Should Nintendo Mother 3 really release more in the West?

mother3
Image: Nintendo Life / Gavin Lane

That mother 3 never officially localized and released outside of Japan has been a source of grief and frustration for EarthBound fans in the West since the game launched on the Game Boy Advance in 2006. The sequel to the cult classic EarthBound – the SNES entry in the Mother series that sold poorly in the US and didn’t see the light of day in Europe until a Wii U and 3DS Virtual Console came out – was a very late arrival on GBA. However, backwards compatibility meant that Japanese players entering the WiiDS heyday didn’t have to dig out their old handhelds to enjoy the final chapter of writer Shigesatao Itoi’s trilogy.

Avid fans have been calling for Mother 3’s official western debut for more than a decade and a half, but despite behind-the-scenes talks, there’s no sign of it yet. We have EarthBound Beginning on Wii U (the previously unreleased localization of the first Famicom version) and we recently heard of Reggie Fils-Aime that there have been “serious talks” about a possible release for the handheld threequel. Coincidentally, the game’s producer Shinichi Kameoka has also recently speculated that translating Itoi’s unique writing style could be a sticking point for an official Western release.

We’re not sure if we’ll buy that though – it seems much more likely that, despite a very vociferous core fan base, Nintendo isn’t convinced the game will find an audience large enough to invest in that ‘challenging’ localization work. In terms of Itoi’s style and inimitable charm, it was captured beautifully in EarthBound’s localization, so there’s no reason to think the same couldn’t be achieved again.

Basically the same has already achieved in a brilliant fan translation that was updated as recently as last year† Which brings us to the question: is there a real one? need for Nintendo to release Mother 3 now?

Don’t get us wrong, we’d be first in line to download one Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light-style limited edition ‘3arthBound’ set, or a surprising standalone digital release a la EarthBound Beginnings, or any GBA update added to the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack. We would absolutely Love to 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 it. Despite never being released in the West, Mom 3 is currently neck and neck with Metroid: Zero Mission at the top of our reader-ranked Best Game Boy Advance Games list. Uber fans and curious gamers alike have already bought the original Japanese game, downloaded the fan translation and played the thing. A cursory internet search reveals several reproduction carts that are very easy to obtain, not to mention the myriad other ways a determined fan can play GBA titles on original hardware – including using completely legal methods, assuming you own the original. ROM holds in a legitimate form.

One of the reasons we still want an official release is that a new generation can easily access the game and discover the series, perhaps for the first time. It’s such a harrowing journey, we’d love to see as wide an audience as possible get the chance to play on Switch. With over 100 million consoles out there, if only a small percentage took a chance on this quirky little adventure, it could quickly surpass the original EarthBound’s roughly 658,000 worldwide sales. We just want to spread the motherly love.

Despite only being played by a relatively small number of gamers, the series sparks so much love, as you will see if you watch our festive ‘Mother’s Day’ video with testimonials from some familiar faces. We have recently seen Link’s Awakening remake style tributes that suggest what a remade Mother 3 could look like† The passion for this game and series is impressive, but most pragmatic fans will not only understand from a business perspective Nintendo’s reluctance to release an official localization, but will have found a way to experience the game for themselves.

Leaving Nintendo and Mother 3 fans stuck between a rock and a hard place. It’s a poser!

What do you think though? Let us know where you stand on Nintendo releasing Mother 3 in 2022 in the polls below, and share further thoughts in the comments.

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