Print Edition: March 18, 2015
Since the dawn of adrenaline-fuelled, graphically masterful realistic games, there has been a movement by the gaming community to go backwards in time. Gaming nostalgia seems to be one of the greatest and most vocal forms of nostalgia around — right up there with Back to the Future and Star Wars fans.
The Mother series was first released in Japan in 1989, and made an attempt to come to Western shores, but never made it. Its sequel, Mother 2, would fill those shoes as the classic game Earthbound. Despite its originally poor sales, the series has grown into an icon of nostalgia for fans of the great old RPG.
Earthbound is a commentary on American life, with the psychic boy Ness adventuring with three other friends across Eagleland to destroy the evil alien Giygas. The adventure involves teaming up with a comedic shout-out to the Blues Brothers, a fight against a somewhat abusive police force, battles against strangely deformed animals and strange household objects, and conflicts with shoppers, businessmen, and hippies. To this day, Earthbound holds its own as a videogame landmark.
It was unfortunate to the growing fan community that the sequel, Mother 3 for the Nintendo 64, fell through and was cancelled. It was later revived for the Game Boy Advance, but was not localized. It was pretty much a punch to the face by Nintendo. Why deny the Western fan base a game based upon contemporary American culture? It didn’t help that the star character Lucas appeared in the Wii version of Super Smash Brothers.
This is where the fan community took over. Petitions were signed, to no avail, and soon a fan translation was started. The fans were taking the game into their own hands. It took some time to complete, but after two years there was a playable English version of the game available to the community, along with the encouragement to continue to support Nintendo and HAL Laboratories. However, this cannot shake the biggest blow to the community: the director of the Mother series, Shigesato Itoi, has declared that Mother 3 is the last game in the series. He has decided never to make another. Nevermore, Mother.
Yet shortly after Itoi’s declaration, the fan community stepped up once more. For the past five years, they’ve been cooking up a Mother of their own. The fan creation Mother 4 has declared itself a free-to-play sequel to the series, involving a similarly constructed list of goofy American-themed characters to carry on the legacy. It has seen several revisions, and the team states that they are building the game from scratch using C#. This isn’t some RPG Maker knock-off. This is pretty close to the real thing.
If the loyalty of fans could say anything, it would be their dedication to the legacy of a series of games. It’s so strong that they manage to encapsulate not only the look and feel of the original series, but the themes and strength of the story as well.
Despite the fact that this sequel has not yet been released (though it might be in June), it seems clear to me that there is nothing but love behind it — love for a great series of games, and love for the community that follows them.