It has been a long journey for Reid Young, webmaster of Starmen.net. For over a decade, he and a band of devoted followers have been fighting a losing battle with Nintendo of America. What Reid (popularly known by his handle “reidman”), his community and staff want is very simple – localized releases of the Mother series.
In North America and Europe, Mother 2 is known as EarthBound. The title hit the SNES in the late nineties and quickly became one the most identifiable, if not the most identifiable RPG on the system. The game’s quirkiness is notorious, as well as its delightful array of contemporary society interspliced with fantasy elements. In a world of games like Final Fantasy, Breathe of Fire, and Secret of Mana, it stuck out.
In the end, despite its originality and critical acclaim, EarthBound sold poorly in North America. Years after the release of the EarthBound, the Mother series lived on in Japan. After a failed attempt at a Nintendo 64 Disk Drive title, Mother 1+2 and Mother 3 were released with much the same fanfare the Mother series was used to. Yet, old wounds of the original EarthBound release never closed for Nintendo of America, and its spin-offs have yet to reach NA shores. So, reidman and a team of talented people decided to bring Mother 3 to English audiences without NOA.
We’re approaching the eve of an English translation patch for Mother 3 by the people at Starmen.net. I recently had an opportunity to interview reidman about the implications the upcoming translation will have with Nintendo, as well as his thoughts on keeping up with the fight to get Mother 3 released in North America.
Hit the break for the full interview.
DESTRUCTOID: What does the Mother 3 patch mean for you in terms of seeing a local and official release by Nintendo of America in the United States?
REID YOUNG: We've tried to make it official. We actually got in touch with a small game developer who contacted Nintendo on our behalf, and they pretty much slammed the door in our faces.
Will this affect chances of a future release? Probably not. They've had two years to shut us down with nothing more than the words "Hey, we're thinking about doing something with the MOTHER series! Maybe!" That's all it would have taken to get us to shut the project down. We would have folded to nothing more than an acknowledgment.
Deep down, that's what this is about: the fans. We're not out there intentionally trying to make Nintendo look bad. It's just the reality of the situation; in doing something purely for the fans, we're providing a context in which Nintendo's disregard for "core gamers" really stands out.
Or, if you're not down with the whole brevity thing, it's like a nice girl dating a guy who took her out for a burger one day, and so she's like "man that was a good burger hope i get some more" but then the guy locks her in a cage for 13 years with no food and the whole time she's like "its ok i still love you cant wait for some more hamburgers mmm" and clanks her pikachu cup against the bars of the cage but then one day a food-loving wizard appears with a hamburger and the girl is like "oh man finally a hamburger" and the evil guy is like "argh nooo why didnt i just give her a hamburger i am so stupid" and food wizard is like "sorry dude not trying to steal your girl just trying to spread the joy of burgers".
DTOID: Do you think this patch will mobilize Nintendo to actually listen considering Starmen.net's other projects?
RY: It's impossible to tell, but if history has taught us anything, the answer is 'no'. At so many points over the past 10 years (no joke -- we've been organizing requests for a new release outside Japan for a decade) we've thought "seriously, there's no way they can ignore this", but every time they manage to surprise us with their disregard. We're still staring up at the same ivory tower we've been looking at for the past decade.
DTOID: Will you continue to push to get Mother 3 localized?
RY: Yeah. We know that Nintendo feels that we're taking away their choice in the matter ("franchise neglect is murder!"), but the fact is that we know the series and the fans better than anyone. We're paving the way and building a foundation for this franchise. When Nintendo finally wakes up on top of their giant money bed one day asks themselves "what have we been scared of, and why are we ignoring our most passionate and vocal fans?" we'll be there waiting with a giant horde of supporters, kinda like that annoying Verizon guy and his network. Except we'll all be sickly looking and weak.
We said we'll take down the fan translation if/when Nintendo ever does anything with MOTHER 3, and we're going to honor that, even if it doesn't happen for another decade.
DTOID: How was the process? Is this a direct translation? Was there anything added or subtracted from the actual game?
RY: It's a localization in the most professional sense. The team's goal was to say "what would Nintendo have done?" and then go a step further to ensure continuity with the past games in the series.
It was grueling, and it was 95% the result of Tomato and Jeffman's efforts. It's literally been like a full-time job for Tomato, at least over the past year or so (he's been working on it for two years). It's amazing how much time, energy, and care they've poured into this thing.