That Mother 3 has never been officially localized and released outside of Japan has been a source of sadness and frustration for EarthBound fans in the West since the game launched at Game Boy Advance 2006. Continuation of the cult classic EarthBound – SNES entry into the poorly sold Mother series in the US and didn’t see the light of day in Europe until the release of the Wii U and 3DS Virtual Console – it was a very late appearance on the GBA. However, backward compatibility meant that Japanese players entering the heyday of WiiDS didn’t have to dig their old palm out to enjoy the final chapter of Shigesatao Itoi’s trilogy.
Fervent fans have been calling for the official western debut of Mother 3 for more than a decade and a half, but despite the behind-the-scenes conversation, there is still no indication of that. We got EarthBound Beginnings on the Wii U (previously unpublished localization of the first entry for Famicom only) and we recently heard from Reggie Fils-Aimé that there were ‘serious talks’ about a potential release for the handheld threequel. Coincidentally, game producer Shinichi Kameoka also recently speculated that translating Itoi’s unique writing style could be a key point for the official Western edition.
Still, we’re not sure if we’ll buy it – it seems much more likely that, despite a very loud fan base, Nintendo isn’t convinced the game will find a large enough audience to justify investing in this ‘challenging’ localization business. As for Itoi’s style and unrepeatable charm, he’s nicely caught up in EarthBound’s localization, so there’s no reason to think the same couldn’t be achieved again.
In fact, the same already has achieved in a brilliant fan translation that was updated only last year. Which brings us to the question: is there a real one need that Nintendo now announces Mother 3?
Don’t get us wrong, we’d be at the forefront of downloading the Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & The Blade of Light limited edition ‘3arthBound’ set, or the surprisingly standalone digital edition according to EarthBound Beginnings or GBA update added to Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack. We absolutely would love play Nintendo’s official version of this brilliant finale.
However, the fact is that most of us who want to play it have already played. Despite never being released in the West, Mother 3 is currently around the neck with Metroid: Zero Mission at the top of our list of top games for Game Boy Advance Games ranked by readers. Fans of the series and curious players have already bought the original Japanese game, already downloaded the fan translation and played it. A cursory search of the internet reveals a variety of easy-to-obtain playback baskets, not to mention countless other ways for a determined fan to find GBA titles on genuine hardware – also using completely legal methods, assuming you own the genuine ROM in legitimate form .
Part of the reason we still want the official release is that the new generation can easily access the game and discover the series, perhaps for the first time. It’s such a touching journey that we’d love to see what a wider audience has a chance to play on the Switch. With more than 100 million consoles out there, if only a small percentage embark on this weird little adventure, it could quickly surpass the global sales of the original EarthBound of approximately 658,000. We really just want to spread our mother’s love.
Despite the fact that the game has a relatively small number of players, the series evokes so much love, which you will see if you watch our celebratory ‘Mother’s Day’ video showing the testimonies of some celebrities. We recently saw a tribute to Link’s Awakening in remake style that suggests what a redesigned Mother 3 might look like. The passion for this game and series is impressive, but most pragmatic fans will not only understand Nintendo’s reluctance to announce the official localization from a business perspective, but will already find a way to experience the game for themselves.
Which is why Nintendo and Mother 3 fans are stuck between stone and anvil. That’s a poser!
What do you think? Let us know in the polls below how you stand on Nintendo to be released by Mother 3 2022 and share further thoughts in the comments.