Are You My Mother?

Earlier this year one of the most amazing thing happened on the New Nintendo 3DS!  The new games released on the Virtual Console brought a wave of delightful nostalgia to a lot of people my age and older as well as introducing younger gamers to the world of games from the Super Famicom and other home gaming consoles.  The reason for me stating the Super Famicom in particular is because of one game in particular.  As a child I had, in my home, access to a computer, an Atari 2600, a Nintendo 64, and a Sony PlayStation in the way of home consoles.  When it came to handheld consoles, I had various forms of the Game Boy family.  I had friends and family that had other home consoles that I didn’t have at the time.  One of my favourite game consoles that I wanted because my friends had them and I loved the games for them was the Super Famicom, or the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) as it’s more commonly called in the States.  While I love a lot of games from that particular console, one series stands out to me as probably one of my favourites for various reasons.  While this series and it’s games haven’t made my lists of favourite video games, and there are reasons for that I will go into in a bit, it has always been one of my favourite games I remember playing with my friends despite it being composed of single player games.  What series of games is this?  The Mother series of course!  Let’s chat about this amazing series of games that some of you may or not know about.  Fair warning though, there will be spoilers ahead.  Sorry, this is one series that will be hard to not spoil.  Rest assured that you can still get a lot of enjoyment out of playing these games despite the spoilers.

The Mother series of video games is well-known and well-loved in Japan.  However, outside of Japan it isn’t as well known, although some of its characters are through the Super Smash Bros. series of games.  The Mother series originally spanned three consoles, two home consoles and a handheld one respectively, outside of rereleases and fan games.  The first game, Mother, originally released in Japan on 27 July 1989 came out for the Famicom.  Mother 2,known as EarthBound outside of Japan, was released for the Super Famicom on 27 July 1994 in Japan and almost a year later in the United States on 5 June 1995.  A dozen years later on 20 April 2006 the, at the moment, final game in the series Mother 3 was released in Japan for the Game Boy Advance.  To date, only two of the games have been released outside of Japan.  Mother, which previously had a rerelease on 20 June 2003 for the Game Boy Advance in Japan along with Mother 2, has since seen a translation into English for the Wii U Virtual Console where it is now called EarthBound Beginnings which was released on 14 June 2015.  Mother 3 has yet to see an actual translation outside of fan translations, but has seen a Japanese Virtual Console release for the Wii U on 17 December 2015 which gives fans of the series hope for an English translation that they have wanted for years.

Mother has the main character of Ninten that, unless you’ve played Super Smash Bros. Brawl, you wouldn’t have known about until the release of EarthBound Beginnings.  Despite this he is fairly recognizable as the sticker for trophies belonging to Ness and Lucas.  Despite his foreign sounding name, which is just a shortened form of Nintendo, he is said to be from America.  However, the America of Mother is only based on the United States and really doesn’t resemble the landscape of the States.  Many fans of the game EarthBound in the U.S. were perturbed to find out that a localization for the first game was intended, but abandoned when they decided that EarthBound would be the localized game to start instead.  This decision was made since a translation of Mother would be in competition with the likes of the Final Fantasy games being released in America at the time despite the translation being complete.  While I have played this game, prior to it being released on the Virtual Console in the States, I found the game a bit difficult to play for the style of game that it is.  I am apparently not the only one to think so and it wasn’t just because the game was in Japanese.  I know Japanese and my friends from Japan have commented that the game was difficult for them as well and they have been playing it for longer than I’ve known of its existence.  When coming to the American audience some changes were made, and retained in EarthBound Beginnings.  Most of these are superficial and made to make the games more “friendly” for a younger audience.  Some of these made sense to do as some people in the United States don’t understand Japanese culture.  However, changing the name of the places visited on the map has never made a lot of sense.  In Japan they are the names of holidays and in the States they are now odd things like Merrysville and Podunk.  The story is basically Ninten, Lloyd, Ana, and Teddy traveling across America to ultimately find and defeat Giegue (Giygas as he is also known) who was raised by an American couple that had been abducted by other aliens of his kind.  While he is the big bad, you kind of feel for him as he does have to force himself to attack Earth and its inhabitants despite his reluctance brought about by his attachment to Maria and George who raised him.  You also learn that he is also related, in a way, to Ninten.  Ninten is revealed to be the great-grandson of Maria and George.  Talk about a family rivalry!

Mother 2, or EarthBound, is by far the most widely known of the series and is set in the land of Eagleland.  Eagleland is also based on the United States.  While Giygas does return as the big bad for this game, he faces a new set of heroes.  EarthBound is set ten years after the events of Mother and Giygas has taken over the Earth and has gone super wacky.  He possesses Ness’s neighbour Pokey and goes back in times in an effort to stop Ness and his companions, Paula, Jeff, and Poo.  Yes, you read that last one right.  That’s Crown Prince Poo to be exact.  Ness and the Starmen, aliens under Giygas’s control, are by far the most widely known characters from the entire Mother series.  Ness appears in the Super Smash Bros. games and the Starmen appear in various places.  This game follows a similar storyline to the first one since it follows Ness and his companions traveling across Eagleland to defeat Giygas.  However, with the fun new added bonus of time and space travel!  Huzzah!  What makes this such a well-loved game is that it has an easier game play than Mother and has memorable characters on top of a compelling storyline.  I have noticed a spike in people playing this game after the release of the game UnderTale.  I’m just gonna leave it at that.  There are so many similarities in those games that it makes me love them even more.

Mother 3 is the last game of the Mother series and it takes place in the Nowhere Islands and follows the adventures of Lucas and his companions.  The antagonist of this game is Pokey! *Gasp*  Yes, Poké Minch from EarthBound has returned for this game and now leads the Pigmask Army.  This game is more cheerful and quirky than the slightly macabre games before it in the series.  It is broken down in eight sections called chapters and switches POVs despite the main character being Lucas.  This game has some really sad parts to it.  Fans of UnderTale might recognize a familiar motif in Chapter Six of the game.  Lucas is shown wandering around a field of golden sunflowers that bear a strong resemblance to the Golden Flowers of the UnderTale game.  This game is delightful and I’m sad that it hasn’t had a localized release.  There are some fan translations that are fairly good.  The best one that I’ve seen is the one on starmen.net.  Hopefully with how popular the Virtual Console is for the Nintendo 3DS family and the Wii U we will eventually get an English version of this game.

One of the best things about this series of games is that despite the games having similar plot lines, the characters are different enough that it makes them seem like completely different.  You also have Giygas, or someone that was at one point possessed by him, as the main antagonist.  While this is called a series, there are only three games.  Therefore, it should be more correctly called a trilogy.  Since the rerelease of the EarthBound, and the final release of the localization of Mother, or EarthBound Beginnings, hope for Mother 3 being released has been high this year.  Some of my friends that are a bit younger than me never had the opportunity to play this game before and now they do.  Some of my friends that are also being able to relive playing the wonderful game again.  If you have the chance to play any of these games, I highly recommend it.  EarthBound is available on both the Wii U and the New Nintendo 3DS.  EarthBound Beginnings is for the Wii U.  It’s much more available now that it was when I was a kid.  Although, it is still fun to play on the Super Famicom if you can find the console and the game cartridges.

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