We don’t talk that often. I blame myself. Communication can be difficult: what with you being an international hardware and software manufacturer fueled by thousands of individual personalities with different wants and needs; and me being a human. But I would be remiss to not write you on the eve of E3.
Yes, it’s that special time of the year in which I’m struck by the recurring, illogical fantasy that you will finally release Mother 3 in the United States. Mother 3 being the sequel to Earthbound. You know, the JRPG set in humdrum, but nostalgia-steeped America, the one that defined my childhood video game experience. You know, that one.
I recognize that, despite characters from both Earthbound and Mother 3 being featured in your massively successful fighting series, Super Smash Bros., you might have forgotten these games entirely. What with Mother 3 not being available for purchase in the United States, despite having been released in Japan over 13 years ago. I get it, what with you being an international hardware and software manufacturer working on a variety of projects and franchises to appeal to an increasingly fickle audience with countless alternative forms of entertainment with which to distract themselves.
I can see how now is not the best time to spend money on a localization of a game with the name Mother 3. Even I recognize that name doesn’t lend itself to flashy marketing campaigns.
And yet, I write you anyway. Because Nintendo, despite the game being 13 years old, you have unintentionally strung me along with its promise far longer than that. Originally, the sequel to Earthbound was developed for the Super Nintendo, then the N64, then the ill-fated N64 DD, then canceled, then developed anew for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance, and then finally released after three years of production.
I spent a third of my life following the game during its tumultuous creation, obsessing over the rare magazine screenshot or flash of gameplay video from a trade show. And I’ve spent another third of my life waiting for the completed game to get a proper localization and release in the West.
During that time Earthbound has evolved in the West from hidden gem to cult hit to video game culture phenomenon. Fans have built forums, communities, and even a business atop its legacy. They have taken to localizing Mother 3 on their own. Nintendo, I must confess I have played Mother 3 already. In English.
But I write not on behalf of me. I write for the thousands (millions?) of people who haven’t enjoyed one of your secret classics because they don’t want to purchase a Japanese copy, download a ROM and a companion patch, or they simply don’t know the game exists because they don’t spend this much time obsessing over a single roleplaying game when the world gets a new batch of Steam games every day.
I’ve thought previous years would be the year. During the Wii era, it could have boosted the profile of the Virtual Console. During the Wii U era, it could have bought goodwill with increasingly skeptical fans. It could have been the final big first-party game for the DS. Or the 3DS. Or the 2DS. You could have released it as promotion for Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, or Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
This year, to be frank, I don’t know if you need to release Mother 3. The Nintendo Switch is a hit. People can’t wait for more Pokémon and Animal Crossing. Which is why I think 2019 is the year you finally announce Mother 3 will come to the west, and free me of this silly annual ritual.
Chris Plante, a human