Behind the Scenes of the EarthBound Legends of Localization Book


The EarthBound Legends of Localization book is out! It’s the culmination of 20+ years of EarthBound knowledge, 15 years of professional translation experience, inside info from key staff members, and some scratch-n-sniff craziness. Don’t let this scare you though – even if you don’t know a thing about EarthBound or aren’t an EarthBound fan, there’s a lot you’ll enjoy in this book.


Here’s a quick summary of what the book comes with:

  • 432 full-color pages, hardcover
  • Reversible dust jacket w/ release timeline
  • Scratch-n-sniff history card+postcard (no longer available as of 2020)
  • Signed bookplates (1st edition exclusive)
  • Forewords by EarthBound’s localization director & industry alumni
  • Inside info straight from key EarthBound staff members: the localization director, marketing director, and creator
  • Chapters on the game localization process & EarthBound/Nintendo history
  • 84 special features (see full list here)
  • 90 other games referenced and discussed (see partial list here)
  • A full chapter on unused/secret content

It also has a companion video that showcases things that couldn’t be conveyed fully in print form. You can see the 15-minute video here:

You can also see 20+ sample pages here!

Where to Get It

There are currently two places you can get the book, although some brick-and-mortar stores might offer them in limited quantities as well.

I 100% recommend getting it from Fangamer – you’re guaranteed to get a signed bookplate (1st edition exclusive) and possibly some extras thrown in. And if you order it from Fangamer, we’ll even sign the book directly for you if you ask for it in the order form – it’ll just take a little extra time to ship out.

Also, between now and November 29, 2016, Fangamer shipping is free within the U.S., and international IPA shipping is 50% off. I don’t think they’ll ever offer a better deal than that!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How is this any different from what’s already online?
A: I rewrote and re-researched everything from scratch. In doing so, I made many new discoveries that haven’t been documented anywhere. I tried to distill all of my findings to make sure that every single page is fun, interesting, and surprising. Almost every page has new info that I myself didn’t know until this year!

Q: I haven’t played EarthBound/I’m not an EarthBound fan. Will I still enjoy it, and will I get lost reading it?
A: You will absolutely be able to follow along – from Day 1 I wrote the book with non-experts in mind. The first several chapters (full list here) cover things like game translation theory, game localization history, the history behind Nintendo and EarthBound, merchandise releases, and all kinds of neat under-the-hood stuff. It’s all very accessible and easy-to-read.

The chapters specifically about EarthBound’s content assume no prior knowledge of the game. One of the book’s editors, who had never played EarthBound, remarked afterward:

If a non-EB initiate like myself is having this much fun reading a book about a game I’ve never played, there’ve gotta be tons more like me out there.

Q: Is an electronic/e-book version planned?
A: At the moment, Fangamer doesn’t have plans for electronic versions. It’s possible that could change, but I wouldn’t expect it anytime within the next few years.

Passport to MOTHER 2

Similar to the first Zelda Legends of Localization book, this EarthBound one has an optional companion booklet that will help you dive into the Japanese version of the game yourself! Even if you don’t know a lick of Japanese right now, by the end of the booklet you’ll be able to read, pronounce, and even translate simple phrases from MOTHER 2. I wrote it with my younger self in mind – I remember wishing I could play the Japanese version of EarthBound back in 1995 but not having the resources to do so.

The booklet also contains special tips, tricks, and info on how to enjoy the game in new ways, as well as explore the Japanese side of the Internet to see what fans are up to.

You can get the 48-page Passport here for $9, but if you get it and the main book together you’ll get a $3 discount.

Behind the Scenes

Comparing EarthBound with its Japanese counterpart is how I got into game translation and localization, and it’s also the origin of this entire Legends of Localization site. It’s hard to believe that this dinky site would become my career and livelihood years later. With that in mind, I made sure to fill the book with everything I wanted, so that I’d have no regrets and feelings of “I wish I had included this”. That’s a big reason why the book comes with the scratch-n-sniff card, in fact.

In a sense, this EarthBound book marks the end of a long, 17-year journey, but the start of many new ones. So before we move on, let’s take a look at some behind-the-scenes photos from the book’s initial stages until today!

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Looking back at all this now, a lot of life went into this book. Again, thanks to everyone who’s supported Legends of Localization by getting the books, offering direct encouragement, or even just spreading word about the site to others. This book is about EarthBound, of course, but it’s turned out to be way more than just that. I hope that feeling comes through as you read it!

If you liked this, check out my book Legends of Localization Book 2: EarthBound. It's packed with surprising info for Nintendo fans, retro gamers, and aspiring translators! (free preview PDF)
  1. I already ordered a copy a few days ago when i got the alert email from Fangamer, but i forgot to request a signing when i ordered it. Is it too late to put in a request for my copy to be signed?

    1. Nope, I think if you e-mail they’ll be able to flag it/set it aside so that I can get to it.

      1. Alright, i emailed them, so hopefully they’ll get the message and pass it on to you.

        1. Alright, i just got a response from someone named Adil:

          “Not a problem! We’ve put a note on your order requesting Clyde’s signature–please note that your order will take some extra time to process, so we ask for your patience in the meantime.”

          I guess that takes care of that, then.

          1. I got roughly the same message, so I assume this is a good sign. That or we’ll both get books signed by Adil instead, which would at least be funny. So it’s a win either way!

            1. Adil’s a cool dude (and he’s Batman), so he’ll get the books to me for sure.

              1. I just got an email saying my copy has shipped. Estimated delivery date is next Monday. I can’t wait!

  2. Scrolling down this made me teary-eyed :’) I’ve been following your blogs for a long time and I’m so glad I can finally own them in print form!! Super excited for this book!

  3. Congrats on the release, you all worked really hard on this and it shows! Already ordered my copy! We appreciate the work that went into these.

    1. Cool, thanks for the support as always!

  4. Did anybody else read that pizza box label as “Magypsies Pizza”?

    Anyways, looking forward to getting this book! All the effort that went into this is pretty astounding!

    1. Oh no I’m never going to unsee that name now 😯

  5. Grats, Tomato! Do Kickstarter backers get the passport too, or do I need to order that?

    I do hope you got that pizza from a trash can. It’s not a proper Earthbound celebration otherwise.

    1. Hey Darien!

      Since the Passport didn’t exist when the YANEB kickstarter was happening, you’ll need to buy that separately. Kickstarter backers were able to get the book at a huuuuuuge discount, so at least there’s that 😉

      ~ Poe

  6. I ordered my copy right away when I got the email that they were on sale since the Zelda book sold out so fast last year! I was reading that book during my Christmas vacation last year, so it’s cool to think I’ll have the sequel(?) for this year’s vacation too. Thanks for the awesome books Tomato, and for giving me something to distract myself from my airplane anxiety.

    1. Haha, thanks for the thanks! And yeah, our Zelda book was a test run in many ways, so we made sure we printed plenty more and that we included the bookplate and such for everyone.

  7. I love this post 🙂

  8. I just ordered the book and I cannot wait. Glad I noticed it at a time when shipping to Japan is half off. I’m deep in the kanji learning mines right now and have been putting off playing Earthbound in Japanese due to the overwhelming amount of only hiragana (to think I’d reach a place where kanji actually made life easier), but I absolutely can’t wait to take the plunge with your passport in hand. If ever all this Japanese I’m learning culminates into me translating stuff, you’re definitely going to be high on my list of thank yous.

  9. Earthbound must be really close to your heart it seems… In that case, would you like to delve into Undertale as well? Especially since that game appears to have a working Japanese translation now.

    1. There is a working Japanese translation, I watched some video at Nico video.

      1. Indeed. And I wonder if Clyde can do some comparisons in the event that something was changed between translations. Yes, the enemy names and such still appear in Latin letters for some reason but it should otherwise be fine.

  10. Despite not finding hover text on the images, I still proceeded to check every single one…

    I regret nothing 😛

    But guess I’ll need to catch up on the Zelda book now, so I can read through this one as well.

    So when’s Book 3 coming out? 😛

  11. I backed this on kickstarter and it came today.

    Quite frankly it’s amazing. Quite exhaustive to say the least.

  12. Holy crap you really put your heart and soul into this! I’m so happy I got it with the kickstarter. You have my absolute support, Mato. You’re awesome.

  13. Mato, Poe, everyone involved, this is absolutely amazing. I’m going to set aside some money for this and hope I’m not too late once I can buy this excellent-looking book.

  14. I’m frankly kinda stunned. This looks like an incredible book, and what a journey it’s been for you to make, eh? I’m so happy for you! 🙂 There’s no need to say it, but my God am I looking forward to owning this book.


  15. Man, I wish I had someone to help me gather a pile of Mario material as big as your pile of Earthbound/MOTHER material. ;_;

  16. Potential customer

    Yay, another Fangamer-only “F..k international buyers” book. =( Their shipping rates are insane, either 23 USD (plus local taxes) for the “may not arrive at all, do not expect a refund” shipping method or 45 USD (including 7% local taxes) for UPS. For a 36 USD item. Nope.

  17. Haha, some moron is currently trying to sell a used copy of this book on Amazon for 2000 dollars.