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Mother (video game series)

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Mother
Mother series logo.png
Genre(s)Role-playing
Developer(s)
Publisher(s)Nintendo
Creator(s)Shigesato Itoi
Composer(s)
Platform(s)
First releaseMother
July 27, 1989
Latest releaseMother 3
April 20, 2006

Mother[a] (known as EarthBound outside Japan) is a video game series that consists of three role-playing video games: Mother (1989), known as EarthBound Beginnings outside Japan, for the Family Computer; Mother 2 (1994), known as EarthBound outside Japan, for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System; and Mother 3 (2006) for the Game Boy Advance.

Written by Shigesato Itoi, published by Nintendo, and featuring game mechanics modeled on the Dragon Quest series, Mother is known for its sense of humor, originality, and parody. The player uses weapons and psychic powers to fight hostile enemies, which include animated everyday objects, aliens and brainwashed people. Signature elements of the series include a lighthearted approach to plot, battle sequences with psychedelic backgrounds, and the "rolling HP meter": player health ticks down like an odometer rather than instantly being subtracted, allowing the player to take preventative action, such as healing or finishing the battle, before the damage is fully dealt. While the franchise is popular in Japan, in the Anglosphere it is best associated with the cult following behind EarthBound.

While visiting Nintendo for other business, Itoi approached Shigeru Miyamoto about making Mother. When approved for a sequel, Itoi increased his involvement in the design process over the five-year development of EarthBound. When the project began to flounder, producer and later Nintendo president Satoru Iwata rescued the game. EarthBound's English localizers were given great liberties when translating the Japanese game's cultural allusions. The American version sold poorly despite a multimillion-dollar marketing budget. Mother 3 was originally slated for release on the Nintendo 64 and its 64DD disk drive accessory, but was cancelled in 2000. Three years later, the project was reannounced for the Game Boy Advance alongside a rerelease of Mother and Mother 2 in the combined cartridge Mother 1 + 2. Mother 3 abandoned the 3D graphics progress for a 2D style, and became a bestseller upon its release. EarthBound was rereleased for the Wii U Virtual Console in 2013, and Mother received its English-language debut for the same platform in 2015, retitled EarthBound Beginnings. In 2022, Nintendo released Mother 1 and 2 to their Nintendo Switch Online service.

EarthBound is widely regarded as a video game classic, and is included in multiple top-ten lists. In absence of continued official support for the series, members of the EarthBound fan community organized online to advocate for further series releases through petitions and fan art. Their projects include a full fan translation of Mother 3, a full-length documentary, and a fangame sequel-turned-spiritual successor called Oddity. Ness, the protagonist of EarthBound, received exposure from his inclusion in all five entries of the Super Smash Bros. series. Other Mother series locations and characters have made appearances in the fighting games.

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Mother (video game)

Mother (video game)

Mother, officially known outside of Japan as EarthBound Beginnings, is a 1989 role-playing video game developed by Ape and Pax Softnica and published by Nintendo for the Famicom. It is the first entry in the Mother series. It is modeled on the gameplay of the Dragon Quest series, but is set in the late 20th-century United States, unlike its fantasy genre contemporaries. Mother follows the young Ninten as he uses his great-grandfather's studies on psychic powers to fight hostile, formerly inanimate objects and other enemies. The game uses random encounters to enter a menu-based, first-person perspective battle system.

EarthBound

EarthBound

EarthBound, released in Japan as Mother 2: Gīgu no Gyakushū, is a role-playing video game developed by Ape Inc. and HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The second entry in the Mother series, it was first released in Japan in August 1994, and in North America in June 1995. As Ness and his party of Paula, Jeff and Poo, the player travels the world to collect melodies from eight Sanctuaries in order to defeat the universal cosmic destroyer Giygas.

Mother 3

Mother 3

Mother 3 is a 2006 role-playing video game developed by Brownie Brown and HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy Advance. It is the third entry in the Mother series. The game follows Lucas, a young boy with psychic abilities, and a party of characters as they attempt to prevent a mysterious invading army from corrupting and destroying the world.

Game Boy Advance

Game Boy Advance

The Game Boy Advance (GBA) is a 32-bit handheld game console developed, manufactured and marketed by Nintendo as the successor to the Game Boy Color. It was released in Japan on March 21, 2001, in North America on June 11, 2001, in the PAL region on June 22, 2001, and in mainland China as iQue Game Boy Advance on June 8, 2004. The GBA is part of the sixth generation of video game consoles. The original model does not have an illuminated screen; Nintendo addressed that with the release of a redesigned model with a frontlit screen, the Game Boy Advance SP, in 2003. A newer revision of the redesign was released in 2005, with a backlit screen. Around the same time, the final redesign, the Game Boy Micro, was released in September 2005.

Game mechanics

Game mechanics

In tabletop games and video games, game mechanics are the rules or ludemes that govern and guide the player's actions, as well as the game's response to them. A rule is an instruction on how to play, a ludeme is an element of play like the L-shaped move of the knight in chess. A game's mechanics thus effectively specify how the game will work for the people who play it.

Dragon Quest

Dragon Quest

Dragon Quest, previously published as Dragon Warrior in North America until 2005, is a franchise of Japanese role-playing video games created by Armor Project, Bird Studio and Sugiyama Kobo to its publisher Enix, with all of the involved parties co-owning the copyright of the series since then. The games are published by Square Enix since its inception, with localized remakes and ports of later installments for the Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, and Nintendo Switch being published by Nintendo outside of Japan. With its first game published in 1986, there are eleven main-series games, along with numerous spin-off games. In addition, there have been numerous manga, anime and novels published under the franchise, with nearly every game in the main series having a related adaptation.

Anglosphere

Anglosphere

The Anglosphere is a group of English-speaking nations that share cultural or historical ties with the United Kingdom, and which today maintain close political, diplomatic and military co-operation. While the nations included in different sources vary, the Anglosphere is usually not considered to include all countries where English is an official language, so it is not synonymous with anglophone, though the nations that are commonly included were all once part of the British Empire.

Cult following

Cult following

A cult following refers to a group of fans who are highly dedicated to some person, idea, object, movement, or work, often an artist, in particular a performing artist, or an artwork in some medium. The lattermost is often called a cult classic. A film, book, musical artist, television series, or video game, among other things, is said to have a cult following when it has a small but very passionate fanbase.

EarthBound fandom

EarthBound fandom

The 1994 video game EarthBound is known for its cult following and fan community. Multiple video game journalists have written about the dedication of the game's fans in producing fan art and lobbying Nintendo for further releases in the series. The company has been largely unresponsive to their efforts. Prominent fansites include Starmen.net and EarthBound Central. The former was started in 1999 and became the definitive community website. Their members organized petitions and campaigns to bring English-localized games from the Mother series to North America. One such effort included a full-color, 270-page EarthBound Anthology as a demonstration of consumer demand for further releases. After nearly a decade, EarthBound was rereleased for the Wii U Virtual Console in 2013, whereupon it became a bestseller.

64DD

64DD

The 64DD is a magnetic floppy disk drive peripheral for the Nintendo 64 game console developed by Nintendo. It was announced in 1995, prior to the Nintendo 64's 1996 launch, and after numerous delays was released in Japan on December 13, 1999. The "64" references both the Nintendo 64 console and the 64MB storage capacity of the disks, and "DD" is short for "disk drive" or "dynamic drive".

Magnetic storage

Magnetic storage

Magnetic storage or magnetic recording is the storage of data on a magnetized medium. Magnetic storage uses different patterns of magnetisation in a magnetizable material to store data and is a form of non-volatile memory. The information is accessed using one or more read/write heads.

Fangame

Fangame

A fangame is a video game that is created by fans of a certain topic or IP. They are usually based on one, or in some cases several, video game entries or franchises. Many fangames attempt to clone or remake the original game's design, gameplay, and characters, but it is equally common for fans to develop a unique game using another as a template. Though the quality of fangames has always varied, recent advances in computer technology and in available tools, e.g. through open source software, have made creating high-quality games easier. Fangames can be seen as user-generated content, as part of the retrogaming phenomena, and as expression of the remix culture.

Gameplay

The series is known for its combination of humorous and emotionally evocative tones.[1] Itoi wanted to tell Mother 3 through a technique that swapped the active player-character, which he first attempted in EarthBound.[2] The two games also share similar visual styles,[3][4] both with psychedelic battle backgrounds and cartoonish art.[3] While Mother 3's music is both similar in tone to its predecessors and completely new, it features similar sound effects.[3] EarthBound characters such as Mr. Saturn recur, and RPGamer wrote that Mother 3's final chapter is "full of blatant links" between the games of the series.[5] Mother also shares similarities with its sequel, such as the game save option through phoning Ninten's father, an option to store items with Ninten's sister at home, and an automated teller machine for banking money. Additionally, the members of the party follow behind the protagonist on the overworld screen in the first two games. Ninten's party members in Mother are analogous to those of EarthBound in style and function.[6]

While Mother's battles were triggered through random encounters,[7] EarthBound and early Mother 3 shared battle scene triggers, where physical contact with an enemy in the overworld began a turn-based battle scene shown in the first-person.[8] Apart from Mother 3's rhythm and combo battle mechanic, the two game's battle systems are similar.[3] Mother 3 also retains the "rolling HP meter" of EarthBound (where health ticks down like an odometer such that players can outrun the meter to heal before dying/fainting) but removes the feature where experience is automatically awarded before battles against much weaker foes.[5] Recurring through the series is its signature "SMAAAASH" text and sound, which show when the player registers a critical hit.[6]

Some characters are present in multiple entries of the series, such as Giygas, Mr. Saturn, and Pokey/Porky. Giygas is the primary antagonist in both Mother and EarthBound. The alien creature's emotional complexity deviates from genre norms. Giygas shows internal conflict in Mother and has no appearance but as an "indescribable" force in EarthBound's final boss battle.[9] In both final battles, Giygas is defeated through love and prayer instead of through a tour de force of weaponry, unlike the endings of other period games.[9] Nadia Oxford wrote for IGN that nearly two decades later, EarthBound's final fight against Giygas continues to be "one of the most epic video game standoffs of all time" with noted emotional impact.[10] This battle's dialogue was based on Itoi's recollections of a traumatic scene from the Shintoho film The Military Policeman and the Dismembered Beauty that he had accidentally seen in his childhood.[11] Oxford wrote for 1UP.com that Itoi intended to show the alien's yearning for love in "a manner ... beyond human understanding".[9] Despite EarthBound and Mother 3's dissimilar settings, the Mr. Saturn fictional species appear in similar Saturn Valleys in both games. The Mr. Saturn look like an old man's head with feet, a large nose, and bald except for a single hair with a bow. Though they are a technologically advanced and peaceful species with a pureness of heart, they are under constant attacks from encroaching enemies. Nadia and David Oxford of 1UP.com considered the Mr. Saturn to be aliens despite their human-like and fleshy appearance, as described a piece arguing the central theme of aliens in the Mother series. They compared the Mr. Saturn to Kurt Vonnegut's Tralfamadorian alien species.[9] Finally, Pokey begins as Ness's child neighbor who "cowers" and "refuses to fight" in EarthBound, but grows into a "vicious control freak with no regard for human life", Porky, by the end of the series' Mother 3.[10]

Music

The soundtracks for Mother and EarthBound were composed by Keiichi Suzuki and Hirokazu Tanaka.[12][13] The Mother soundtrack was likened by RPGFan reviewer Patrick Gann to compositions by the Beatles and for children's television shows. He found the lyrics "cheesy and trite" but appreciated the "simple statements" in "Eight Melodies" and the "quirky and wonderful" "Magicant".[12] The Mother soundtrack contains several tracks later used in subsequent series games.[6] When Suzuki and Tanaka were unavailable to commit to Mother 3's soundtrack, Itoi chose Shogo Sakai for his experience with and understanding of the series. Sakai worked to make the music feel similar to previous entries in the series.[14] Kyle Miller of RPGFan wrote that the game retained the quirkiness of the previous soundtracks in the series despite the change in composers. He felt that the second half of the album, which included reinterpreted "classics" from the series, to be its strongest.[13] RPGamer's Jordan Jackson too found that the music was "just as catchy as previous games" despite being "almost completely new".[3] Luke Plunkett of Kotaku credited Suzuki's background outside of games composition as a rock star and film scorer for making the music of Mother and EarthBound "so distinct and memorable" as "a synthesized tribute to 20th-century pop music".[1]

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Automated teller machine

Automated teller machine

An automated teller machine (ATM) is an electronic telecommunications device that enables customers of financial institutions to perform financial transactions, such as cash withdrawals, deposits, funds transfers, balance inquiries or account information inquiries, at any time and without the need for direct interaction with bank staff.

Overworld

Overworld

An overworld is, in a broad sense, commonly an area within a video game that interconnects all its levels or locations. They are mostly common in role-playing games, though this does not exclude other video game genres, such as some platformers and strategy games.

Critical hit

Critical hit

In many role-playing games and video games, a critical hit is a chance that a successful attack will deal more damage than a normal blow.

Shintoho

Shintoho

Shintoho Co. Ltd. was a Japanese movie studio. It was one of the big six film studios during the Golden Age of Japanese cinema. It was founded by defectors from the original Toho company following a bitter strike in 1947.

Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut was an American writer and humorist known for his satirical and darkly humorous novels. In a career spanning over 50 years, he published fourteen novels, three short-story collections, five plays, and five nonfiction works; further collections have been published after his death.

Music of the Mother series

Music of the Mother series

The Mother series is a role-playing video game series created by Shigesato Itoi for Nintendo. The series started in 1989 with the Japan-only release of Mother, which was followed up by Mother 2, released as EarthBound outside Japan, for the Super NES in 1994. A second sequel was released in Japan only, Mother 3, for the Game Boy Advance in 2006. The music of the Mother series includes the soundtracks to all three games; the first game was composed for by Keiichi Suzuki and Hirokazu Tanaka, who were joined by Hiroshi Kanazu for the second game, while Mother 3's score was written by Shogo Sakai.

Hirokazu Tanaka

Hirokazu Tanaka

Hirokazu "Hip" Tanaka , also known as Chip Tanaka, is a Japanese musician, composer, sound designer, and executive who pioneered chiptune music. He is best known as one of Nintendo's in-house composers during the 8- and 16-bit era of video games. Tanaka also had a role in designing and programming the Famicom and Game Boy audio hardware, along with the NES Zapper, Game Boy Camera, and Game Boy Printer.

The Beatles

The Beatles

The Beatles were an English rock band, formed in Liverpool in 1960, that comprised John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. They are regarded as the most influential band of all time and were integral to the development of 1960s counterculture and popular music's recognition as an art form. Rooted in skiffle, beat and 1950s rock 'n' roll, their sound incorporated elements of classical music and traditional pop in innovative ways; the band also explored music styles ranging from folk and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock. As pioneers in recording, songwriting and artistic presentation, the Beatles revolutionised many aspects of the music industry and were often publicised as leaders of the era's youth and sociocultural movements.

Pop music

Pop music

Pop music is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form during the mid-1950s in the United States and the United Kingdom. The terms popular music and pop music are often used interchangeably, although the former describes all music that is popular and includes many disparate styles. During the 1950s and 1960s, pop music encompassed rock and roll and the youth-oriented styles it influenced. Rock and pop music remained roughly synonymous until the late 1960s, after which pop became associated with music that was more commercial, ephemeral, and accessible.

Development

Release timeline
1989Mother
1990–1993
1994Mother 2
1995EarthBound
1996–2002
2003Mother 1 + 2
2004–2005
2006Mother 3
2007–2014
2015EarthBound Beginnings

Mother

A Famicom cartridge for the first game in the Mother series.
A Famicom cartridge for the first game in the Mother series.

While visiting Nintendo for other work, celebrity copywriter Shigesato Itoi pitched to the company's lead designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, his idea for a role-playing game set in modern times. The contemporary setting worked against role-playing genre norms, and while Miyamoto liked the idea, he was hesitant until Itoi could show full commitment to the project. Itoi reduced his workload, formed a team, and began development in Ichikawa, Chiba. Nintendo tried to accommodate Itoi's ideal work environment to feel more like an extracurricular club of volunteers.[2] Itoi wrote the game's script.[7] The game, titled Mother, was developed by Ape, published by Nintendo,[15] and released in Japan on July 27, 1989, for the Famicom[16] (known as the Nintendo Entertainment System outside Japan).[15] The game was slated for an English-language localization as Earth Bound, but was abandoned when the team chose to localize Mother 2 instead.[7] Years later, the complete localization was recovered by the public and distributed on the Internet, where it became known as EarthBound Zero.[7] Mother received its English language debut in June 2015 as EarthBound Beginnings for the Wii U Virtual Console.[17]

Mother is a single-player role-playing video game[15] set in a "slightly offbeat", late 20th-century United States (as interpreted by Itoi).[7] Unlike its Japanese role-playing game contemporaries, Mother is not set in a fantasy genre. The player fights in warehouses and laboratories instead of in dungeons and similar fantasy settings, and battles are fought with baseball bats and psychic abilities instead of swords and magic. Mother follows the young Ninten as he uses psychic powers[7] to fight hostile, formerly inanimate objects and other enemies.[6] The game uses random encounters to enter a menu-based, first-person perspective battle system.[7]

EarthBound

Mother 2 was made with a development team different from that of the original game,[2] and most of its members were unmarried and willing to work through nights on the project.[18] Itoi again wrote the game's script and served as a designer.[19] The game's five-year development exceeded time estimates and came under repeated threat of cancellation.[20] It was in dire straits until producer Satoru Iwata joined the team.[2][b] Mother 2 was developed by Ape and HAL, published by Nintendo,[22] and released in Japan's Super Famicom on August 27, 1994.[23] The game was translated into English for North American audiences[24] whereupon it became the only Mother series game to be released in North America until the later localization of Mother as EarthBound Beginnings.[22] The localizers were given liberties to translate the Japanese script's cultural allusions to Western audiences as they pleased, and symbolism was also modified between the versions to adapt to Western sensitivities.[24][25] To avoid confusion about the series' numbering, its English title was changed to EarthBound,[24] and was released on June 5, 1995, for the North American Super Nintendo Entertainment System.[25]

Though Nintendo spent about $2 million on marketing,[19] the American release was ultimately viewed as unsuccessful within Nintendo.[25] EarthBound was released when role-playing games were not popular in the United States,[25][26] and visual taste in role-playing games was closer to Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI.[25] EarthBound's atypical "this game stinks" marketing campaign was derived from the game's unusual humor and included foul-smelling scratch and sniff advertisements.[27] 1UP.com called the campaign "infamously ill-conceived".[26] Between the poor sales and the dwindling support for the Super NES, the game did not receive a European release.[19]

The Mother series titles are built on what Itoi considered "reckless wildness", where he would offer ideas that encouraged his staff to contribute new ways of portraying scenes in the video game medium.[28] He saw the titles foremost as games and not "big scenario scripts".[28] Itoi has said that he wanted the player feel emotions such as "distraught" when playing the game.[28] The game's writing was intentionally "quirky and goofy" in character,[24] and written in the Japanese kana script so as to give dialogue a conversational feel. Itoi thought of the default player-character names when he did not like his team's suggestions. Many of the characters were based on real-life personalities.[20] Itoi sought to make the game appeal to populations that played games less, such as girls.[20]

Earthbound's story is a continuation of Mother's, featuring many of the same antagonists and monsters.[29] By default, the player starts as a young boy named Ness,[30] who finds that the alien force Giygas (/ˈɡɡəs, ˈɡɡəs/ GHEE-gəs, GHY-gəs)[31][32] has enveloped the world in hatred and consequently turned animals, humans, and objects into malicious creatures. Buzz Buzz, a bee from the future, instructs Ness to collect melodies in a Sound Stone to preemptively stop the force.[28] While visiting the eight Sanctuaries where the melodies are held,[10] Ness meets three other kids named Paula, Jeff, and Poo—"a psychic girl, an eccentric inventor, and a ponytailed martial artist", respectively[28]—who join his party.[30] Along the way, Ness encounters the cultists of Happy Happy Village, the zombie-infested Threed, the Winters boarding school, and the kingdom of Dalaam.[10] When the Sound Stone is filled,[33] Ness visits Magicant alone, a surreal location in his mind where he fights his dark side.[10] Upon returning to Eagleland, he prepares to travel back in time to fight a young Giygas,[34] a battle known for its "feeling of isolation, ... incomprehensible attacks, ... buzzing static" and reliance on prayer.[10]

EarthBound plays as a Japanese role-playing game[19] modeled on Dragon Quest.[28] The game is characterized by its contemporary, satirical Western world setting and its unconventional characters, enemies, and humor.[27] Examples of the game's humor include untraditional enemies such as "New Age Retro Hippie" and "Unassuming Local Guy", snide dialogue, frequent puns, and fourth wall-breaking.[24] The game also plays self-aware pranks on the player, such as the existence of the useless ruler and protractor items that players and enemies can unsuccessfully try to use nonetheless.[30]

Mother 3

In 1996, Mother 3 (EarthBound 64 in North America[35]), was announced.[27] It was slated for release on the 64DD, a disk drive expansion peripheral for the Nintendo 64.[36] Itoi's expansive ideas during development led the development team to question whether fans would still consider the game part of the series.[2] The game entered development hell[27] and struggled to find a firm release date[37] and in 2000,[27] despite its level of completion, was later cancelled altogether with the commercial failure of the 64DD.[36]

A signed, boxed copy of Mother 1 + 2.
A signed, boxed copy of Mother 1 + 2.

The project was reannounced three years later as Mother 3 for the Game Boy Advance alongside a combined Mother 1 + 2 cartridge for the same handheld console.[38] Itoi had been working on porting Mother and Mother 2 to the Game Boy Advance,[39] and based on encouragement what he predicted to be further pressure, decided to release Mother 3.[40] The new Mother 3 abandoned the Nintendo 64 version's 3D graphics, but kept its plot.[27] The game was developed by Brownie Brown and HAL Laboratory, published by Nintendo,[41] and released in Japan on April 20, 2006,[42] whereupon it became a bestseller. It did not receive a North American release[36] on the basis that it would not sell.[43]

Mother 1 + 2 was released in Japan on June 20, 2003.[44] The combined cartridge contains both Mother and EarthBound. Mother uses the extended ending of the unreleased English language prototype, but is still only presented in Japanese.[6]

Unlike earlier games in the series, Mother 3 is presented in chapters.[3] When the Pig Mask Army starts a forest fire and imposes police state-like conditions on a "pastoral forest village",[45] a father, Flint, ventures out to protect his family (twin sons Lucas and Claus and wife Hinawa), but the rest of the world is eventually implicated in the plot.[3] Lucas, the game's hero, does not become prominent until the fourth chapter.[5] Along with his dog, a neophyte thief, and a princess, Lucas fulfills a prophecy of a "chosen one" pulling Needles from the Earth to wake a sleeping dragon and determine the fate of the world.[46] The game features a lighthearted plot, with characters such as "partying ghosts" and "talking rope snakes".[5]

Mother 3, much like its predecessors, is a single-player[41] role-playing video game played with two buttons: one for starting conversations and checking adjacent objects, and another for running.[45] The game updates the turn-based[5] Dragon Quest-style battle system with a "rhythm-action mechanic", which lets the player take additional turns to attack the enemy by chaining together up to sixteen taps in time with the background music.[45] Apart from this, the battle system[3] and "rolling HP meter" (where health ticks down like an odometer such that players can outrun the meter to heal before dying) are similar to EarthBound.[5]

Future of the series

Around Mother 3's 2006 release, Itoi stated that he had no plans to make Mother 4,[47] which he has reaffirmed repeatedly.[43][48][49][50] Itoi has said that, of the three, he had the strongest drive to create the first Mother video game, and that it was made for the players. He made the second game as an exploration of his personal interests, and wanted to run wild with the third. While reflecting on Mother 3's 2000 cancellation, Itoi recounted the great efforts the team made to tell small parts of the story, and felt this was a core theme in the series' development.[2]

In the absence of continued support for the series, an EarthBound fan community coalesced at Starmen.net with the intent to have Nintendo of America acknowledge their interest in Mother series.[26] They drafted petitions for English language releases[27] and created a full-color, 270-page anthology of fan art,[51] Upon "little" response from Nintendo, they localized Mother 3 by themselves[51] and printed a "professional quality strategy guide" through Fangamer, a video game merchandising site that spun off from Starmen.net.[51] The Verge cited the effort as proof of the fan base's dedication.[52] Other fan efforts include EarthBound, USA, a full-length documentary on Starmen.net and the fan community,[53] and Mother 4, a fan-produced sequel to the Mother series that went into production when Itoi definitively "declared" that he was done with the series.[54]

IGN described the series as neglected by Nintendo in North America, as Mother 1, Mother 1+2, and Mother 3 were not released outside Japan. Despite this, Ness's recurrence in the Super Smash Bros. series signaled favorable odds for the future of the Mother series.[35] IGN[35] and Nintendo Power readers anticipated a rerelease of EarthBound on the Wii's Virtual Console upon its launch in 2006,[55] but it did not materialize.[21] A Japanese rerelease was announced in 2013 for the Wii U Virtual Console as part of a celebration of the anniversaries of the NES and Mother 2.[56] North American and European releases for the same platform followed, with Nintendo president Satoru Iwata crediting fan interest on the company's Miiverse social platform.[57] The game was a "top-seller" on the Wii U Virtual Console, and Kotaku users and first-time EarthBound players had an "overwhelmingly positive" response to the game.[24] Simon Parkin wrote that the game's rerelease was a "momentous occasion" as the return of "one of Nintendo's few remaining lost classics" after 20 years.[19] In an interview in late November 2015, Shigesato Itoi has once again denied plans to create a Mother 4, despite fan feedback.[58]

Discover more about Development related topics

Mother (video game)

Mother (video game)

Mother, officially known outside of Japan as EarthBound Beginnings, is a 1989 role-playing video game developed by Ape and Pax Softnica and published by Nintendo for the Famicom. It is the first entry in the Mother series. It is modeled on the gameplay of the Dragon Quest series, but is set in the late 20th-century United States, unlike its fantasy genre contemporaries. Mother follows the young Ninten as he uses his great-grandfather's studies on psychic powers to fight hostile, formerly inanimate objects and other enemies. The game uses random encounters to enter a menu-based, first-person perspective battle system.

EarthBound

EarthBound

EarthBound, released in Japan as Mother 2: Gīgu no Gyakushū, is a role-playing video game developed by Ape Inc. and HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The second entry in the Mother series, it was first released in Japan in August 1994, and in North America in June 1995. As Ness and his party of Paula, Jeff and Poo, the player travels the world to collect melodies from eight Sanctuaries in order to defeat the universal cosmic destroyer Giygas.

Mother 3

Mother 3

Mother 3 is a 2006 role-playing video game developed by Brownie Brown and HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy Advance. It is the third entry in the Mother series. The game follows Lucas, a young boy with psychic abilities, and a party of characters as they attempt to prevent a mysterious invading army from corrupting and destroying the world.

Shigesato Itoi

Shigesato Itoi

Shigesato Itoi is a Japanese copywriter, essayist, lyricist, game designer, and actor. Itoi is the editor-in-chief of his website and company Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shinbun. He is best known outside Japan for his work on Nintendo's Mother/EarthBound series of games, as well as his self-titled bass fishing video game.

Shigeru Miyamoto

Shigeru Miyamoto

Shigeru Miyamoto is a Japanese video game designer, producer and game director at Nintendo, where he serves as one of its representative directors. Widely regarded as one of the most accomplished and influential designers in the history of video games, he is the creator of some of the most acclaimed and best-selling game franchises of all time, including Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, Star Fox and Pikmin.

Ichikawa, Chiba

Ichikawa, Chiba

Ichikawa is a city in western Chiba Prefecture, Japan. As of 31 August 2021, the city had an estimated population of 491,716 in 251,142 households and a population density of 8559 persons per km2. The total area of the city is 57.45 square kilometres (22.18 sq mi). The city has a concentration of the wide-area traffic network that connects the center of Tokyo with many areas of Chiba Prefecture. Major rail routes and roads pass through the city.

Creatures (company)

Creatures (company)

Creatures Inc. is a Japanese video game company affiliated with Game Freak, Nintendo and The Pokémon Company, and one of the owners of the Pokémon franchise. It was founded by Tsunekazu Ishihara in November 1995, with the assistance of then-president of HAL Laboratory, Satoru Iwata, as a successor to Shigesato Itoi's company Ape Inc.

Nintendo

Nintendo

Nintendo Co., Ltd. is a Japanese multinational video game company headquartered in Kyoto. It develops and releases both video games and video game consoles.

Nintendo Entertainment System

Nintendo Entertainment System

The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) is an 8-bit third-generation home video game console produced by Nintendo. It was first released in Japan in 1983 as the Family Computer (FC), commonly known as the Famicom. The NES, a redesigned version, was released in American test markets on October 18, 1985, before becoming widely available in North America and other countries.

Wii U

Wii U

The Wii U is a home video game console developed by Nintendo as the successor to the Wii. Released in late 2012, it is the first eighth-generation video game console and competed with Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4.

Virtual Console

Virtual Console

The Virtual Console is a line of downloadable video games for Nintendo's Wii and Wii U home video game consoles and the Nintendo 3DS handheld game console.

Role-playing video game

Role-playing video game

A role-playing video game, commonly referred to as a role-playing game (RPG) or computer role-playing game (CRPG), is a video game genre where the player controls the actions of a character immersed in some well-defined world, usually involving some form of character development by way of recording statistics. Many role-playing video games have origins in tabletop role-playing games and use much of the same terminology, settings and game mechanics. Other major similarities with pen-and-paper games include developed story-telling and narrative elements, player character development, complexity, as well as replay value and immersion. The electronic medium removes the necessity for a gamemaster and increases combat resolution speed. RPGs have evolved from simple text-based console-window games into visually rich 3D experiences.

Reception

In 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die, Christian Donlan wrote that the Mother series is a "massive RPG franchise" in Japan comparable to that of Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, though it does not enjoy the same popularity in the West.[59] IGN described the series as neglected by Nintendo in North America, which only received one of the three Mother releases.[35] Donlan added that the series' oddities did not lend towards Western popularity.[59] RPGamer's Jordan Jackson noted that the series is "known for its wacky sense of humor, originality, and its very young protagonists",[3] and Kotaku's Luke Plunkett said that the games were distinct from all other video games in that they stirred "genuine emotion in players beyond ... 'excited' and 'afraid'" with a "charming", "touching", and "tragic" story, which he credited to its creators' pedigrees from outside the video game industry.[1]

Mother was the sixth best-selling game of 1989 in Japan,[60] where it sold about 400,000 copies.[61][62][63] It received a "Silver Hall of Fame" score of 31/40 from Japanese magazine Famitsu.[16] Critics noted the game's similarities with the Dragon Quest series and its simultaneous "parody" of the genre's tropes.[7][6] They thought the game's sequel, EarthBound, to be very similar[6][64] and a better implementation of Mother's gameplay ideas, overall.[7] Reviewers also noted the game's high difficulty level and balance issues.[7][6][64][65] USgamer's Jeremy Parish said that Mother's script was "as sharp as EarthBound's", but felt that the original's game mechanics were subpar, lacking the "rolling HP counter" and non-random encounters for which later entries in the series were known.[7] Parish wrote earlier for 1UP.com that in comparison to EarthBound, Mother is "worse in just about every way", and important less for its actual game and more for the interest it generated in video game emulation and the preservation of unreleased games.[64]

EarthBound sold about 440,000 copies worldwide, with approximately 300,000 sold in Japan and about 140,000 in the United States.[66] It originally received little critical praise from the American press,[24][36] and sold poorly in the United States:[22][25][36] around 140,000 copies, as compared to twice as many in Japan.[27] Kotaku described EarthBound's 1995 American release as "a dud" and blamed the low sales on "a bizarre marketing campaign" and graphics "cartoonish" beyond the average taste of players.[24] Multiple reviewers described the game as "original" or "unique"[19][67][68] and praised its script's range of emotions,[19][67] humor,[67][69][70] cheery and charming ambiance,[30][67] and "real world" setting, which was seen as an uncommon choice.[19][67][68] Since its release, the game's English localization has found praise,[24][26] and later reviewers reported that the game had aged well.[19][30][67][71][72]

Prior to its release, Mother 3 was in the "top five most wanted games" of Famitsu[73][74] and at the top of the Japanese preordered game charts.[4] It sold around 200,000 units in its first week of sales in Japan,[47] and was one of Japan's top 20 bestselling games for the first half of 2006.[36] In comparison, the 2003 Mother 1 + 2 rerelease sold around 278,000 copies in Japan in its first year,[44] and a reissue "value selection" of the cartridge sold 106,000 copies in Japan in 2006.[75] Mother 3 received a "Platinum Hall of Fame" score of 35/40 from Famitsu.[76] Reviewers praised its story (even though the game was only available in Japanese[41]) and graphics, and lamented its 1990s role-playing game mechanics.[41][45][4][76] Critics also complimented its music.[3][5][77] Jackson said that the game was somewhat easier than the rest of the series and somewhat shorter in length.[3]

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1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die

1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die

1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die is a video game reference book first published in October 2010. It consists of a list of video games released between 1970 and 2013, arranged chronologically by release date. Each entry in the list is accompanied by a short essay written by a video game critic, with some entries accompanied by screen shots. It was edited by Tony Mott, long-time editor of Edge magazine. The book's preface was written by video game designer Peter Molyneux.

Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy is a Japanese science fantasy anthology media franchise created by Hironobu Sakaguchi and developed and owned by Square Enix. The franchise centers on a series of fantasy and science fantasy role-playing video games. The first game in the series was released in 1987, with 15 numbered main entries having been released to date. The franchise has since branched into other video game genres such as tactical role-playing, action role-playing, massively multiplayer online role-playing, racing, third-person shooter, fighting, and rhythm, as well as branching into other media, including CGI films, anime, manga, and novels.

Video game industry

Video game industry

The video game industry encompasses the development, marketing, and monetization of video games. The industry encompasses dozens of job disciplines and thousands of jobs worldwide.

1989 in video games

1989 in video games

1989 saw many sequels and prequels in video games, such as Phantasy Star II, Super Mario Land, Super Monaco GP, along with new titles such as Big Run, Bonk's Adventure, Final Fight, Golden Axe, Strider, Hard Drivin' and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The year also saw the release of the Sega Genesis and TurboGrafx-16 in North America, and the Game Boy worldwide along with Tetris and Super Mario Land.

Famitsu

Famitsu

Famitsu, formerly Famicom Tsūshin, is a line of Japanese video game magazines published by Kadokawa Game Linkage, a subsidiary of Kadokawa. Famitsu is published in both weekly and monthly formats as well as in the form of special topical issues devoted to only one console, video game company, or other theme. Shūkan Famitsū, the original Famitsu publication, is considered the most widely read and respected video game news magazine in Japan. From October 28, 2011, the company began releasing the digital version of the magazine exclusively on BookWalker weekly.

Video game console emulator

Video game console emulator

A video game console emulator is a type of emulator that allows a computing device to emulate a video game console's hardware and play its games on the emulating platform. More often than not, emulators carry additional features that surpass the limitations of the original hardware, such as broader controller compatibility, timescale control, greater performance, clearer quality, easier access to memory modifications, one-click cheat codes, and unlocking of gameplay features. Emulators are also a useful tool in the development process of homebrew demos and the creation of new games for older, discontinued, or rare consoles.

Reality

Reality

Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existent within a system, as opposed to that which is only imaginary, nonexistent or nonactual. The term is also used to refer to the ontological status of things, indicating their existence. In physical terms, reality is the totality of a system, known and unknown.

Pre-order

Pre-order

A pre-order is an order placed for an item that has not yet been released. The idea for pre-orders came because people found it hard to get popular items in stores because of their popularity. Companies then had the idea to allow customers to reserve their own personal copy before its release, which has been a huge success.

Legacy

The series has a legacy as both "one of Japan's most beloved" and the video game cognoscenti's "sacred cow", and is known for its long-lasting, resilient fan community.[4] At one point leading up to Mother 3's release, the series' "Love Theme" played as music on hold for the Japan Post.[74] Similarly, the Eight Melodies theme used throughout the series has been incorporated into Japanese elementary school music classrooms.[14] Donlan of 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die wrote that EarthBound is "name-checked by the video gaming cognoscenti more often than it's actually been played".[59]

Critics consider EarthBound a "classic" or "must-play" among video games.[28] The game was included in multiple top 50 games of all time lists, including that of Famitsu readers in 2006[73] and IGN readers in 2005 and 2006.[78][79] IGN ranks the game 13th in its top 100 SNES games[22] and 26th among all games for its in-game world, which was "distinct and unforgettable" for its take on Americanism, unconventional settings, and 1960s music.[80] And Gamasutra named it one of its 20 "essential" Japanese role-playing games.[81] The rerelease was Justin Haywald of GameSpot's game of the year,[82] and Nintendo Life's Virtual Console game of the year.[83] GameZone said it "would be a great disservice" to merely call EarthBound "a gem".[30] In the United Kingdom, where EarthBound had been previously unreleased, GamesTM noted how it had been "anecdotally heralded as a retro classic".[84] IGN's Scott Thompson said the game was "the true definition of a classic".[67] Kotaku wrote that the game was content to make the player "feel lonely", and, overall, was special not for any individual aspect but for its method of using the video game medium to explore ideas impossible to explore in other media.[28]

Multiple critics wrote that Mother 3 was one of the best role-playing games for the Game Boy Advance.[5][85][86] GamePro's Jeremy Signor listed it among his "best unreleased Japanese role-playing games" for its script and attention to detail.[87] Video game journalist Tim Rogers posited that Mother 3 was "the closest games have yet come to literature".[88] There are no plans for an official Mother 4.[43][47][48][49][50]

The series, and specifically EarthBound, is known for having a cult following[35][52][80] that developed over time well after its release.[25] Colin Campbell of Polygon wrote that "few gaming communities are as passionate and active" as EarthBound's,[21] and 1UP.com's Bob Mackey wrote that no game was as poised to have a cult following.[26] Starmen.net hosted a Mother 25th Anniversary Fanfest in 2014 with a livestream of the game and plans for a remixed soundtrack.[89] Later that year, fans released a 25th Anniversary Edition ROM hack that updated the game's graphics, script, and gameplay balance.[90] The Verge cited the two-year-long Mother 3 fan translation as proof of the fan base's dedication,[52] and Jenni Lada of TechnologyTell called it "undoubtably one of the best known fan translations in existence", with active retranslations into other languages.[91] Frank Caron of Ars Technica said that the fan translation's "massive undertaking ... stands as a massive success", and that "one cannot even begin to fathom" why Nintendo would not release their own English localization.[92]

Super Smash Bros.

EarthBound's Ness became widely known due to his later appearance in the Super Smash Bros. series.[22] He appeared in the original Super Smash Bros. and its sequels: Melee, Brawl, 3DS/Wii U, and Ultimate.[93] In Europe, which did not see an original EarthBound release, Ness is better known for his role in the fighting game than for his original role in the role-playing game.[94] He returned in the 2001 Melee with EarthBound's Mr. Saturn, which could be thrown at enemies and otherwise pushes items off the battlefield.[95] Melee has an unlockable Fourside level based on the EarthBound location.[96]

When Melee was in development, Ness was not supposed to return as a playable character and would have been replaced by Lucas, the main character of Mother 3. However, Mother 3's original Nintendo 64 release was cancelled, though it was later successfully revived as a project for the Game Boy Advance. As a result, Ness was featured in Melee instead of Lucas.

Ness was later joined by Mother 3's Lucas in Brawl,[97][98][c] and both characters returned in 3DS/Wii U and Ultimate.[101] Players can fight in the 3DS's Magicant stage, which features clips from the Mother series in its background.[102]

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EarthBound fandom

EarthBound fandom

The 1994 video game EarthBound is known for its cult following and fan community. Multiple video game journalists have written about the dedication of the game's fans in producing fan art and lobbying Nintendo for further releases in the series. The company has been largely unresponsive to their efforts. Prominent fansites include Starmen.net and EarthBound Central. The former was started in 1999 and became the definitive community website. Their members organized petitions and campaigns to bring English-localized games from the Mother series to North America. One such effort included a full-color, 270-page EarthBound Anthology as a demonstration of consumer demand for further releases. After nearly a decade, EarthBound was rereleased for the Wii U Virtual Console in 2013, whereupon it became a bestseller.

Mother 3 fan translation

Mother 3 fan translation

The Mother 3 fan translation is a complete English-language localization of the 2006 Japanese video game Mother 3 by members of the EarthBound fan community led by Clyde "Tomato" Mandelin. The original game was released in Japan after a decade of development hell. When fan interest in an English localization went unanswered, members of the EarthBound fansite Starmen.net announced their own fan translation in November 2006.

Music on hold

Music on hold

Music on hold (MOH) is the business practice of playing recorded music to fill the silence that would be heard by telephone callers who have been placed on hold. It is especially common in situations involving customer service.

Japan Post

Japan Post

Japan Post was a Japanese statutory corporation that existed from 2003 to 2007, offering postal and package delivery services, banking services, and life insurance. It's the nation's largest employer, with over 400,000 employees, and runs 24,700 post offices throughout Japan. One third of all Japanese government employees work for Japan Post. As of 2005, the President of the company was Masaharu Ikuta, formerly Chairman of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd.

GamesTM

GamesTM

GamesTM was a UK-based, multi-format video games magazine, covering console, handheld, PC and Arcade games. The first issue was released in December 2002 and the magazine was still being published monthly in English and German up until the last edition was published on 1 November 2018.

Cult following

Cult following

A cult following refers to a group of fans who are highly dedicated to some person, idea, object, movement, or work, often an artist, in particular a performing artist, or an artwork in some medium. The lattermost is often called a cult classic. A film, book, musical artist, television series, or video game, among other things, is said to have a cult following when it has a small but very passionate fanbase.

Polygon (website)

Polygon (website)

Polygon is an American entertainment website that publishes blogs, reviews, guides, videos, and news primarily covering video games, as well as movies, comics, television and books. At its October 2012 launch as Vox Media's third property, Polygon sought to distinguish itself from competitors by focusing on the stories of the people behind the games instead of the games themselves. It also produced long-form magazine-style feature articles, invested in video content, and chose to let their review scores be updated as the game changed.

Ars Technica

Ars Technica

Ars Technica is a website covering news and opinions in technology, science, politics, and society, created by Ken Fisher and Jon Stokes in 1998. It publishes news, reviews, and guides on issues such as computer hardware and software, science, technology policy, and video games.

Super Smash Bros.

Super Smash Bros.

Super Smash Bros. is a crossover fighting game series published by Nintendo. The series was created by Masahiro Sakurai, who has directed every game in the series. The series is known for its unique gameplay objective which differs from that of traditional fighters, in that the aim is to increase damage counters and knock opponents off the stage instead of depleting life bars.

Super Smash Bros. Melee

Super Smash Bros. Melee

Super Smash Bros. Melee is a 2001 crossover fighting video game developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo for the GameCube. It is the second installment in the Super Smash Bros. series. It features characters from Nintendo video game franchises such as Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox and Pokémon, and Donkey Kong among others. The stages and gameplay modes reference or take designs from these franchises as well.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Super Smash Bros. Brawl is a 2008 crossover fighting video game developed by Sora Ltd. and published by Nintendo for the Wii. The third installment in the Super Smash Bros. series, it was announced at a pre-E3 2005 press conference by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata. Masahiro Sakurai, director of the previous two games in the series, assumed the role of director at Iwata's request. Game development began in October 2005 with a creative team that included members from several Nintendo and third-party development teams. After delays due to development problems, the game was released worldwide in 2008.

Nintendo 64

Nintendo 64

The Nintendo 64 (N64) is a home video game console developed by Nintendo. The successor to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, it was released on June 23, 1996 in Japan; September 26, 1996 in North America; and on March 1, 1997 in Europe and Australia. It was the last major home console to use cartridges as its primary storage format until the Nintendo Switch in 2017. It competed primarily with the Sony PlayStation and the Sega Saturn.

Source: "Mother (video game series)", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, March 20th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_(video_game_series).

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Notes
  1. ^ Japanese: マザー, Hepburn: Mazā
  2. ^ Iwata became Nintendo's president and CEO.[21]
  3. ^ Brawl also contains the final level from Mother 3 along with items and characters from the game,[99] and a boss fight with the game's antagonist, Porky.[100]
References
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