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“They all work at different ages, too. You can play Mother when you’re young, Mother 2 is better when you know a bit more about the world, and then Mother 3 is best played when you’re older.”
– Shigesato Itoi1)

MOTHER, localized as EarthBound, is a series of role-playing games by Shigesato Itoi that began in 1989 and concluded in 2006. The series was published by Nintendo who wasn't able to bring the full series out of Japan due to localization issues and poor release timing.


The series consists of three games: MOTHER (1989), MOTHER 2 (1994), and MOTHER 3 (2003). There's also the unique 2-in-1 remake bundle, MOTHER 1+2 (2003), that was made to accompany MOTHER 3.


“Don't cry until the ending.”

MOTHER, also known as MOTHER 1, EarthBound Zero, or EarthBound Beginnings, follows a young boy traveling across “America” in search for eight melodies to cure Queen Mary's amnesia and reveal what's attacking their world. When they accomplish this, the Queen reveals herself as his great-grandmother, Maria, and said phenomenon is caused by an alien that she raised with her husband, George.

The boy and his friends then travel up Holy Loly Mountain to find George's tombstone, the missing parents, and an alien named Gyiyg, who is enraged that George studied his PSI powers. The alien invites the boy aboard his ship, but the boy refuses and retaliates by singing the melody, invoking nostalgic tears that forces Gyiyg to retreat. Peace is restored, though the boy gets one final phone call.


“For adults, children, and onee-sans too!”

MOTHER 2: Gyiyg Strikes Back, or EarthBound: The War Against Giygas, starts off with a time-traveling insect in a meteorite informing Ness that he was prophesied to stop Gyiyg from plummeting their world into darkness with wisdom, courage, and friendship, then tells him to gather eight melodies found in his sanctuary locations across “Eagleland” using the sound stone. Along the way, he is joined by three allies.

After gathering the melodies, Ness is sent to conquer the evil in his mind, then the party travels back in time. They find Ness' neighbor, Porky, acting as Gyiyg's subordinate. However, Gyiyg is now a being of pure evil after destroying his mind and body. In short, the party, their allies in the present, and the player pray Gyiyg to death. Peace is restored, though Ness is left with a strange letter from Porky.


“Strange, comical, and heartrending.”

MOTHER 3 tells the story of a happy family on an idyllic island being torn apart after this odd, pig-themed organization suddenly appears. A thief is tasked with safeguarding a mythical Egg of Light (Hummingbird Egg), then a peddler who works for the organization abuses a monkey into doing slave labor until the story's protagonists realize something's wrong. From here, a three year time skip occurs.

As expected, the Pigmask Army has modernized Tazmily Village. The boy is tasked with reuniting the party, finding the Egg of Light to restore their memories, then they meddle inside the Pigmask Army's Thunder Tower which they ultimately destroy. We get a glimpse of the Masked Man, the boy gets a glimpse of his dead mother in a dream sequence, then the longest chapter begins.

In short, the protagonists are tasked with pulling the most needles to awaken the Dark Dragon and control the world's fate. Following the sixth needle, they discover that villagers moved to New Pork City, above the seventh and final needle. In one of the apartments, Leder gives a major lore dump explaining the prior world, how the islands came to be, the island being a dragon, the egg's purpose, and how Porky arrived.

They scale the Empire Porky Building to see an aged Porky, then they're sent underground where the boy's father realizes the Masked Man is the boy's lost brother. Porky fails to stop them, then an emotional battle occurs with said brother committing suicide. The final needle is pulled, havoc ensues, but the void informs us all is well as last words are given, credits roll, and we end with a wooden logo.


  • MOTHER 1: This was fully translated and named “Earth Bound”, but it was shelved indefinitely as the NES was phased out for the SNES. However, a prototype ROM dubbed “EarthBound Zero” did make its way onto the internet.2)3) In 2015, MOTHER was finally released for the Virtual Console where it was dubbed EarthBound Beginnings4)5) as a proper introduction to the series.6)
  • MOTHER 2: This was fully translated and released in June 1995 as “EarthBound” to avoid numbering confusion, but it suffered as retro graphics and role-playing games weren't popular at the time.7)8) Nintendo spent $2,000,000 on marketing, but it was deemed a failure, and was never localized outside of the United States.9) It did show up on Virtual Console in June 2013.10)
  • MOTHER 1+2: This entry is generally skipped or neglected for whatever reason, probably since the previous two games were already readily available on the internet, so nobody really asked.
  • MOTHER 3: Reggie Fils-Aimé, the president of Nintendo of America at the time, stated no localization plans11) since it wasn't a “smart business approach”12) and that was that.13)14) It didn't help that the GBA was being phased out too. Today, we have a mention15) and an E3 joke,16)17) but nothing ever came out of it.18)19) Doug Bowser, the current president, has yet to comment.

Fan Translations

  • MOTHER 3: There had been an interest in translating MOTHER 3,20)21) so a couple of MOTHER fans got together and released an unofficial translation on October 1, 2008.22)
  • MOTHER 1+2: An easily accessible, re-translated version of MOTHER 1 was released on April 29, 2011,23) but the MOTHER 2 side was too complex and left with a simple UI translation.24) Despite this, people were interested in translating the MOTHER 2 side, and the most hopeful ongoing translation is the "VWF Edition" which now has its own Github page.


“People who have played Mother 2 are the ones playing Mother.”
– Shigesato Itoi25)

It's been repeatedly mentioned that the MOTHER series has an international cult following who believe that MOTHER 2 and MOTHER 3 are masterpieces, but where did they come from? EarthBound flopped, so it's more likely that they discovered it through the Super Smash Bros. series or very early EarthBound ending memes (e.g. “X Means Business”,26) “You Cannot Grasp the True Form of Giygas' Attack”).


  • The franchise was innovative for its time since it was one of the few role-playing games that used a modern setting, rather than being another retread of medieval fantasy or science fiction.
    • This has resulted in an unfortunate trend of video game journalists using “inspired by EarthBound” for any game with a modern setting, later causing indie developers to coin “Motherlike”.27)
  • “ギーグ” (Gīgu), pronounced “Gigu” or “Geeg”, is romanized as “Gyiyg” in the MOTHER 2 intro.28)
    • Phil Sandhop's team impressively uses “Giegue” in the official MOTHER localization.
    • However, the MOTHER 2 localization team uses “Giygas” instead, which caused many to misread it as “guy gas” (ガイギャス) instead. Apparently, they considered “Geek” at one point.29)
  • The “Bracelet of Kings” (おうじゃのうでわ, Ōja no Udewa), which was localized as “Bracer of Kings”, was moved from the Pink Cloud dungeon to the Lumine Hall dungeon in the MOTHER 1+2 port.
  • For some reason, the MOTHER 2 soundtrack in the MOTHER 1+2 port ended up being mono sound, despite stereo sound being offered by the headphone jack. The exception is Belch's Base.
    • If you comment on any MOTHER 1+2 soundtrack on how you “prefer the original”, I do not like you.
  • This seems to be under reported, but MOTHER 3 had three subtitles when in development:
    • “Chimera Forest” (キマイラの森, Kimaira no Mori) in 1997.
    • “Forest of Strange Creatures” (奇怪生物の森, Kikai Seibutsu no Mori) in 1999.
    • “Fall of the Pig King” (豚王の最期, Buta-ō no Saigo) in 2000.
  • Itoi has no plans for a MOTHER 4 entry30)31)32)33) since video games weren't his main profession and that the series would lose its charm if it had more installments.34)35)

See also

  • MOTHER on Itoi's website - The official website, sorta.
  • WikiBound - The English fan wiki.
1) , 25)
"The Mother 3 Cancellation Round-Table" (September 18, 2019). 1101.
"Spotlight: EarthBound" (July 31, 2004). Lost Levels.
"EarthBound Zero Prototype Info" (September 7, 2009). EarthBound Central.
"The Man Who Wrote Earthbound" (March 24, 2016). Kotaku.
"Earthbound review" (September 21, 2013). Official Nintendo Magazine.
"Reggie gets asked about MOTHER 3" (June 14, 2007). YouTube.
"Reggie "bombarded" by MOTHER fans" (March 9, 2008). YouTube.
"Automated translation program" (January 19, 2007). Starmen.Net.
"Automatic MOTHER 3 Translator" (August 5, 2009). EarthBound Central.
"MOTHER 3 Fan Translation Done!" (October 17, 2008). EarthBound Central.
"MOTHER 1+2 Translation Released" (April 29, 2011). EarthBound Central.
"A Look at the MOTHER 2 Side" (April 30, 2011). EarthBound Central.
“Inakunarinasai” (イナクナリナサイ, lit. “Disappear”), or “Pokey Means Business”, is the background music for the first phase of MOTHER 2's final boss with Heavily Armed Porky and the Devil's Machine.
"Mother Direct". Mother Forever.
If you forgot, there's an intro screen when you boot up MOTHER 2 showing an alien invasion with “Gyiyg Strikes Back!” as the headline instead of “ギーグの逆襲” (Gīgu no Gyakushū, lit. “Gigu's Counterattack”).
"EarthBound / MOTHER 2: Giygas". Legends of Localization.
"No More Mother" (May 3, 2006). IGN.
"Info on MOTHER 4" (April 15, 2008). EarthBound Central.
"Shigesato Itoi Discusses MOTHER 4" (April 3, 2011). EarthBound Central.
"Why There Will Be No Mother 4" (November 23, 2015). Kotaku.
"A Good Bat and a Bigger Map" (September 16, 2019). 1101.
mother.txt · Last modified: 2024-04-18 00:07:23 by namelessrumia