2016
07.18

From Kotaku

For all its famous, medium-defining characters and franchises, Nintendo still manages to have uncelebrated stars outside of the limelight reserved for Mario, Link and Pikachu. The inclusion of Marth and Roy in Super Smash Bros. Melee helped introduce Fire Emblem to a Western audience sometimes bewildered by their origins, while the likes of Palutena and Shulk raise even more inquisitive eyebrows. Mother is another franchise undervalued to the point that, for the long-time fan, it’s almost surreal to see Ness and Lucas Amiibo on high-street shelves. While Ness is more recognisable due to a western release of his starring game, Lucas and his title Mother 3 remain largely limited to the Japanese market – and thus relatively unsung.

The Mother series, created by Shigesato Itoi, saw its first release on the NES in 1989, a game that Nintendo localised but never released in western markets. Its sequel, and the most well-known entry, Mother 2, followed on the SNES in 1994, this time enjoying a release in North America, where it was re-named EarthBound. Initial reception was lukewarm, but its subversion of the typical JRPG formula – forgoing swords and spells for baseball bats and bottle rockets, and ditching fantastical manga art for a Peanuts aesthetic – would earn it cult appeal, later aided by the protagonist’s inclusion in the first Smash Bros. in 1999, as well as the nascent social Internet and emulator piracy, which kept the game alive long after it had become an expensive collectors’ item.

Sadly this expectant audience would open few doors for the series. Work on the sequel, Mother 3, started in the year of EarthBound‘s release, but a lengthy development hell – which saw it move from the SNES to the failed Nintendo 64DD – ultimately led to its cancellation in 2000. It eventually surfaced on the Game Boy Advance in 2006, by which point the game’s production had spanned three consoles and 12 years… only for it to again suffer from Japanese exclusivity syndrome, further relegating it within Nintendo’s annals. Dedicated fans rallied and developed a formidable English translation, but the official game has never seen a Nintendo-approved worldwide release.

Which sucks because, in ways both big and small, it expands and moves on from its iconic predecessor.

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