What a Doll
We saw them briefly earlier in the game, but here are the statues blocking the way in the underground Stonehenge base.
In MOTHER 2, the statue is a giant iron kokeshi, which is kind of like a traditional Japanese wood carving. In EarthBound, it got changed to a giant iron eraser statue.
Take a Breather
The Mr. T-lookalike here says, “Kurushi” in Japanese here. I often see this mistranslated (in this sort of context) as, “It hurts!” or “It’s painful!” But the EarthBound translators got it right here – and probably without clear context, too – so they get my thumbs up here.
Like the Starman Jr. at the start of the game, the Starman DX in the final room in the Stonehenge base talks all robot-like in Japanese, in a way that is often translated into all-caps in English. For whatever reason, the translators or editors didn’t like the way that looked, so the Starman text is written in standard form, with some random robot-like sound effects like “whirr” and “click” sprinkled throughout. The Japanese text doesn’t have these sound effects.
The addition of these sound effects makes it seem like the Starmen are mechanical, but since these sound effects aren’t in the Japanese text, that might not be the case. In fact, since Starman Jr. is called “Son of Starman” and “Ghost of Starman” is actually called “Ancestor of Starman”, it seems like they’re more biological than anything. I suppose it could be a combination of the two, but the Japanese seems to weigh more on the biological side.
Anyway, that aside, let’s take a look at what the Starman DX actually says in both games:
|MOTHER 2 (literal)||EarthBound|
|YOU CHILDREN ARE FAR MORE POWERFUL THAN REPORTS INDICATED.||You’re much stronger *whirrr* than our intelligence indicated…|
|…WE WERE CARELESS.||We were not *beep* prepared for that eventuality…|
|THE PROPHECY FROM THE “APPLE OF WISDOM” MAY BE CORRECT.||The Prophecy from the *click* Apple of Enlightenment may be true…|
|BUT YOU MUST NOT UNDERESTIMATE US.||but you must not *whirrr* underestimate us.|
I have to hand it to the editors, the English version sounds very cool. The biggest thing to note (besides his manner of speech) is that the “Apple of Enlightenment” is actually called the “Apple of Wisdom” in Japanese. The Japanese name makes its purpose a little clearer in my opinion.
Discussion about the Apple is handled slightly clumsily in translation throughout the game, which has led EarthBound fans to theorize all sorts of things. We get a few more small details about the Apple later on in the game, so we’ll take a look at those too when the time comes.
This is a little hard to describe, but the timing used in this line by Sebastian is interesting and well-done in English. You can see how he says “courageously” and then you have to press a button, expecting him to say something courageous-like, but then he says just the opposite. I’m impressed that the translators and editors paid that much attention to the comic timing of such a small line.
Farmers Don’t Wear Ties
The Mr. T-looking guy in the Stonehenge base talks like a country bumpkin farmer in MOTHER 2. Aside from the Mr. Saturns and the Tendas, the EarthBound translation has mostly ignored all other unique speaking styles throughout the game, so it’s a nice surprise to see that they gave this guy a nice English equivalent.
Looking at this and other lines mentioned here, I get the feeling the text in this part of the game got an extra dose of editing and polishing.
Be Nice, Andonuts
After you save Dr. Andonuts from tube storage, he says this to you in both games:
|MOTHER 2 (literal)||EarthBound|
|All this “being kidnapped” and “being saved” hullabaloo… it’s all in the past now. I want to start development of the Space Tunnel as soon as possible.||Since our imprisonment is now over, I want to start on the Phase Distorter as soon as possible.|
|Oh, I should at least thank you, huh? Thank you.||…Oh, I almost forgot to thank you. Thank you.|
|Now, then. Leave everything here to us and hurry forth.||Don’t worry about us. You’ve got important things to do…|
We’ve seen earlier how Dr. Andonuts is really single-minded about his research, to the point of making social faux-pas left and right; he recognizes Ness, a complete stranger, but doesn’t recognize his own son, for example.
In this case, he’s so quick to forget about non-research stuff in MOTHER 2 that at first he simply brushes off the fact that YOU saved him. Though he’s at least nice enough to notice his rudeness a few lines later.
EarthBound’s translation mostly ignores or muddles these nuanced character traits, probably due to over-editing or the editors not being aware.
Don’t get the wrong idea though, he’s still a decent guy in both games, he’s just more aloof in Japanese.
A Fated Meeting
Here’s another similar instance of over-editing and/or editor unawareness.
When you talk to Apple Kid after he’s freed, he says this in EarthBound: “I expected there to be about a seven percent chance that you would rescue me. I just thought it was a good opportunity to meet Mr. Saturn.”
I didn’t know why, but that always seemed like a weird thing to say in that situation.
In MOTHER 2, it’s more like, “I expected there to be about a seven percent chance that you would rescue me. But meeting Mr. Saturn here has actually turned out to be very beneficial.” With “meeting” as in “meeting for the first time and getting to know”.
The point here is that until now, Apple Kid had never met the Mr. Saturns or even knew they existed. This line in Japanese explains that it was only because of this abduction event that they met, and that this encounter is what leads Dr. Andonuts, Apple Kid, and the Mr. Saturns to eventually team up.
Basically, Giygas’ abduction of these characters is what led them all to meet, to join forces, and to create the means necessary for Ness and friends to ultimately destroy Giygas. Giygas caused his own downfall, in other words.
This section of the EarthBound Legends of Localization book also includes:
- A feature on Japanese kokeshi dolls, what they are, their history, and a photo of many genuine kokeshi dolls from Japan
- A writing inconsistency in the localization that puts a crack in an important part of the game’s design
- A new, often-unseen haiku that a Tessie Watcher shares after Stonehenge has been cleared