EarthBound (series)

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Mother / EarthBound
Mother - Earthbound logo.jpg
The official Mother logo, submitted to the Japan Patent Office in 1988.[1]
Genres Role-playing video game
Developers APE, Inc., HAL Laboratory, Brownie Brown, Nintendo
Publishers Nintendo
Creators Shigesato Itoi
Platforms Family Computer, Super Family Computer/SNES, Game Boy Advance
First release Mother
July 27, 1989
Latest release Mother 3
April 20, 2006

EarthBound, known in Japan as Mother (マザー Mazā?), is a role-playing video game series created by Shigesato Itoi for Nintendo. The first title in the series was the 1989 Japan-only release of Mother (planned to be released in North America as "Earth Bound") for the Family Computer. It was followed by a sequel, released in North America as EarthBound for the Super NES in 1995, and in turn 12 years later with the Japan-only release of Mother 3 for the Game Boy Advance in 2006.

In contrast to the sword-and-sorcery settings of many Japanese role-playing games of the 1990s, the EarthBound series takes place in more modern USA-esque settings, although their stories are told from a Japanese perspective. Mother is set in suburban USA, EarthBound is set in Eagleland (an allusion to the United States), and Mother 3 is set on the Nowhere Islands (with some Western overtones). Enemies can be a variety of quirky and strange people, creatures and inanimate objects, such as aliens, possessed guitars, or evil hippies. Weapons include yo-yos, baseball bats, frying pans, guns, and explosives, with swords being rarely used. The series became extremely popular in Japan and is lauded as a cult hit internationally. Merchandise for the game was produced, including shirts, handbooks, and even a fully orchestrated, arranged soundtrack. Itoi stated in an interview that the title "Mother" was greatly influenced by the eponymous John Lennon song.[2]



Main article: Mother (video game)

Mother tells the story of Ninten, a young boy who journeys around the world to save the planet from an evil race of mind-controlling aliens. Along the way he is joined by several friends, and meets many unusual characters and visits strange settings before ultimately confronting the leader of the aliens. The game was a smash hit in Japan, where players appreciated its unorthodox and refreshing take on the often formulaic RPG genre.

Nintendo of America translated and planned to release the first Mother game in North America under the title Earth Bound. Although the game's localization and translation was finished a year earlier, the game was ultimately deemed unprofitable for a fall 1991 North American release, and the planned release was canceled after the game had already been translated and all packaging and advertising was ready.[3]

It was confirmed by former Nintendo employee Phil Sandhop that Nintendo chose not to release Earth Bound in North America because the Super Nintendo Entertainment System was to be released at the same time, and Mother was a Nintendo Entertainment System game; Nintendo thought that customers would be less likely to notice a new NES game in light of the release of the new Super NES console and its games.[4] Furthermore, the cost of releasing the game with the extensive manual and hint book planned would have not been low-cost without remarkable sales.

All of Sandhop's changes to Mother appear in the Game Boy Advance games Mother 1+2, such as the B Button run command. The reason for these changes appearing, according to Sandhop, is that "with games produced by NCL, the development teams continued to work and tweak their projects that they knew would be localized and produced in other territories. Often they would address their own desires that were not completed due to time constraints or not completed to their satisfaction and also address issues raised by Japanese consumers as that release hits the street."[4]

Eventually, a copy of the unreleased NES Earth Bound cartridge was auctioned and the game code was extracted from it and circulated for download on the Internet. To avoid confusion, the game was dubbed EarthBound Zero by fan translation group Neo Demiforce, as Nintendo had since released the SNES sequel in the United States under the title EarthBound. Initially, some believed the unreleased cartridge to be a forgery, simply an English fan translation with a few changes. However, Phil Sandhop, the localization Producer of the game has stated that the dumped Earth Bound Zero ROM is the game that he translated.

Mother 2 / EarthBound[edit]

Main article: EarthBound

Mother 2 (also known as EarthBound in the United States) is a distant sequel to the original Mother, with many characters, themes, and music borrowed from its predecessor. The game also includes many subtle pop-culture references. One reference occurs during a battle near the beginning of the game backdropped by a track similar to Chuck Berry's "Johnny B Goode".[5] This may have actually caused the game to be delayed coming to the Wii U's Virtual Console in 2013.[6] There is also a band called 'The Runaway Five', a parody of The Blues Brothers. Many of the characters and settings are very similar, but the only explicitly returning character is Giygas, who swears revenge at the end of the first game (evidenced by EarthBound's Japanese subtitle: Gyiyg Strikes Back!).

Though Mother never saw the American marketplace, its sequel for the SNES, EarthBound, did, and stars a young psychic boy by the name of Ness. The series was commercially successful in Japan, while it was not commercially successful in the United States.[7]

In May 2008, EarthBound was added to the ESRB database, listed with an E rating on the Nintendo Wii platform.[8] This led to speculation of a Virtual Console release, but the rating turned out to be a mistake, though so far it has not been removed.

On April 17, 2013, during a Nintendo Direct presentation, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata announced that EarthBound would be coming to the Wii U Virtual Console Shop in North America and, for the first time, the PAL region, later in the year. It was released in North America on July 18, 2013, instead with an ESRB rating of T for Teen, and an EarthBound website was launched featuring a fully digitized version of the strategy guide that shipped with the original release.

Mother 3[edit]

Main article: Mother 3

Mother 3 is the third and, according to Shigesato Itoi, possibly the final game in the EarthBound series. Beforehand, the game was in development for Nintendo 64, and the main character was Flint, but the project was cancelled due to the release date being near the end of the system's life span, issues with the 3D engine and other production problems. The project picked up again for the Game Boy Advance (which was announced on a commercial for Mother 1 + 2). The game was finally released on April 20, 2006. It retained the traditional EarthBound art style, the general story and characters that were introduced in the cancelled N64 version. Unlike the original story for the N64, the story focuses on a boy named Lucas and his family on Nowhere Islands. Their home is invaded and the peace is disrupted by the mysterious "Pig Mask Army," which dramatically changes Nowhere Islands by introducing technology and infrastructure and performing bizarre experiments on the flora and fauna in their takeover. The game chronicles the trials and tribulations of Lucas and his family and friends as they fight against the Pig Mask Army threat.

The game was only available in Japan, but on October 17, 2008, a fan translation patch was released on the Internet by the team.

Mother 1 + 2[edit]

Mother 1 + 2 (マザー1+2 Mazā Wan Purasu Tsū, Mazā Wan Tsū (CM)?) is a port release of Mother and EarthBound (Mother 2 in Japan) of the EarthBound series for the Game Boy Advance. Released exclusively in Japan on June 20, 2003, by Nintendo, a bonus cell-phone strap of Mr. Saturn was included for pre-ordered packages of the game. Though the strap was originally intended only for those who had pre-ordered the game, its popularity caused it to be sold briefly on A cost-reduced version of the game was later released for around 2,600 yen, which was packaged with a Club Nintendo serial card. It was re-released as one of the Value Selection games on February 2, 2006.

Though the concept of Mother 1 + 2 was to compile two separate games into one easily accessible package, promotion usually focused on the more popular EarthBound and focused less on Mother. EarthBound figurines were made available through the sale of Coca-Cola products.[9][10] Though the port was only released in Japan, the version of Mother in Mother 1 + 2 is actually a Japanese translation of the planned English version of Mother. However, the version of EarthBound in Mother 1 + 2 remains the same as the original Japanese release. The name of the company that directed the port and translation was never announced by Nintendo.

Alterations in gameplay from the original can be found in both games.[11] For Mother, changes related to in-game events, graphics, and items are mostly identical to the ones made in the English prototype.[12] Others includes sound effect changes during battle scenes, the addition of new items, shops, and events, and run and shortcut buttons. Censorship changes were made by altering the graphics of enemy characters depicting smoking or violence, the removal of text relating to alcohol consumption and sexual references, and the removal of religious symbols. An extended ending featured in the North American prototype was also included.[12] In Mother 2, some general bug-fixes and text-related changes were made. In addition, a sleep mode was added, and there are general reductions in sound quality and graphics resolution due to the Game Boy Advance hardware capability.

The game's score, Mother 1 + 2 Original Soundtrack, was also released. The pieces included are different arrangements of the originals. However, its release lead to renewed calls for a re-release of the Mother soundtrack, and a "remastered version" of the Mother soundtrack was released by Sony in February 2004.

Mother 1 + 2 was given a total score of 35 out of 40 by a panel of four reviewers for Famitsu.[13] Although the compilation was not released in North America, Nintendo Power magazine listed Mother 1 + 2 as the most-wanted import game in a 2005 issue.

By the end of 2003, Mother 1 + 2 had sold over 278,000 copies.[14]

Other games[edit]

Ness and Lucas at New Pork City in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

Ness, the main character from EarthBound, is a playable character in all four installments of the Super Smash Bros. series. In all games besides Super Smash Bros. Melee, Ness is an unlockable character by default. Melee features the EarthBound locations Onett and Fourside as stages to battle in, as well as a Mr. Saturn item from EarthBound. In Brawl, Ness is joined by the Mother 3 character Lucas, who is readily available to the player from the start. The EarthBound item representation has been also been expanded to include the Franklin Badge. With the introduction of Assist Trophies in Brawl, Jeff from EarthBound had been chosen to become an Assist Trophy. Porky Minch also appears in his Mother 3 form, and is a boss in the story mode, "The Subspace Emissary". A stage set in New Pork City, from Mother 3, and the return of Melee's Onett stage exist in Brawl as well.[15][16] In Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, Ness returns, but Lucas was removed from the roster. The 3DS version of the game features a new stage based on Magicant, but does not feature the Onett, Fourside, and New Pork City stages from the previous games. The Wii U version of the game's stages are still unknown.

Recurring elements[edit]


Both EarthBound and Mother 3 feature a signature battle system in which it is possible to prevent a character's hit points from dropping to zero, even after sustaining a fatal blow. The hit point counter appears similar to an odometer, with hit points gradually rolling upwards or downwards on healing or taking damage. Even if a character is hit with a blow greater or equal to his or her current hit points, he or she can be rescued if healed before the hit point counter reaches zero or by defeating all of the enemies with a few hit points to spare, as only then is a character knocked out. A player rarely might also have their HP drop to 1 instead of 0. The higher "Guts" points a player has, the higher chances they have to survive a fatal hit.


Doctor Andonuts[edit]

Doctor Andonuts (アンドーナッツ博士 Andōnattsu hakase?) is first seen in EarthBound, and is the father of Jeff, one of the game's protagonists. He helps the four main characters by providing them with his inventions. He later appears in Mother 3, having been kidnapped by Porky to work for the Pigmask Army and create monsters called "Chimeras".

Flying Men[edit]

The Flying Men are inhabitants of Magicant, and assist the player as a supporting character in gameplay. They first appear in Mother, and later in EarthBound.


Main article: Giygas

Giygas, known in the Japanese versions as Gyiyg (ギーグ Gīgu?, Giegue in Earth Bound or "Mother"), is the leader of the alien race bent on conquering the universe, and the main antagonist of the series. Giygas PSI power is beyond human comprehension, and can tempt people with evil hearts into serving him. Giygas was raised by George and Maria, the great-grandparents of the main character of Mother. Maria grew to love Giygas as if he were her own child. She said that he was always wagging his tail, but would only stop when she sang her lullabies. One of Maria's lullabies was used against Giygas in Mother.

Between the events of Mother and EarthBound, Giygas' mind was destroyed by his own incredible power, and he lost control of his power and awareness of his actions. A device known as the "Devil's Machine" helped Giygas control his power and was hidden in the Earth's distant past. Ten years after the time EarthBound takes place, Giygas succeeds in conquering the universe, but a friendly alien traveled back in time to warn Ness of Giygas' attack on the Earth. Ness and his friends traveled back in time and destroyed Giygas in the distant past, undoing Giygas' apocalypse.

The final battle of EarthBound was inspired by the Shintoho film entitled The Military Policeman and the Dismembered Beauty, which Itoi accidentally saw as a child at an adult theater. Specifically, the scene that inspired the battle was a scene that, according to Itoi, depicted a woman being raped near a river,[17] although the scene in question depicts a murder rather than a rape.[18]

Mr. Saturn[edit]

Main article: Mr. Saturn

Mr. Saturn (どせいさん Dosei-san?) is a friendly species that aids the player's party. All individuals of the species are named Mr. Saturn. They are identical in appearance, each short, peach, with an overlarge nose, whiskers and a bow on its one hair. They speak Saturnian (composed of odd-looking English letters), and erratically use the words "boing", "ding", "zoom" and "Dakota". The Japanese font is said to be inspired by the handwriting of the young daughter of EarthBound '​s designer, Shigesato Itoi. First seen in EarthBound, they make a return appearance in Mother 3, the Japanese sequel to EarthBound. In both games, they help with repairing or building various machines.

Mr. Saturns make their home in Saturn Valley, in Eagleland, which is just north of Threed. Their village has round homes which resemble flying saucers and/or the planet Saturn and strange furniture, such as ATMs which bounce up and down in place and resemble Mr. Saturns. Some of the Mr. Saturn's preferred foods are "almond monaka" and "pig yōkan" (changed to "peanut cheese bars" and "piggy jelly" in the English version of the game), goods that can be purchased in the Saturn Valley shop. According to Shigesato Itoi, the Mr. Saturn race are the symbolism of innocence in the game.[17]

Mr. Saturns have had several pieces of merchandise made for them, including plush dolls and a wrist strap. Mr. Saturn makes cameos in multiple other games developed by HAL Laboratory. It first appeared in Kirby Super Star and Kirby Super Star Ultra as a collectible item, and was later included in the Super Smash Bros. series in multiple forms, including an offensive item and multiple collectibles.

Porky Minch[edit]

Porky Minch (ポーキー・ミンチ Pōkī Minchi?), called Pokey Minch in the English-language version of EarthBound, sometimes referred to as Master Porky/Master Pokey, is a primary antagonist of EarthBound, and the main antagonist of Mother 3. In EarthBound, he begins as Ness' highly obnoxious neighbor. He has a little brother named Picky Minch, whom is portrayed as the braver of the two.[19] He joins Giygas, becoming his right-hand man possibly due to the alien's mind controlling powers, his father's abusive nature towards his sons, and bullying from other kids in Onett. Throughout the game, he is regularly seen attempting to thwart Ness. Eventually he ends up in the "Cave of the Past", an area existing long before the events of EarthBound, where Giygas is located. He taunts the protagonists as they fight Giygas, and once Giygas is ultimately defeated, Porky disappears into space and time using a Time Distorter. His brother, Picky, comes to Ness' house at the end of the game, and gives Ness a note from Porky which suggests that he will return.

He was confirmed during the development of "EarthBound 64" (MOTHER 3 豚王の最期?) to be the primary villain; in fact, the game was at one point subtitled as "Fall of the Pig King" (豚王の最期?). Not much information is provided on him, only that he formed an army of people who wear pig uniforms. "EarthBound 64" was ultimately canceled, but was revived for the Game Boy Advance as Mother 3. He remains as the leader of the Pigmask Army and the primary antagonist, but is only revealed late in the game. His excessive time traveling petrified his body and mind, but he shows obvious signs of extreme age, which could range anywhere from 1,000 years old to 10,000 years old. His motives for attacking the Nowhere Islands, the primary location of Mother 3, are that he wanted to access the Dark Dragon's powers, which would cause the entire Earth to be destroyed. His reasons for destroying the earth are to cure himself of his extreme case of boredom. He fights much like Giygas.

In an interview with Shigesato Itoi, he describes Porky as being a symbol of humankind.[20] The interviewer commented that he turned extremely evil in Mother 3, going so far as to describe him as a demon.[20] Porky's feelings for Ness are not clear; in the interview, Itoi commented that Porky had no friends, so perhaps he only played with Ness.[20] He further added that his mean-spirited nature could have come from his parents Lardna Minch and Aloysius Minch, both of whom he described as being "pretty terrible."[20] In the final battle of Mother 3, Porky encases himself in a device called the "Absolutely Safe Capsule". He is protected from all danger inside, but he cannot exit it. Shigesato Itoi commented that in theory, even when the Earth comes to an end in 5.5 billion years, Porky would still be alive.[20] Itoi commented that the grief of this was depressing to him, and that Porky is "truly a poem in himself."[20]

IGN editor Lucas Thompson included Porky on a list of five characters who may be included in Super Smash Bros. Brawl based on what he described as one of the more credible proposed rosters, describing his bed-mech as an intimidating sight to see.[21] In the Subspace Emissary storymode in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, he is a boss, following Lucas through an abandoned zoo. Ness jumps in to help Lucas, and together, they defeat Porky's spider-mech.


Starmen are alien minions of Giygas who appear in Mother and EarthBound. The most powerful Starman is a being called the "Final Starman".



Eagleland is a country in EarthBound. Ness and Paula are from Eagleland. Most of the events of the game happen here.


Magicant is a world that is first found in Mother by Ninten, and later by Ness in EarthBound. Magicant is the world of Queen Mary's mind in Mother; however, in EarthBound, it is in Ness' mind. In the Japanese version, Ness appears naked. In the US release, he was wearing his pajamas.[22]


The song "Eight Melodies" originated in Mother, and later appeared in Mother 3. It was an important plot-point of the first game. It was featured throughout most of the game and in its complete form near the end of the game.


  1. ^ "Earth Bound Trademarks and Logos". EarthBound Central. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  2. ^ MotherYouHadMe (June 8, 2007). "Origin Of The Mother Series' Title". YouTube. Retrieved July 29, 2014. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ "The Many Samples and Sound Alikes of Earthbound". Retrieved 2014-09-25. 
  6. ^ "Maybe the Earthbound Delay Wasn't Really for Music Licensing". Retrieved 2014-09-25. 
  7. ^ Cowan, Danny (7 February 2007). "Vapor Trail: Games that never were". Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  8. ^ "ESRB Game Ratings search results for "EarthBound"". Retrieved 2011-05-28. 
  9. ^ "Mother 1 + 2 Promotional Ad". Retrieved 2008-05-31. 
  10. ^ Hirohiko Niizumi (August 25, 2003). "Earthbound figure campaign to begin in Japan". Retrieved 2008-05-31. 
  11. ^ "Mother 1 – Famicom and GBA Differences". Retrieved 2008-05-31. 
  12. ^ a b "Spotlight: EarthBound". Retrieved 2008-05-31. 
  13. ^ "Famitsu scores". Retrieved 2008-05-31. 
  14. ^ "2003 Top 100 Best Selling Japanese Console Games". Retrieved 2008-05-31. 
  15. ^, stage 14
  16. ^, stage 21
  17. ^ a b "Interview with Shigesato Itoi" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2009-03-27. 
  18. ^ Mandelin, Clyde (20 January 2009). "The Scene that Inspired Giygas". Earthbound Central. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  19. ^ APE, HAL Laboratory. "EarthBound". "Picky Minch: Wha-! You woke me up... Pokey! I've been looking all over for you... You see, Pokey got scared and ran away... Well, I'm glad that you're okay at least... Let's go home now. I bet Mom and Dad are worried sick about us. Geez! Sometimes I wonder which one of us is the real big brother." 
  20. ^ a b c d e f "Exclusive Interview (Part 2, Page 3)". Nintendo Dream. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Mother 2 vs EarthBound: Magicant". 

External links[edit]