Despite being one of Nintendo’s oldest series, Mother is one of the smallest series under the company’s belt. The series has only seen 4 releases since 1989, a trilogy and a re-release of the first two entries in one package. Worse still only one of these entries has ever been released outside of Japan; Mother 2 was localised as EarthBound in 1995 (taking the title that had been intended for the original NES game) for North America while Europe didn’t get the game until 2013 on the Wii U Virtual Console. Indeed there isn’t much of a legacy to go from here, or at least that is how it would appear.
In actuality Mother has a very dedicated fan following who have strived to provide the games for the rest of the world to enjoy. Through their efforts, the unreleased cartridge of the localised version of the first Mother was obtained and distributed to the public with tweaks made over time to resolve many of the balancing issues from the Japanese release and translations of all the Game Boy Advance games have been made too. Perhaps then the series’ greatest legacy is that which it’s made through the online ROM community and it is because of their efforts that many have been able to play these unique games. And the series has been largely met with critical acclaim making one wonder why Nintendo has never had faith enough in the series to make a release outside of their home country. For the most part they have their reasons.
For starters the original Mother does admittedly have its problems, many of which have been ironed out in later releases. The game going unreleased isn’t all too surprising either considering almost all popular RPG series on the NES were deemed financially redundant during the dawn of the 16-bit console. This is why outside of Japan Final Fantasy went straight from the first game to the fourth because the actual Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy III were no longer profitable on a console that had well out-lived its lifespan. This is the same reasoning why the original Mother was planned for release but then cancelled in the wake of the SNES. However unlike series such as Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, Nintendo hasn’t revisited the game with a more modern update, leaving the title more or less lost in obscurity. Stranger still is the lack of a localisation for the third instalment.
Mother 3 was met with widespread acclaim and still today tops gamers lists for most desired localisation out of all gaming let alone on the Game Boy Advance. The game was years in the making and swapped from the Nintendo 64 to the Game Boy Advance mid-way through. Lucas had been intended to replace Ness in Super Smash Bros. Melee which was released 5 years before Mother 3 finally hit shelves, giving us an idea of how prolonged the development became. Not that this is a problem as Mother 3 is regarded as the best entry in the entire series. Yet no international release ever materialised and again we wonder why, it’s not like the RPG genre was struggling on the Game Boy Advance (think of all the Final Fantasy re-releases). Some would harken this to EarthBound and the success it was met with back on the SNES. Unfortunately despite positive reception the game did not sell well outside Japan, partly due to a misplaced advertising campaign and partly because as an RPG it didn’t quite fit our image compared to the standard fantasy style adventure. Whatever the reason may be, Mother 3 sadly remains the only game in the series to lack an official translation and if it weren’t for being featured in Super Smash Bros. Brawl we players outside Japan may never have known the game existed.
So where does this leave Mother in the grand scheme of things. Thankfully due to Ness’ status as a perfect attender in Super Smash Bros. we probably won’t see the series disappear forever as long as Nintendo still plan to make the fighting crossover series. But the 3DS and Wii U games feature less Mother content than any other titles since the first Nintendo 64 Super Smash Bros. As for a potential future, series creator Shigesato Itoi has said he will not be making it, and if you check out this little article from 2011 there’s a real touching reason behind his decision. This of course doesn’t mean Mother is over for good, Itoi could change his mind or Nintendo could go ahead without him, though currently prospects of either happening are bleak. Though even without a future, the eccentric, unique world to explore and the beautiful sentiments to discover in the Mother series will ensure it will be enjoyed by fans willing to find it out as a gemstone for many generations of gaming to come.
Mother’s protagonist Ninten remains the only lead character in the Mother series not to be made a fighter in Super Smash Bros. However the mysterious world of Magicant appears as stage in Super Smash Bros. 3DS, where a Flying Man will also appear as a Boss character that, like in Mother, will assist a fighter visiting his home. The wearable item Franklin Badge found since Super Smash Bros. Brawl was first obtained in Mother and was used to deflect the instant kill PK Beam Y. Starman and Devil Car also act as enemies in Smash Run which both caused Ninten and co. trouble in the original game. The former also appears as an assist trophy in Smash 3DS & Wii U.
If you would like to learn more about the release history of Mother than check out this link here.