Legends of Localization Book 1 is Now Out!


It’s finally happening! My very first Legends of Localization book is now available! You can get it two ways: by itself for $29, or as part of a deluxe bundle with extra goodies for $35!

Legends of Localization, Book 1: The Legend of Zelda

This first book is about the original Legend of Zelda and how it was localized from Japanese into English. It’s similar to this, except I pretty much rewrote it all from scratch, did a lot more research, added a ton of new content, corrected many mistakes, and added many more details!

I can't believe this is really happening!

This book has 208 full-color pages and a hardback cover. It comes with a Japanese-style book “obi” which can be unfolded to reveal a nifty timeline on the reverse side. The book also comes packed with a localization survey postcard that you can send back or just keep as a decoration.

Every single page is a baby to me
These chapter pics were fun to take
If you like my silly secret text on the site, you'll love all the caption text in the book!
It seems crazy that the book is 200+ pages, but they actually told me to stop writing more content, I could've just kept adding more and more, heh

Right now, Fangamer is selling the book for $29, and if you’re reading this just after I posted it then Fangamer’s Black Friday sale means you’ll get free shipping! (For more info on Fangamer’s shipping, including international shipping, see here.)

Deluxe Bundle!

You can also get the book as part of what I call the “Deluxe Bundle”, which includes the book and a separate booklet I made called “Passport to the Legend of Zelda”.

Please don't ever try to use this to cross a border though oh man

It’s basically a little, passport-sized book filled with Japanese character charts, grammar explanations, and a full dictionary of every single word and phrase in the Japanese version of The Legend of Zelda. If you’ve ever wanted to take a stab at the original Japanese version of the game and read the Japanese text for yourself, now you can! And you’ll learn basic Japanese in the process that you can use to play other games!

The booklet also has some art and some other passport-y stuff to it, including suggestions for things to look for if you journey into the Japanese version of the game.

I always wanted something like this when I first started learning Japanese, so now I’ve gone and made one 😛 I’m hoping to make a similar booklet for many other games, although each one might be different in nature. This Zelda one focuses on teaching katakana and some simple grammar, so if you’ve been interested in learning Japanese but just never gotten around to it, give this passport a shot!

The book + passport Deluxe Bundle is currently $35. If you were to get them individually they’d come out to $38, so the bundle’s the way to go!

UDPATE: You can also order the Passport on its own if you want here!

Limited Edition Stuff!

If you don't make it into the first 500, don't fret - just mention in the order page comments that you want the book signed and I'll sign it for you. It might take a few extra days to ship out to you, though, and we'll have to break the shrink wrapping on the book too

The first 500 orders of the Deluxe Bundle will get even more goodies at no extra cost! In all, you’ll get:

  • Legends of Localization, Book 1: The Legend of Zelda
  • Timeline obi
  • Localization postcard
  • Passport to The Legend of Zelda
  • Limited edition Legends of Localization bookmark
  • Gold foil bookplate hand-signed by me and everyone on the book-making team (stick it in your book!)

But wait, there’s more – if you order the book or bundle, I’ll have Fangamer toss in a silly little Legends of Localization/Poemato CX business card too!

All of the limited edition stuff is now sold out. It sold so fast that future books won’t have any limited edition bonuses – they’ll all have bonuses!

Who’s This For?

This first Legends of Localization book covers the original Legend of Zelda game, but it’s actually packed with information about the rest of the series too, from The Adventure of Link all the way up to A Link Between Worlds. I also wrote everything while considering readers who might not be super-familiar with the game, so even if you’ve never played it before – or even if you’re not much of a gamer – you won’t be overwhelmed.

On that same note, the book also contains a lot of personal insight and info about the translation and localization process, so if you’re an aspiring translator or localizer, this book is also right up your alley!

And lastly, I created the passport so that people don’t have to take my word on everything – with it, you’ll be able to dig into the Japanese game’s text yourself and see how everything is different. I tried to make it as straightforward and simple as possible, so it could be a great first step for anyone curious about the Japanese language. If it means anything, the way it works is modeled after the way I first got into Japanese many years ago!

Looking Forward

Oh boy this is gonna be fun and crazy!

We’ll soon be starting on our second book about EarthBound’s localization… it’s going to be huge 😯 What comes after that depends on how well these books do – I’m hoping if that they do well enough, I’ll be able to focus on more books and more articles on the site. My dream is to be able to do more and more of this sort of thing in the future. So spread the word if you can!

Also, if you do pick up the Zelda book, let me know what you think. Is the writing too stiff? Too loose? Is the text too small? Did I skip any obvious topics? Did I mess anything up? Should I include scratch-and-sniff stickers next time? This is my first journey into book authordom, so I need lots of experience points before I can level up!

If you enjoyed this, check out Legends of Localization Book 1: The Legend of Zelda, my book dedicated to the very first Zelda translation and how it has affected every Zelda game since! (free preview PDF )
  1. Congrats in releasing the book!! The cover looks so simple, yet so cool and professional! Well, you are a professional, after all.

    Any plans in releasing a e-book version for us broke college students? (normally e-books are cheaper)

    1. Thanks! The professional look is entirely thanks to Tony, the Fangamer designer guy I worked with for the past few months. He’s really good at making creative layouts.

      Right now there isn’t a plan in place but there’s a chance that’ll change later.

  2. I never buy books. And I never make impulse purchases. But damn, I really want this. You just made me break two of my own rules 🙁

  3. Congratulations on the book release! I’ll definitely have to get one when I can!

    (And thanks for the note about the book signing, since getting into the first 500 looks unlikely for me, and signed things are cool!)

    1. Thanks! And yeah, if anyone didn’t/can’t make it into the first 500, the secret image text can help 😛

  4. Congratulations on releasing your book! I look forward to its arrival and all the limited edition goodness that comes with it. As an aspiring localizer, it is really a must have for me. I am really glad you decided to make something like this, and I only hope that someday I can do something similar. : )

    1. It honestly feels like I just started my career yesterday, so I feel like I’m right there with you. Hopefully the bits of inside info sprinkled throughout the book will help you on your way!

  5. Damn that is a classy looking book! Take my money…

  6. Major congrats are in order for you!


      1. To quote the great Segata Sanshiro: “Nice play!”

  7. Thirty-five of my moneys are now yours. Congratulations, and I’m looking forward to the book!

      1. So, guys, you need to know this. Do NOT attempt to walk around behind Clyde, grab the book, and run out the door before he turns around again. I tried that. It ended… badly.

        1. Then why isn’t your name THIEF now?

        2. (suddenly sees the name change) OooOOOoooh…you’re GOOD!

          1. I used a Game Genie for this one, actually.

            1. It’s more advanced than some people are capable of, at least! So credit there! Besides, GameGenie needs more love. Those days of hacking the game are long gone and will never come back. I will always miss their haphazard and awkward, quirky charm in letting us cheat in our games! What could possibly go wrong? Not as much as today! Today, the game just crashes, or does nothing special if we type in a code wrong. Back then, it would have made a marvelous display of tomfoolery the likes of which have never been seen since, to my sadness.

  8. Any plans to make an ebook version?

    1. Oops someone else already asked, sorry!

    2. Not at the moment, sadly, but that might change down the road.

  9. I pre-ordered the book even before this post went up – so I guess this means I must have made it into the first 500! Beautiful! Gravy!
    I probably shouldn’t be spending this money before Christmas, but, well… Overlook It Just This Once! (Okay, so people later said that was an inaccurate translation – but I still like to think that’s what the Moblins were saying in the Japanese version, hoho. It sounds hilarious to me!) Besides, my spending this money…It’s A Secret To Everybody. (In my family, at least.) Okay, I’m done, sorry! But yes, I can’t wait to see the book – I look forward to basking in all its Zelda majesty!

    1. Yep, if you ordered it that early you probably got the fancy version with all the extras! The super limited edition stuff sold out in less than 24 hours 😯 I honestly thought it’d take months for that to happen, now I feel bad that it turned out to be TOO limited.

      1. Well don’t feel too bad; this being your first outing with such a thing, you couldn’t have known how anything would go yet, having no prior experience. And it’ll make your next release that much better, as you’ll be armed with the knowledge gained here!

        1. Also: AWESOME news that it’s already sold 500 copies and demand is not yet sated.

  10. will the book be available on amazon too ?

    1. No, it’ll be mostly a Fangamer-only thing for now. It sounds like we might do wholesale to some other outlets, but Amazon isn’t in the cards.

  11. God dang, i so badly want this but i’m so short on money right now. I hate being unemployed. Why must finding a job be so hard?!

      1. Hardy har har. Anyway, I just got my latest unemployment check today, and after paying off my bills, i had just enough left to buy a copy.

        1. Huh, i just got the confirmation email, and it says the passport is shipping out “early December” and the main book ships “mid-December”. Do they not ship together? That seems odd.

          1. I don’t run the Fangamer store so I can’t say, but I agree that that’s pretty weird. I’ll ask and see what’s up.

          2. It sounds like it said that because of an automated system not really designed for this sort of bundle – most likely the two will ship together unless something unforeseen happens.

        2. I got an email today that my copy has shipped out. Unfortunately, there’s no estimated delivery date just yet, but i hope it’ll be soon. Still, i’ve super anxious to get it.

          1. Yeah, my copy just arrived today! Just in time for Christmas, too. I’m actually gonna be driving down to florida with my family tomorrow, and this will give me something to read in the car.

            1. Oh hey, I just noticed my name in the Special Thanks section. Neat-o! You didn’t really need to abbreviate my last name, though, but it’s still cool nonetheless.

  12. Fangamer says that it is still a pre-order so is it for sale or is it up for pre-order?

    1. I didn’t notice that it said it was a pre-order myself so I asked – it sounds like it’s in pre-order mode because the books are still en route to Fangamer’s office. They should start shipping out this time next week hopefully.

  13. Mato is an author. [ citation needed ] 😛


      1. …Japanese Ghostbusters? YES. My life is complete. XD Prooving the justice of our culture, even in other cultures!

  14. I’m very interested in your book. The problem is: I live in Brazil and fangamer is charging a whopping 45 dollars for shipping. I’ve tryed to contact them asking for weight and dimensions of the package, so I could calculate if an alternative route was viable. Sadly I got no quick answer and now I won’t get the free US shipping deal… :/

    Anyway, could you fill me in on these details? I’m editor in chief on Hyrule Legends, the largest Zelda fansite in Brazil and would love to write a review of your book. It would also be a valuable source for us, as we do Portuguese fan-localizations for the games. Plus, it looks so gorgeous I need this in my bookshelf! haha

    1. Alright, got a response from fangamer. The book is 10.25″x7.5″, and will weigh about 27 ounces, if anyone want to know.

      It’s gonna be a bit expensive anyway since economy in my country is kind of a mess right now, but I’ve placed my order! 😀

      1. I’m from Brazil too! Wuuut 45 dollars?! Argh! I hope Mato makes a e-book version someday! At least books aren’t taxed!

      2. Cool, thanks for the post and the update. I don’t work at Fangamer but I’ve heard over the years that literally every single package they’ve sent without tracking has gotten stolen by Brazilian custom agents, so they’re understandably wary. It sucks that that means such high shipping for you though 🙁

  15. Order placed.

    I take it the limited edition bonuses are all gone by now, though?

    1. And by “order placed” I mean I placed it 5 hours ago, not right now.

      1. I’m not sure, but if it let you order the “Deluxe Bundle” then you definitely got it. If you only got to do the Passport add-on, then the special bonuses must’ve run out by then. If you want to know for super-sure you can e-mail orders@fangamer.com.

        1. If the extra bonus stuff was listed as an additional second bundle option, then no. All that was listed was that same option to add the passport to the order that’s still on the site.

          1. Ah, okay, then it sounds like the limited edition stuff was sold out by then 🙁 I actually thought the limited edition stuff would last for months, I didn’t think THIS many people would want a book about localization, heh.

            If you can amend your order somehow, I can toss some extra stuff in there for you as per the secret image text in this post. Or else I can try to send some extra stuff separately myself, lemme know what you prefer.

            1. It’s already paid for, so I’m not entirely sure how I’d be able to amend it… would just sending them an additional email work? I’ve never bought anything through fangamer before.

              1. In my experience, Fangamer’s pretty approachable. Just an e-mail should suffice.

              2. E-mail me your order number (to tomato@starmen.net) and I’ll pass it on so that you get something extra. Might just be random stuff I have lying around, or maybe any extras of stuff if we happen to have any 😛

                1. Just sent you a mail. Thanks a lot for this 😀

                  1. Cool, got it taken care of! I’m not sure what extra stuff they’ll have lying around, so it’ll be a surprise to us all!

                  2. Awesome. I’ll post an update on the content once the package arrives.

                  3. Cool. Then we can all complain about not getting the same stuff. 😉

                  4. Got my book, it came with a Darknut helmet button and a Zelda Z logo sticker.

                    Time to get jealous.

  16. Congratulations, Mato! As someone who’s been following this site from the early days, I’m delighted that your dream’s become a reality.

    Maybe Final Fantasy VI someday? A man can dream…

    1. That might be a book with a length to rival, like, Tolkien works, heheh.

    2. I seriously, seriously want to do this someday, I’ve been jumping at the idea for years now. But I already have so many in-progress projects that I need to finally act disciplined and finish them first 😛

  17. Congratulations on your book! I plan on possibly buying it soon myself!

  18. I’ve been dying for this release ever since you first suggested it, Mato. The cruel irony is that I’m still in the perpetually “broke” phase and instinct tells me the book will be sold out long before I’m able to scrape together some funds. I shall find a way!!

    1. It’s definitely not going to sell out immediately (Fangamer ordered a LOT) but it’s sold enough already that a second print run is already in the works 😯

  19. I already read about the no plans for an e-book but I stopped in to say I’ll buy it if it ever goes digital 🙂

  20. Looks astounding, Mr. Mandelin. Congratulations.

  21. I can’t wait to get this! But I can’t wait even MORE to get the Earthbound one….

    But you know what I can’t wait even MORE MORE to get?

    The Mother 3 book!

    am I the only one that felt gypped when the Mother 3 translation part of this site just kinda ended in a really lengthy video basically saying, “here’s all the rest.”?

    but, if it was in BOOK form, SIGN. ME. UP!

    Congrats Mato, you are now a superstar!

  22. Congratulations, Mato! I might be getting this for Christmas!

  23. ..shut up and take my money!

  24. Aaaaahhhhgh. I didn’t know this was happening now so I missed out on one the first 500 books. Oh well you are awesome so I’ll get a copy anyway. I’m gonna sulk for a bit though.

  25. It’s on my Christmas List!

    I will be sure to write you a lengthy review once I’m able to read it!

  26. Well shit, you got my money. I’m learning Japanese for games myself (mostly Romancing SaGa 2), so the passport might be nice for me.

  27. Just got my copy today! And I realized, with a certain amount of heart-stopping terror, that I just squeaked by with the limited edition, at #482. Thanks, Mato!

  28. Got mine! Nowhere NEAR the first five hundred, but I gots da book. Looks gorgeous.

  29. Just finished reading the book. Quite satisfying! Well done, sir! You still have that copy of the crummy old board game? My mom threw mine out like twenty years ago, sadly. As you say, it wasn’t any good, but it’s charming and nostalgic. 🙂

    Now I want to rummage around and see what old Zelda stuff I still have. I think I have official Nintendo calendars for 1988 and 1989, and I know I still have my fancy triforce pen I swear I ordered from Nintendo, but can’t find a trace of in any of their old catalogues.

  30. Thank you so much, Tomato, for this wonderful book. I received it early last week and have poring over them (and the bonus goodies) ever since! What astonished me was the high quality of the production. Beautiful binding, embossing; quality paper, design, etc. And it augments on the already considerable material you had gone over on your site. Congratulations to you and your crew on a job very well done!

    Looking forward to future editions detailing localization differences for The Adventure of Link and (pretty please) Link’s Awakening. 乾杯!

  31. Got the book last week and am loving it… and it turns out that a friend ALSO ordered a copy intending to give it to me as a Christmas gift… Oops. I told him to keep it and read it himself, since he’s also a retro gamer. He also is falling in love with it! I strongly foresee us discussing it on our next retro gaming podcast. Amazing quality, and I can’t wait for the follow-ups!

  32. I got my (signed) copy! Thanks, Mato and Poe! It definitely made me smile, and I’m super impressed with the quality. Definitely gonna keep an eye out for future books.

    …How do people know what number they got? I feel kind of unobservant now.

    1. Cool, glad you got it! If you were in the first 500 to get a DX bundle then you would’ve also gotten a bookplate sticker-like thing with your number on it. They sold out super-fast though so not many people got a chance to get one 🙁

      1. Ah, I see. I was wondering if it was in the order information or something. I really admire your dedication to this project, and you guys are awesome to your fans. So, thank you very much, and congratulations on publication!

        Now I’m off to strain my brain over potential alternative localizations of “Mo(l)blin…”

  33. I really hope this gets released via traditional book-selling channels some day – ordering a single book from a US bookseller to Germany incurs rather high shipping charges and would likely require me to use up a vacation day to puck it up at the customs office (which has work-incompatible opening hours). 🙁

    1. It’s a Fangamer-financed product so I don’t think it’ll ever be released on Amazon or anything like that. I’ve heard a few people from Germany mention that it’d be a pain to import the book, but I’ve also heard from others in Germany that they bought the book without any trouble at all. Fangamer does have different shipping options though: http://www.fangamer.com/pages/shipping

  34. Is there any particular place you’d prefer to (or prefer NOT to) hear our vote for what we’d like to see next? I mention it because at the end of the book, it lists the possibilities you have that are under consideration – and I almost, ALMOST would have said Final Fantasy 1 – but @%@(^&6*^…I mean, crap, you just HAD to say Pokémon in that list, and after the wonderful and hilarious treatment you’ve given The Legend of Zelda, here, I definitely have to say that that’s the one I’d toss my vote in for, first generation Pokémon (and eventually beyond, of course, given time and reasonable motivation). I’ve heard bits and pieces from a translator who worked on the first few generations or so (wanting certain things translated differently but getting overruled by higher-ups who didn’t know a blessed thing about localization, laughing about how the name “Mr. Mime” might come back to haunt them then it actually did, dealing with the programming errors and such that got in the way, things like that), but I’d love to get your insight and how you’d interpret things from the Japanese version that ended up worded differently (and perhaps awkwardly!) in the American translation.
    “The BROCK wants to fight!”…or at least, that’s what it said in the manual, anyway. And that’s another thing I’d love to see in such a book, examining head-scratchers like that one which somehow made it into the English release manual. Hoho!
    (Though Final Fantasy still takes a close second for me – the possibilities! Especially with the terrible character limits they clearly had to deal with at multiple points in the American NES version…)

    1. That particular one is simple enough to explain. It’s just the text “(trainer class) が しょうぶを しかけてきた!” being initially translated as “The (trainer class) wants to fight!”, then getting changed to simply “(trainer class) wants to fight!” after someone realized that a couple “trainer classes” are just that particular trainer’s name, which would result in stuff like “The BROCK wants to fight!”.
      In other words, it’s a translation that worked in 99% of the instances that text string appeared being changed to one that worked in 100% of the instances.

      The manual just used a picture that was made before they did that change.

      1. Yeah, I know, I remember that being talked about by the translator himself. But I just want to see Mato analyzing all of this, including such things, and giving his thoughts on it all.

  35. Rather than going the very difficult route of converting a book of this nature to ebook format, would you consider selling the PDF file? Jeremy Parish does that with his books on Gumroad.com.


  36. Mato –

    Just finished the book this past weekend and absolutely loved it! You made what could be a very dry topic into something incredibly accessible and fascinating. I feel like I not only picked up some interesting tidbits, but learned a lot about the process and appeal of localization in general. Your passion really shines through!

    I loved how it felt kind of like reading an old instruction manual (like something out of Retro Game Challenge) – the “Tomato Says” segments and your funny captions were really appreciated. Especially the Phantasm and TimeCube references. 😉

    Keep up the incredible work, I’m on board for any other translation adventures you want to take us on in the future.

    1. Cool, I’m glad you liked it! I’m finishing up the EarthBound one now and it’s looking to be incredibly informational and covers a bunch of general localization topics that I didn’t get a chance to with the Zelda book. It’s gonna be a hefty book 😯