It’s “ScarabI” not “ScarabA”
In EarthBound, the Egyptian desert-y town is called “Scaraba”.
In MOTHER 2, it was actually called “Scarabi”. Why the change? I’m not really sure. Any thoughts?
You can even see it written in English in the MOTHER 2 and MOTHER 1+2 instruction booklets.
Also, as we’ve seen in other parts of the game, the red cross on the town map has been replaced with the word “Hospital”, the word “Drug” is now “Shop”, and the “o”s in “Food” have been resized.
Snake? Snake? Snake!
One of the guys in the Scaraba market is called “Red Snake”. In MOTHER 2, he uses a lot of English phrases to seem cooler and more inviting:
”HI! RED SNAKE! C’MON! KISS OF FIRE! Armpit hair fertilizer… Applause! What will you buy, sir?” (note: the parts in caps are in actual English in the Japanese game)
He continues with a sprinkle of English here and there as you go through the buying process too.
In EarthBound, they instead made him talk all snake-like:
”Hissss, I’m Red Snake… come on in! Kissss of Fire! Armpit hair fertilizer! Yesssssss! What issss it you want to buy?”
It turns out this guy is actually a reference to a famous Japanese comedian by the name of Igari Shopan. He was famous for dressing up in a stereotypical Arabian outfit and shouting, “Red snake, come on!” after which a fake red snake would pop out of a basket.
Snakes on the Brain
This guy in Scaraba is considering buying a snake and says a pun when you talk to him.
In Japanese, he says something like, “I wonder if I should buy a hebi (snake). Keeping one at home might be a bit hebii (heavy), though.”
There’s also possible word play with the word “kau” here, which can mean both “to buy” and “to keep as a pet”.
Anyway, the English version says, “Should I keep a snake at home? Perhaps I should ‘asp’ an expert.”
This guy in Scaraba talks about how he bought a Piggy Nose. In EarthBound, he says he bought it to use it while “searching for the Magic truffle” in the Deep Darkness. This should be plural, but due to the way Japanese works (there’s no real difference between singular and plural in nouns) this is a common technical mistake when translating games.
The cause of this particular mistake is that the item name is printed (in both games) via a control code; internally, the text is stored as something like “…searching for the [PRINT ITEM NAME 63]…” And since the item name is singular in English, the singular form gets printed here. It would have been easy to add an “s” right after, but the localizers overlooked it. Ideally, things like this should be caught during quality assurance testing, but usually not everything can get fixed in time before a game needs to ship.
Of course, in the end, it doesn’t matter much at all, but if you ever see weird little things like this in other games, it’s either because of something like this or because the translator didn’t know enough context whether to go with plural or singular.
Meh, Too Much Work
The same Piggy Nose guy as above goes on to explain how to use the item.
In MOTHER 2, he says, “You should be able to learn how to use the Piggy Nose by checking its ‘Description’…”
In EarthBound, they changed this to just include the directions right there: “You too can learn how to use a Piggy nose with the ‘Use’ command under ‘Goods.'”
The localization team clearly thought this part through though, so I wonder if they made this change based on feedback from test players before the game was released.
The Old Switcheroo
In the pyramid, there’s a room with a switch. When you step on it in EarthBound, it says, “(Someone must have stepped on a switch!)”
This line always seemed weird to me, since it’s like, “Duh, I stepped on it.”
In MOTHER 2, it simply says something like, “(You seem to have stepped on a switch of some sort.)”
Learning the Starstorm
After you exit the pyramid, the “Star Master” appears and tells Poo that he has to teach him a special technique. In MOTHER 2, he says, “Now is the time for me to pass on to you the ‘technique for making stars rain down’.”
In EarthBound, he says, “So, now it’s the time to show you the way of the Starstorm…”
Basically, in MOTHER 2, the master doesn’t come out and say what the technique is called. He’s vague with the details. As the discussion continues on, it’s still never called by its actual name. Only later in the game is the technique’s name revealed. In EarthBound, it’s just stated right up front right here.
I can understand why this change was made, it’s just a lot easier to say and the original phrase is a bit awkward in translation. It was likely the editors who opted for simplicity.
Incidentally, I think this Japanese phrasing might even be used again in MOTHER 3, and/or possibly in Smash Bros. Brawl. I’m not 100% sure, though.
Starstorm is the Future
At this point in EarthBound, Poo says, “It is important that I study and learn the ‘Starstorm’… It will be most helpful to us.”
This always seemed odd to me, because I was under the impression this was the first he’d ever heard of such a technique.
It turns out that in MOTHER 2, he says something more like, “This ‘technique for causing stars to rain down’ will most likely prove vital to us.”
My poor wording aside, the chief difference is between being certain and uncertain. Hardly a major change, but one I thought I might point out since it’s one of the few lines any playable character ever speaks.
This section of the EarthBound Legends of Localization book also includes:
- The definitive answer for the name change from “Scarabi” to “Scaraba”, as shared by EarthBound’s localization director
- A look at the lines about Pokey pooping in the desert, how this was toned down in EarthBound, and how exactly the Japanese text was revised in later releases of MOTHER 2
- The Japanese dialect used by a local merchant, and how it was handled in EarthBound
- Further details on the “Red Snake” character and his text
- A small feature on Igari Shopan, the comedian Red Snake is based on – including a connection to Doki Doki Panic
- A clearer and more in-depth explanation of the snake puns a local shopper shares