I Prefer Frogurt
As soon as you re-enter the bar/cafe after leaving Moonside, Apple Kid calls about a great new invention he’s just made. In MOTHER 2, it’s called the “Gourmet Tofu Machine”, but for EarthBound it was changed to the “Gourmet Yogurt Machine”.
Alright, That’s Just Gross
In MOTHER 2, the Gourmet Tofu Machine can only create one thing: Strawberry Tofu. Strawberry Tofu was also in MOTHER 1. There’s a lot I could write about this subject, for now check out Itoi eating some strawberry tofu here.
In EarthBound, the Gourmet Yogurt Machine can only create one thing: Trout Yogurt.
I’m guessing the localizers felt the need to make these changes for cultural reasons. Tofu (especially back then) had a really bad name in North America, while it’s eaten all the time in Japan, almost as a staple food. So I guess the localizers tried to think up some other bizarre food combination. Can’t imagine what other reason there could be. I’ve noticed that the localizers were a little more carefree with their changes in this part of the script, similar to how lots of text related to Master Belch was spiced up.
I’m being pretty picky here, but the localizers ended Apple Kid’s call with, “(Kaboooom!) Uh, I’vegotsomeproblemsheregottagobye!”
In MOTHER 2, it’s more like, “Well, I’m a bit busy at the moment, so goodbye!”
In the monkey caves, there are two twin monkeys next to each other, both who want a burger. It’s not readily apparent in the English text, but in the Japanese script, each monkey asks that you only give it a hamburger. It’s hard to phrase well in English, but basically each monkey is selfish and doesn’t want the other monkey to get a burger.
The “Protein Drink” item in EarthBound is actually called the “Adult Drink” in MOTHER 2. So, when this monkey asks for an Adult Drink in MOTHER 2, his reply of, “Is it because I’m not an adult?” makes sense when you turn his request down.
In EarthBound, he says the same thing, but it just seems odd that he’d say, “Is it because I’m a kid?” in reference to a simple protein drink. Ideally, this line should’ve been altered somehow once they altered the item name, but they either forgot or didn’t realize the connection.
Monkeys Aren’t Animals!
This is an ever-so-slight mistranslation. In EarthBound, this monkey that makes animal sounds says that a Fresh Egg will recover some of his health. But in MOTHER 2, he’s actually trying to say that a Fresh Egg is what will cure his weird animal sound-making problem.
In EarthBound, this girl monkey is called Monkonna.
In MOTHER 2, her name is Sarudonna, saru meaning “monkey”. So that’s a pretty good localization. The problem is that the MOTHER 2 version speaks very girly, in almost a cutesy-sexy kind of way. In EarthBound, she sounds just like every other NPC in the game.
In EarthBound, this monkey is named Man K. Man. I guess it’s supposed to make you think “Monkey Man”.
In MOTHER 2, his name is Yamada Saruo, which sounds like a real Japanese name, except for the fact that saru means monkey, so it’s like a monkey with a human-ish name.
Attack of the Octopencil!
As we’ve seen before, the pencil statue in EarthBound was actually an octopus statue in MOTHER 2.
Another slight mistranslation, or at least something that could’ve been done better.
In MOTHER 2, this monkey says some stuff which are clearly song lyrics, and at the end says, “This is a song I made!”
In EarthBound, it’s not as obvious that the monkey is saying song lyrics at first. Also, because of context issues, the last one was translated, “Here is a song I made up!” Which makes you think he’s about to sing a song for you now, but then the text box closes and he says nothing else.
Usually, if something seems slightly odd like this in a translated game, it’s probably due to context issues the translator ran into. I see this kind of stuff a lot in old games I used to play, but now that I know Japanese, I can finally understand why certain things sounded so strange 😛
Space, Time, and Monkeys
When you finally meet Tarai Jabu/Talah Rama, he gives you some big fancy speech about time and space and stuff. The localizers or translators must’ve been daunted by it, because the mumbo jumbo differs somewhat, and it sounds like parts were made up out of nowhere by someone on the localization staff. There’s also some honest mistranslation mixed in.
|MOTHER 2 (literal)||EarthBound|
|The truth of the universe travels the cosmos like a grain and like a wave and speaks to the universes known as man.||The truth of space and time moves through the universe like a wave…|
Truth speaks through space and matter and makes itself known to human beings.
|Your coming here, my waiting here… It was all predestined truth.||I was waiting for you, and you came. This was destined to happen.|
In truth, all is pre-determined…
|Ness, Paula, Jeff, and Poo… When these four forces meet, the twisting cosmos will breathe calmly once more.||Ness, Paula, Jeff, and Poo, when these four powers gather, twisted space will bring back peace to the world.|
What interested me though was the “like a grain and like a wave” thing, which is just like the whole waves and particles thing in science. For reference, half of the Japanese word for “particle” comes from the word “grain”.
The “universes known as man” thing might sound kind of strange too, I’m sure it could be phrased better. But what it means is that every human being is a universe all his/her own. Which might sound strange in itself, but consider the fact that later in the game Ness enters a world inside his own mind.
Overall, this metaphysical stuff throughout the game is handled kind of clumsily in EarthBound, especially near the end of the game. It only affects people who are trying to analyze the game at a really deep level though, of course.
In EarthBound, when the monkey is teaching Ness how to teleport, he also adds, “…but you can also build up enough speed while turning, if you have enough room.”
This line always seemed oddly phrased, so when I was finally able to play and understand MOTHER 2, it was neat to see that the original text was much clearer.
In MOTHER 2, the monkey says, “…but you can also turn if you have enough room.”
Basically, he’s trying to say that Teleport α takes you in a straight line by default, but you can move around and turn if you want while teleporting. This fact is made very clear in MOTHER 2, but among EarthBound fans it seems that a lot of people never realize this fact. I know I didn’t figure it out my first or second playthrough so long ago.
This section of the EarthBound Legends of Localization book also includes:
- A change in the delivery service the clumsy deliveryman works for
- Some extra details on Talah Rama and his background
- A fascinating case of Nintendo’s content policy backfiring in a line that was already AGAINST the content that was removed
- Some more of Monkonna’s text, and how the wordplay transferred over into EarthBound
- A line in which a monkey with poor English skills makes a silly mistake, and how this was handled when translated into actual English
- The use of the word “crap” in EarthBound’s script, as well as the general opinion of the word around the time of EarthBound’s release
- Examples of swearing in other Nintendo games, spanning multiple systems and years
- A look at the monkey that makes weird animal sounds, and an exact list of all the animals it imitates in the Japanese script