This is Part #3 of my write-up about the hope, hype, and disappointment that has followed MOTHER 3 for over 20 years. For more details, see Part #1.
2006In early 2006, Shigesato Itoi began posting information about MOTHER 3 bit by bit every few days on a special site. Fans went crazy over this – it was the first new EarthBound/MOTHER stuff in a long time. They (including me) analyzed every tidbit possible and translated everything Itoi posted:
MOTHER 3 was finally released in Japan on April 20th. Fans clamored for an English version – some begged Nintendo’s representatives, some tried to talk to the higher-ups about it, and others took matters into their own hands and began unofficial translations of their own:
The announcement of these fan translations pushed hope even higher – some fans assumed it would only take a day or two at the most to take the Japanese game and turn it into English. Disappointment set in when it became clear it was much more complicated than that.
The day of the Japanese release, Reid (my fellow Starmen.Net co-founder) shared some inside info he had learned – Nintendo was soon going to make its internal decision to release or not release MOTHER 3 in English. This gave fans further hope.
[19:37:12] <@reidman> we have good release to believe that mother 3 is being considered for release in america
Naturally, fans asked Nintendo representatives – including Reggie Fils-aime about releasing MOTHER 3 in English. A week after the Japanese release, Reggie answered a question about plans to bring the game to America: “Not yet. Not yet.”
This answer led many fans to think MOTHER 3’s English announcement was just around the corner.
”not yet” “not yet”
We have a chance yet
YET! YET! i feel a sign!
Two weeks after MOTHER 3’s Japanese release, the European Official Nintendo Magazine printed a small blurb about MOTHER 3. It seemed to indicate that an official translation was underway and that it would likely be released in December 2006 at the earliest. More details were promised for the next issue. Fans’ hopes were back up.
This was backed up by a Dutch magazine that made the same claim.
But in the next issue of ONM, all mention of MOTHER 3 was relegated to a tiny note that said the previous article was incorrect.
Still, fans assumed that Nintendo would say something about MOTHER 3 at E3 for sure this year.
Yeah, E3 will give us a hint. If not, we’ll at least know by the end of the year.
If they don’t announce something around the time of the Japanese release (give or take a few days), before ruling the game out, we’ll have to wait for E3, simply because of all the new announcements that get made at E3. If it’s not at E3, then start to worry a bit.
E3 came and went with nothing. Hearsay and unconvincing rumors sprung from the emptiness:
My dad went to Eb games on Sunday, June 4, 2006 and (he’s also really into earthbound) asked the manager if he knew anything about it. So far all they know is that it is supposedly coming out in september of this year. I am going back to eb games today to confirm it. if you have any other questions, please ask i’ll try to get an answer from eb games. im sorry if i get your hopes up or let you down i some way. i’ll keep you posted!
And a rumor in EGM suggested that the entire MOTHER series (the third game included) was slated for a DS release:
Hope continued to spawn a variety of theories about Nintendo’s silence on a MOTHER 3 release:
First of all, I, like many other people actually have a pretty good feeling about an American Mother3 release. I, also like many other people, am importing (w/ Super Deluxe GBA combo) it anyway. I was reading some interview with Reggie Fils-Aime and thinking out devious Nintendo’s marketing is nowadays when it hit me like I ran into a wall on a teleport. Nintendo knows about us, they know what a dedicated cult, er, fanbase the series has in the US. They could possibly be so tight lipped because they know we’ll buy both anyway, and they want a double-dip. It’s perfect. I’d even put money on the US announcement coming right after the D-LuX preorder ends.
Releasing EarthBound 2 will probably be Nintendo’s last resort in keeping the GBA alive. If they are going to release it, they might as well do it ASAP, otherwise, the GBA might find an early grave. The only way I see the game making it to the USA is if they decide to package it with the rest of the series on a DS card, calling it “EarthBound Trilogy”.
Well, that may be true at the moment, but in the U.S. they could always introduce Mother 3 as a Virtual Console exclusive. Aside from translating the game, they might have to do a little modification to the screen size, but it wouldn’t be too much trouble. Honestly, I think if Nintendo sees a great deal of interest when they release EarthBound on the VC, it might not be too far out to expect a release of Mother 3, too. Considering the fact that they’d be making nothing but profit off EarthBound since it’s basically like us paying for a ROM, and Nintendo doesn’t have to manufacture anything. They could put some of the profit toward translating Mother 3, and then, again, make tons of profit off of another ROM.
But in an interview near the end of 2006, a localization manager at Nintendo of America shot down hopes that an English translation of MOTHER 3 was in the works:
With so many fans waiting on pins and needles for a translation announcement, this didn’t go over well. In the end, though, it was the usual mix of strong disappointment, “I refuse to give up” hope, and exhausted resignation:
I really don’t know what to say. I can’t say I was expecting this, but I also can’t say I didn’t think they’d just completely throw us outside like that.
There are so many expletives I want to yell at them right now, yet I can’t muster up the nerve to do so.
God, Nintendo of America is the most useless company ever. I hate those ****ers.
I can say this much….the NOA representative’s response is more legit than that beat around the bush crap from the last time we had a major response.
It’s disheartening, I know….11 freakin years of waiting and suddenly the game gets pushed back for more bigger anticipated titles. ( Then again, technically, the second take on Mother 3 has only been out for over a year. ) For NOA…money talks, always.
The only remedy to cure the disease known as lack of U.S release, is just to continue doing what we love here; show our appreciation for the Mother series to the best of our ability.
Even if Mother 3 doesn’t come out right away, I refuse to set myself up for ultimate disappointment.
Wow, that really sucks. I had been watching this site for years, hoping something would happen. Well, at least Mother 3 actually got released at all. Cool Maybe someday they’ll finally figure out that it would actually probably be a good investment, and maybe they’ll send it over. Only time will tell, I suppose.
It was very shortly after this that Starmen.Net’s MOTHER 3 fan translation project was announced:
The earlier fan translation attempts had over-promised and had stagnated, so this news got fan hopes back up. It wasn’t going to be an official release, but it looked like fans would finally get to play a translated version of MOTHER 3 eventually.
By early 2007, hope for an official MOTHER 3 had dimmed, but it hadn’t been lost.
Out of the blue, the two MOTHER 3 soundtracks were released on the iTunes stores outside of Japan. This bolstered hopes that the game could be getting an official translation:
I’ll buy just to support the release.
I’m not sure to get hopeful, or just see this as yet another slap in the face.
Now, if only Nintendo would bother to release the damn game in the West!!
As 2007 progressed, MOTHER 3 content was slowly announced for the upcoming Super Smash Bros. game. This included a MOTHER 3 stage, music, and even a main playable character.
Fans felt certain Nintendo was going to do something with MOTHER 3 soon – players outside of Japan would have no idea who Lucas was otherwise. Something similar had happened with Fire Emblem and the previous Super Smash Bros. game, so it seemed logical that MOTHER 3 would follow the same example. Hope was high again.
There were also rumors flying around that Nintendo would be announcing the sequel to a famous series soon. Naturally, fans hoped this was referring to an announcement of MOTHER 3 outside of Japan. I don’t remember what this turned out being, but it wasn’t MOTHER 3.
At one point, Nintendo of America’s senior vice president announced that Japan-only classics were being considered for release on the Wii Virtual Console. The announcement was sparse on details, but some fans found further hope in it.
We are aware that there are some very successful Japanese franchises that have a small following in the US, and that they could never be reached by putting these products out at retail. We’re open to games released in Japan if we can get them translated properly.
Fans’ hopes were ruffled by another quote from Nintendo of America’s Reggie Fils-Aime:
Fils-Aime has never played the game, but he knows about the translation project. He said the “Mother” series (known as “Earthbound” when “Mother 2” was released in the U.S.) is important to Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s president, who worked on the series years ago as a developer. “It certainly is a franchise near and dear to his heart, and it’s something I’m trying to get smart on to understand whether or not there is an opportunity here. But certainly I’ve seen the success in Japan. That hasn’t gone unnoticed. And it’s certainly something we’re looking at
Mother 3 could end up on the VC, but it’s still too early to tell. It’s only been almost a year since the game’s initial release.
Lying about Mother 3’s chances is a sin, Reggie.
I wouldn’t be surprised if all of the Earthbound games get released on the Virtual Console, including the GBA version, some time in the next year or two. It makes a lot of sense for Nintendo to put it there rather than through retail.
I would also expect them to be USA + Japan only. ☹ Europe am cry.
As always, there were plenty of hearsay claims and rumors that seemed plausible enough to keep hope faintly alive.
Nintendo Rep: (not so friendly sounding anymore): “Reggie is NOT a fan of the Mother series and personally does not see it as a profitable bussiness move on NOA’s part-also, I personally had a chat with George Harrison a few years back and upon getting hired I was told regarding Mother that Nintendo has no plans, and will not have any plans anytime soon to bring back the EarthBound series stateside again.”
”However, what I can tell you is this-EarthBound will be coming to the Virtual Console sooner than you expect it; and Nintendo DOES plan on bringing GBA games to VC.”
Me: “So it’s possible Nintendo may use the online sales of EarthBound on VC as a scale of interest of the Mother series in the US?”
N:”Yes, exactly, Nintendo does plan on using EarthBound’s VC sales as a reference to Mother’s popularity on in the US, so you never know!”.
My dad got an employment newsletter that said NoA was hiring a software Engineer that is bilingual in Japanese and English to assist with 2nd and 3rd party developers to create localizations!
You pondering what I’m pondering?
Some fans sought hope in coincidences:
If you picked up Pokemon Diamond or Pearl, it would be wise to know that Nintendo is toying with us once again. First is the Main Boy Character’s default name being Lucas and one of the Elite 4 member’s name being Flint….
Coincidence? I think not…
I’ll keep my eye out for any other “easter eggs” Nintendo planted in Pokemon D/P…
Reggie mentioned MOTHER 3 a few times in 2007, usually in a dismissive “this is getting annoying” way:
Starmen.Net staff members were invited to visit some people at Nintendo Power and within Nintendo itself:
I didn’t take part in this, but the meeting sounded surreal:
We sat down for lunch in ‘Cafe Mario’ and talked about all kinds of stuff, obviously focusing around EarthBound and especially MOTHER 3. They actually asked us about the MOTHER 3 Fan Translation, at which point everyone looked at me, and I was all ‘err heh uhh hmm’. As it turns out, they’re pretty excited about it and are looking forward to playing it ☺ Who saw that coming?
The big thing that came out of the meeting though, was this:
This led fans to rally around EarthBound on the Wii Virtual Console, but that turned into a whole debacle of its own. It didn’t even matter in the end – EarthBound never got released on the Wii Virtual Console and it wouldn’t see a re-release until six years later.
Anyway, with fan enthusiasm up again, Starmen.Net began a new round of action to convince Nintendo to release MOTHER 3 in English. It wasn’t just a petition this time, though – it was much more. All the energy and dedication that went into this project kept hope alive.
Meanwhile, things started happening with the four mystery Nintendo 64 Disk Drive development disks from a few years before. The final pieces of hardware were on their way, and fans were again hopeful that they’d soon discover a prototype version of EarthBound 64.
Ooh man, I can’t wait! Maybe we’ll finally get some idea of what that Lucas/Claus mine cart ride in the video was all about.
I can’t wait! Whether it’s Mother 3 or not, I just want to find out what is on those disks once and for all. Even the Mother 3 demo would be awesome if it were on those.
There’s nothing more that I would love than for a playable version of EB64 to be on the discs but we have to be realistic, they may be completly blank. They may also contain a different game, or if it is M3 related it may be a bunch of broken code or a few images and videos, but who knows and thats why corey is doing this.
Two of the four disks booted up properly. They were unrelated, retail-version games. It was disappointing, but fans clung to the hope that the other two disks contained the prototype EarthBound 64.
Aw, man. Everybody cross your fingers for those two disks he hasn’t booted yet. :/ What a bizarre way to end this crazy ride.
We’ve come so far… and no MOTHER 3 64… But! There’s still hope. The 1st and 3rd disk’s contents have not been revealed!
Near the end of 2007, a well-known video game news tipster known as “Surfer Girl” claimed that the whole MOTHER/EarthBound series would likely be released in 2008 on DS or Wii:
Nothing came of these rumors.
With Super Smash Bros. Brawl out, fans had high hopes of MOTHER 3 finally seeing a release. The general logic went something like this paraphrase:
Okay, now that Smash Bros. is out, way more people will know about MOTHER 3 and Lucas, so this way they can release MOTHER 3 and more people will buy it! Looking back, it makes perfect sense that they didn’t release MOTHER 3 before Smash! It’ll make more profit this way!
When news about MOTHER 3 quieted down, fans began to see hope in things like WiiWare and the DSi:
Virtual Console, no. WiiWare, however, yes! WiiWare would be a great way to distribute Mother 3. The file can easily fit on the Wii, and Mother 3 can easily be played with the Classic Controller or even better the Super Famicom Classic Controller (I bought one I’m saving for Earthbound). Nintendo of America wouldn’t have to worry about packaging and the like. Perhaps the GameBoy Advance’s days have ended, but the Wii will be around for awhile.
So, i don’t want to beat a dead horse or anything when it comes to Mother 3 being downloadable on Nintendo media, but Nintendo just announced a new DS called the DSi. Its smaller, and it has a few more features, like it has a .3 Megapixel camera, and even connect to a DS store similar to the Wii Store. We all know that its highly unlikely for Mother 3 to come out for Wii (yipes, i almost said ps2…) but maybe this will make it possible.
As before, vague Nintendo announcements offered scraps of hope to fans. Even Reggie made comments about E3 that garnered lots of attention:
The wording and timing made it seem perfect for a MOTHER 3 announcement. Fans had their fingers crossed.
I agree with you. Lately there’s been lots hints pointing towards Mother 3 or EarthBound being re-released and the best place for Nintendo to show off their new (or old) game is at E3. I can’t wait for E3 this year! Unless they said there was going to be a “big game” last year. Did they say the same thing any other years or is this something they don’t do often?
I see this year’s E3 as our last hope for Mother 3. Although I know it’s been said every year for years, this will be the second E3 since M3 was released and it really is hopeless after this ☹
Older fans remained skeptical of every announcement and hint. In that sense, there was definitely a fan “generation gap” by this point:
Sorry, but I doubt there will be anything MOTHER related in E3. It just doesn’t seem likely.
Nintendo isn’t going to translate a game on a dead system two years after the game came out.
Additionally they aren’t going to remake a game two years after it came out either.
As always, MOTHER 3 failed to appear at E3.
At right around the same time, an issue of Nintendo Power included a teaser about some secret games that would be revealed in the next issue:
For some fans, this image seemed similar to the MOTHER series logo. Other fans swore they could see certain faces in the moon that pointed to the MOTHER series. Although it didn’t seem like much to go on, the cryptic clue in the official Nintendo Power magazine generated a good bit of excitement.
I might be completely out of my mind for even imagining this, but the moon is associated with the Mother series, right??? I throughly examined the picture of the moon and found nothing out of the ordinary. It’s just the moon. Could there be some huge Mother related announcement coming this summer? If anybody else saw this and thought the same thing I did, please share your thoughts.
I see Pit and Ness. Those are the two things I see.
Plus, if you rotate the moon, it looks like the O in MOTHER.
Then a later teaser mocked EarthBound fans’ excitement:
By this point, cynicism and sarcasm were common coping mechanisms:
You realize that the way they worded that (relative to previous teasers) makes it at least three times more likely that Mother 3 will in fact be announced next issue/E3.
In late 2008, the MOTHER 3 fan translation was finally completed. After 13 years of teasers and rumors, fans could finally play the sequel to EarthBound in English:
The team and I still hoped for an official release someday, but the patch’s release was of course at odds with that hope. It was a weird situation to be in for sure. But the fan translation did appease die-hard fans who had waited years for this chance.
The company that developed MOTHER 3, Brownie Brown, publicly stated its interest in releasing MOTHER 3 for the DS. Although the statement had some “if”s to it, fans were excited to hear something from an official source so vital to the game’s existence:
Brownie Brown also had a hand in developing Mother 3. While it’s way too late for Nintendo of America to backtrack and release Mother 3 as a Game Boy Advance game they could port it to the Nintendo DS. “If we were asked to make one [a DS version of Mother 3], then we would definitely like for fans abroad to play the game,” Kameoka-san said.
Reggie dashed hopes again by directly discussing MOTHER 3 in an interview:
Fils-Aime: I’m a big “Mother” fan. I have to set the record straight on this topic, because I have seen all of the hate comments. I’m a big “Mother” fan. Huge “Mother” fan. I would love to see “Mother” localized in our market. In fact, I’ve talked to [Nintendo president] Mr. Iwata about it because this is a game he has some history with. [pauses] But it is not on our announcement schedule. [laughs]
Shortly after that, Reggie quashed any lingering hope in a separate interview:
Wired.com: Finally, when is Mother 3 coming out?
Fils-Aime: Mother 3. OK, Chris. So I have seen all the hate mail and all of the stories that say that Reggie is deliberately holding back Mother 3. Nothing is further from the truth. I would love to see Mother 3 here in the U.S. market. But it’s not a title that we’re working on, not a title that we’ve announced. Personally, that disappoints me, but as we look at what’s important for DS or for Wii, we’ve got other priorities right now.
Honestly, I’d rather have a definite “no” than a “maybe possibly sometime in the future” thing he’s doing.
Probably just my own bias but Mother 3 should be a priority title, it seems like a lot of people really want it. Besides, what are Nintendo’s priorities? Wii Sports 3? Wii Music 2? I mean really…
Are you guys surprised?
If Nintendo wouldn’t even add EarthBound to the Virtual Console…did you really think they were going to translate MOTHER 3 to English and release it here in America? Nope.
‘Forget it, let it go and stop bugging us. We aren’t releasing it.’
At some point in 2009, the two MOTHER 3 soundtrack albums were removed from all of the iTunes stores outside of Japan. Naturally, this didn’t bode well for an official MOTHER 3 translation.
I’m assuming it’ll make it’s way onto the torrent network eventutally, but this is pretty sad, as it seems to be just another way of Nintendo saying “Sorry, this page is unavailable.” with anything related to MOTHER.
This is beyond ridiculous. Two of the few things that Americans were legally allowed to have that were related to Mother 3 are now gone. What has gaming come to?
For fun, Destructoid hired a professional psychic before E3. The psychic made many claims, including one about MOTHER 3 being released on the DS:
I doubt this got any fans’ hopes up. Just the opposite, if anything – you could almost feel fans getting tired and cynical about all the nonsense surrounding MOTHER 3:
After reading a few of her predictions, namely “Nintendo has an attitude that they know everything, but that is a problem. They are having trouble taking in outside criticism.” I have to say stat I 100% have to believe this prediction. It’s gonna happen. ☺
Please do not falsely raise our hopes. Thank you.
Bill Trinen of Nintendo of America commented on MOTHER 3 in an interview. The answer less of a “no” than Reggie’s quotes earlier in the year, but it was still a “no”:
NWR: Any word on anything for Mother 3 or Another Code coming to America?
BT: You know, when you hear about them, you’ll hear about them. (laughs) Until then, there is nothing on those at this point and time.
With all of these rejections flying back and forth, fans showed little hope for MOTHER 3 at this year’s E3.
Elsewhere, the two remaining Nintendo 64 Disk Drive development disks were finally checked. Unfortunately, they contained unrelated games too. All hope that these disks held a prototype version of the Nintendo 64 MOTHER 3 went up in smoke.
Disappointing, but not a complete surprise. The idea that the disks contained anything Mother 3 related was just an educated hunch at best.
It’s just as well. We were finally able to experience Itoi’s dream for Mother 3… I always felt that the blue disks were being used as a kind of “look at me, I have the disks” being waved around in front of the EB community. Now that Mother 3 has actually been released they meant less, and now that we know what is actually on them the community will no longer have its heartstrings needlessly tugged on. Hopefully one day we will maybe get access to some EB64 beta, but at least this brings the community much needed closure. ☺
Overall, hope and excitement for an official MOTHER 3 release was weak in 2009.
Things were quiet as 2010 started. As MOTHER 3’s Japanese release stretched further into the past, hope for an official translation waned. In fact, fans had even switched a lot of their focus to begging for EarthBound to get a Virtual Console release. The fact that 2010 marked EarthBound’s 15th anniversary added a little extra fuel to everything this year.
Like most previous years, fans hoped that E3 would offer some sort of MOTHER 3 information – anything at all, really. As the event approached, a photo of an E3 game announcement list started circulating online:
The Nintendo section of this list included a game called “EarthBound: Re-entry”, which one might assume is a localized title for “MOTHER 3”. This caused a stir among fans – some believed it, most saw through it as a fake, and others were simply exhausted from yet another stupid rumor.
Super fake. Nothing more to say. The “confidential” label at the top actually bolsters its position as a hoax.
I’m inclined to believe the list is a complete hoax designed to get this kind of reaction out of people, but the inner die-hard Mother fan in me is incredibly excited at the mere mention of EarthBound stuff being released.
Let’s just keep talking about Luigi’s Pie Factory.
Then something strange happened on the actual E3 show floor: Nintendo set up a special room labeled “Dr. Andonuts”:
Dr. Andonuts was a key character in EarthBound and in MOTHER 3, so it was clearly an intentional, undeniable reference. But what could it mean? What was in the room? Was something EarthBound/MOTHER-related going to happen? Naturally, fans were suddenly very excited and hopeful:
I don’t know if I have room in my heart for this.
Just stop, Nintendo. Just stop. Just… do it or don’t!
I mean… gah, I had given up! Now you do this? Come on!
I am about to kill myself. I haven’t even been an EB fan as long as most have, and this door is killing ME. And I NEVER get my hopes up! ; __ ;
this BETTER be leading to something good. like nintendo hasn’t poured enough salt into my poor Mother fan wounds already. or else, stop teasing us!
ITT new EB fans get all “OMG ILL KILL MESELF IF THERES DISAPPOINTMENT THERE BETTER BE A NEW EB GAME BEHIND THAT DOOR!!!!111ONE!11!” and old EB fans are all “Meh”
Well I can see the door is real, but it must be a cruel coincidence. I don’t think this has anything to do with Mother/Earthbound.
YAY Mother Trilogy is actually a POSSIBILITY!
just look at that, it’s a secret room behind the scenes at e3 2010. that doesnt necessarily confirm anything or even hint at anything, it could just be a nintendo inside joke…but it ups the possibility by a bit!
Luckily, fellow fan Jonathan Holmes looked into the mystery for us:
Hopes were dashed when an employee revealed that the room was named “Dr. Andonuts” for no real reason – Nintendo just likes to label rooms with various Nintendo-related names for fun.
By now, the belief that “Nintendo just likes to troll MOTHER/EarthBound fans” was growing more widespread than ever before.
At this point, I think NOA is just made up of a bunch of assholes. They just like to see how we react to this stuff.
Okay, either A, Nintendo is being very bizarre with their announcements, or B, they’re trolling us.
Nintendo just loooooooves fucking with Mother fans.
This like these make me happy I’m not a huge Earthbound/Mother fan. I’d be pissed.
nintendo screws with eb community, news to no one at 11.
Not much more happened in 2010 from what I can recall. There was a general sense of growing pessimism as newer fans grew used to the cycle of hope, hype, and disappointment.
2011 was another slow year, but a few things did raise hopes for MOTHER 3.
First, Shigesato Itoi publicly acknowledged the EarthBound fans at Starmen.Net. He made no mention of MOTHER 3 or anything of the sort, but for many fans, this was a positive sign – the series’ creator actually knew about the fans outside of Japan and his comments suggested that he knew of their petition-like activities.
Itoi actually mentioned Starmen.Net specifically, but Starmen.Net had nothing to do with it. Instead, it seems he remembered the name from the Starmen.Net petition stuff from 2007.
Pretty incredible to be acknowledged by Itoi himself. Congratulations to all the guys and gals who have made the Mother fan community what it is today; keep up the awesome work.
Nothing much happens in this video, but I can’t help watching it over and over. I mean, the big man himself. Damn.
Later in the year, Nintendo announced the special “Ambassador Program” for early Nintendo 3DS adopters. Basically, early adopters would get a set of classic games – including Game Boy Advance games – that wouldn’t be available for regular 3DS owners. And since MOTHER 3 was a Game Boy Advance game, younger fans were filled with optimism:
Since Nintendo has announced the price drop for the 3DS and the 20 free NES/GBA virtual console games for the “Ambassadors”, I believe this could be an opportunity to convince them to release Mother 3 here in the west since the risk of the game being released on cartridge, not selling well, and making enough money has been done with. Sure they have said that “at this time we have no plans to release them in this market, either on disc or via download.” but this was before they mentioned GBA games would be coming to the virtual console. With Operation Moonfall gaining support from Zelda fansites and gaming sites such as Destructoid to release Majora’s Mask on 3DS, it could be possible for Mother 3 to get similar treatment.
This hope for MOTHER 3 on the 3DS went nowhere, however.
After all of the craziness from the previous E3, there was almost no hope for MOTHER 3 at E3 this year. The rest of 2011 was uneventful.
(I still need to edit this article and renovate the final section but I wanted to get this out in time to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Mother 3 fan translation’s release. So please overlook any cracks in the walls at the moment!)
Ah ok, I was going to say…
“surprise appearance’s” (page 2)
I think it’s amazing you chronicled all this, Clyde. Thank you for sharing the storied history of a little GBA title that has eluded localization for over a decade. It is really sad that they ignored and continue to ignore all this love for a game that many fans want so badly. They even turned their noses up at your generous offer of providing your translation efforts as a base to work from.
Looking at this, it’s funny how, in another example, the PC version of Ys: The Oath in Felghana was originally fan translated by Deuce and Nightwolve because the PC versions of Ys games had trouble coming here. Because Ys was making a new boom overseas, XSeed purchased that fan translation and revised it to flow even more naturally in English, and then released it on PSP. It’s a shame a different company couldn’t do the same with your work, since Nintendo is just yawning and not listening.
I just want to say following you guys for all these years has been an up and down process, but we all love the same thing and some great stuff was born from all this. Thank you guys for keeping the community alive!
Thanks for the info!
what an incredible, heartbreaking read!! thank you so much for putting all of
this together! i was a newborn when this whole thing started back in 1997, so it was really fascinating (and sad) to learn about the beginning of where we are now as mother fans. i used to think rumor season was fun, but reading through all of this has given it new meaning. i hope that one day, for all the fans who have been waiting since day one and for all the people like me who were born after that but who became fans pretty much as soon as they could, we will get some kind of closure; whether it be an official translation or confirmation that it will never happen. no crying until the end! and thank you so much for all the work you and the other veteran mother fans have done over the years!
how to debunk a rumor/leak list:
look out for Mother 3
Translation of Dutch article:
Blurb: STICKS OUT BECAUSE: This game will probably come to Europe, but won’t appear in America.
Article: The bizarre Mother-RPG-series is very popular in Japan, and was developed by the, there, widely loved artist and media personality Shigesato Itoi. In the West, the series is barely known – part 2 appeared here for the Super Nintendo under the name Earthbound, but sold badly. That game world is really primarily known from Super Smash Bros. Melee, hero Ness in the forefront. Strange then that Mother 3 is heading this way (probably under the name Earthbound 2). But we’re happy with it, because the Mother-series manages to sell a kind of bizarre and self-deprecating humor that we can appreciate. An evil masked pig army invades Nowhere Island and some inhabitants – including the boy Lucas, thief Duster and monkey Salsa – revolt.
Bought the handbook ten years ago. Thanks for the memories.
C’mon Nintendo, give us Luigi’s Pie Factory
Nintendo’s marketing for Earthbound was terrible. During a time where I sucked up just about any JRPG, I skipped over Earthbound due to the gimmicky ad campaign with the rancid scratch and sniff stickers. I stopped subscribing to Nintendo Power a year or so later due to decreasing quality, and the Earthbound campaign was a definite contributing factor.
I remember when Neo Demiforce crowdfunded something like $500 to borrow the English-translated Mother prototype board around 1998. That was some of the hugest news in emulation. Xodnizel, Starmen.net admin and eventual FCE Ultra author, had to hack the game to make it work in Nesticle because of then-infamous “mapper 4” problems, which is also why Demiforce’s Final Fantasy II intro works correctly only in Nesticle (though there is a corrective patch now). Then, the game hacking tripped Mother’s anti-piracy protection, so that had to be hacked, too.
Back on topic, I hear Mother 3 is co-branding with Half-Life 3 to be released simultaneously. Against all odds, Robert Guillaume will present these games at E3.
I remember being pretty excited for this game back in the day. I loved Earthbound, though I have never been as ardent a fan as there are nowadays, but the idea of wandering a drug store in three dimensions really excited me back then.
These days, I mostly want Mother 3 to be released here, if only for the catharsis of the fans who have built a community around the series. I have the first two games (Haven’t played Zero, even though I have it on my Wii U, and I haven’t played EB since about 1998), so having the third would make for a fine occasion to play through the series for me.
Thanks for the (very loooong) article!
I’m honestly glad it ended up being released for the GBA instead of the N64. If you ask me, the N64 version just looks SO ugly compared to the beautiful sprites of the final product. A 3D Mother title would’ve been neat, but 2D fits the series’ aesthetic so well somehow.
Of course, I wasn’t a fan yet back during the EB64 drama, so I suppose I was spared the agony of constant rumors, delays, and cancellations. It might be a different story for people who were really invested in seeing EB on the N64. But hey, now I get to hope and pray for an official English version like the rest of us!
Heh, the “sadfly” misspelling under the Dutch article capture really makes me want a Sadfly emote or cartoon to appear somewhere.
What a rollercoaster this one game has been for the Earthbound community.
Seeing how I became a Mother fan years after the release of Mother 3, it really was something to read this and fully see the adventure which was the hype behind Mother 3 and it’s translation (that probably won’t happen). I have replayed the translation so many times, and I thank you for translating it, so many people could finally play it after all of the waiting. All there is to do now is to hope!
Is there any way to get the Wii U VC sales numbers on the games?
I remember there were running threads on NeoGAF that would take what little information was known (if an indie spilled hard data on sales numbers, or if Nintendo announced a landmark number to investors) and would extrapolate from there — if Game #5 on the chart sold this much, Game #4 sold at least more than that.
So to answer your question, no.
I remember when shit blew up so much a few years back. I never believed that lying Emily [person] for a second, and laughed my ass off a the 90% of the internet that actually believed she was actually some credible insider source.
I’m also upset that nothing came of those rumors, but please let’s not start name-calling. I edited your post and replaced that word.
Sorry, I didn’t really mean anything that malicious about it. I guess i’m just used to talking that way on other websites. Again, i apologize for my colorful language.
No problem, thank you for understanding 🙂
I forgot how many people were trying to make a name by promising a Mother 3 release. I don’t really get the internet rumour myth-making thing either.
I remember seeing a broadcast in the Radio PSI archives from the day M3 came out in Japan, and everyone’s on there talking about it and looking back, kind of like this. And being emotional, of course, since it was FINALLY finished! Apparently there isn’t enough space to host the archives anymore but hopefully I’ll be able to hear that broadcast again one of these days.
I was reading through this again, and I was reminded of the ice cream comic, that’d be a good thing to add after the “fan generational divide” mention
I never got caught up with the online gaming community growing up, and never had to experience these repreated rounds of excitement and disappointment. I long awaited Earthbound 64 since its announcement, only to be heartbroken upon its cancellation. The GBA release coupled with a professional quality fan translation made up for it all (Thank you, Mato and programming team). The 32- and 64-bit era graphics have not aged well over time, while the 16-bit era retains a charming quality, and Mother 3 definitely benefits from the aesthetic we’ve come to love from Earthbound–amusingly, at the time, we were told to ignore the mediocre graphics of Earthbound to uncover the gem from within.
I suppose nothing could ever match my disappointment with how Final Fantasy IV has been handled: an initial release with cut content and stripped dialogue (the one that brought me into RPGs), a poor fan translation, several ports stateside with subpar translations, and, finally, a seemingly polished translation for the DS with additional backstory included, but at the expense of its visual nostalgia.
That was quite an emotional ride. I’ve been a diehard Mother fan since playing and falling in love with Earthbound in the mid 90s… I’ve been one of those delusional fans that has believed forever that Mother 3 was always just right around the corner. Heck, the last couple nintendo consoles I’ve purchased were almost solely because of Mother 3 rumors. I’m a man in my mid 30s now, and I pretty much feel like that hope is dead, and find it increasingly hard to give a crap about what nintendo does anymore. It’s sad.
I understand being too busy to make this into a full book, but if you ever do decide to take this information and turn it into a printed publication later down the line, I will absolutely still buy it.
If only Starfy had this big of a fan base and documented of a history
Starfy is easy.
First game was planned for Game Boy, then Game Boy Color, then released on the GBA. Everything else is straightforward for the Japanese releases up until 5. Then Nintendo had him appear in Super Mario Maker. Some cameos in Mario and Luigi (as “Legend of Starfy”), Super Princess Peach (also TOSE) and the Smash Bros series since Brawl, which was the point that probably convinced Nintendo to bring the last fifth game and only that overseas.
The other games were repeatedly pitched by TOSE to Nintendo, with awkward preliminary English translations with profanities like shit and fuck, we know of the existence of one for the first game and for the fifth game, and probably more. While some rumors said it was due for a 2005 Western release, nothing came of it. TOSE said NoA rejected the series because it was “too Japanese”. Series director said “stafy is NOT starfy or a starfish” but the sole published localization, and even those early prototypes used the “starfy” name. (by the way, one thing the article doesn’t mention is the rumors about Brownie Brown pitching unfinished localized prototypes, but in 5 languages, of Mother 3 GBA to overseas branches for approval)
What Starfy’s localization trials and tribulations lack compared to Mother 3 (or even 1 and 2, really) was the dramatic momentum, unexpected plot twists (who could have foreseen Nintendo cancelling the CONSOLE the game was supposed to release on?) the passion, and Nintendo actually enjoying keeping that suspense. The bogus rumors supported by a media blitz that was a repost of just one source’s rumor helped keep that alive.
I don’t personally think Nintendo will ever release Mother 3 in English.
IF, and that’s a big if, the 2015 Virtual Console version really existed, that means it was made around the same period of time Fire Emblem Fates was done. Nintendo’s localization policies around that period were really controversial and they did efforts to distance themselves from their negative PR and future projects, down to abandoning Fates’s DLC content. If Mother 3 was translated following those guidelines, er, it wouldn’t be a pretty sight for the fanbase.
On the other hand, once I saw Kotaku’s 2017 article here “Why it’s okay to release Mother 3 in 2017”, I immediately remembered some articles, posts by those same writers, tweets months after that that sound like sword rattling in anticipation for an upcoming controversy. Things like “there’s so much problematic content that needs to be changed” in Mother 3, like so and so, that aren’t even unanimously agreed to be problematic but still assumed to be so.
If Nintendo is controversy-averse, and they still are to this day for some subjects even though they softened their recent policies, a Mother 3 localization sounds like very bad news.
You think Starfy has it bad? At least Starfy had one of his games localized and earned himself a physical appearance in Smash Bros. Poor Lip _still_ doesn’t have any of that. Panel de Pon is, to this day, one of Nintendo’s most overlooked classics, and it’s a crime that it isn’t more recognized.
Great article; it brought back memories of those mysterious blue carts and grainy Mr. Saturn fish tank images. That was around the time I first joined too, and I haven’t seen those images since then.
In an old Starmen thread written when EB64 was recently cancelled, I read some kids talking about whether it could move to PlayStation like FF did. The replies were something like “What, do you want it to be filled to the brim with FMVs??” not to mention a Nintendo franchise would never cross over like that… but I still thought that was funny.
Anyway, I’m not really clamoring for an official MOTHER3 localization anymore. I played your version when it first came out, Mato—Loved it, and I haven’t looked back since. It’s like how you framed it in the last paragraphs; Older fans have already seen the rumors come and go, they’re nothing new. I’d welcome an official release of course, but right now I have no expectations.
“But… the future refused to change.” sums up the whole article nicely.
With the Wii U discontinued, right now there’s no avenue to re-release a GBA game like MOTHER 3. Maybe if they ever made a “GBA classic” of some sort, they could use it as a system-seller ala Star Fox 2.
Great work as always!
I think the death of the VC has officially killed any Mother 3 hype for me. The only way I could see it being a viable product is if Nintendo releases all three games as part of a collection (kind of the like the Seiken Densetsu collection in Japan).
I also wonder whether EarthBound Beginnings will be added to the Switch Online service, or whether EarthBound will be if they add SNES games?
Reading this was a journey. Thank you for taking the time to document it.
My heart can’t bear pinning my hopes on rumors anymore, but I’ll never stop hoping in the back of my mind.
10 years since the fan translation wow. I’ve only been a Mother fan for 13 years when I first played Earthbound so reading about fan reaction to Earthbound 2/64 was really insightful. I had given up on an official Mother 3 release since 2016 when the 10 year anniversary game on wii u was revealed to be Twilight Princess. This article however sparked that small hope in me that laid dormant for so long. Just thinking about an official mother 3 localisation makes me feel younger again. Seems like not long ago I was inspired by a video to use PK Call and ask Nintendo about Earthbound and mother 3.
That was an awesome article.
Being a Mother fan in the states has always been a strange thing. I realized sort of how we’re viewed in Nintendo when the tag line for the Wii U Virtually console release of Earthbound was “You’re Not Dreaming.” Mother releases in the states these years are sort of “in case of emergency” type things. I can see an official release happen if adoption of say Switch online is poor and having that be the only way to play Mother 3 possible be part of a future thing, but honestly Smash will push that more. Will Mother 3 get an official US release: maybe, but it’ll happen when Nintendo needs to summon the most “ride or die” fan base. Great read.
Dismaying article. But good article.
10 years since I was on my break at work and decided to pull up starmen.net on my nokia’s primitive phone browser. I saw that the translation was out, and I was so excited I couldn’t contain myself.
I left work that day and wouldn’t you know it, the flash cart I’d ordered literally two months prior had arrived as well.
I spent the next two days completely absorbed in Mother 3. It’s all I did outside of working, sleeping and eating. I’d take my lunch breaks at work and just play Mother 3 in the backroom. And I cried giant tears at the ending.
No other game has been simultaneously such a delight to me, and also so heartbreaking. I always wanted an official translation, but the chances of that happening are less and less every single day. But, that’s okay. I had my “Mother 3 translated” moment. 10 years ago, on my break at work, on that busted old Nokia phone.
It’d be easy to say that the series has changed my life, and honestly it has. I’ve met people who are also fans of the series, I’ve made lifelong friendships that have carried across the world thanks to this series. I couldn’t be more grateful.
Pretty much my story. I was a Schwan’s driver in 2008 when the fan translation was released. My GBA flash cart had died by then, but I loaded Mother 3 onto my trusty Dingoo A320 and brought it to work every day so I could play it on my lunch breaks. It was hilarious and heartbreaking, and quickly became my all time favorite video game.
I haven’t touched it since that first play through…has it been 10 years already?
If there’s ever an official release, it’ll be the perfect excuse to play it again. If not… I’ll still come back to it eventually, because it’s just too good to not replay it at some point.
The Mother 3 FAM translation is great – no doubt – and I am thankful for the (what must have been) tireless work that went into it, that I finally got to play the game.
Here’s the thing about the game, though: Earthbound is sooooo much better IMO. I see and can appreciate what Itoi was trying to do, but I think in the end the project was too ambitious. The final product seems to reflect a (I can’t think of a better way to put it and yes, I recognize the irony) rush to market. It’s cool that the different chapters focus on different PCs, but we don’t get to spend enough time with most of them to end up caring much about them. This could have been at least partially remedied by granting these characters a larger presence as NPCs, but in many cases it seems the game goes out of its way to avoid doing this. That brings me to my next issue with the game – the world feels way too small when compared to Earthbound. Part of the fun of Earthbound was the open-world feel. There were a slew of different towns to visit, and each had its own unique story and cast of quirky characters. The player even learns spells that specifically enable easy travel from one location to another. After defeating the final boss, you can still travel around and revisit everyone. By contrast, in Mother 3, there are only a few locations. Travelling between them is rarely easier than walking the long distance and fighting a bunch of monsters along the way, but it doesn’t much matter because usually all of the NPCs vacate the site once the plot moves on. So even though the world remains mostly open for most of the game, it’s actually very linear, and the game does very little to reward the player for exploring, which to me is the cornerstone of any great RPG.
My last big problem with Mother 3 is its existence as a sequel to Earthbound. For most of the game, there really is very little evidence that it is at all. Obviously the world is different. I guess it’s possible that it takes place on a different continent on the same planet, but if you are expecting a story continuation from the previous entry in the series, you will spend most of the game grasping. There’s a Dr. Andonuts, but is he the same guy? The mythology seems to be brand new – there was never any indication in Earthbound that there were godlike sleeping dragons underground who could be awoken in order to ignite a major cataclysm. Just when I was ready to accept that this was, in fact, a standalone story, Mr. Saturn shows up late-in-game. But the late reveal that this is actually a sequel is problematic in its own right. To a player who’s expecting a sequel, its existence as a sequel seems tacked-on and forced. To a player who’s never played Earthbound, this might be a fun game to play through until the end when you’re suddenly on the outside of some bizarre inside joke.
So anyway, as I said, I am very thankful for the effort that went into the fan translation. Having actually played the game, though, I was left pretty disappointed and wondering if the original intention for the game was a much richer experience than what we actually got in the end.
So many memories.
Looking back at everything now, I honestly don’t think we’re ever going to see the game localized. It would be interesting, though, if they decided to do an EarthBound collection and include the Japanese releases as bonuses, while also including an untranslated MOTHER 3. It wouldn’t be an ideal release, but at the very least get MOTHER 3 outside Japan. It would also be neat if they included little Japanese lessons as extras to help non-Japanese speakers get through the game. I’d love for something like that to come out.
Really enjoyed reading this, it brought back a bunch of memories and it was also very informative. Thanks for sharing this with us.
Can you shed any more light on the Undertale-related post you mentioned that was made on the Onett Times section of Miiverse? I never heard about this before, so I’m curious about what it said and if it was actually a real official Nintendo post or if it was just the result of a Miiverse hack or something.
I was wondering about that too.
I actually don’t really remember myself, I wrote that section back in 2017 but have no way to go back to find out what it was now that Miiverse is down. I want to say it was something simple like ‘Undertale is a fun game” and nothing really noteworthy.
Now that I think about it, I might be able to go back though some videos I made and find that very post. I made videos detailing lots of Miiverse stuff on the very last day it was open. Fingers crossed that I can find it.
“Actually, now that I think about it, Space World would be better because then they can show it to a Japanese audience instead of the American media, who will demand an English version.”
Wow, I wonder who the anon who wrote this is, because he sounds hatefully anti-American. Like duh we would want an English version, it’s the language we speak here. Guess he forgot the Japanese is not our primary language. What a snot.
…but you’re basically agreeing with him. Or proving his point.
When option A is “show the game off at Spaceworld and get zero complaints” and option B is “also show the game off in the west and get people like you complaining that it’s not in English”, it makes sense to go with option A.
I’m not complaining about wanting it in English, genius. I’m merely stating a point of fact. What’s your problem?
A 10-year anniversary seems as good a time as any to say thanks for the translation patch! Haven’t played it in about a decade but it was a great time.
People still talk about Mother 3? I think at this point it’s best to move on from said game and focus on something else. Even the native japanese audience didn’t praise it much if I remember correctly… That said, I certainly wouldn’t mind it if Itoi decided to team up with Toby Fox someday…
I remember being offended by that E3 joke about people asking for a Mother 3 translation, but after seeing this, I kinda feel sorry for NoA, for ten years of constantly being bombarded with demands every time they mentioned anything that could even vaguely conceivably be linked to the Mother series somehow.
Regardless, whenever an official translation of a game comes out after a popular fan translation (especially one with as high a level of quality as Mother 3’s), it is universally reviled 90% of the time, so I don’t think anything they could have done would ever have satisfied fans.
This is a nice piece you’ve posted, even with the rushed bits (like the “Beginning‘s” on page 4).
I know the focus of this is 3 quarters on localizations of the games & how desired they are by westerners, but do you have any reference as to what the Japanese fans thought/hoped in the leadup to Mother 3’s planned release, cancellation & GBA revival, as well as they perspective on the western fans? Not to put things on your plate, but that would be interesting to read.
Also, where could I read more about the 64DD development disks? Even though they held no Mother data, I’m curious about what they did in fact contain (especially the latter 2). The only link I found on Starmen Club (from a more-than-a-decade-old post) points to a forum board, but their forums appear to have been restructured since then.
It looks like the games were: Mario Artist, Sim City 64, and two copies of Doshin the Giant. I wrote an article about it almost when it happened… almost 10 years ago… oh no time is going too fast
I posted about it at the time here: https://earthboundcentral.com/2009/03/blue-disk-saga-is-very-over/
Thanks for linking that. Was kinda hoping that the disks would contain non-final builds of the games, but I guess from the wording that they didn’t, pity.
2018 will be our year! Mother 3 will finally be announced! I C A N F E E L I T
[As the comment oozes and drips with sarcasm]
So I’m just gonna throw out a bold proclamation here. We’re going to see Mother 4 get officially developed and released along with an English localization. So the west will have Mother 1, 2, and 4, but we’ll spend forever waiting for 3.
The post about Undertale made me think it would be ideal if MOTHER 3 was released in the west nowadays thanks to the former’s massive popularity.
Also, I have a question. Recently, I read somewhere that the actual reason NoA hasn’t localized the game has something to do with the Magypsies. Is it true? I forgot if it was a legitimate interview or if it was pure speculation, though.
I’ve heard something similar, probably from the same article or wherever, but I assume it’s one of those situations where leaked info can’t easily be verified because it’d jeopardize the source, so everyone passes around the same info in a circle and/or leads to confusion and a bit of drama. So I don’t know what to make of it myself.
This is actually a very nice article, Mato. I just thought about this right now, but since the west would somewhat react negatively to a Mother 3 localization, wouldn’t PETA create some parody or some game about Mother 3’s Chapter 3? Salsa is literally abused by Fassad. I mean this has happened with other games like Super Mario 3D Land and Pokémon Black and White.
I really hope that PETA doesn’t try to make Mother 3 look bad. Sorry if I didn’t make that much sense, but I just had this thought and I was suprised that nobody brought this up. (It’s probably because people are focusing more on the Magypsies)
Anyways, thank you for making the fan translation!
What an amazing read, outstanding job as usual Mato! I first experienced the Mother series late 2013 so I just experienced a page of this timeline but loved going through it all, especially the N64- GCN days since I was a year away to be born when first mentions of the game existence first appeared and to young to used the internet when it was moved to the GBA.
One of my favorite parts where definitely the user comments. It was both amusing and heart wrenching when people said stuff like “Pokemon will eventuall die” to “I bought the SNES classic controller just for when Earthbound hits Virtual Console”, boy does time changes.
The other one is the Wii U Virtual Console era, especially the fan outcry. I decided to give the game a chance once the eshop trailer sparked some interest for me. To think I owe it to all those amazing fans who ask for a USA release. I wouldn’t ever found one of my favorite videogame series if it wasn’t for all of those people. The Mother series is a series who I take with me wherever I go, it really impacted my life, and it’s something I owe to fans like you Mato, thanks to you and all the Starmen community for expanding the audience of this game, here to the future of the Mother series.
I should point out that that E3 2010 list was originally posted as a joke by Jeff Gerstmann of Giant Bomb. Basically the only reason it became a “rumor” was because of people posting it elsewhere without context.
This post pointed out how batshit crazy the Mother/EB fans are, taking every post and thinking it means a release date.
It’s amazing how Mother/EB fandom hasn’t devolved into toxicity for the most part.
Great article. I remember reading along with your translation updates, Mato.
I think one of the worst things about having EB64 cancelled was that, at the time, I desperately wanted to keep supporting Nintendo over the recently popular Playstation (which had “stolen” all the great RPG developers). Even though huge franchises like Final Fantasy were never going to be on the N64, at least we had a great first-party Earthbound franchise that we could count on…… I remember reading all of the updates in Nintendo Power with eagerness and then they just stretched on for years….and then it was going to be on the 64DD peripheral….and then it was just cancelled. I’m in my mid-30s now and have plenty of love for both Nintendo and Sony systems, but I think that was the year that I really gave up on Nintendo ever being an RPG powerhouse again….and that is still very sad to me, having fond memories of growing up in the NES/SNES Golden Age.
It’s nuts that it’s been so long already. Ten years? I can remember my anticipation as the fan translation progressed like it was yesterday, and I was in middle school at the time… yeesh, that’s a weird sensation.
Still hangin’ on to my physical copy and my guide book, and I’m still hangin’ on to hope. Granted, that’s partially so they can become a gift for my special someone, but I think that’s fitting in it’s own way.
There is hope.
There’s a streamer, Vinny, (accounts are Vinesauce on YouTube and Twitch), who has a knack of summoning announcements regarding games.
Before the announcement of Metroid Prime 4 and Samus Returns, he played a Metroid game. This has happened other times, though my memory fails me right now.
He recently played through Mother 3.
Therefore: next Nintendo Direct there will be a Mother 3 announcement.
Hahaha! Good joke!
Nintendo: *Releases video of setting hopeful fans on fire*
Hopeful fans: “This is a good sign!”