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Mother (video game)

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For the series, see Mother (video game series).
Mother boxart
Developer(s) Ape, Inc.
Nintendo Tokyo R&D Products
Pax Softnica
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Designer(s) Shigesato Itoi (director, designer)
Shigeru Miyamoto (producer)
Hiroshi Yamauchi (executive producer)
Keiichi Suzuki (composer)
Hirokazu Tanaka (composer)
Shinbo Minami (character designer)
Tatsuya Ishii (character designer)
Series Mother
Platform(s) Famicom
Genre Role-playing game
Mode(s) Single player
Media 3 megabit cartridge
Input methods Nintendo controller

Mother (マザー Mazā) (also known as Earthbound Zero) is the first installment in the Mother series. It was developed by Ape Inc., Nintendo Tokyo R&D Products and Pax Softnica; it was published by Nintendo for the Famicom on July 27, 1989. It was designed and directed by Shigesato Itoi and produced by Shigeru Miyamoto, with music by Keiichi Suzuki and Hirokazu Tanaka. It was fully translated and slated for release outside of Japan as Earth Bound, but due to marketing issues and the quickly impending SNES, it was never released.

The game was later re-released in a compilation with its sequel, Mother 2 ("EarthBound"), on the Game Boy Advance as Mother 1 + 2.

Gameplay  Edit

Mother battle

A standard battle showing Ninten fighting a crow.

Mother's gameplay is divided into two main parts: field maps and the game's battle system. Mother does not use a small-scale overworld map and instead connects towns, dungeons, and other places together by large outdoor areas. When in towns on the field map players can talk with non-player characters, go to stores to buy equipment or items, rest in hotels, or enter other various buildings. By using any telephone in the game, Ninten can talk to his dad, who deposits money into Ninten's bank account and offers to save his progress.

When outside of towns on the field map or while inside dungeons, the party will encounter enemies in random battles. There are a handful of exceptions wherein the party can be attacked while in the sanctuary of a town, examples being the zombies masquerading as townfolk in Podunk , the enemy infested streets of downtown Spookane , and the B.B. Gang members in Ellay . When in battle, the game switches to a first-person view, only showing the enemies and a menu system used to issue commands. Actions are chosen for each character by the player, and the characters and enemies will take turns performing the actions in an order determined by their speed statistics. Winning battles awards experience points, which characters require to level up. Leveling up increases a character's stats and lets them learn more abilities. If a character loses all of their hit points, they will "die" and the player must go to a hospital and pay to revive them. After a full-party defeat, Ninten is revived at the last location at which the player saved but with 0 PSI points.

Plot Edit

Main article: List of characters in Mother

Characters and SettingEdit

Mother tells the story of Ninten, a 12-year-old boy who journeys around the world using his psychic powers to collect eight melodies in order to save the planet from an evil race of mind-controlling aliens. Along the way he is joined by four friends; a young boy tormented at his school for being a genius, a PSI powered girl whose mother mysteriously went missing, a gang leader whose parents were murdered, and a young but powerful tomboy girl who he rescues from a cemetery. They meet many unusual characters and visit strange settings before ultimately confronting the leader of the aliens, Gyiyg.

Ninten's power, PSI, was utilized by an alien race that abducted George and Maria, his great-grandmother and great-grandfather. George stole the secrets to the power while living among the aliens, and upon his return to Earth attempted to research it further and spread the research. Of the five playable characters, Ninten was able to learn it due to being the great-grandson of George, while Ana had developed her PSI powers on her own, and became famous for having done so.


Note: This summary is based off of the English prototype's plot, as depicted in Clyde Mandelin's fan translation of the GBA re-release, which is meant to better follow the Famicom version in terms of graphics and text, hence the usage of the Famicom version's names. Also note that the game is mostly non-linear, and that the plot follows the intended sequence of events.

In the early 1900's, a strange cloud appeared over Holy Loly Mountain. With the cloud's appearance, several people began disappearing and then reappearing, with no recollection of where they had been or what they'd been doing. George, editor-in-chief of the Mother's Day Times set out to investigate this phenomenon with his wife, Maria. However, the day their results were to be published, they mysteriously vanished as well. In reality, they were abducted by a race of aliens capable of psionic powers, abbreviated as PSI. These aliens tasked George and Maria with raising Gyiyg, an alien of great potential. While Maria raised Gyiyg like how a mother would raise her son, George illicitly studied the aliens' PSI and fled back to Earth. He then began to continue researching PSI in seclusion, while Maria was left with the aliens. Though George and Maria were not mistreated while in captivity of the aliens (because they took care of Gyiyg), the aliens sought revenge on George for stealing the secrets of PSI, and subsequently planned to launch an invasion of the planet Earth. When Gyiyg matured, he was tasked with invading Earth and stopping PSI from being used against the aliens, and Gyiyg obeyed reluctantly, conflicted with the fact that Earth was the home of his only family...

The story then fast-forwards to 1988 (198X in the English prototype, for the sake of ambiguity), in the rural American town of Mother's Day. Here, the tale focuses on a 12-year-old American boy named Ninten. His story begins when his home is attacked by a poltergeist, who possesses two lamps and a doll. after exorcising the ghost, Ninten's father calls him, explaining that George, now revealed to be Ninten's great-grandfather, studied PSI. Ninten's father then tasks him with investigating a series of strange phenomena occurring across America, leaving Ninten to go out on his own.

After rescuing and befriending a 7-year-old girl named Pippi from the local cemetery, Ninten is sent to investigate the escaping and sudden hostility of the animals in the local zoo. There, he discovers the phenomena are the work of an invading alien race. Ninten is then warped to the world of Magicant, where the land's ruler, Queen Mary, has recently started to experience horrible nightmares. When she meets Ninten, she asks him to find her song, the Eight Melodies, and play them to her, as she has forgotten the song and desperately needs to remember it. After returning to the real world, Ninten visits an elementary school in Thanksgiving (Merrysville in the prototype) and meets an 11-year-old boy named Lloyd (Loid in the prototype), who is constantly bullied for being a weakling. Ninten befriends Lloyd, and joins Ninten on his adventure to find the Eight Melodies. The two then travel to the town of Snowman to deliver a lost hat to an 11-year-old girl with PSI powers, referred to as Ana, who tells Ninten that she saw him in a dream, and joins the party in hopes of finding her missing mother. The group then continues their investigations in the town of Easter, where all but two of the adults were abducted by a U.F.O. Having learned this, they decide to continue onward and further investigate these coinciding phenomena.

After finding five to six of the melodies (three of which Ninten found in Mother's Day, prior to his first visit to Magicant), Ninten, Ana, and Lloyd wind up in the city of Valentine, where they learn that strange, black clouds have appeared over Holy Loly Mountain. However, during the trio's investigations, they are harassed by members of the Black Blood Gang, a powerful street gang who attacks anyone that provokes them. After overcoming these thugs, the trio performs karaoke at the Live House. However, their performance is interrupted by the Black Blood Gang's leader, who is angered by the fact that the trio was beating up his lackeys. The leader then challenges Ninen (the trio's leader) to a duel, only to quickly realize how powerful of an opponent Ninten is. Swearing defeat, the leader introduces himself as Teddy, and explains that his parents were killed by wild animals on Holy Loly Mountain. Seeking vengeance, he joins Ninten's party, replacing Lloyd, who rests up at the live house. Teddy then instructs the group to climb Holy Loly mountain and avenge his parents.

The trio then treks up the mountain, facing numerous formidable foes along their way. Eventually, they rest at a cabin, the only place where they can currently find safety. There, Ana drags Ninten into a secluded room, where the two dance and confess their love for each other. However, Teddy interrupts them, pointing out strange noises coming from outside. When they look out the window to investigate, they are immediately attacked by R7038, an upgraded version of a similar robot encountered earlier on in the game. R7038 brutally devestates the trio, and escapes by tearing a hole through space. Lloyd then arrives in a tank borrowed from a man in the Advent Desert, having hoped to save the trio from the robot. Lloyd then transports the trio back to the cottage, where Teddy is critically damaged (possibly dead in the Famicom version) from the fight. Teddy realizes that one cannot win all battles simply using brute force, and stays in the cottage to heal. Lloyd then rejoins the party in Teddy's stead.

Continuing their trek up Holy Loly Mountain, the trio is sucked into a whirlpool while trying to cross a lake in the center of the mountain path. The whirlpool brings the trio to George's abandoned underground laboratory, where they find a large robot named EVE. EVE explains that she was built with the purpose of protecting Ninten in his time of need, and joins the trio on their adventure. The glass windows in the lab then give way, flooding the lab and whisking the trio (now a quartet, with EVE supporting them) back to dry land. The quartet then continues their trek, learning that EVE is so powerful that she can kill enemies in a single blow. However, she is soon challenged by R7038XX, an upgraded variation of R7038. R7038XX and EVE then duel on the mountain, R7038XX gaining the upper hand. However, as a last resort, EVE self-destructs, destroying R7038XX in the process. The remaining trio then finds a chip in EVE that plays the seventh of the Eight Melodies. They then continue up the mountain until they reach a cliff near the peak, where they find a cave barricaded by several immovable rocks. Along with the cave, they find George's gravesite, where his spirit contacts Ninten and relays to him the final melody. Ninten and co. then head back to Magicant, where they relay the full song back to Queen Mary. Not only does Mary remember the song, but she also remembers that her true identity is Maria, George's wife and Gyiyg's former caretaker from 80 years ago. She explains that she sang the Eight Melodies to Gyiyg as a lullaby, and that she and Gyiyg loved each other very much, akin to a mother and her son. Realizing her true identity, Maria ascends to heaven to join George, as Magicant slowly dissipates, as it was only a figment of Maria's imagination...

When Ninten, Ana, and Lloyd return to the real world, they find that the rocks blocking the cavern are gone, allowing them to enter. Inside, they find a room filled with alien pods containing numerous adults, many of whom were abducted from the town of Easter. One adult recognizes Ana from her hat, and explains that her mother is being held in a room in the back. However, it is also explained that it is impossible to free anyone without defeating Gyiyg first. With this in mind, the trio then continues through the cavern and reaches the summit. There, Gyiyg appears in his mothership and attacks the trio, explaining his backstory all the while, and expresses his gratitude for Ninten's family, as Maria raised Gyiyg when he was but a child. While he initially reprimands Ninten for obstructing his plans, Gyiyg offers to spare Ninten's life, should he board the mothership with him. However, Ninten refuses, and an angered Gyiyg then attacks the trio further, stating that they can "fall into a long sleep with the rest of the ugly Earth people". When the trio tries to fight back with force, they are unable to defeat him, no matter how much they attack. However, upon checking the alien, Teddy's realization from before comes into place: Maria's spirit explains that Gyiyg cannot be defeated with brute force, and can only be defeated by the singing of the Eight Melodies. With this in mind, the trio repeatedly tries to sing the Eight Melodies, yet are attacked by Gyiyg, who hopes to silence him to escape his old conflictions. However, after ten failed attempts, one member of the trio (determined by the player's actions during the battle) manages to sing the entire lullaby. Unable to bear the pain of the memories induced by the melodies, Gyiyg is defeated, and flies back to the cosmos, swearing that he will have his revenge. In the Famicom version, the game ends at this uncertain point, as the characters turn to the player while the credits scroll behind them, leaving the player to assume that all is well again. However, the English prototype and Game Boy Advance re-release add an extended, clarified ending, as shown below:

After Gyiyg's defeat, the adults in the cavern are freed and brought back to their families in Easter, while Ana reunites with her mother and returns to Snowman. The group then parts ways, and each member continues with their own life. Lloyd is given a hero's welcome back in Thanksgiving, and is no longer bullied by his peers. Teddy, now fully recovered, changes his ways and becomes a live performer at the Live House in Valentine. In Snowman, Ana receives a letter from Ninten, and eagerly hopes to meet him again. Back in Mother's Day, Ninten is greeted by his family, who infer that Ninten must be famished after his long journey. Now that the earth's crisis is finally over, Ninten decides to lay down and go to sleep. This extended ending finishes off with a cast of all the characters who appeared in person in the game (minus Gyiyg, standard enemies, and bosses), a new credits sequence, and a post-credits scene: Ninten's father tries to call Ninten, apparently with urgent news, implying that a new problem has arose for investigation...

Development Edit

Mother was designed and directed by famed Japanese copywriter and television personality Shigesato Itoi. The game was named after John Lennon's song "Mother", which moved Itoi so much that he wanted other people to be moved in the same way.

A proposal for the game was initially presented to Shigeru Miyamoto, who rejected it due to the commercial failure of other celebrity-produced Famicom games. Itoi was so upset that he cried on the train ride home. However, he later received a callback from Miyamoto, thereby commencing development.

Shigesato Itoi, the game's designer, has said that the last parts of Mother were not tested for bugs and balance issues. When talking about this at a Mother 1 + 2 promotional event, Itoi humorously stated, "When we got to fine-tuning the difficulty there, I was like, 'Whatever!'"

The game was released in Japan again on June 20, 2003 as part of the Game Boy Advance compilation Mother 1 + 2. Nintendo published Mother 1 + 2 with the intention of advertising the upcoming Mother 3. It retained the censorship of the unreleased translation and other changes, such as the names of towns.

Planned United States release Edit

Nintendo of America had originally planned to translate and release Mother in the United States under the title Earth Bound. The localization was completed in 1990, but marketing pushed the release into fall of 1991, and it was eventually canceled. The Localization Producer and English Script Writer for Earth Bound, Phil Sandhop, explained, "Once the Super NES squatted in the pipeline and shoved the game aside from its appointed time, I believe that the marketing execs just decided that the game would be too expensive to produce and unsuccessful without marketing, and that's why it fell into oblivion."

In 1998, the fan translation group Demiforce found a beta cartridge of the game on eBay, and organized an effort to collect enough money to buy the game. The project was a success, and soon after, the game was dumped into a ROM and circulated around the internet. Due to a glitch with the most accurate emulator of the time, Demiforce hacked the game while also appending "Zero" onto the title to retroactively discern it from its sequel, EarthBound. This hack ran in NESticle, but also triggered a new anti-piracy message at two key points in the game; the game was since further hacked to prevent such issues. Since Demiforce had built its reputation on releasing their English translations out of the blue, some fans debated whether the cartridge had been translated by Nintendo or by Demiforce themselves. However, today it is generally agreed that the cartridge is legitimate, as Mother 1 + 2 contains all of the changes found in the beta cartridge.

During 2007, Tomato, better known within the Mother fan community for his involvement with The Unofficial Mother 3 Fan Translation, began work on a remake of Mother which used the graphic engine of its successor, EarthBound. This made the game's maps complicated to work on, and on August 6, 2008, Tomato said of the development's progress, "I already made most of the necessary tools, and as you can see, I had all of the enemies, the entire script, all the items [...] But the problem is the maps, and without a reliable map editor, it's just not gonna happen." His resources were then designated to providing an alternate translation, which he recently released as part of Mother 1 + 2.

Music Edit

Main article: Mother (soundtrack)

Mother's soundtrack was composed by Keiichi Suzuki and Hirokazu Tanaka. The music was released on compact disc and cassette tape by Sony Records on August 21, 1989. It consists of eleven tracks, seven of which have vocals. Some of the game's notable songs include "Eight Melodies", which plays a heavy role in the story, and "Pollyanna". Both have lyrical versions on the album, sung by St. Paul's Cathedinal Choir and Catherine Warwick, respectively. On February 18, 2004 the soundtrack was re-released with digitally remastered tracks. Songs from Mother appear in EarthBound, Mother 3, Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. Brawl in their original or remixed form.

In late 2012 an Brandon, Manitoba based musician under the pseudonym "Sludge" released an album titled Indutech  In an online interview with Bombflex Indiemuzik she claimed her album as, "a Mother series inspired collection." In 2013 the album was made publicly available for free on her Bandcamp page.

Changes Made in the English Prototype Edit

  • The NES version changes the game's name from MOTHER to EARTH BOUND.
  • The opening credits prior to the title screen are reworded for the sake of grammatical correctness.
  • Several characters' names are changed:
  • Several enemies are renamed for censorship purposes (i.e. changing "Devil Truck" to "Psycho Truck").
  • Several of the game's graphics were censored:
    • Crows no longer hold cigarettes in their wings.
    • B.B. Gang Members no longer smoke cigarettes.
    • The B.B. Gang's leader no longer holds a knife, and his left elbow is changed for reasons unknown, likely a sprite error. His skin is also darkened for unknown reasons as well.
    • Kelly, Nancy, and Juana's breasts are altered to remove the nipple-like reflections on them..
    • Gang Zombies and Nasty Zombies have their gunshot wounds replaced with ties.
    • Shroudlies no longer drip blood from their hands.
    • A small, barely-noticeable bloodstain on Dr. Distorto's coat is removed.
    • Crosses on gravestones were replaced with obelisks, crosses in churches were replaced with stain-glass windows, and crosses atop churches and on priests' necks were removed entirely.
  • Several overworld characters are redesigned to bear less of a resemblance to characters from the comic strip Peanuts:
    • Ninten's mother's hair is straightened to bear less of a resemblance to Sally Brown.
    • The girl with glasses has her straight hair tied up in pigtails to bear less of a resemblance to Marcy.
    • The tramp boy has the dirt around his feet removed to bear less of a resemblance to Pigpen.
    • The stripe on Ninten's shirt is changed from black to beige, to bear less of a resemblance to Charlie Brown.
  • The map appears as an item in Ninten's basement in the Famicom version. In the NES version, the map is now an option in the menu, and the item box that contained it in the Famicom version now contains a loaf of Bread.
  • Most of the game's locations are renamed to better suit American audiences:
  • The Time Machine (which, upon buying it, triggers a cutscene that uses it up immediately) was replaced with the more practical Super Bomb.
  • The fat old man and cool dude in red were slightly modified design-wise.
  • In Twinkle Elementary School, one kid asks Ninten in the Famicom version "Have you played Dragon Quest IV? I'm still having trouble with Dragon Quest III." In the NES version, to avoid copyright issues (as the Dragon Quest franchise was, at the time, Einx Software's intellectual property, not Nintendo's), Dragon Quest III and Dragon Quest IV were respectively replaced with Super Mario Bros. 3 and the nonexistent "Super Mario Bros. 7".
  • The following glitches were fixed:
    • A glitch involving Bread Crumbs, commonly used to skip large portions of the game.
    • A glitch where the Flea Bag can be used to stall the R7038 and R7038XX fights to the point where the maximum limit of 255 turns is reached, causing the battles to end by default. This glitch can be utilized to avoid losing Teddy or EVE, though doing so would cause some minor graphical glitches.
  • Pressing and holding the B button on the overworld causes the game to run twice as fast, effectively functioning as a run feature.
  • Several portions of the game's map were altered:
    • The Crystal Cavern was simplified.
    • The path to Mt. Itoi was simplified (by blocking off the misleading portions of the path).
    • The layout of Spookane was altered.
    • An extra cavernous path was added at the summit of Mt. Itoi. This path forks between the crater where Giegue's mothership lies, and a room filled with Giegue's prisoners.
      • The prison room was initially located lower on the mountain, where EVE can access it. The cavern to this room was completely removed in the NES version.
  • PSI powers are learned in a different order.
  • When Ninten learns a melody, the background now changes to a set of downward-scrolling, pixel-thin, black and purple, horizontal, straight, parallel lines.
  • The man in Magicant's Magic Fountain changes duties from a healer to an ATM.
  • If Ninten incorrectly answers one of the Forgotten Man's questions, the Forgotten Man will simply restart his prompt, instead of warping Ninten to the beginning of Magicant.
  • The battle with R7038 has a more optimistic ending:
    • In the Famicom version, R7038 would flee by tearing a hole through space. Lloyd will arrive in the Army Veteran's tank, having hoped to save his friends, and will express his dismayal at his inability to assist them.
    • In the NES version, Loid successfully reaches R7038 in time, and destroys him with a shot from the tank. However, Loid, not being the best shot in the world, hits his friends as well, and doesn't completely destroy R7038, leaving room for the robot's improvement.
  • When Teddy lies in bed, recovering from the wounds received from R7038, he is aligned closer to the center of the bed.
  • The rocks blocking Giegue's lair are redesigned.
  • The circumstances surrounding the Eighth Melody are heavily altered:
    • In the Famicom version, Ninten and co. are instantly warped to Queen Mary after learning the Seventh Melody from EVE's remains. After hearing the seven melodies that the trio learned, Mary sings the melodies, and remembers the eighth one on her own.
    • In the NES version, Ninten and co. learn the Eighth Melody from George's spirit, via his gravesite. Ninten and co. must then return to Magicant on their own (possibly done to encourage players to obtain the Onyx Hook earlier on in the game), and must manually reach Queen Mary. They then sing to her the Eight Melodies, which she then recites, remembering only the words.
      • The dialogue associated with the Famicom version appears translated in the NES version's ROM, yet goes unused.
      • The XX Stone is only cosmetic in the Famicom version. The revisions given to it in the NES version effectively make it one of the most drastic changes in the game.
  • The ending was heavily revised (see "Story").

Reception Edit

Mother was successful in Japan, selling approximately 400,000 copies. In two polls conducted by Famitsu, it was rated as the 9th best game on the Famicom and the 38th best game of all time. The game was the listed as the fourth most-wanted Virtual Console release in the first month of a poll by Nintendo Power. It is currently residing in the number two spot, behind EarthBound. In a Mother 1 + 2 review, Netjak praised Mother's modern setting and broad themes, calling the game, "quite dark and mature." Jeremy Parish from states, "the game balance is completely ridiculous, relying far too heavily on picking up better weapons and grinding for far too long."

Trivia Edit

  • In the Wii game Super Paper Mario, there is an enemy called the Underchomp, whose battle system works similarly to that of Mother, unlike most other battles.

Videos Edit

External links Edit

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