Mr. Saturn

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Mr. Saturn
EarthBound series character
First game EarthBound (1994)
Created by Shigesato Itoi

Mr. Saturn (どせいさん Dosei-san?) is a fictional species in the EarthBound series of video games. They were created by series creator Shigesato Itoi. It first appeared in EarthBound for the Super NES. They also appear in the 2006 EarthBound sequel Mother 3 and appear as an item in the Super Smash Bros fighting game series. Mr. Saturn all share a similar odd appearance and use a strange font based on Itoi's young daughter's writing. Itoi designed the Mr. Saturn to symbolize innocence.

Mr. Saturn has received positive reception for its role in EarthBound. It is considered a significant element of the series by GameSpy and RPGamer. It was compared to the Tralfamadorians from Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five due to their similarly strange appearance and behaviour. GamesRadar featured it in a list of unintentionally scary video game characters, while UGO Networks featured in a list of the cutest video game characters. It has been featured in a number of promotional material, including multiple items intended to promote the release of Mother 1 + 2. It has appeared in other works such as a series of fan-made crotchet dolls by Pixelblock partner Natasha, and as multiple cameos in the anime Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko.

Concept and creation[edit]

Mr. Saturn first appeared in EarthBound for the Super NES, where they were created by series creator Shigesato Itoi.[citation needed] All individuals of the species are named Mr. Saturn and all share the same appearance - they are short, peach, with an overlarge nose, whiskers, one single strand of hair, and a bow.[citation needed] Itoi explained that they are about "knee-high."[1] They speak Saturnian (composed of odd-looking English letters), and erratically use the words "boing", "ding," "zoom", and "Dakota".[2][3] The Japanese font is said to be inspired by the handwriting of Itoi's young daughter.[citation needed] Mr. Saturns make their home in Saturn Valley, in Eagleland, which is just north of Threed.[citation needed] According to Shigesato Itoi, the Mr. Saturn race are the symbolism of innocence in the game.[4] The development team referred to Mr. Saturn as "Mr. Stupid."[5] Itoi stated in an interview with 64 Dream that he wanted to make a Mr. Saturn puzzle-action game.[5]

Appearances[edit]

In EarthBound, Ness, Paula and Jeff discover Saturn Valley and its inhabitants. It is discovered that a factory run by Giygas' minion Master Belch was imprisoning Mr. Saturns who are rescued when Ness defeats Belch. Later, the Mr. Saturns worked with Jeff's father Doctor Andonuts to create a device called a Phase Distorter which allows Ness and his friends to travel through space and time where they go to the past to fight Giygas. In 2006, the Mr. Saturns appeared in Mother 3 for the Game Boy Advance. They look and behave the same as they did in EarthBound. They aide the protagonists Lucas, Duster, Kumatora, and Boney by creating the Absolutely Safe Capsule with Doctor Andonuts to be used against the game's antagonist King Porky. Mr. Saturn made a cameo appearance in Kirby Super Star as a collectible treasure that can be found in one of the game's modes.[citation needed] They also appear in Super Smash Bros. Melee and its sequels Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U as an item that can be used to break opponents' shields. It can also be found as a collectible trophy in each game.[citation needed]

Reception[edit]

Since their appearance in EarthBound, Mr. Saturn has received positive reception. GameSpy called it a "staple" of the EarthBound series while RPGamer call it its mascot.[6][7] Nadia and David Oxford noted that Mr. Saturn "stand[s] apart from most other common video game interpretations of aliens, which are often insect-like, feature pointy fangs or ears, or are essentially humans with slightly-different visual attributes." They explained that the Tralfamadorians of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five were an inspiration for the Mr. Saturn. The Tralfamadorians, like the Mr. Saturn, have a strange appearance yet are highly intelligent. They stated however that unlike the Tralfamadorians (which they say are "by no means bad"), Mr. Saturns possess a "purity of heart".[8] Ray Barnholt noted a similarity between Mr. Saturn and creatures in the PlayStation 2 video game Chulip.[9] Before the reveal of Mr. Saturn as an item in Super Smash Bros. Melee, David Trammell speculated that it may be a playable character due to its appearance in the game's intro.[10]

Marty Sliva featured their language in his article on fictional languages in video games. He stated that the language was particularly strange for EarthBound, even with a number of strange elements. He felt that it worked out well "due to the love Itoi and company put forth in slotting it into the world of the game." He added that even though they had no voiced dialogue in the games, he thought that WALL-E's voice (from the film of the same name) was a good fit.[2] Fangamer developer and co-founder Ryan Alyea noted his first interaction with Mr. Saturn as his favourite EarthBound moment due to the font.[11] They were featured in a GamesRadar article discussing unintentionally scary video game characters.[12] UGO Networks listed the species as one of the cutest video game characters ever.[13]

Promotion[edit]

Mr. Saturn has appeared in a number of promotional and fan works. It was featured in a set of key chains to commemorate the release of Mother 1 + 2.[14] Those who pre-ordered Mother 1 + 2 received a cell phone strap that was adorned by Mr. Saturn.[15] A drawing was conducted at a Mother 1+2 event hosted by Shigesato Itoi, where five people won a large Mr. Saturn among other things.[16] A Mother 3 Game Boy Micro was advertised using notes which feature Mr. Saturn's Japanese font style. The text read "We just got this back in. You should buy it quickly. If you have 18 thousand yen, you are able to buy it."[17] In 2006, Banpresto created Mr. Saturn dolls which were featured as a prize in UFO Catcher machines (a crane game in Japan).[1][18] These dolls were very popular; UFO Catchers with Mr. Saturn dolls made more money than without, and people would travel approximately 500 miles to attempt to get one. The popularity caused them to be considered a "premium item."[1] In response to this popularity, they decided to make larger ones in greater number. They went to Nintendo, which gave them permission to make these. They decided to sell these plushes online. It was designed so that people could manipulate its hair. It was to be sold in a box designed to resemble the present boxes found in EarthBound, but this was changed to a box based on the Escago Express (also from EarthBound).[1] They produced about 500 of them and planned to sell them by raffle if more than 500 people are interested.[19]

Popular culture and fan works[edit]

A series of Mr. Saturn crotchet dolls were made by PixelBlock partner Natasha.[20] The anime Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko featured a character named "Mr. Pluto" and featured Mr. Saturn in the role of Lakitu in Super Mario Kart.[21] Mr. Saturn was featured on the cover of two extended plays by United Daft Attack.[22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Hobonichi (2013-11-25). "ほぼ日刊イトイ新聞 - ほぼ日ニュース". 1101.com. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  2. ^ a b Silva, Marty. "It Speaks: The Fictional Languages of Video Games". 1UP.com. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  3. ^ Oxford, Nadia. "Your Mother: Shigesato Itoi". 1UP.com. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  4. ^ "Interview with Shigesato Itoi" (in Japanese). 1101.com. Retrieved 2009-03-27. 
  5. ^ a b 64 Dream (2): 8. 1997. 
  6. ^ "Super Smash Bros. Melee Walkthrough & Strategy Guide". GameSpy. 2002-01-20. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  7. ^ Jackson, Jordan. "Mother 3 - Staff Review". RPGamer. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  8. ^ Oxford, David; Oxford, Nadia. "Spacebound: How Aliens Shape the EarthBound Story". 1UP. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  9. ^ Barnholt, Ray (2007-02-16). "Chulip". 1UP.com. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  10. ^ Tramwell, David (2001-05-22). "Character List for SSB Melee!". Nintendo World Report. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  11. ^ Plante, Chris (2012-05-01). "THE PROFESSIONAL FAN: HOW EARTHBOUND LED TO A MARRIAGE AND A CAREER". Polygon. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  12. ^ Sterling, Jim (2012-06-23). "The scariest videogame characters that were never designed to be scary". GamesRadar. p. 2. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  13. ^ "The 50 Cutest Video Game Characters". UGO Networks. 2010-10-12. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  14. ^ Duff, Andrew (2004-06-16). "Japandemonium - Special Report!". RPGamer. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  15. ^ Wollenschlaeger, Alex. "Japandemonium - Tired Lounge Act". RPGamer. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  16. ^ Wollenschlaeger, Alex. "Japandemonium - The Salaminizer". RPGamer. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  17. ^ Kohler, Chris (2007-09-12). "Mother 3 And The Greatest Price Tag Ever". Wired. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  18. ^ Gaijin Monogatari. "JAPANDEMONIUM". RPGamer. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  19. ^ Spencer (2009-01-30). "This Mr. Saturn Plushie Almost Costs As Much As A Nintendo DS". Siliconera. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  20. ^ Ponce, Tony (2013-05-24). "Too cute! Mega Man, Mr. Saturn, and Samus crotchet dolls". Destructoid. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  21. ^ Hawkins, Matthew (2011-07-10). "Do Sonic's Taxes Real Quick! Zone 5". GameSetWatch. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  22. ^ jeriaska (2010-02-02). "Sound Current: 'Fan-Fueled Retro Game Revival - Tokyo Big Sight's Comic Market 77'". GameSetWatch. Retrieved 2014-01-10.