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EarthBound Fans Take Matters Into Their Own Hands 59

Posted by Zonk
from the if-you-want-something-done-right dept.
Reid Young writes "EarthBound fans have waited 11 years for Nintendo to release the game's sequel, Mother 3, which came out in Japan in April 2006. However, following a recent announcement by a Nintendo employee that it almost certainly won't happen, the fans are taking it upon themselves to get the job done by organizing a fan translation with some of the finest names in ROM hacking. Is it ethical? Does Nintendo even care?"
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EarthBound Fans Take Matters Into Their Own Hands

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  • by Lordpidey (942444) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @07:54PM (#16789781) Homepage
    I'm too busy playing my never released in America fan-translated Secret of Mana 2.
  • Is it ethical??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daetrin (576516) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:07PM (#16789883)
    It probably isn't legal by a strict definition, but you'd have to have a pretty twisted sense of ethics to have an ethical problem with this. Nintendo hasn't released it in the US in over a decade and has indicated that they probably never will, so who could the fans possibly be hurting by translating it themselves? One might argue that everyone who wanted to try it out would be _more_ ethical if they imported a japanese copy of the cart before playing the translated ROM, but given that Nintendo has taken steps to try and prevent imported games from working (though admitedly pretty lame attempts for the NES and SNES) and that any carts you could get ahold of at this point would almost certainly be used so no money would be going back the original creators anyways, i think that argument doesn't hold much water.
    • by pdboddy (620164)
      With the recent ruling against Lik Sang, it may be soon that folks will not be able to buy the Japanese import of any game, since precedence has been set. Sure, the case was in Europe... but how long before such cases are launched in North America? What I don't understand is why they would have such a grudge against used games, or worse, used and OLD unsupported games. I guess it's a case of "If we can't have any money from that transaction, then neither will you."
      • by RingDev (879105)
        2 items:

        1) Lik Sang did not go to court. There were no rulings. They were not found guilty.

        2) Not all European countries have precedence. In France, even if Lik Sang had been found guilty (or liable) it would have no bearing on any future cases, related or other-whys.

        -Rick
      • by ultranova (717540)

        What I don't understand is why they would have such a grudge against used games, or worse, used and OLD unsupported games. I guess it's a case of "If we can't have any money from that transaction, then neither will you."

        Competition. If you are busy playing a fan-translated Secret of Mana 2, you won't be in the shop buying Generic RPG 3. People only have so much money to use on entertainment, and even if the old game was free, only so many hours in their day, and competition risks lowering Nintendo's pro

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bilbravo (763359)
      The game in question is Mother 3, which is the sequel to Earthbound. It was just released for GBA in mid 2006, and the GBA is region free.

      I agree wholeheartedly with your point, though I just wanted to clear up that it is very possible (and is being done by alot of SM.net members) to import the Japanese cart. However, it is very difficult to find an original Earthbound cart!!!

      As far as I know, Nintendo doesn't seem to have a big deal with imports... at least not as much as Sony appears to... I'm sure ev
      • I seem to recall hearing that at least the first party Wii games will also be region free; third party developers will have the option of adding region encoding, but it's not clear yet how many of them will enforce region encoding.
      • However, it is very difficult to find an original Earthbound cart!!!

        It's not hard at all, there are always several on eBay. But you do have to be willing to pay $40+ for a SNES game, which I haven't been able to bring myself to do yet.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:09PM (#16789895)
    Don't misunderstand me, the people behind this patch are GOOD at what they do. I have NO doubt that they will come out with a high-quality translation, but I also know that there's at least one other group already translating it, and I believe they're really close to finishing it. I wish them both the best of luck, I can't wait to play the game.

    They can be found here [mother3.org].
  • As someone who never played the game (my parents would only get me mario titles for my snes) would it be worth busting out the still working SNES and finding a copy of it or grabbing the ROM?

    Basically, would a 23 year old who loves RPGs love this game today?
    • I'll give that question a definite probably.
      I was replaying Earthbound in an emulator(Have the cart, retired the SNES) two years ago at 22, and I've been playing FFIV on GBA till I beat it thoroughly (emulating it next to actually get those rare items.)
    • by bilbravo (763359)
      I still own my SNES, and still have the working cart I bought the first day of release! I play it from time to time, and will tell you that if you enjoy RPGs you will most likely enjoy Earthbound. Picking up the cart can be expensive, although it is possible. Ebay is really your best bet though, unfortunately. Most game stores never see a cart pass through.
    • As a kid, this title was definitely near or at the top of my RPG list. It's one of those that actually sucks you so far into the characters that I kinda felt proud/sad when I beat it. They do these reminiscing snapshot sequences about 3 or 4 times during the game, and it's always a "Wow, I remember how tough/fun/silly/great that part was!" moment. DEFINITELY try to get this cart or ROM.
    • If you have a quirky sense of humor and like something "different" than the norm, you will probably love Earthbound. It's one of my favorite console RPGs, right next to Chrono Trigger, Xenogears and FFXI (III). It may not have the plot intricacy of some other games, but it's still a heartwarming story with alluring characters, a fantastically nostalgic soundtrack, and decent gameplay. Yeah, the gameplay isn't the highlight... but so much else about the game made up for it.
  • Heh, Secret of Mana is the second game in the series. Either "Seiken Densetsu 3" or "Secret of Mana 3" would be more apt names, but nothing involving a 2.
    • by wilgibson (933961)
      Actually, you're both right. While SoM is the second game in the series, towards the end of the SNES's life here in the states SquareSoft was going to release Seiken Densetsu 3 as SoM2. Lots of fans still consider it to be SoM2 til this day. Unfortunately it was dropped just before release and North America got Secret of Evermore instead. Definitely not a fair trade in my books.

      But really, I could care less... especially when I've got this [imageshack.us] and a modified SNES!
  • by Shados (741919) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:13PM (#16789923)
    I mean... localisation is basicaly a "throw more money at it" type job. It doesn't take an incredible amoun of internal ressources: you just need a few internal people to make sure the job is correct, but it is a job that DEFINATELY can be outsourced, and is often better off that way. Outsourced here not meaning china/india/whatever, but meaning external companies.

    When a game is as popular as Earthbound, or SD3 (the sequel of Secret of Mana, I just can't spell the name), I don't quite understand why game companies resist localisation so much

    Its literally a matter of spend X amount of money, and return a nearly garenteed profit.

    So why the bloody hell not?
    I hope the Virtual console brings some never before seen in north america games, because we missed out on a lot, and playing hacked up ROMs, even if it was legal, often doesn't cut it. Dejap does good stuff, but there's just so much they can do.
    • by Ryan Amos (16972)
      Because there is an equation...

      Spend X amount of money to translate the game, and if guaranteed revenue (not necessarily profit) Y is not greater than X... well the game doesn't come out.

      I'm guessing Y was greater than X.

      People on the internet always think their favorite (game/movie/band/whatever) is extremely popular because they see a lot of people talking about it, when in actuality, few people outside their specific forum/community are interested. Just because you've seen a thousand people talking about
  • If you're going to be late reporting something like this, can you at least wait a little longer so that it can be released before they catch wind and send a Cease and Desist letter?

    Seriously.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:33PM (#16790077)
    In response to the post asking if people would enjoy the original Earthbound today, I have to give an emphatic yes. The graphics are old, yes, and the inventory management is a tad clunky, but other than that, it's still a great game. Just one piece of advice: read everything. There are TONS of great jokes hidden throughout the series.

    If you have an old SNES, you might be able to get an Earthbound cart on eBay (try to get one with the player's guide still intact, if you can!). Otherwise, the zSNES emulator and an Earthbound ROM (it's easy to find with Google... ROMnation or someone will probably have a copy) are your best bets.

    Man, I still remember when I first played that game. I read Nintendo Power slavishly, waiting eagerly for any hints of when we'd see the game (same for FF II and III). A local video store did me a personal favor and pre-ordered the game for me so that I could get it ASAP. It wasn't more than a few months after mom was killed that I got to play it, and its quirky humour really gave me some much-needed cheering up.
    • by J44xm (971669)
      I've recently been playing it for the first time. (Just recorded the last Sound Stone melody.) It's pretty nutty to say that the game's not enjoyable today, I think. As was said, it's a bit dated but still a delight to play.
  • 2 cents (Score:2, Insightful)

    by trytoguess (875793)
    The ethics are arguable, then again Japanese gaming has already profited from fan translated material, (FFIV, Rockman & Forte, Tales of Phantasia, etc) and I don't even have to mention the anime industry.
  • by ctaylor (160829) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:40PM (#16790117) Homepage
    "When a game is as popular as Earthbound, or SD3 (the sequel of Secret of Mana, I just can't spell the name), I don't quite understand why game companies resist localisation so much"

    Well, I can. ^_^

    You have many more additional costs besides just paying the translators:
    1. QA time to test new localised builds.
    2. Marketing costs to sell new product. Both print costs, additional costs associated with art changes for your new market, and the payroll costs of your marketing department.
    3. Sales people have to actually go out there and sell it when they could be selling something else.
    4. The cost of the physical product. (This is usually non-trivial.)
    5. That you're spending money that you could have spent on another product that you think would be more successful (ie, opportunity costs.)
    6. Customer service/tech support additional hours.
    7. Cash payouts to get better reviews (well, okay, maybe not this one... ^_^ )
    • by kinglink (195330)
      You also forgotten the

      Programmers who rework the game (assuming no censoring, you still have to make the words fit the screen, adding room as Japanese and english just take up completely different sizes, not to meantion a variety of other problems just from the change)

      Technical artists (or regular artists) if you are going to censor stuff.

      The original company. There's many companies who have to buy the rights to a game to make it in america (mastiff, working design atlus). Don't think they will take a cut
  • by earthbound kid (859282) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @08:46PM (#16790161) Homepage
    Yeah, as one might guess from my screenname, I'm a pretty big fan of the game. I played it on an emulator my senior year of high school, and it blew my mind. After that, I just so happened to end up learning Japanese, so I've been able to play Mother1+2 for the GBA and the new Mother3 in the original language and mostly follow the plot. (Well, sometimes I have to look stuff up, but I get the gist for the most part...) Still, I'll be pretty disappointed if Nintendo never releases at least EarthBound 0 and EarthBound for the Virtual Console of the Wii. It's always more fun to play a text heavy game in your native language. I've already bought the games once for GBA but I'd be willing to buy them again for the Wii. In other words, I'm willing to shovel money into Nintendo for basically nothing. And I'm not the only one either. Starmen.net have gotten 30,000 people to sign a petition for the various games. Not to release them in English is just foolishness on Nintendo's part.

    So, my hope is that by threatening to put out a patched ROM, Starmen.net will scare Nintendo into actually releasing a translation themselves, but my worry is that Nintendo will just sue Starmen, kill off a really great fansite, then continue not picking up the freaking free money all of us fans are trying unsuccessfully to shove into their faces. Ugh! C'mon Nintendo, get it together!
  • Re:Is it ethical??? (Score:5, Informative)

    by NemosomeN (670035) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @09:00PM (#16790265) Journal
    I don't think you realize that Mother 3 is a fairly new game. It came out this year, in fact.
  • mother3 is a GBA game that came out this year. its the long awaited sequal to mother2 (known as earthbound on the snes)

    i think the way the article was worded, people are reading it as this game is 11 years old.
  • I first played the game years ago, and I'm 18 now. I still love it. I think it's appealing to all ages.
  • by muel (132794) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @11:02PM (#16790710)
    Two groups working on the same game at the same time? The only reason in the world that the two groups wouldn't combine forces is pride; here's to hoping pride is pushed aside to get this done sooner, as the mother3.org team already has the original ROM hacked and worked out quite a bit (and, uh, so what if I'm impatient?).
    • It's not so much pride as a complete lack of necessity. The Starmen.Net team consists of Tomato, demiforce, and Gideon Zhi. That is the freaking dream team of ROM hacking and translation. Tomato has brought us tons of awesome translations like Bahamut Lagoon and Star Ocean; he also worked for Funimation translating various anime shows, including Dragonball Z (personally I'm willing to forgive him for that one ;-). Demi brought us the original EarthBound Zero ROM. Gideon has done so many awesome hacking proj

  • 8. Why invest money in something that OBVIOUSLY wont sell on the US market... Make another First person, spy based shooter... Or more sports games... Sports games are hot sellers.. ... So frustrating.. Japan gets games that would boggle the mind... And we get.. (Insert Nascar Driver name)'s Nascar Rally! .. The US gaming industry is mentally retarded in every sense of the word... It lost touch with the Gaming market eons ago....
    • It's not obvious it won't sell, we know better than that. It's the market analysts and marketers who think it's "obvious". Somehow, the wild success of games such as Final Fantasy VII and now XII haven't clued them in.

      They create self-fulfilling prophecies. They think X game will sell, and Y game won't. They market heavily game X and not game Y. End result, X game does better than Y. They see that they were correct in their analysis that Y wouldn't sell and feel justified in canning any Y-like games.

      It's sa
  • Just pay the guys for the translation job, and add the game to the Virtual Console line up. It's a no-brainer. It may actually get a few people to buy a wii.
    • by MilenCent (219397)
      God, if only I lived in a world in which that were likely....

      Unfortunately, if Nintendo pays them, then they have basically given permission for their illegal behavior. I do not think that will happen, alas.
  • Earthbound 64 basically became Mother 3 for the GBA. It has the same characters, and as near the same plot as I can tell without playing either one. The Mother team never did 3D before, and they couldn't get things going fast enough, so they scrapped it and waited.

    I rented Earthbound when it first came out, loved it, then bought it. I still play it, too. It's a great game. I would love to see Mother 1+2 and Mother 3 to be released here, but I guess I'll have to just use emulators for Mother 1 and 3
  • by Shados (741919)

    You have many more additional costs besides just paying the translators: 1. QA time to test new localised builds. 2. Marketing costs to sell new product. Both print costs, additional costs associated with art changes for your new market, and the payroll costs of your marketing department. 3. Sales people have to actually go out there and sell it when they could be selling something else. 4. The cost of the physical product. (This is usually non-trivial.) 5. That you're spending money that you could have spe

    • I'd say that the big problem with this line of logic is that Earthbound, at best, is a "cult classic" type of game. It has a rabid following in America amongst its niche, sure, and the fans are voracious -- but there's simply not ENOUGH of them to make "throwing more money at it" a logical solution. Your statement is obviously colored by your love for the title, which is understandable, but it would do well to recognize that the original Earthbound itself was a commercial flop in the US and that, traditio
      • by Shados (741919)

        Your statement is obviously colored by your love for the title, which is understandable, but it would do well to recognize that the original Earthbound itself was a commercial flop in the US

        Makes sense. Maybe things were different there, or my situation was anecdotal, which is very possible. When i bought the game back then, I personaly found it so so (mostly because it had a lot of text, and I did not speak english at the time), but tried to get it anyway. The pre-order list for all stores in my area w

        • I would definitely file Earthbound's US success more under the Okami style of 'success', to use a modern example. It was a game that recieved great reviews, a huge promotional push (even though it WAS the freebie in-house Nintendo Power treatment), critical accolades, and a rabid fan base, yet still managed to be almost completely ignored by the gaming mainstream.

          There certainly was a lot of difficulty finding the title when it was released, but I think that was due much more to a limited pressing and t
  • .. as some rom-hackers have done. There are several completely script-changed roms out their. My personal favourite has to be the MK2 hack that changes Shang Tsung into a character known as 'Egg Drop', fighting the other characters over the rights to a car dealership.
  • Will this give rise to a Japanese version of "All your base are belong to us"?
    • No, that would be the case if it were translated from English to Japanese badly. They're going from Japanese to English with this one.
  • I'd just like a translation of the summary:

    "EarthBound fans have waited 11 years for Nintendo to release the game's sequel, Mother 3, which came out in Japan in April 2006. However, following a recent announcement by a Nintendo employee that it almost certainly won't happen,[...]

    If it did come out in April of this year than what "almost certainly won't happen"? From the comments I'm guessing an official English localization of the game is what won't happen.

    I know this isn't fark, but DIAF, subby. Yo

  • "EarthBound fans take matters into their own hands"

    They must be lonely...
  • So? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kinglink (195330) on Friday November 10, 2006 @11:54AM (#16794238)
    Wow. so fans are hacking a rom to translate it into english. That didn't happen with FF2 and FF3, FF5, Dragon Warrior 5 and 6.... oh wait it did for all of them and many more rpgs on the SNES.

    This isn't a new trend and it's not something that appears to be frowned upon as long as the groups drop it if there was a real port. It's similar to Anime and the reason why anime grew to such heights in america. I wouldn't have known about Full Moon Wo Sagashite if it wasn't for a fansub of that. I've read manga translations where the authors contacted the translators and thanked them.

    Is it moral/ethical/legal? That's up to someone else to decide however it's accepted in many places.

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