Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Game Series: Mother (Earthbound)

Hey all and welcome back to the blog that jerks wrote, in today's posting I am going to write a small briefing about a video game series I feel deserves some attention. Usually the aim of the blog will be to raise the awareness of games which have been somewhat missed and in today's blog i will not strain far from that idea.

Today's game series is Mother or known as Earthbound in the U.S. The reason i have chosen this game series is because i personally own Japanese copies of Mother 1+2 and Mother 3 and I think I may be one of the few Brits that actually knows about this game from a hands on experience (I would also like to note that i can't read Japanese, sorry) i also managed to find fan made English patches for the these games which made playing them through a lot easier the second time. the main reason i am shining light on these games is because Neither Mother 1, 2 or 3 ever made it to the E.U. in fact the only coverage and knowledge of this game would be the appearance of Ness in the Super Smash Brothers Series and later Lucas would be introduced to that very same game. So without further ado lets get this show on the road.

The first game of the series which was released on July the 27th 1989 in Japan on the Nintendo Famicom or NES as we know it as locally, the game series was directed by Shigesato Itoi and was produced by Shigeru Miyamoto. The game is set in the U.S. around the year 1988 and follows the story of a boy called Ninten. Ninten is a 12 year old boy who discovers that he has psionic powers who is charged with a mission of finding the 8 melodies and using them in order to save the earth from the threat of an evil invasion.

During the game you will come across many allies and foes, your allies and friends are also youngsters such as yourself, the first of which you meet is Lloyd a nerd who is often bullied for his interests. Later you encounter a young girl named Ana who like Ninten also shares the gift of psionic powers and uses them to help Ninten in his plight against the alien invasion, these are just a few allies that you meet during your time in Mother, now for the enemies. Mother has an array of enemies that you can relate to in the modern world and these enemies you encounter will become more abundant the further you play on, these monsters range from U.F.O's and Aliens to well known animals such as elephants and crows.

The games Graphics now days are nothing more than 8-bit history, but at the time of this game's release the graphics were considered ahead of its time and was praised rightfully so. The game was also very successful in Japan selling over 400,000 copies, the sound track was filled with catch little jingles which suited well for its time and again was one of the many aspects that the game was praised for, the music ranged from having happy melodies which followed you as you walked from town to town but all that would change should you become the victim of a stray dog attack. Another thing that gain this game popularity was the fact that most RPGs at this time was best in a medieval setting and Mothers risking leap to set the stage in the modern was a bold one which evidently reaped rewards. The games combat system had a typical RPG turn based approach which is all to common now days, but to keep with the feel of an RPG the game had to develop a more modern feel to the battles, critical hits would be indicated by a big SMAAAAASH! effect which grew quite popular on it's own throughout the RPG community and also brought its own set of status ailments to the table from classic effects such as poisoned to more time related problems such as asthma attacks.

Personally i think that this game for its era was fantastic though i did not actually play the game at that moment in time, the game was set for a U.S. release under the title Earthbound but by the time translation and localisation was finished the SNES would soon be on the scene which unfortunately sealed the non-existent release of the game outside of Japan. As for how this game ends? well now that would be telling.

r 2
After the success more Mother in Japan, Itoi and Miyamoto set out on the sequel to the game with Mother 2. The game would be released 5 years after the first installment of the series on the 27th of August 1994 in Japan and would later receive a U.S. release under the title of the Earthbound on the 1st of June 1995. Like its predecessor Mother 2 is based in a modern setting in the U.S. the game is follows the events that happened several years after Mother. in this game you play as Ness, in appearance Ness looks similar to that of Ninten and like him he to also has the gift of psi.

The games plot is reminiscent of that in Mother. The game follows Ness an average boy from the town of Onett who lives peacefully with his mother and sister, life is good and simple until that faithful night when a meteorite would crash into the hillside of Onett. Being a curious soul Ness seeks to see what the commotion was about but before he arrives at the scene of the meteor he police have already barricaded it of from the public. whilst trying to sleuth more about the situation you encounter Porky the kid from next door who is harassing the police and being a general pest on the scene, after some investigation you would later return home and retire for the night however during your sleep you would be woken by a loud knocking at the door, upon opening the door you are greeted by Porky. Porky hysterically explains that his younger bother Picky has gone missing and he fears that he has gone to the meteorite, in the fear of being grounded Porky has asked Ness for help in finding his Brother.

The games plot though similar to that of Mother is very unique in it's own right with a bizarre cast of villains and locations the game has a funny feeling to it which pulls you in from the start, however the game does have a more sinister side and more than its fair share of twists and turns as the game's plot unravels. The combat system doesn't change more from the original other than it is a lot more attractive in appearance and graphically, like its prequel the game was praised for its fitting sound track and today is still regarded quite highly by Mother fans and video game enthusiasts alike. The game's mechanics also varied to that of Mother, a notable example would be the removal of all random fights, you would see what was attacking you before hand and you could physically try and avoid getting into a fight should you want to save time, or just simply not want to fight. A unique thing that Mother 2 has is that if you are much stronger than your opponent you can defeat them before the fight even begins which can sometimes be useful should you want to go through an area unharmed.

Mother 2 was a good addition to the series and shared a unique feeling with all those who played it, though the game was not praised graphically for its appearance the game was given kudos on its musical score. As stated the game would be the first time Mother would be seen outside of Japan and within Japan it would rise to 1# in the game charts of Fanimitsu magazine within the first month of its release however, its U.S. release was not so glamorous as the game was even classed as simply 'horrid' by many RPG critics but would later become a cult classic in the U.S. and even the EU to an extent. Upon the U.S. release was backed by a series of promotions in order to sell the game though it did not do as well as Nintendo had anticipated and the game only sold 140,000 copies in the U.S. alone less than half of that of Japan's 300,000 and later an additional 320,000 copies when the game was ported to GBA as Mother 1+2. Again i believe this game was slightly ahead of it's time but unfortunately met resistance the the U.S. market at the time as their was many other games to compete with and being the RPG franchise didn't catch on properly until later years, the following result would end anymore hopes of the game being released outside of Japan and also any sequel to the series in the future.

Mother 3
After over a decade since Mother 2's release in Japan, Mother 3 was announced for the GBA. The game again was developed and produced by Itoi and Miyamoto, and was set for release in Japan on the 20th of April 2006. Mother 3 is slightly different from it's two predecessors wherein the game is not based in the U.S. but a new place simply called Nowhere Island. however the game does follow the same principle in other elements, in this game you play as the protagonist Lucas who like Ninten and Ness possesses the ability to use psionic powers however, it would lay dormant within him and later be awoken within him by one of the mysterious Magypsies.

The game starts with an overview of Nowhere Island and an introduction that rushes you through the surroundings of this new world. After viewing several scenes and locations you come across the house of Alec, the grandfather of Lucas and his twin brother Claus who are staying at Alec's house with their mother Hinata. after being woken up by your brother who pulsing with excitement as the local Drago's have had a baby and Clause can't wait for you to see them and thus runs off without you, after finally getting out of bed you sleepily make you way downstairs and try to leave the house, of crouse mum intervenes and explains you are still in your pajamas and you should get changed before venerating outside. Once you are clad in your clothes you set off to meet with Claus and the Dragos. You play with the Dragos and their new baby whilst learning a new trick or two before it's time to head home for dinner and later the journey home.

Whilst the you and your brother have gone to gather your things, Hinata your mum has written a letter to your father Flint back home, after sending the letter to him via a carrier pigeon a strange anthem starts to emit from a passing flying object (if you have played it, you know the theme :D), Startled but tired, Hinata returns to her quarter's to get ready to set off home with her boys. Shortly after they set off for home something goes awry in the Forest leading back home, out of nowhere the forest bursts into flames, but this is no normal fire, this was planned arson. You watch a scene as some strangely attired creatures throw bombs in the forest in order to create this inferno and engulf the forest in a reddish blaze. Back home in Tazmily the town crier Thomas has been told to gather what people he can to help tackle this calamity and fast! Thomas realises he needs people who are reckless to tackle a problem like this and he knows just the person, enter Flint. Thomas arrives at Flints home banging the door and shouting for Flint help even so that he actually pulls the door handle clean off. After enough row Flint answers the door and hears Thomas's tale and escorts him to the forest where help is needed but what will become of this inferno? will Lucas and his family make it home unscaved? and what why did the Pig mask wearing creatures start this fire? well why don't you find out and play the game.

Mother 3 is the latest and possibly last installment of the franchise, Mother 3 differs from the previous installments in several ways, for starters the game doesn't follow a single character but an sample of them which in their own right advance the plot and allow you to see what happened from many perspectives throughout the games 8 chapters. The game keeps that classic Mother feeling with it's array of strange characters and somewhat humble cast of heroes and villains though the combat system would over go a slight change, the encounters remain physical as in Mother 2 but damage would be calculated by how well you could keep with the beat of the fight, as the music played hitting the attack button at the right note would allow a chain of combos that could hit to a maximum of 16 times. The songs in the game are great for which you would come to expect from the game series and some very catchy tunes at the same time, again the music is well suited for each scene and at points the music does bring out certain emotions within the player through out the game's story unfolds whether they be feelings of happiness, sadness or mild humor, I personally think that the game has a great way of pulling you in and getting you attached to the characters thus providing more power for when these emotions should come out. Mother 3 in my books is a classic game that i have played through multiple times and enjoyed is as much as the first time i did.

Mother 3 received massive publicity in Japan with T.V coverage, special promotions with commercial companies like Coca-Cola who into the release of the game has special Mother 2 key rings with special Coca-Cola products, a few years before the games release the Mother 1+2 would be released in order to help bolster the fan base of Mother 3 and help recap on what has happened in the game at this point and help refresh memories. One thing I do find peculiar about Mother 3 that it was released in 2006 on the GBA, which was 2 years after the initial release of the Nintendo DS in Japan, logically thinking I would have thought that they would have made the game for the DS but evidently I would be wrong and this was also a very similar case which lead to the cancellation of Mother 64 (a story for another time). However despite being released for a console from the previous generation of handhold consoles the game fared very well in the Japanese markets selling 205,914 copies within the first 3 days of its release and would go on to be the 34th best selling game of 2006 in Japan selling a total of 370,213 units for that year. The game has since been demanded for an international release to the U.S. and the EU, this has sparked many rumors of whether this game will come out of Japan? Rumor has it that the game will be released on the DS as a compilation with all 3 games on however i can't stress enough that this is just a rumor and i don't want to get hopes built up about it though i do hope that the games does reach U.S. and EU shores one day.

Well, that's my apparently brief overview of the Mother series, i may later go on to do more in depth reviews of the individual games, but for now i think there is enough information to perhaps get people interested in the game and spread some awareness of this title, as for the future of this series? well in an interview with Mr. Itoi after the Mother 3's release, Mr. Itoi announced that there will not be a Mother 4, at the time this was sad news for Mother fans such as myself but later on would release another interview when in he said he would like to see a Mother 4, but not so much be on the programming side of it. This does leave a glimmer of hope for the fans but the gap between Mother 2-3 was over 10 years so perhaps a sequel will be made? as for my opinion, i will believe it when i see it.

Thank you for reading and take care.

If you are interested in playing Mother 3 in English a patch can be found at:

Since Mother 2 was released as Earthbound in the U.S. English versions of the game are within circulation on places such as Ebay however, despite not getting an official release a leaked English version of Mother 1 was released and can usually be found under the name of Earthbound 0 and is quite rare to say the least.

How you acquire the game however, well that is up to you.

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