After recording all eight melodies with the Sound Stone, Ness blacks out and we’re treated to a cut scene of him seeing his past – more specifically, we see (or hear?) his parents talking about him when he’s in his crib.
The text in both games is pretty much identical, but because of the way Japanese works it’s easy to tell which line is said by which parent. It’s not clear who says what in the English version, because English doesn’t have those same verbal cues.
Anyway, for trivia / reference, here’s who’s saying each line in EarthBound:
Dad: Ness… Hmmm… I think Ness is the right name for him.
Mom: Ness… he smiled just from hearing his own name. Do you think he likes his name?
Dad: Try putting that red cap on him.
Dad: Ha ha ha! It’s too big, but it looks good on him…
Mom: I hope King won’t be jealous of the baby.
Dad: Let’s celebrate with some Steak.
Dad: This baby will grow up to be a hard worker just like you.
Mom: I don’t think he needs to be rich or famous… but I want him to be a thoughtful, strong boy.
Mom: That’s odd… the baby bottle that he pointed at seemed to move a little bit…
The “???” for the last line is because that line doesn’t exist in the Japanese version.
Yes, it’s true, Ness is naked in the MOTHER 2 version of Magicant. NOA edited the naked sprites to look exactly like his pajama sprites before releasing EarthBound.
I get asked sometimes why he would be naked in the game – it’s actually very common in Japanse games and anime for characters to be naked (while not showing any naughty bits) when something metaphysical/supernatural/philosophical is happening, especially if it involves the character eventually changing in some way.
Japanese culture is also a lot more open about nudity and stuff, so things like this aren’t much of an issue over there.
Create Your Own Magicant!
In EarthBound, the Star Master explains Magicant to you by saying, “Ness, you’ve stood on the eight power spots of the earth. From these, you created Magicant, the realm of your mind.”
In MOTHER 2, it’s more like, “Ness, you have stood at all eight power spots of the earth. That was the requirement/condition for creating this realm in your mind known as Magicant.”
Basically, the Japanese is a tiny bit more clear that there was a condition that had to be met before he could create Magicant. It also serves as light follow-up to what the talking rock in the Lost Underworld talked about in MOTHER 2.
Tra la la
In EarthBound, these flowers say, “Look at the sun. Face the sun and smile…” It made sense and all, given that they were happy flowers. But it just somehow seemed strange.
It turns out that these flowers are singing a song in MOTHER 2, and that fact got lost in translation, turning it into ordinary ol’ text. The text is essentially the same, here’s one take on it I might’ve done:
♪ Let’s all look at Mr. Sun ♪
Let’s all face Mr. Sun
♪ and put smiles on our faces ♪
I can think of a few other ways of approaching it or just changing it altogether, but the above is the basic gist of it.
There’s an ATM in one of the buildings in Magicant. As we’ve seen elsewhere in the game, “CD” is printed on ATMs in MOTHER 2. In this context, “CD” in Japanese means “cash dispenser”.
Since we don’t call them CDs in English (at least not in American English), the text here was completely erased and turned into what look like eyes for EarthBound. I guess “ATM” didn’t fit?
I can’t remember for sure, but I seem to recall not even realizing there was an ATM in this room when I first played EarthBound. I wonder if anyone else overlooked it too.
This is Our Country
One of the kids in the line in Magicant calls Magicant a “country”. The Japanese term used can mean “country” in normal contexts, but in this one something like “realm” or “land” would’ve been more appropriate. In fact, it was translated as such in other Magicant lines. This inconsistency was probably due to there being multiple translators at the time.
In EarthBound, this girl simply says, “Fresh!” if you talk to her. I remember being a little confused when I first played the game way back when. It wasn’t like Ness had done anything wrong.
It makes more sense when you consider that in MOTHER 2, she says, “Pervert!” And the reason she says it is more obvious – Ness is completely naked!
Nico the Unknown
In EarthBound, this kid says, “La lalala. My name’s Nico… Let’s run and sing and dance!”
In MOTHER 2, she says, “La la la! Let’s sing together!”
So this whole “Nico” thing and “run and sing and dance” thing was made up for the English localization. The question is… where did it come from and why is it there?
Marcus Lindblom, one of the localization directors for EarthBound, revealed that this is actually named after his daughter who was born during the game’s localization. He’s touched on the subject a number of different times, but here’s what he said in an EarthBound Central/Starmen.Net/Fangamer chat in 2013:
Nico was born on 2/8/95 and I worked for like 30 straight days after that, like 12-14 hours/day
I think that’s why they let me put her name in…
So there you go! It’s interesting, because during the Japanese game’s development, Itoi’s daughter played a part in the game’s design (such as the Japanese Mr. Saturn font and the dad always being away from home). And in the localization, another daughter snuck into the game too!
In a way, it’s almost like these MOTHER games are more about fatherhood than motherhood, now that I think about it…
In EarthBound, this character says, “Gyaaa. Long time no see Ness!”
Poor punctuation aside, the “Gyaaa” part seems weird. It turns out that in MOTHER 2 he’s actually saying the onomatopoeia “gayagaya”, which might translate to something like “yackety-yak” – basically showing that he’s doing a lot of talking.
Also, for some reason, this incorrect “gyaaa” always made me think of the Dept. Store Spook who kidnapped Paula back in Fourside.
Don’t Cry, Baby
Similar to the mistranslated onomatopoeia above, this kid says in EarthBound, “Waaaa, Ness, let’s play.”
In actuality, he says the onomatopoeia “wai wai” in MOTHER 2, which might translate to something like, “Yay” or “Hurray”.
“Waaaa” makes me think he’s crying or screaming or something, the complete opposite of what was intended!
RIP Buzz Buzz
We’ve seen that throughout EarthBound, nearly all crosses were removed or edited around in some way.
Here we see Buzz Buzz’s gravestone… with a cross still on it! They made sure to edit the gravestones when localizing EarthBound Zero though, so it’s interesting that they’re intact here. Was it an oversight? Or was it somehow not a problem in this case?
Run Along, Wild Punctuation
A very, very minor point, but the punctuation in some of this Magicant text is lacking… sometimes literally. Here’s another example of it – if you check the Japanese screenshot you can see why it happened.
Japanese can get away with it though, since punctuation usage (or non-usage) is somewhat optional.
In EarthBound, the Star Master appears again and tells you that the “Sea of Eden” up ahead is “filled with ultimate intelligence”. This translation is okay, but possibly a little bit inconsistent.
If I had to translate this, I would’ve gone with “is a vortex of ultimate wisdom”. Why? Well, because the Apple of Enlightenment’s real name is the “Apple of Wisdom”. Ness’s wisdom and this Apple of Wisdom appear to be important factors at this late stage of the game – is there some sort of connection? I personally don’t know, but translating it consistently like that might help fans find a connection on their own.
Touch the Universe
Before you set out into the enemy-filled areas of Magicant, the Star Master tells you more about what’s up ahead, specifically the “Sea of Eden”.
In EarthBound, he says, “It’s a place where you can touch the truth of the universe.”
In MOTHER 2, he says almost the exact same thing: “It’s a place where you can touch the truth of the universe for just an instant.”
I probably wouldn’t have brought this up except for the explanation the talking rock in the Lost Underworld gave about how “every part of Ness” is going to “overlap/become one with every part of the universe”. As we saw before, the talking rock’s translation was incorrect in EarthBound, so this connection isn’t as clear. Basically, this line indicates that the Sea of Eden up ahead is where everything you’ve worked toward so far is going to culminate, and then the stuff the talking rock mentioned is finally going to go down.
The difference isn’t a big deal at all, though, I think I just appreciate how much more clear and consistent MOTHER 2′s text has been with this weird metaphysical talk up to this point.
In MOTHER 2, the statue entity in the middle of the Sea of Eden is called “Ness’s Demon” or “Ness’s Devil”. In EarthBound, it was changed to be “Ness’s Nightmare” to avoid the religious reference, similar to what we’ve seen in other parts of the game.
The statue also says in EarthBound, “I’m the evil part of your brain.”
In MOTHER 2, it’s more like, “I am the evil in your heart.”
Apple are Superior Machines
After defeating the statue thingy, Ness is spoken to… by Ness!
In EarthBound, Meta-Ness tells you, “The Apple of Enlightenment has foretold that Giygas’ attempt will fail.”
In MOTHER 2, he literally says, “The ‘Apple of Wisdom’ prophecy-telling machine in Gyiyg’s possession has foretold that Gyiyg’s machinations will end in failure.”
There are several important pieces here for die-hard fans to take note of:
- The Apple of Enlightenment is called the “Apple of Wisdom” in MOTHER 2
- The Apple is currently in Gyiyg’s possession
- The Apple is a machine that gives prophecies
The English translation leaves out/changes this stuff, so hopefully this will shed some new light on what’s up with the Apple of Enlightenment. I think this kills those theories that Apple Kid is the Apple of Enlightenment at least
Universal Typo Destroyer
Surprisingly, there aren’t that many typos in EarthBound’s translation, despite the huge amount of text in the game. It’s really impressive.
That said, this is where one of the more obvious typos in the game shows itself – “unverse” instead of “universe”.
Some games have so many typos that it would be a pain to list them all. Obviously, the ideal would be having no typos at all, but compared to other text-heavy games, EarthBound does a great job.