Nintendo Tokyo R&D Products
|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)
|Genre||Console role-playing game|
|Media||3 megabit cartridge|
|Input methods||Nintendo controller|
Mother (マザー Mazā), refered to by the name EarthBound Zero by people living outside Japan, 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.
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 other non-playable 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 inside dungeons, the party will be randomly attacked by enemies, a feature dropped for its sequels. 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. If every character dies no progress is lost, but the party is transported back to the last area they saved at and the amount of money they had on hand is halved.
- Main article: List of characters in Mother
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.
Though George and Maria were not mistreated while in captivity of the aliens (because they took care of Gyiyg), Gyiyg's race sought revenge on George for stealing the secrets of PSI, and subsequently launched an invasion of the planet Earth.
Mother was designed and directed by Japanese copywriter and television personality Shigesato Itoi. The game was named after John Lennon's song "Mother".
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.
- 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.
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 1UP.com states, "the game balance is completely ridiculous, relying far too heavily on picking up better weapons and grinding for far too long."
- 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.