- This article is about the video game series. For the article about the video game, see EarthBound Beginnings.
Mother (マザー, Mother), known as EarthBound in the western regions, is a role-playing game series created by Shigesato Itoi for Nintendo. The series started in 1989 with Mother/EarthBound Beginnings for the Famicom, and was then followed up in 1994 by a sequel, Mother 2/EarthBound for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and again much later in 2006 with the Japan-only Mother 3/EarthBound 2 for the Game Boy Advance.
The Mother games are not a sequential series, but rather three "stand alone" games that feature common characters, themes, and settings. All three games are tied together with their respective final bosses.
Although most RPGs depict knights and wizards in pseudo-medieval settings, the Mother series takes place in more modern present-day Western settings told from a Japanese perspective. The first installment is set in rural America in '198X', while EarthBound is set in "199X" in Eagleland (an allusion to the United States) and Mother 3 is set an unspecified number of years following the events of EarthBound, on the Nowhere Islands (with some Western overtones). Enemies consist of everything from aliens, to possessed guitars, to evil hippies. Instead of swords and shields, weapons consist of household items like yo-yos and frying pans. The series became extremely popular in Japan, and merchandise for the game was produced, including shirts, handbooks, and even a fully-orchestrated and performed soundtrack.
Earthbound Beginnings (Mother)
- Main article: EarthBound Beginnings
EarthBound Beginnings (known as MOTHER in Japan) tells the story of a 12 year old boy named Ninten who has to journey around the world to save the planet from a race of evil mind-controlling aliens. Along the way he is joined by several friends, and meets many unusual characters and visits strange settings before ultimately confronting the leader of the aliens. The game was a smash hit in Japan, and gamers appreciated its unorthodox and refreshing take on the often formulaic RPG genre.
Nintendo of America planned to translate and release the first Mother game in the United States under the name "EARTH BOUND". Although the game's localization and translation was finished a year earlier, the game was ultimately deemed unprofitable for a Fall 1991 North American release, as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System had already been released in the country and a game for the Nintendo Entertainment System was unlikely to sell well, and the thick manual and hint book would not have been economical. Thus the planned release was canceled, even though the game had already been translated and all packaging and advertising was ready.
In January 23, 2013, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata announced that Earthbound would be re-released on the Wii U's Virtual Console in March 20, 2013 as part of the Famicom 30th Anniversary promotion, with no mention of an International release. On the April 17 edition of Nintendo Direct, Satoru Iwata announced that Earthbound would be released on the Virtual Console for Wii U in North America, and for the first time in Europe, later in the year. On June 14th, 2015, "MOTHER" was officially translated and localized in English as EarthBound Beginnings.
In 1998, a copy of the unreleased NES Mother cartridge was put up for auction and the game code was extracted from it and circulated for download on the Internet. To avoid confusion, the game was dubbed EarthBound Zero by fan translation group Neo Demiforce. This copy was shipped over to a relative of one of the members in Neo Demiforce. Fans of the series and other video game enthusiasts debated as to the origin of the original development cartridge at first, but it is now generally agreed that the cartridge is legitimate, as Mother 1 + 2 and EarthBound Beginnings both contain most of the changes found in the NES cartridge.
EarthBound (Mother 2)
- Main article: EarthBound
EarthBound (known as MOTHER2 in Japan) is a distant sequel to EarthBound Beginnings, with many characters, themes, and tunes borrowed from its predecessor. Many of the characters and settings are very similar, but the only explicitly returning character is Giygas, who swears revenge at the end of the first game (evidenced by EarthBound's Japanese subtitle: Gyiyg Strikes Back!).
Though EarthBound Beginnings would not leave Japan for another 20 years, its sequel for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, EarthBound, reached America, and stars a young psychic boy named Ness. It sold well in Japan, but didn't in North America, as RPGs were generally unpopular with the American market at the time, and because the game was released around the same time as other, more typical RPG titles such as Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger. American gamers were not used to a modern setting RPG and did not respond well to the game's quirky nature, not helped by a poor advertising campaign, which used the slogan "This game stinks!" to try to play up the game's gross and wacky humor as a selling point. Due to the American release being a commercial failure, EarthBound was never released in PAL territories or anywhere outside of America and Japan. However, the game has since developed a very strong cult following, with a community thriving even today.
EarthBound was re-released in America and released for the first time in Europe in 2013 for the Wii U Virtual Console and in 2016 for the New Nintendo 3DS.
- Main article: Mother 3
Mother 3 is the third, long-awaited, and allegedly final game in the Mother series, with more than 12 years in the making. The game was originally in development for the Nintendo 64 Disk Drive as a direct sequel to EarthBound, but progress was severely hindered after the commercial failure of the Disk Drive. The project was forced to be canceled as development of the game became increasingly difficult and problem riddled, and was nowhere near complete as the end of the Nintendo 64's lifespan drew near. The project picked up again for the Game Boy Advance (which was announced in a commercial for Mother 1 + 2). The game was finally released on April 20, 2006, and retained the traditional EarthBound art style and the general story and characters that were introduced in the canceled Nintendo 64 version. Unlike the first two games, the story focuses on a boy named Lucas and his family on the idyllic Nowhere Islands. Their home is invaded and the peace is disrupted by the mysterious "Pigmask Army" which dramatically changes Nowhere Islands by introducing technology and infrastructure and performing bizarre experiments on the flora and fauna in their takeover. The game chronicles the trials and tribulations of Lucas and his family and friends as they fight against the Pigmask Army threat.
Currently, the game is only available in Japan with no planned release anywhere else in the world, although many EarthBound fans are hoping for a North American and European release. There were rumors from the United Kingdom's Official Nintendo Magazine of a possible European release, although nothing has been confirmed yet.
An English fan translation of Mother 3 was made by Tomato and put on the Internet on October 18th 2008, 15 months after the release of the game in Japan, with translations in other languages currently in the works. No drastic changes from the original script were made, but many minor changes had to be made to preserve characters' and locations' names as well as puns. For example, the character "Yokuba", loosely derived from yokubō (欲望?, "greed"), was renamed "Fassad", loosely derived from "façade" and, incidentally, the Arabic word fasād (فساد, "corruption").
An expansion set for EarthBound 64 was being developed under the title Mother 3.5 (as it was an expansion to the original Mother 3 project, known in North America as EarthBound 64), for the Nintendo 64DD. Few details regarding Mother 3.5 were explicitly made available, but IGN estimated during its development that it may contain an entirely new quest and additional characters, but utilize the same engine as EarthBound 64. With the cancellation of EarthBound 64, it too was forced out of development.
A compilation for the Game Boy Advance, called Mother 1 + 2, was released in Japan on June 20, 2003. The game was meant to promote the upcoming Mother 3 (also for Game Boy Advance) as the rebirth of the franchise. Mother 1 + 2, and likely Mother 3, are not expected to be released outside of Japan.
Ness, the main character from EarthBound is a playable character in all four installments of the Super Smash Bros. series. In both Super Smash Bros. and Super Smash Bros. Brawl, he is an unlockable character. Super Smash Bros. Melee features the EarthBound locations Onett and Fourside arenas to battle in, as well as a Mr. Saturn item from EarthBound. In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Ness is joined by the Mother 3 character Lucas (readily available at from the beginning), and the Mother item representation has been expanded to include the new Franklin Badge. With the introduction of Assist Trophies in Brawl, Jeff Andonuts from EarthBound is one of the many characters that briefly appear on the battlegrounds in the game. A stage set in New Pork City, from Mother 3, and the return of Melee's Onett stage feature in Brawl as well.
Ness and Lucas appear in Super Smash Bros. Brawl's Adventure Mode, The Subspace Emissary, as well. During the events of the story, Lucas is attacked by Pokey Minch until Ness eventually comes to the aid of Lucas. The two battle and defeat Pokey, but Wario confronts them both and attempts to turn them into trophies. Eventually, seeing that Ness is too hard of a target, Wario ends up after targeting the weaker Lucas. However, Ness saves Lucas by pushing him out of the way, being turned into a trophy instead of Lucas. Lucas runs, but after meeting the Pokémon Trainer and remembering Ness's sacrifice, he works up the courage to fight the Subspace Army.