Siliconera Speaks Up: The Mother 3 Fan-Translation

By Louise Yang . November 16, 2008 . 8:00am

Now that Siliconera has grown to include the voices of many talented writers, readers may want to know what these writers think about current issues in the game industry. Siliconera Speaks Up is a new weekly feature which highlights the different perspectives which make up the team of writers.


This week’s hot question: The Mother 3 fan translation patch is finally out thanks to the hardworking folks at How do you feel about fan translation projects like this?


Jenni: I think fan translation project team members deserve a lot of respect and credit. These are people who decided to use their free time to create something for other people, not expecting any kind of compensation in return. Since this is a game which likely will never be released outside of Japan, it’s wonderful for fans to step up. Plus, the effort may show Nintendo that people do care about the Mother series, and perhaps inspire the company to step up and acknowledge the series and its fans. The upcoming Mother 3 Handbook created by the fans looks amazing as well.


Jeriaska: Visiting, some of whose members collaborated with Fangamer on the translation, I find I’m more drawn to the fan service for the Super Nintendo predecessor than the new title. Take, for instance, the wallpaper by Raul Villalobos (shown at the beginning of this post) depicting Ness smashing a Starman’s visor with his baseball bat—or the adorably creepy vocal Snowan cover by PKEdobean.


To me what is most significant about Mother 3 is that it reverses an assumption that I had in the past, that Tobal 2 was the last good console game not to cross the ocean. With Archaic Sealed Heat and Soma Bringer currently nowhere to be seen, it reminds me of the days when Seiken Densetsu 3 was passed over for reasons unknown.


Spencer: Mother 3 came out at the tail end of the GBA’s life cycle. If it came out earlier Nintendo of America may have picked it up, but by 2006 Nintendo’s focus was on growing the DS. Then again maybe not. Recently, Nintendo of America has been passing over text heavy games outside of core franchises like Pokemon and Fire Emblem. There haven’t been any signs that we’re going to see Bokura wa Kaseki Holder, Soma Bringer or the new Glory of Hercules game outside of Japan. It’s not like Nintendo’s first party holiday release schedule is busy either with only Pokemon Ranger and a localized version of Cooking Navi coming out. Unfortunately, these other games don’t have a passionate fanbase like the Mother series and unless Nintendo picks them up they’ll never get an international release. Maybe Nintendo will pull a Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon with Mother 3. It took around seven years for Nintendo to explore Marth’s origins after he made an international debut in Super Smash Brothers Melee. Brawl just came out this year so… Mother 3 in 2015? Nintendo should have a new handheld by then.


Louise: I’m grateful that hard-working super-fans took the time to translate the game for English-speaking fans. I hope that the buzz its generated online will reach the people who worked on the game so that they can see their work appreciated, even if not through monetary means. Like Jenni, I also hope that Nintendo notices this; it may be too late for Mother 3, but I hope Nintendo thinks twice the next time a Japanese game is brought to their attention for localization and distribution to the Western world.


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  • Aoshi00

    It’s unfortunate Mother 3 is a little outdated to have a mass appeal that would warrant an US release. Perhaps a remake w/ better graphics on the Wii would remedy that, after all it was originally intended for the N64.

    Archaic Sealed Heat to me is one of the best DS games (certainly not w/o flaws), but somehow its world and story really sucked me in. Sad to see it’s forever at the bargain bin a month after its release. And a sequel is probably out of the question now..

    Translation-wise, I’m always amazed by the people who do FAQs or fansub anime. Despite understanding Japanese myself, I doubt I have the skills or determination to translate things for the public in such a timely fashion, it’s a concerted effort of course but requires devotion. I think playing Mother 3 w/ a script mars the experience a little, compared to say manga’s scanlation or anime fansub, since you need juggle btwn the GBA screen and a wall of text. So an eventual official release would always be welcome.

    Siliconera indeed has a wild pool of talent writers covering a wide range of genres and interest, thanks guys and love the mug shots.

  • Louise

    @Aoishi00: You’re right, juggling a game and reading a separate script takes away from the experience of playing the game. That’s why it’s so great that someone patched the translated script back into the game so that the translation is in-game. I’m glad you’re enjoying the feature!

  • What I want to know is why the first game in the series doesn’t get nearly as much fanfare from either Nintendo or the fans.

  • scott

    Concerning mother 3: (just read the last 2 paragraphs), seems confirmed Mother 3 would not get published in the US. I’m still more inclined to believe that the Mother 3 story itself prevented Nintendo from publishing it in the US. I’m glad it got a fan translation, and it would be VERY interesting to hear what reaction the Itou and the M3 devs say about it.

    Nice feature. Any plans for a Siliconera reader meetup at E3 or Anime Expo next year?

  • jarrod


    Slightly off topic, but the current rumor is that NOA fully localized ASH before shelving it last second (it even popped up on the ESRB site earlier in the year). Maybe they’ll pass it off to someone like Atlus, Ignition or XSEED…

  • NOA isn’t interested in chasing something that won’t be the “Next Big Thing” it seems… Look at their release schedule to see that. And why should they? There’s little room for expansion there. And can you really sell Mother 3 to the same audience as Brain Training and Wii Fit?

    That said, I’m not mad at NOA, or disappointed by them. They’re doing what they’re doing to make money, as a business, and given there’s no cease-and-desist letter sent out, they could care less about this franchise. But, neither does the average consumer.

    Fact is, you can’t sell this story on the back of a box, or in a tiny ad blurb. And you kinda need to know the last two, which would take an SNES (or a port of Mother 1+2). And then, you’re already in too deep. The only way this could work, is selling all three on a DS cart. Of course, cost plays an issue here, too; so does trying to sell it again.

    And even, once you’ve sold it, how do you keep interest in it? Nintendo’s been using a lot of advertising that lives way, way beyond a traditional game’s run. You can go to the Everybody’s Nintendo channel on a Wii and see ads for Mario Kart, Wii Fit, Nintendogs, and Brain Training, even though it’s older games. Why is this? These games are pick-up-and-play. That’s what Nintendo is getting good at selling… and not so much at the traditional-style games. Where’s advertisements for Battalion Wars 2, or Metroid Prime 3, or Star Fox DS? They’re not there… these used to be Nintendo’s bread-and-butter, and will always be there, but aren’t it’s focus anymore. You can’t sell that stuff to the new “Nintendo Family.” It’s all about casual games from here on out. And why shouldn’t it be, if that’s what gets you on morning news shows and New York Times? Casual titles are doing more for NOA than Zelda or Pokemon ever did.

    In conclusion, Mother 3’s a great game, and we’re lucky a group out there could translate it and release it, for free even; but it’s only possible because Nintendo moved on from such things. And NOA would have struggled with selling it, possibly endangering future games in the series (or beyond), so this is the best possible outcome for the fans.

  • Freddy Stubbs

    Nintendo doesn’t pass off games to third parties to publish. SO forget about ASH, Soma Bringer, or Glory of Heracles ever making it over. Rumor is there’s a 97% complete Soma Bringer fan-translation patch floating around in the dark reaches of the interwebs …

  • lostinblue

    @ Freddy Stubbs – actually, there was a notable exception in the past, Cubivore.

    I said third party companies should still try contacting Nintendo for those purposes, it happened before and all that.

    Color me interested in that Soma Bringer patch though.

  • Tin Man

    Hi, I’ve read this site for quite a while but this is my first time posting. I’m really glad to see the mystery over ASH’s localization come up in this discussion because I’ve been wondering about this myself. There seems like there’s been, strangely, an overall lack of interest in finding out exactly what Nintendo’s planning to eventually do with the game, even on sites that seem like they would specialize in covering games like ASH, whether they focus on Nintendo games, DS games, JRPGs, etc.

    I hope Siliconera can eventually get to the bottom of this if they ever deem it worth investigating, as the staff here as a knack for getting in really good interviews (and answers!) with people and companies in the gaming industry. Even if it’s unlikely, the fact that Nintendo would be realizing that people know that something’s up (or that people are still following ASH) might just force them to make a definitive decision for better or worse. Considering their nonsensical policies on things like Disaster, Fatal Frame IV, Fire Emblem SD, etc. lately I’m sure we can all predict what ASH’s ultimate fate is, but just knowing for sure is a relief in the sense of not having to bear unnecessary anticipation. (Same for Namco-Bandai trademarks like Tales of Hearts and Mugen no Frontier, but those are different stories entirely…) Thanks for putting up with a newbie’s ramblings.

  • Spencer

    @scott – A Siliconera meet up at AX? Hmm… it would be nice to get some people together to play some imports in the video game lounge…

    @Tin Man – Thanks for leaving a comment! ASH is a mystery since it’s rated and we’ve heard from other sources that it was in localization. However, when I asked Nintendo about it they weren’t even aware of the game. The same thing happened with Soma Bringer so… (?)

    Fatal Frame IV seems like it’s going to come out in North America since it’s a second party game. Tecmo and Grasshoper made it and Nintendo published it in Japan only. Since Tecmo has the rights to the franchise they could handle the game if NOA decides to drop it.

  • jarrod

    @Freddy Stubbs

    Nintendo does have a relationship with Atlus USA, given they handled Cubivore (GC) and Polarium Advance (GBA). So there’s a precedent at least… I doubt they’d ever relinquish rights for an established core 1st party IP (like Mother 3) but something like Soma Bringer has possibilities I think.

    Also, Glory of Herakles doesn’t belong to Nintendo, it belongs to Paon. That’s much more similar to Fatal Frame IV, Ogre Battle 64 or the Tower SP really, it’s a 3rd party game they just picked up for co-publishing in Japan. It’s up to Paon (not Nintendo) on licensing it out.

    With ASH, I’m not sure who exactly holds the rights though, Nintendo or Mistwalker (or both)?

  • Tin Man

    @Spencer: Talk about accessibility! Thanks for answering. I know, there’s been the nagging mystery of the ESRB rating for several months. I can’t possibly begin to theorize why Nintendo would simply claim ignorance about ASH and Soma Bringer. This ties into what I was saying about Fatal Frame IV–although Nintendo was only the publisher in Japan, we were all kind of assuming that Nintendo would publish it in other regions as well, considering that Tecmo is going through a merger with Koei right now and we have no idea if Fatal Frame is still even on their priority list at this point. The problem is that, when Reggie was confronted about it, he claimed ignorance on publishing Fatal Frame IV and said to ask Tecmo about it, when Tecmo (if memory serves) had either already stated or stated after this that the game was Nintendo’s responsibility, so there’s a game of hot potato going on with publishing responsibilities that shows no sign of stopping. Oh well. Again, thanks for your response.

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