Mother 3, stuck within the bounds of Japan?

Despite being a cult classic series, the third entry in the Mother games has not been officially available to fans outside of Japan.

Josh Watson
16th May 2022
Images: Nintendo
Hot on the tail of the addition of EarthBound Beginnings and the ‘original’ EarthBound to Nintendo Switch Online (trust me, the naming is complicated), the former president of Nintendo in America has shed light on why the final chapter of the saga was never released outside of Japan.
Mother 3's logo.
Image: Nintendo

The Mother series was a trilogy of small, relatively niche RPGs released by Nintendo during the early 90s for the NES and SNES, with the third coming out in 2006 for the GBA. It has always been a strange part of gaming and Nintendo’s history. The games themselves go against the classic power fantasy that other JRPGs fall into – very much against the grain of the titles of the time like the Final Fantasy series, instead following a group of children saving in the world.

It is a strange tale to explain and is a story that works best as a game. Each entry doesn’t follow on from the last; though they do cover the same theme with a similar gameplay loop. However, what makes this collection of curiosities so interesting is their release confusion.

An image celebration the 30th anniversary of the Mother series.
Image: Nintendo

Mother 2 was the first to be released outside of Japan, called EarthBound – it had quite a large following and, as the internet took off, knowledge of the two other games in the series spread to the western world. It was not until 2015 that the original Mother became available with a full translation outside of Japan – 25 years after the Japanese release.

Reggie Fils-Aime, who was President of Nintendo of America and famous for his comedic additions to E3 with his beloved ‘My body is ready' phrase, has released ‘Disrupting the game’: a little audiobook pre-order bonus that includes an interview between Reggie and Game of Awards host Geoff Keighley. There was much talk of Mother 3, as Reggie is well-known for teasing possible releases of the game on Twitter during his time at Nintendo. He talks about how he had many conversations with Satoru Iwata, CEO of Nintendo at the time and a lead contributor to the original game, about a western release.

Reggie reacts to aa fan asking for Mother 3.
Image: Nintendo

The decision had been made that there was no finical benefit from a western release after EarthBound's poor original sales in the USA. Reggie points out that the marketing for the game was strange. "This game stinks’’ was the marking slogan – no wonder it didn’t sell well.

Reggie has said that the translation of EarthBound Beginnings was to test the waters and that its success was promising. However, Iwata’s death in mid-2015, only a few months after Beginnings was added to the Wii U library, seemed to close that door. "If Mr Iwata had not passed away, if maybe the Wii U had done better in the marketplace, maybe the Mother 3 game would have made it at that point.’’ Sadly, it seems no official release will ever come – someone should probably tell the Onett police chief.

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