Bring it Back | Mother 3
We interrupt your regularly scheduled Bring it Back feature for a slight alteration. Last week, we gave Monolith’s F.E.A.R. series the retrospective treatment, and we hinted that today would be focused on a Square Enix franchise. Well considering that today is Mother’s Day, we decided to adjust the schedule. Of course, we’re talking about the classic Nintendo RPG series, Mother, or EarthBound. More specifically, we’re looking at the localization of Mother 3, the Japan-exclusive Game Boy Advance RPG. Instead of asking for a sequel, we’re content with just asking for a localization here.
Mother, developed by Ape Inc. (now Creatures Inc.), is a very interesting and somewhat controversial series, especially in the United States. From the mind of Shigesato Itoi, the first game released originally in Japan in 1989, never seeing an official localization until 2015 with EarthBound Beginnings. Taking a more unconventional approach to the JRPG, Mother was set in a late 20th century world much like our own. There are few fantasy elements, most of the protagonists are children, and you’ll use toy weapons. It was unusual; perhaps too unusual for people in other regions at the time. Aside from that, the game had clever writing and standard turn-based combat like many other JRPGs.
Fast forward a few years and Mother 2 would release in Japan in 1994 for the Super Famicom. Despite the first game staying in Japan, Mother 2 would come to North America as EarthBound the following year. Starring a new batch of characters, including protagonist Ness, the game continued with the offbeat style of the original game. While beloved by many, the game was treated with a fairly poor marketing campaign outside of Japan. There were ads saying “this game stinks” and all signs of it being a sequel were swept away. It was full of puns, fun localization changes, parodies, and even musical tributes that wouldn’t fly very well legally. With all the adversity and the climate of gaming during the mid-90s, EarthBound was unfortunately not a success.
EarthBound, despite it’s lukewarm reception, did gain a second wind thanks to the inclusion of Ness in Super Smash Bros. This gave players some exposure to an unfamiliar character, sparking interest in the SNES game. Over the years, the series would gain more popularity and development of a third game would begin. Mother 3 was originally in production for the Nintendo 64, more specifically, the 64DD. It would move the series to 3D and give a completely different style to the franchise. Unfortunately, due to the scope of the game, the failure of the 64DD, and creative differences, the game would be cancelled in 2000.
Despite a cancellation, Mother 3 would resurface again three years later. Now under the studio of Brownie Brown, the team would shift focus on the Game Boy Advance. This allowed for the game to use a style that was much closer to the previous game. While the visual style would change, the plot would remain mostly the same, with minor adjustments. After years of development, Mother 3 would release in 2006 in Japan to critical acclaim and fantastic sales. Unfortunately, Nintendo was still feeling the burn of the release of EarthBound. Aside from the sales of the previous game, there were definitely other reasons as well.
At one point, localization efforts were underway, but the material of the game was deemed too controversial. Nintendo wouldn’t feel comfortable releasing the game in other regions without making some big changes. This would go against the creative efforts of Itoi, and likely wouldn’t have been worth it. This would overall lead to the decision of not releasing Mother 3 in other regions. Despite this, interest for the game continues to grow, especially after the inclusion of the protagonist Lucas in Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii. Certainly there can be a compromise somewhere?
It’s been nearly 15 years since the Japanese release of Mother 3. Fan art campaigns, petitions, social media posts and more would urge Nintendo to release the game. With Itoi stating that he wouldn’t continue the series, the fans were starting to get desperate. It didn’t take long for a fan translation effort to start. Releasing in 2008, a patch for an English translation would become available. Despite this, fans continue to rally to have Nintendo officially release the game. Former Nintendo of America President, Reggie Fils-Aimé would even tease fans regarding it from time to time. Unfortunately, there are still no rumblings of an official effort, even in 2021. While its a long shot, we think Mother’s Day is the perfect time to reiterate that we need to Bring it Back!
Unlike previous Bring it Back features, we aren’t suggesting a sequel here. We just want an official Nintendo release in some capacity. Obviously, a Game Boy Advance release wouldn’t make sense at this point. With EarthBound Beginnings releasing on the Wii U, it wouldn’t be unusual for a Switch release. Perhaps the best approach here would be to release all three games in a bundle. EarthBound Beginnings, EarthBound, and maybe even rebranding Mother 3 as an EarthBound game would make the most sense. An EarthBound Collection, including additional content like behind the scenes info would be a great way to make things up to fans.
We don’t expect much, but we will never lose hope for an official release. What do you think? Do you still yearn for an official Mother 3 release? Or have you already taken a dip in the fan translation? Let us know in the comments below! Feel free to come back next week where we will take a look at that Square Enix action adventure title. We mean it! For real this time! And don’t forget to have a Happy Mother’s Day!