing article.

FlyingManCourage said on Aug. 24, 2013

His comment on the fetus theory means absolutely nothing. He is a TRANSLATION DIRECTOR.

He didn’t make the game, he just translated what was already there. Sadly, I can already tell the children are gonna run off with this comment.

LakituAl said on Aug. 24, 2013

So, he worked on Wario’s Woods, huh? Loving that game as much as I do, that is an interesting bit to me~

Also, I wonder how much fun he had translating all of the Mr. Saturn’s dialogue.

DJMankiewicz said on Aug. 24, 2013

The thing about the “fetus theory” is there’s nothing concrete about it to indicate that that’s exactly what was intended. I personally never saw it like that on my first run through. Also, there’s nothing particularly “deep” about a fetus, nothing that speaks to the human condition in and of itself, it’s just creepy, so if it WAS a fetus, what exactly does that add to the narrative? What do we “get” out of that sort of interpretation?

Now, if you like to think of it that way, that’s great. The thing about art is that all interpretations are valid. But, if you’re going to say the artist INTENDED it, ya gotta come up with something definitive like a quote from Itoi.

Chivi-chivik said on Aug. 24, 2013

Well, we all should know that all the fetus theories were made up by fans, we just have in canon the sonogram graphics, and that’s all. (I GUESS…)

DJMankiewicz said on Aug. 24, 2013

Sonogram graphics? Where are those?

Mato said on Aug. 24, 2013

That sounds like an amazing buzzword like “blast processing” 😛

DJMankiewicz said on Aug. 24, 2013

Trimester rendering!

DJMankiewicz said on Aug. 24, 2013

So there’s one answer to my question about what it being a fetus adds, and that’s that Ness is now performing an “abortion”. Er, yeah, not sure that that adds anything either. Seems like something like that is arguing that Giygas was better off never having existed, and well, considering how much his human parents loved him in Mother 1, I really can’t get behind something like that. Nah, I think I’ll just play through without this interpretation in my mind. I like the end boss better as a confusing mass of insanity that only has enough presence of mind to know that YOU ARE NESS, which is already disturbing enough.

EpicJackman said on Aug. 24, 2013

“If I had my choice I would’ve left Ness naked in Magicant,” Lindblom said. “Because I thought that was kind of awesome.”

Best. Quote. Ever.

Jungyin said on Aug. 24, 2013

I still maintain the “theory” was something made up by a 4chan poster and then was spread and continues to be spread by gullible new fans, hangers-on of the fandom, and people trolling the previous two groups.

Charganium said on Aug. 24, 2013

oh god it’s the fetus theory again

RobertHMayfire said on Aug. 24, 2013

I left a nice comment toward Marcus Lindblom with a question on what I thinks about the Mother 3 fan translation and if he ever tried Mother 3 yet.

NecrosaroIII said on Aug. 25, 2013

I always thought the fetus theory was one of the stupidest things our fanbase has ever come up with. The fact it’s so widespread makes me groan every time I see it.

Gaffer Tape said on Aug. 25, 2013

As an fun fan theory, I think it’s actually quite imaginative. It’s when people lose sight of that and assume it’s real that it bugs me. I remember recently in a discussion about why EarthBound got a T-rating, someone chimed in to say, “Of course it did. It ends with Ness giving a fetus an abortion.” Ugggghhh.

Mr. Minch said on Aug. 25, 2013

But guys, crazy as the theory is, it *does* look like a fetus. It would be a very, very weird coincidence that the black space would just happen to look that way with the artists never noticing.

SOUP said on Aug. 25, 2013

My favorite part of the interview is him saying there were no legal issues with Earthbound ever. Means Nintendo actually thought nobody cared about Earthbound. Which means me might see a Fire Emblem-esque turnaround for the franchise overseas.

Lovee said on Aug. 25, 2013

My personal opinion is that the fetus is indeed there, but it’s not intended to be taken at face value- it’s to display Giygas’ confusion and lack of emotional integrity at the moment.

BusterTheFox said on Aug. 25, 2013

Since we’re all talking Fetus Theory, I just have to say that thinking about it too much makes my head hurt. Remember, though, we’re talking about a game where things like Moonside and Fobbies exist and dinosaurs never died, they just went underground. The world’s first nuclear shelter? xD All I’m sayin’ is… the fetus thing really doesn’t have to MEAN anything. 🙂

bobsburgerking said on Aug. 25, 2013

I had never heard of the fetus theory until i read this article and the comment sections. So why doesn’t Ness use psi coathanger, huh? Last time i checked, praying is not a reliable way to abort a fetus. In fact, it might just have the opposite effect…

Mediocreman said on Aug. 26, 2013

@bobsburgerking Wow how politically incorrect 😛

Geppu said on Aug. 26, 2013

I think the biggest problem with the fetus theory is the inherent lack of understanding and miscommunication on both sides. I don’t think it was ever meant to be taken *literally* – you are not physically going back in time to kill a fetus before it’s fully grown. That would be ridiculous and implausible. But many people, on both sides of the argument, seem to think that this is the case.

The people who argue the *symbolic* meaning behind the theory, whether for or against, have a bit more credit. I think we can all agree that it probably wasn’t something intentionally designed on the part of the creators, but there is no denying that there is plenty of evidence in the theory to support it from a Freudian standpoint. The cave entrance is vaguely shaped like female genitalia, the the inner workings of the room leading up to Giygas does like very organic and natural, and the the background shape at the end of the game, combined with Giygas’s general state of helplessness at the time, can lead to a player to draw that conclusion IF THEY CHOOSE TO. Their interpretation of these events are just as valid as the naysayers, as they have plenty of evidence to reach that decision. It’s a fitting metaphor for a villain that you have to go back in time to destroy when he is more vulnerable.

That being said, Freud himself also (allegedly) said “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” Meaning that you don’t always have to apply that logic to everything. So maybe the people who do interpret the theory as true on some level may be reading way too deep into it. But what harm does it really do if that’s their personal interpretation? Last time I checked, EarthBound wasn’t banned or boycotted by anyone because of the theory. So effectively, it’s harmless if a person chooses to see it from a symbolic perspective, and shouldn’t undermine your enjoyment of the game.

*Author’s Note: I’m aware Freud’s theories have been effectively debunked in the modern age of psychology. However, in the literary world- a world where a game like EarthBound, I believe, should be judged- his theories are a goldmine for psychological criticism.

tl;dr- The Fetus theory isn’t literal; it’s metaphorical. As a metaphor, no one can ever really prove or disprove it.

OneTallGamer said on Aug. 26, 2013

Its great that this guy has feelings for his work on Earthbound. And its very interesting to get an insight into what kind of crunch these guys are under.

I sometimes wonder what Ted Woolsey thinks about his time at SquareSoft translating some of the most iconic games in video game history. He gets so much flak for his localizations of those SNES era games, but I find the re-translations of FF4 and FF6 to be so incredibly stiff that I miss his localization style.

EBMarcus said on Aug. 26, 2013

Thanks for posting this, Mato.

So to clarify a few things… as for the fetus question, it really is just what I said– it never came up. With as careful as Miura-san was with explanations about the Japanese version, perhaps he would have told me, but maybe he didn’t even know about it, or realize it, or perhaps he figured it wasn’t important. So it can remain a theory, and people can speculate. There really is nothing wrong with that. I have my own speculations about stuff in the game, so it’s cool that fans think about this stuff.

One thing I do want to clarify as well– I left Nintendo in 1996, and what they felt about the legal questions, I really don’t know. I tend to be a fairly anti-conspiracy theory type of person though, hence my comments. I all I really know is that the game came out with pretty much everything intact, which is why I said what I did. But again, I am not privy to the true case, so it’s just a guess.

Finally, regarding Mother 3, I actually haven’t played it. Primarily for one reason that I don’t want to get into here. But I did take a look at the walkthrough a bit, and the localization looks very well done (Kudos, Mato). It’s really impressive as a fan project, and I know that it was tons of hours of work. It could have only been done by people whose love for the series was deep and real.

Mato said on Aug. 26, 2013

Cool, thanks for the clarifications! Interview details and quotes can get muddied so easily that it gets crazy to see people misinterpreting things in weird ways. It’s awesome that you’re so proactive with setting the record straight!

For the details about the legal issues thing, you should totally ask Reid when you see him at PAX – he’s the guy with all the info and intel on all of that. Or wait, is he not going to PAX this year? I can’t remember. Oh well, next time you see him anyway 😛

EBMarcus said on Aug. 26, 2013

That’d be interesting… Hopefully I’ll speak with Reid at PAX, but maybe his plans have changed? I know I’ll be seeing Mr Benson before the show…

Yeah, the interview thing is kind of strange. Easy for things to get misinterpreted, etc. But I’m glad it’s interesting for people. New people playing EB has been fun.

EBMarcus said on Aug. 26, 2013

@OneTallGamer Ted’s job was a tough one. He deserves a ton of credit. People forget how hard it was in the early 90’s. Which is why Masayuki Miura and Keiko Tamura were so crucial to EB’s localization.

Banana Kid said on Aug. 29, 2013

Not to bug you about it, (as I’m not inquiring further as to why you’ve chosen not to) but I hope that you give Mother 3 a chance someday, Mr. Lindblom.

Thank you again for everything! Best of wishes.


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