Marcus Lindblom was the primary translator and localisation expert for iconic Super NES title EarthBound, and since its emergence on the Wii U eShop last year he's spoken a fair amount about his work on the project. It's emerged, however, from an interview with Polygon, that Nintendo declined permission for Lindblom to crowdfund a book about the game and its localisation.
Lindblom's idea for the project was inspired by the continuing interest from the enthusiastic EarthBound fanbase in his work, and because it was a project full of quirks and interesting stories to tell.
When I did the localization I went in and gave it some American flavor and humor because that is what the developers wanted. They didn't just want a straight translation. There were a lot of things that were not easy to translate and so I had freedom to put in weird American humor to flavor things and it worked out pretty well. All these years later people still find it charming which is nice.
I realized there was a large and vocal fan community. About a year and a half ago I went to PAX and I kind of walked up to the Fangamer booth and said that I had worked on the game. They were really surprised. They wanted to hear about my work on the game.
I was never going to make money from the book. I just wanted to pay for the cost of publication. It was just something for the fan community. They seemed so dedicated after all these years. I thought that, in a way, I owed them something.
There were a lot of little things I thought they might appreciate hearing about like why a certain character might say something in the game or why something was named the way it was or whatever. That was my original intention. Just to give the fans some insight into the way the game was localized.
This does seem to be the case, as is the norm, of Nintendo seeking to avoid unofficial accounts of its work and controlling the message, to a degree. Lindblom had contacted Nintendo about his plans for a book as a courtesy, but has made it clear that he'll respect the company's decision.
I owe a lot to Nintendo. They gave me my start in the game business. I don't want to do anything that makes them seem bad. I wanted to just write about the fun bits in the game that I think the fans would enjoy. But I have no desire to rock the boat with Nintendo at all.
...It isn't anything that I can speculate on. All I will say is I was the one who went and talked to Nintendo because I thought I might as well see if I can get their blessing. I asked them and they came back and said we'd rather you didn't.
My goal was always to honor the game and the fans and Itoi's writing. I am going to honor Nintendo's wishes that I don't put something down into a book, but I know that the fan community is owed some tidbits of information and I will continue to do that and to talk about it.
Are you disappointed that Lindblom's potential book project was shut down, or do you feel that the policy of non-disclosure from Nintendo is fair? Sound off in the comments below.