It’s been forever since I’ve had anything to add to the “names and games” file, much less any sort of update to the “It’s a Secret to Everyone” post. But seeing as how that one posts still draws more traffic than anything else on this blog combined, I suppose this is worth posting. Earthbound-ignorant, keep on moving.
So beloved childhood game Earthbound boasts all kids of wackiness. It’s just a quirky, offbeat title whose strange asides often go unexplained. However, I found that one brave soul is tackling the game bit-by-bit, looking at how the finalized, English Earthbound developed from the original Japanese version, Mother 2. It’s a pretty massive undertaking, considering the among of text in the game, and I have to hand it to anyone who so loves a video game that they’re willing to examine it in such detail — and in two languages, no less.
In particular, translations notes about some of the characters’ names offers a little insight into what was running through the mind of the guy who originally created them. Take Mr. Monotoli, the tycoon ruler of Fourside, the game’s New York City-like area.
He’s probably the most famous of the Earthbound bit players, since one of the Earthbound-inspired Smash Bros. stages takes place on to of the Monotoli Buildling, one of the skyscrapers he owns. Given that Mr. Monotoli is an old guy with a lot of cash to spare — and given that the game constantly namechecks American-born pop-culture — I’d always assumed the guy’s name was a play on the word monopoly or maybe Mr. Monopoly himself. Also, the writer of the Earthbound games, Shigesato Itoi, is a weirdly big Monopoly enthusiast as well as president of the Japan Monopoly Association (whose conventions, I’m sure, are nuts). According to the translation tracker, it’s probably just a coincidence. In Japanese, the guy’s name is Monomotchi Monotori, with the first name meaning something like “guy who owns lots of stuff” and the second one meaning “guy who takes stuff.” Basically, a robber baron. The guy doing the translation couldn’t make any more out of the character’s weird first name, Geldegarde, than I could.
Then there are the Minches, a family of mostly unpleasant people and the source of the game’s big bad, Porky.
In the Japanese, Porky’s last name is minchi, which means “mincemeat” and even looks like a borrowing of the English “mince,” rendered in Japanese. There’s also a bit more for Aloysius Minch — Porky’s idiot father and a character whose name I guessed was a play on Atticus Finch, literary superdad. In Japanese, his first name is Anburami, which means “greasy” or “oily.” And the wife is Lardna, so there seems like a definite theme for the family’s first names. Only I can’t figure out how Porky’s little brother — Picky, the only skinny Minch — fits in.
I will never get tired of digging up old stuff from my childhood and finding out that this or that meant more than I realized at the time.