Mother (Video Game) Series: Legacy Defined

The Mother (video game) also known as the Earthbound series comprises three role-playing video games. Mother (1989) EarthBound Beginnings, Mother 2 (1994) EarthBound outside Japan for the Super Nintendo, and Mother 3 (2006) for the Game Boy Advance.

Shigesato Itoi wrote these games. And he published them through Nintendo. With game mechanics based on the Dragon Quest series.

The franchise is popular for its originality, sense of humor, and parody. Players use weapons and psychic powers to fight animated everyday objects. Sometimes aliens, and brainwashed people include hostile enemies.

Mother (Video Game) Review

The franchise’s signature elements include a lighthearted approach to the plot. With psychedelic battle backgrounds and a “rolling HP meter” where the player’s health ticks down like an odometer. This allows them to take preventive action. Such as healing or finishing the battle before the damage is fully dealt with.

The series is popular in Japan. And is best known in the Anglosphere for its cult following behind EarthBound.

Itoi approached Shigeru Miyamoto about making Mother while visiting Nintendo for other business.

Itoi increased his involvement in the design process over the five-year development of EarthBound when it was out for a sequel.

The project started to flounder. Later Nintendo president Satoru Iwata saved the game. The American version sold poorly despite a multimillion-dollar marketing budget.

Release & Legacy

Mother 3 was slated for release on the Nintendo 64 and its 64DD disk drive accessory but was canceled in 2000.

The project was later reannounced for the Game Boy Advance. Alongside a rerelease of Mother and Mother 2 in the combined cartridge. Mother 3 became a bestseller upon its release. In 2022, Nintendo released Mother 1 and 2 to their Nintendo Switch Online service.

EarthBound is widely regarded as a video game classic and included in multiple top-ten lists.

In the absence of continued official support for the series, members of the EarthBound fan community organized online to advocate for further series releases through petitions and fan art.

mother (video game)

Their projects include a full fan translation of Mother 3. A full-length documentary and a fangame sequel-turned-spiritual successor called Oddity. Ness, the protagonist of EarthBound, received exposure from his inclusion in all five entries of the Super Smash Bros. series.

Mother (Video Game) – Gameplay & Characters

The series is known for its combination of humorous and emotionally evocative tones. Itoi wanted to tell Mother 3 through a technique with the active player character. Which he first attempted in EarthBound. While Mother 3’s music is both similar in tone to its predecessors and completely new. It does feature similar sound effects. EarthBound characters such as Mr. Saturn recur, and RPGamer wrote that Mother 3’s final chapter is “full of blatant links” between the games of the series.

Mother’s battles were through random encounters. But EarthBound and early Mother 3 had the same battle scene trigger. When physical contact with an enemy in the overworld began a turn-based battle scene was shown in the first-person. Mother 3 also retains the “rolling HP meter” of EarthBound, but removes the feature where experience is automatically awarded before battles against much weaker foes.

mother (video game)

Some characters are present in multiple entries of the series, such as Giygas, Mr. Saturn, and Pokey/Porky. Giygas is the primary antagonist in both Mother and EarthBound, and Nadia Oxford wrote for IGN that nearly two decades later, EarthBound’s final fight against Giygas continues to be “one of the most epic video game standoffs of all time” with noted emotional impact.

Mother (Video Game) – Music

Apart from their unconventional gameplay, the Mother series’ music also stands out for its unique and memorable compositions.

Composed by Keiichi Suzuki and Hirokazu Tanaka, the soundtracks for Mother and EarthBound is a blend of various genres, including rock, jazz, and electronic music. The Mother soundtrack has been compared to the Beatles and children’s television shows, with its catchy and upbeat tracks such as “Pollyanna” and “Bein’ Friends”.

mother (video game)

Despite some critics finding the lyrics cheesy and trite, tracks such as “Eight Melodies” and “Magicant” are beloved by fans for their simple yet effective message and quirky charm.

The use of sound effects in the Mother series is also notable, with the “SMAAAASH” text and sound accompanying critical hits and the “rolling HP meter” adding an extra layer of tension to battles. The series’ soundtracks have become iconic among video game music enthusiasts, with various cover bands and remixes paying tribute to the memorable tunes.

But it’s not just the music that has garnered a dedicated fan following.

Mother(Video Game) Storytelling

The series signature humor and emotional depth have resonated with players, as well as its unique approach to RPG mechanics. The rolling HP meter, which allows players to take preventative action before health is fully depleted, is just one example of the series’ innovative gameplay mechanics.

The Mother series has also been praised for its storytelling and character development. The primary antagonist, Giygas, is a complex and emotionally conflicted character whose final battle in EarthBound has been called one of the most epic and emotionally impactful moments in video game history. Other recurring characters, such as the Mr. Saturns and Porky, have become fan favorites for their quirky personalities and unique designs.

Despite the series’ popularity in Japan, the Mother series has struggled to gain mainstream success in the Anglosphere. EarthBound, which received a multimillion-dollar marketing budget, sold poorly in the United States.

However, the series’ cult following has only continued to grow, with fan projects such as a full fan translation of Mother 3 and a fangame sequel-turned-spiritual successor called Oddity keeping the series alive.

In conclusion, the Mother series is a unique and beloved RPG franchise that has left a lasting impact on the video game industry. From its unconventional gameplay mechanics and iconic soundtracks to its humor, emotion, and character development, the Mother series has earned its place in video game history as a cult classic.

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