MOTHER 3’s Timeline of Hope

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This is Part #5 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. Also note that I still need to do some final touches to this section, so it might look a little bare at first.

2016

In early 2016, a rumor quickly spread that MOTHER 3 would finally get a translated release in the same year to commemorate the game’s 10th anniversary:

This message featured an image of Kumatora, a main character in MOTHER 3

I knew it I knew it! We got Earthbound on eshop then last year Earthbound Beginnings. I called it this year we would FINALLY get Mother 3.

[…]

Also she had said this
“One last thing before I vanish: Don’t be surprised if Nintendo celebrates a game’s 10th anniversary this year… Just some food for thought.”

It’s the 10th anniversary for Mother 3. I’m guessing at E3 it will be unveiled. Man I’ve been wanting an official release for this game from Nintendo forever.

Emily Rogers’ MOTHER 3 rumor hit every gaming news site and blew up on social media. It was even a top trending topic on Twitter that day:

Hype for an official MOTHER 3 translation was incredibly high – higher than it had ever been. Hope had turned to widespread certainty across the Internet. For many gamers, this rumor was as good as an official announcement.

4/20. Mother 3’s 10th anniversary.
Mark your calendars folks (assuming this is real)

I think mother 3 is coming, but i feel this girl is just guessing like the rest of us. She claims she has “sources” just like rodgers base, and we saw how that happened.

Breaking news: MOTHER 3 rumored for Western release, just as it has been every day for the last ten years or more.

Plenty of folk here saying “Ah, just more rumors, just like all the other rumors.” Those rumors were before the game was put on the VC in Japan. It appears that all but one of the “rumors” have turned out to be true. America’s got M1, and M2. Japan has all three. Considering we didn’t have any of the Mother games before 2013, I’d say that’s progress. Just more more to go in the West. If history repeats itself, the Mother 3 “rumor” will turn out to be true.

I kept hoping every single E3 that it would get announced for a Western release.

Now, it sounds like it’s finally happening and I still can’t believe it. I won’t believe it until Nintendo officially shows it off.

Im just pushing hope over jaded rejection. I am right there with most of you on the skeptical train of “fool-me-once”-ness, believe me, but this time just FEELS different. The vibe in all the digital talk and communities just seems nice and positive and hopefuly, and I’d rather roll with that, than the hurt puppy feelings we starmendotnet peeps garner from history

After the rumor spread, expectations were high for Nintendo to announce MOTHER 3 during the next Nintendo Direct event:

Three insider sources have confirmed it, it’s spread all over the internet, and it’s the 10th anniversary… Really, I am completely convinced that Mother 3 is happening. Which is crazy! That Nintendo direct can not get here fast enough!!

If it isn’t announced in the next Direct (whenever that is), then I think we can assume it was somehow a hoax.

The next Nintendo Direct came and went with no mention of MOTHER 3. Even so, MOTHER 3 again hit the top trending topics on Twitter:

After MOTHER 3 was a no-show in the Nintendo Direct presentation, some fans moved their hopes to March 3rd, because the date was 3/3:

You know Nintendo announcing Mother 3 coming tomorrow would make sense with it being 3/3. Hope the rumors are true.

As disappointment grew, Emily responded by re-asserting her claim:

Still, hopes were tremendously high. Fans moved their expectations to April 20th, which would mark MOTHER 3’s 10th anniversary in Japan:

There are people who really think the game is coming out tomorrow? Unless Nintendo decides to do a surprise announcement during their Star Fox stream I’m not expecting anything until E3.

E3, guys. I guess Nintendo thinks we haven’t waiting long enough yet. Ugh, 2 more months, though… that hurts…

Though I’d like to remind everyone that Emily Rogers, whose words began this thread, said on Twitter that she thinks E3 is when we’ll see MOTHER 3 much like EarthBound Beginnings. So I have little worries in that regard.

Most of us are just waiting till April 20th to see if it was true or not.
At least I am.

Nope, nothing. But it’s almost April 20th (blaze it), 2016, MOTHER 3’s 10th anniversary. And there was that Twitter leak from last month, so we had better see what happens then.

If it doesn’t come out on the 20th (which doesn’t seem likely by this point), E3 is the last hope. Any point after that is still possible, but the hype may not be as high, which could mean less profits for Nintendo.

hey i’m guessing people are already sending you messages about this, but eurogamer has backed up a rumor claiming that mother 3 is going to release in the U.S. on virtual console on april 20th to celebrate the 10th anniversary of it releasing in Japan. I’m really interested to see if you think it is true or not. And has nintendo ever gotten in contact with you about your translation?

Well, if Nintendo is going to announce it’s coming over they’re either going to do it tomorrow or at E3. Still, not too far off either way. I just hope it pans out.

Hopes were high for April 20th, but nothing happened when the day arrived. Some still-hopeful fans moved their expectations forward to Mother’s Day, while others turned their hopes to E3:

Meh, I’ll keep my hopes till E3.

Also, just as I figured — they’re saving the Mother 3 announcement for E3.

I think the deadline for a Mother 3 localization would be at E3. The massive amount of hype it would garner then would be perfect for them.

Why do people seem to think that Nintendo would release / announce the game on its Japanese anniversary? That makes no sense whatsoever. Its far more likely to be announced at E3 or in an upcoming direct for the NX VC.

RIP the dream. There’s still hope though! Wait for E3!

BECAUSE NOW IT’S PRACTICALLY CONFIRMED THAT THEY’RE ANNOUNCING A LOCALIZED MOTHER 3 TOMORROW IN A MINIDIRECT

in the year 3000

nintendo: *declares bankruptcy*
mother 3 fan: finally,,,mother 3’s gonna get an official english release. i can feel it

Silly images, memes, and parody images began to become commonplace. That’s when it was clear the MOTHER 3 hype had reached a new level:

With the extra attention came more fake information, made-up rumors, and the like:

Then came the famous MOTHER 3 localization wrestling sign:

MOTHER 3 was absent from Nintendo’s E3 events. Some fans moved their hopes to future Nintendo Directs, some fans lost all hope, and others believed that a MOTHER 3 release was being delayed to coincide with the release of Nintendo’s upcoming game console:

Possibilities on why we haven’t seen it yet if the rumor is actually true:

• They plan on releasing it later this year once there’s not much on the wii u and they need SOMETHING to release other than color splash.
• They’re delaying it to put it in a physical trilogy for 3DS or Wii U or both.
• They’re delaying it for NX (either VC or as a physical game). Could help w/ good will toward NX, possibly.

Lost all hope. Considering this was the game’s 10th anniversary and considering the rumors, this year had the biggest chance of that kind of announcement, but Nintendo still didn’t give us anything. Their E3 showing as a whole disappointed me, but that’s another story. As pessimistic as it sounds, I wouldn’t expect a localization for a hell of a long time, if ever.

I thought there was a much better chance at a Mother 3 VC release than a Crash Bandicoot comeback.
I’m glad I thought wrong, as I love Crash, but man. I really wanted a VC release. I guess I’ll just emulate it. I’m normally against emulators, but at this point I have no other options.

Mother 3 remake/release coming to 3ds on thursday. Been calling it for 3 years and im calling it now lol

I still believe that we will get some sort of Mother 3 announcement by the end of this year

nx news with a mother 3 announcement on the side please #wishfulthinking #brokendreams

I was so certain they were gong to announce Mother 3 this year what with the Earthbound Zero eShop release. NX launch surprise?

As the year came to a close, Emily, the source of the original rumor that set 2016 on hype-fire, wasn’t as certain as before:

Still, during all of this, there were other rays of hope from other directions too. For example, when EarthBound was released for the New 3DS Virtual Console, fans hoped it might signal a MOTHER 3 translation in the near future:

Maybe this is a sign Mother 3 will be localized for the 3DS. Either way this is wonderful news, and really made my day.

2016 ended with great disappointment.

2017

Details about Nintendo’s new system, the Nintendo Switch, were released in early January. Fans held on to hope that MOTHER 3 would be announced for the upcoming system.

A new rumor about a MOTHER 3 release hit all the sites and social media outlets in early January as well:

Nintendo’s big reveal of the Switch was planned for the middle of January. Fans had high hopes for a MOTHER 3 announcement:

Being extremely excited for the Nintendo Switch and also hoping an official localization of Mother 3 is announced tomorrow

i believe mother 3 wiiu was real but they held onto the news for switch presentation/ported to switch.

1-Up Studio, formerly Brownie Brown, posted a photo of an invitation to the Nintendo Switch presentation that they had received. Brownie Brown was the company that developed MOTHER 3 back between 2003 and 2006. This connection raised hopes for a MOTHER 3 announcement even further.

All that said, I’m hopeful/think Mother 3 will show up on Switch this year. I just don’t think 1-Up Studio being at the event guarantees it.

The big Nintendo Switch presentation took place, but MOTHER 3 wasn’t mentioned at all. Fans were disappointed and responded with mixed emotions:

Looking back at the Switch event, why was I expecting Mother 3? Why would a 10 yr old game interest Japanese press?

I want to believe Mother 3 will come to the Switch. 🙁 I still haven’t played the fan localization completely. I need the official thang.

I know it’s 4 in the morning, but Mother 3 for Switch could still happen. Treehouse Live will go on for like 16 hours.

Zelda, Mario, and OCTOPATH TRAVELER (lmao) are enough to sell me on the Switch tbh. Still bummed about the Mother 3 rumor not being true tho

hey…. why the FUCK would mother 3 have been shown off as a fuckin switch exclusive

If Nintendo is going to announce Mother 3 for the Switch, it’ll be when they talk about Virtual Console stuff, for which they did nothing.

You know what would be cool? Mother 3 for Switch on 3/3/17

why would they announce mother 3 at the switch event anyways that wouldn’t make sense anyways imo sorry guess I’m a real rube

Shortly after the event, Reggie responded to a question about MOTHER 3 with a vague answer:

”Oh, so earlier today I got asked about Mother 3; maybe you can ask me about Metroid,” he said jovially. “Look, again, I am proud as an executive with Nintendo to say that we look at all of the boards and all of the comments and we really have a good understanding of what our consumers want. And believe me, we take that to heart as we work to create content.

”So I have nothing to announce–here. But we are aware that there are some key IP that consumers just can’t wait for the next true installment in the franchise’s legacy. Suffice it to say, we’re aware of it, and talk to me in a year and let’s look back and see what’s happened.”

This comment rekindled hope for a MOTHER 3 release in the near future:

Reggie: “Talk to me in a eyar and let’s look back and see what’s happened [in regard to Metroid, Mother 3].”
Mother 3 def coming to Switch.

Reggie hinted at Mother 3 and Metroid on the Switch!! Hang in there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Even Arby’s, the roast beef sandwich fast food restaurant, started talking about MOTHER 3:

Seriously Arby’s, bring back 5 for $5 please!

This wasn’t too crazy – Arby’s has been inserting pop culture references into most of their tweets for years. Still, this seemed to trigger other corporate Tweets mentioning MOTHER 3.

The source of the 2017 rumor made a number of comments about MOTHER 3’s no-show and hopes for an E3 announcement:

I still believe Mother 3 Q2 2017 and 1 year Switch exclusive BGE2 will be announced at E3.

Renting a nuclear bunker in case the western release of Mother 3 doesn’t get announced at this year’s E3

Some fans refocused their hope on an announcement at E3 2017. Others were completely disillusioned after all of the recent rumors:

I have a feeling that it will never happen, alongside the feeling that it will definitely happen this year. These feelings are the same every year.

Not as interested in playing it as I was four years ago, but will definitely Day One if it does ever happen again.

Nah. If it were going to happen, it would have happened by now. And I’ve completely 100% lost interested regardless at this point. Too many rumors that went nowhere and memes and jokes at this point just poking fun at the whole thing. Can’t remain hyped or excited for something after all that and all this time, no matter how good it is. It would just be a hard pass at this point for me, no matter what they do with it. The combination of the fans, Nintendo themselves, and gaming “insiders” continuing to make noise about it time after time after time have just completely drained whatever magic there might have been out of it at this point, and I’m just tired of thing song and dance every single E3.

Either it happens, or it doesn’t. I just don’t give a fuck about goddamn Mother 3 at this point, and that’s despite loving the game. I’m just tired of hearing about it.

A reminder: What makes this year different from other years, is it’s the first year where Reggie, when asked about Mother 3, said, “Talk to me in a year and let’s see where we’re at.”

If not E3, sometime within 2017 seems plausible. Otherwise he wouldn’t picked his PR spin more carefully.

yeah we say this every year but I feel like we’ll finally get Mother 3 at E3, especially this time after Reggie’s comment about it & metroid

This E3, I swear Mother 3 is gonna be there. I’ll eat a hat if it isn’t.

My next prediction will be no MOTHER 3 this E3.

If Mother 3 isn’t at this E3, I am assuming it will come in 2026, and will give up expecting it for now.

mother 3 fans: this has to be the year guys (nintendo announces they practically have no e3)

mother 3 fans: this has to be the year guys

I expect Mother 3 to be out whenever Virtual Console comes out. I won’t be bummed if not but it’s possible. E3 maybe.

I had started doing research for this project by this time, so I decided to do an informal Twitter poll to see what fan expectations were like before E3:

And some of the responses were:

I am one hundred percent positive they won’t.

Due to prior rumors and the Switch being established now, I think it will. If not at E3, I definitely believe it’s on the way.

It would be a huge bombshell if they did but I really don’t have much confidence in Nintendo to do that.

I love M3, yet I wish people would stop beggin NoA for it. Its not happening but nothing is really stopping anyone from playing the game now

Hope? Hell yes. Believe? Hell no.

Never stop believing.

Then, after MOTHER 3 failed to appear at E3, I posted another poll:

Rule #1 of official Mother 3 localization is “do not expect official Mother 3 localization”.

Mother 1 wasn’t released in the West until 26 years after Japan. Please look forward to Mother 3 in 2032.

No because the switch vc won’t launch until 2018 I think it will come out at some point on the switch vc along with mother 1 and 2 (not gba)

I’ll hold on to hope, no matter how long it takes.

I voted yes but more so out of blind/desperate optimism more than anything. Last year would’ve been the perfect time to release/announce it.

I only say yes because I want to believe but I know our dreams will be crushed

Never stop believing.

A few days after E3, another “Localize MOTHER 3” sign was spotted at a WWE event:

Shortly after that, Adult Swim aired a bump referencing the sign and demanding an official MOTHER 3 translation:

This led Kotaku editor, Chris Kohler, to write an article explaining why 2017 is the perfect time to release MOTHER 3:

Even Disney’s new “XP” twitter account jumped on the MOTHER 3 hype train during EVO 2017:

Before the next big Nintendo Direct presentation, I held another Twitter poll:

Some of the responses:

I don’t think it will but I continuously pray and wish for it.

They’re doing a Secret of Mana remake– anything is possible!! I will always vote yes to these polls out of pure stubbornness/resilience

Always yes. Always.

No, I’ve given up.

lol no

From what I recall, nothing much happened for the rest of the year. Fans remained hopeful, but you could feel disappointment was heavy in the air.

2018

January saw another “Localize MOTHER 3” sign appearing at WWE Royal Rumble. For some reason, this was becoming a thing:

Beyond that, things were mostly quiet until E3 in June. It had been a year and a half since Reggie’s infamous “talk to me in a year” quote, and the usual mix had reappeared: hopeful fans, jaded fans, and exhausted fans:

Well, he was asked about Metroid too and we got Metroid so….

Mother 3 in English isn’t happening. I got my hopes up once; never again!

For me, it’s just become this mystique, legendary thing. I remember seeing screenshots for Earthbound 64 as a kid and being really excited.

I can definitely see it happening one of these days.

I’ve analyzed this interview and you can clearly see that he pivots the discussion from Mother 3 to Metroid and THEN says that.

It was pretty sneaky and I’m pretty sure he was only referring to SR and Prime 4

I like to imagine Reggie has nightmares about fans asking him for Mother 3. It’s been over a decade and mother fans are still hounding him.

After that came the annual MOTHER 3 E3 predictions. There wasn’t quite as much hope as the previous two years, though:

So, E3 is coming up. Will there be no mother 3 vc? yes

So E3’s in a week… Your regular reminder that an official Mother 3 localization will never, ever happen in any form. Not in a Virtual Console/EShop release. Not in an EarthBound HD Collection. Not even in a non-HD collection. It will never, ever, EVER happen.

I have a funny feeling that this E3 will be when Nintendo finally brings Mother 3 overseas. It’s been so highly requested for so long, and with the hype surrounding smash 5, I think announcing it now would be smart. Of course, I’m probably wrong and just a stupid earthbound fan.

Can’t wait for that localized version of Mother 3 to be announced at E3 this year! *nervous laughter*

Mark my words: Mother 3 will be announced at E3.

”Fellow Mother 3 fans!

This year…

…is our year!*

#E3

*probably not our year “

My dumbass brain before every Nintendo e3, knowing I’ll be wrong: oh boy I wonder if we’ll actually see mother 3 this year

During the E3 Nintendo Direct, it was revealed that Paula and Poo would be joining Ness for his Final Smash attack Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. In addition, the MOTHER 3 characters Kumatora and Boney were added to Lucas’ Final Smash:

The fans were surprised and excited to see even more MOTHER 3 representation:

”LUCAS!!! AND KUMATORA~! 💕💕💕 Gotta have that Mother 3 love~!

#SmashBrosUltimate #Hype
#E32018 #E3 #Nintendo #NintendoSwitch”

Just saying. We’ve got official English names for Mother 3 characters now. #SmashBros #Mother3 #Nintendo #E3

Seeing Poo, Paula, Boney, and Kumatora represented in Ness / Lucas Final Smash attacks shows that clearly someone within wants to give us more Mother / EarthBound ❤ #E3 #NintendoE3

maybe the real mother 3 was the smash bros we got along the way

After years of asking the community finally has Ridley in Smash! Now where’s MOTHER3?!

But, as usual, there was no mention of a MOTHER 3 translation. Reactions:

The real crime of E3: STILL NO MOTHER 3.

Kinda sad there wasn’t any big new game reveals, Smash looks amazing and I definitely want it. Still held out hope for Mario Maker and Mother 3. Solid showing, not the best at E3 this year, but left me satisfied. #NintendoE3 #NintendoSwitch #E32018 #FireEmblem #SuperSmashBros

You know the Nintendo e3 was pretty good. If I got battletoads and mother 3 in the same year I probably would have gotten overexcited and hurt myself.

also I have no idea what’s happening in e3 except smash bros and TUNIC and also since I’m into earthbound now I can complain how they still haven’t announced mother 3.

BTW, somewhere in my deeply deluded mind, I’m still waiting for “okay, fine, here’s Mother 3” during Nintendo’s Treehouse presentations. #E3

nintendo e3 more like another year without a mother 3 localization 🌻😩

But the future refused to change.

Today and the Future

We’re now caught up to the present day. For reference, I’m posting this article on October 17, 2018 – exactly 10 years after the release of the MOTHER 3 fan translation patch. I’m sure many more things will come after this, but for now this is the end of MOTHER 3’s timeline of hope.

I think it would be tiring to keep this timeline updated every time something little happens, but maybe I’ll add to it from time to time whenever anything really noteworthy happens.

Final Thoughts

I first started this timeline project as a way to show others why longtime fans are so tired of rumors and why they say they’ve seen all this stuff before. I realized I was in a unique position to document all these things, so I got to it. But now I realize it’s also an interesting look at how Internet fanbases work over long periods of time, among other things. I think it’d be an interesting topic for a researcher to study.

Looking back now, there are a couple other main points that come to mind, but I’d prefer to cover those topics in a separate section after I’ve had the time to polish up everything in this article and fix any errors.

Speaking of which, these are just raw notes that I put together almost two years ago so I’m sure I’ve overlooked some things, mixed things up chronologically, and so on. So if you notice anything that needs fixing, let me know in the comments.

On a side note, when I announced I was working on a big article about MOTHER 3 yesterday, it accidentally got a bunch of people excited and hopeful that I would have some sort of announcement about an official translation. It sounds like the cycle of MOTHER 3 hope, hype, and disappointment is still as strong as ever. Let’s break that cycle someday!

63 Comments
  1. (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!)

    Reply
    1. Ah ok, I was going to say…

      “surprise appearance’s” (page 2)

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    3. Tomato,

      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!

      Leo

      Reply
  2. 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!

    Reply
  3. how to debunk a rumor/leak list:

    look out for Mother 3

    Reply
  4. Translation of Dutch article:

    MOTHER 3

    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.

    Reply
  5. C’mon Nintendo, give us Luigi’s Pie Factory

    Reply
  6. 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.

    Reply
  7. 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!

    Reply
  8. 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!

    Reply
  9. 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.

    Reply
  10. 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!

    Reply
  11. Is there any way to get the Wii U VC sales numbers on the games?

    Reply
    1. 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.

      Reply
  12. 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.

    Reply
    1. 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.

      Reply
      1. 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.

        Reply
        1. No problem, thank you for understanding 🙂

          Reply
    2. 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.

      Reply
  13. 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.

    Reply
    1. 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

      Reply
  14. 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.

    Reply
  15. 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.

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  16. 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.

    Reply
  17. If only Starfy had this big of a fan base and documented of a history

    Reply
    1. 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.

      Reply
    2. 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.

      Reply
  18. Post-Apolcalyptic Nu

    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.

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  19. 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?

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  20. 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.

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  21. 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.

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  22. The Claus cosplayer from last Camp Fangamer

    That was an awesome article.

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  23. 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.

    Reply
  24. Christian Hendrickson

    Dismaying article. But good article.

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  25. 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.

    Reply
    1. 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.

      Reply
  26. 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.

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  27. 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.

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  28. 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.

    Reply
    1. I was wondering about that too.

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    2. 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.

      Reply
      1. 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.

        Reply
  29. “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.

    Reply
    1. …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.

      Reply
      1. I’m not complaining about wanting it in English, genius. I’m merely stating a point of fact. What’s your problem?

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  30. 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.

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  31. 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…

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  32. 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.

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  33. 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.

    Reply
    1. 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/

      Reply
      1. 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.

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  34. 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]

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  35. 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.

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  36. 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.

    Reply
    1. 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.

      Reply
  37. Mole Playing Rough

    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!

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  38. 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.

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  39. 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.

    http://jeff.zone/post/38428394561/back-before-e3-2010-i-decided-to-slap-together-a

    Reply
  40. 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.

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  41. 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.

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  42. 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.

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  43. 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.

    Reply

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