Legends of Localization, by Clyde Mandelin is a website we’ve been fans of for years here at Tofugu. Last year Clyde published his first book, Legends of Localization Book 1: The Legend of Zelda (and we loved it) and now, Book 2: Earthbound, is finally out.
Legends of Localization offers an in-depth comparison of the original Japanese text of the Japanese SNES game Mother 2 and the English version, called Earthbound. The author explores just about every localization difference and decision made by the translators. He breaks down and explains the original language and uses the game to help teach you some Japanese on the way. If you don't mind spending a few extra dollars you also get the Passport to Mother 2 which contains beginners guide to Japanese, as well as all of the important terms used throughout the game. If you've always wanted to play through Mother 2, but could never find the confidence in your Japanese to do so, this is literally a guidebook through that process.
The author explores just about every localization difference and decision made by the translators.
The book itself contains over 400 pages of side-by-side shots of both games showing not only the reasons behind text changes, but color and even sprite changes. Every single reference is given context, from the Runaway Five band being a tribute (or rip off?) of the Blues Brothers to the purple paint cult harking back to the Aum Shinrikyo and Happy Science cults that gained notoriety the 1990s. There are so many parts of that game you may have seen as a kid as "something kinda weird" that you'll find out is actually something from Japanese culture. Don't feel bad, there was no way your little kid brain would know about this stuff. But your adult, Japanese-learning brain is hungry. Feed it with this book.