Mother (Earthbound Beginnings) (Old Review)

The first RPG series to intrigue me so much that I had to play it. This is the first RPG I’ve immersed myself into and completed (with a guide because I suck at RPGs). Everytime I see RPGs about 98% of the time involve fantasy themes, I think it’s way over-saturated, but the Japanese love it and so do western gamers that love the genre. In fact I’ll do a top 10 RPG games I want to play so stay tuned.

The Mother series has been very controversial not for the games itself, but for the fact that two of the three games have never been released outside of Japan, especially Mother 3, a game that Nintendo fans have been waiting for an offical release outside of Japan, so it’s Half Life 3 of Nintendo games except that it was released but the demand for a legal English release is too damn high. But back to the one that started it all, Mother, developed by Ape and published by Nintendo and was released in July 27th 1989 for the Famicom. Though I’m not going to play the NES Earthbound Zero but the English translation of Mother 1+2 as it’s more faithful to the original and has better controls and gameplay.

Mother, along with the other games in the series were designed by Shigesato Itoi, while this was near enough his only venture into the gaming industry, he is also an Essayist, Voice actor, Copywriter and Lyricist. Got to have more jobs to keep you company eh? Itoi pitched the game to Shigeru Miyamoto but declined; but then eventually changed his mind. A North American version was localized into English but abandoned as commercially unviable, possibly due to the Super Nintendo being released at the time, but that wasn’t really a great excuse as NES games were still being made at the time. A copy of this prototype was later found and is online as of now as EarthBound Zero which you can download and play on an emulator.

In the 1880s, a young couple called George and Maria were abducted by aliens. Two years later, George returned but isolated himself in studying something mysterious; but Maria never returned. Many years later in the 80’s, supernatural things are happening at the home of the main character Ninten (Ninten? Really? NINTEN?), his father who we don’t see and Nitnen can only speak to through phone tells him that his great grandfather studied psychic powers that Ninten possesses and is tasked to go around the world and sort out all the world’s problems…so this is the Pokémon syndrome, leave the kids to fight enemies…yeah!

In short, we’re being invaded by aliens and possess people, animals and inanimate objects so Ninten, Ana and Lloyd (and Pippi and Teddy join along sometimes) fight the aliens whilst collecting 8 melodies that a Queen Mary forgot and it was important to her and you use these melodies to battle Giygas before he haunted your nightmares in the next game.

I don’t want to spoil the story but I want you to play this game, understand the story and rewrite the story in your own words and you might notice that this is one of the most oddest tales in any RPG so far…I’m really looking forward to Earthbound. The object of the game is to simply fight enemies that have been possessed by aliens that have made them evil and the enemies include Dogs, Hawks, Elephants, Lions…Rednecks, Hippies, Centipedes, Trucks, Fleas…wait WHAT? I need a minute! This is why you need to think about what you’ve been playing, clearly this is as Japanese as you can get, a flea, a bloody flea can kill you. The game is set in numerous cities like Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, Snowman, Valentines, yeah, mostly based on holidays and seasons. It has that Pokémon feel to it, whilst it’s not as easy as Pokémon there are a lot of similarities so anyone could pick up and play it.

You can move in 8 directions (if you play the GBA port). You can talk to people, check things, use your psychic powers and use items, when battling enemies you can use weapons but they need to use ones specific to each characters like Ninten and his baseball bat, Ana and a frying pan (haha, 50’s humor…as in NOT FREAKING FUNNY…sorry) Teddy and a Katana, Lloyd and his Air Gun. This is utmost proof that this isn’t a fantasy RPG and more a “Screw you” to the same old themes. Ninten and Ana can use their psychic powers to defeat enemies called PSI, though the problem is I barely used them mostly because of one element…AUTO. When you use this you can just sit there and let the game play itself for you, yep before the modern Final Fantasy games did it, Mother was doing it before it…innovation at it’s finest. Everytime you defeat enemies, you get money for it and your Dad will collect the money and put it into your account so you can collect and buy items. When going to towns they’ll have hotels, hospitals, department stores, restaurants and they help a lot when you have to journey to other areas and get random encounters with enemies.

The overworld graphics are so appealing, it has a unique art style that I don’t think anyone has used before, it’s memorable for an 8-bit game. You travel to many areas like factories, caves and mountains. But in battle it’s just an enemy and a black background, there’s nothing much to it but it’s Mother and it’s memorable too. But the icing on the cake is the music. The Famicom music is great but the GBA port being tweaked is fantastic. Play this on a TV with some cinema speakers, this is fantastic, it’s one of my favourite soundtrack for any game, just some added beats improve the music somehow.

Any issues, it can be a tad slow, mostly because I didn’t know you had to press R to run and if you didn’t know that prepare to slog through this journey. Any RPG fan may find this odd, if you’re used to fantasy elements, prepare to find this game odd even for you.

Did you know? After defeating the final boss, the kids stand there as the credits roll, but in the GBA port, after defeating the boss, you get an epilogue, which is a more satisfying conclusion in my opinion.

Overall, for being the first RPG I completed and my first experience in a proper RPG, Mother is fantastic, it’s easily up there as being one of my favourite RPGs despite being my first. It’s a mostly short game since it took me three days to finish it (with a guide) and mostly I had some time off for Easter so I had some time to play this. I love the story, I love the gameplay, the characters are memorable and it’s charming, quirky and offbeat. If you want the full Mother experience like me, start off with Mother 1+2 on the Game Boy Advance, download a ROM and an English translation patch (It only translates the first game and not the sequel, which is Earthbound anyway).

You can get it on the Famicom and the Game Boy Advance.

Next up…Earthbound, not now but I’ll definitely play it in the summer, stay tuned.

Update as of 25th July 2015: I’ve nearly finished Earthbound, but I’m here to say that there has been a western release of Mother 1 titled Earthbound Beginnings, and you can now get it on the Wii U, just a heads up if you want to get it legally.



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