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Ten Fun Facts About the Mother Series

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More commonly know as EarthBound in the non-Japanese-speaking parts of the world, the Mother series is a triad of bright, colorful, eerie, and occasionally dark RPGs released by Nintendo on the NES, SNES, and Game Boy Advance. Partially popularized by Ness and Lucas’ appearance in Super Smash Bros., EarthBound has managed to amass quite a following for a franchise that only had one official Western release (Mother 2 as EarthBound).

Recently, Official Nintendo Magazine shared ten tidbits about the title, ranging from localization quirks to inspirations to the series. Starting with…

1. Censorship

The United States in particular has a pretty bad history of censorship during localization.
EarthBound was no exception. Apparently believing anyone who plays games are too innocent and fragile to handle such realities as the existence of alcohol and drug stores, any mention of the former substance is swapped out with coffee in EarthBound, resulting in NPCs literally drunk off of coffee. Drug stores were renamed just “stores” in the United States release, and bars, following the alcohol-is-coffee theme, became cafes. Potential references to real-world brand names like Star Wars or Coca-Cola were also censored out, perhaps because a corporate-run reality is too harsh, or late 20th century localization teams were made of madmen.

2. Lucas’ Namesake

Shigesato Itoi, the mind behind the
Mother series, revealed that the third installment took inspiration from French novel Le Grand Cahier, the first in a trilogy of its own by author Agota Kristof. The book follows twins Lucas and Claus through the turmoils of war-torn Hungary. If you hadn’t guessed already, the protagonist of Mother 3‘s name is Lucas, and his twin brother is named Claus.

3. The Man Himself Thought it was Too Hard

NES era Nintendo games were hard. That in itself is hardly a secret. Reportedly, though, the original Mother was so difficult that Shigeru Miyamoto admitted he only beat the game by using the debug mode. Take that, Ninja Gaiden.

4. Mother 3 Nearly Defeated by Technology

Mother 3 was originally planned to be released as a SNES game, but was promoted to an N64 Disk Drive game to be called EarthBound 64 not long after development started. It was to have ten main characters, twelve chapters, have clock features, alternate routes, and be in 3D, but the N64 Disk Drive flopped, and the project ground to a halt. The game was reportedly 30% to 60% complete at the time. Luckily, production eventually continued on the Game Boy Advance.

5. Sesame In Love

In the sands of the Dusty Dunes Desert, there lies a single black pixel and a single white pixel. Talk to them, and they reveal themselves to be a black sesame seed and a white sesame seed. The pair of misplaced seasonings are in the middle of a rough patch in their relationship, it would seem, based on their dialog, with one saying there is a black sesame they “used to love” in the desert, with the other lamenting over a failed marriage.

6. Porky’s Father is Named After Daffy Duck

Not literally, though. The United States localization director needed a name for the father of Porky, one of
EarthBound’s villains. He eventually settled on “Alyosius,” a fake name Daffy Duck gave to a giant to save himself from being giant food, because he thought the name was “dumb and funny.”

7. Six is Not Equal to Five

The band “Runaway Five” that appears in the game has, well, more than five members. One more, to be precise. The worst part is this cannot even be chocked up to a mistake in the Japanese, since their Japanese name is the “Tonzura Brothers.” Tonzura is not the word for five, just in case you were wondering.

8. EarthBound 64 Image in Super Smash Trophies

As a double treat for those that did not already know, the trophies in the
Super Smash Bros. series often have reflections on them when viewed, despite being suspended in hammer-space. The usual example of this is Super Metroid title screen reflected in a metroid. A myriad of images show up as reflections on various trophies, and one of those images is a piece of promotional art for EarthBound 64. It appears on the Samurai Goro, Jody Summer, and Dr. Stuart trophies.

9. Itoi Liked Digging for Gold

The creator of the series, Shigesato Itoi, has attested that he enjoyed hunting for gold and treasure across Japan. Actual gold and treasure. He even compared it to playing RPGs. Dusty Dunes Desert in particular takes a lot of inspirations from his excursions.

“Gold-digging itself is an RPG, you know? But the difference between it
and a game is how in gold-digging you think some gold is actually going
to turn up. You dream about it for just a moment, and you’re convinced
you know where it is. I’ve since become more modest about it, though
(laughs). The greed and everything is sort of alleviated by the feelings
you get when you’re 200 feet below the ground, witnessing traces of
other people. But it’d still be nice to ramp up those power shovels just
a little bit…(laughs). Working at Akagiyama has this sense of
excitement to it, like an action game coupled with the thrill of
speculation, of wondering if gold will actually turn up.” Shigesato Itoi

10. Novel Adaptations

Japan loves their multimedia adaptations. Both
EarthBound and EarthBound 2 were adapted into novels in Japan by writer Saori Kumi. The books are reportedly filled of extra details, and while they’re officially only available in Japanese, there are fan projects aiming to translate them.

Source: Official Nintendo Magazine

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