Today has been a day full of Reggie Fils-Aimé tidbits. The former President of Nintendo of America's new book, Disrupting the Game, launches in North America today, and we had a chance to read it ahead of time. You can read our thoughts on the book right here in our review.
However, fans who pre-ordered the audiobook version have access to some exclusive bonus content, where Reggie talks with his close friend and host of the Game Awards, Geoff Keighley. The discussion naturally comes around to — guess what? — Mother 3.
This is a game that people often associate with Reggie's tenure at the Big N, one that fans have pestered Reggie about for years while he worked at Nintendo and beyond. Reggie often toyed with fans in response, once saying owning an English version of Mother 3 on Twitter. And how can we forget the opening of Nintendo's 2014 E3 Digital Event?
Contents of the bonus audiobook have been compiled by Nintendo Everything around Mother 3. Reggie spoke to Keighley about Nintendo's decision, which was made before he joined the company. When he was on board, Nintendo was already pushing on the marketing for the Nintendo DS. Reggie reveals that the marketing for its predecessor, EarthBound, was indeed taken into consideration.
“The initial decision not to launch the game had happened before I joined the company, but certainly afterwards I had many conversations with Mr. Iwata about this game, about the fan passion, and certainly the perspective was the first game on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System had not sold all that well. Certainly as I’ve gone back to look at it, the marketing wasn’t great. I think it was marketed some bizarre way like ‘this game stinks’ or something like that. It really was not the best marketing activity behind the launch of a new game. Because it hadn’t sold well, because yes there’s a lot of time and financial investment in localizing this type of content, it just really wasn’t a priority."
Considering EarthBound grew in popularity long after the game initially came out, this isn't too surprising. If you include the fact that the focus was on DS at the time, and the Wii was also on the horizon, "it really just was not a strong business priority."
That's surely disappointing to hear, but the conversation around Mother 3's localisation didn't stop there. With the 3DS and Wii U era, digital-only purchases were only growing in popularity, and the success of the Virtual Console on the Wii was fresh in Nintendo's mind.
Reggie reveals that he had a conversation with Satoru Iwata about bringing the third entry in the Mother series to the 3DS or the Wii U via this method. He suggests that rereleasing the first game — EarthBound Beginnings — was an example of dipping toes in the water.
“We had already had conversations about having a group of games that were not localized, that it was the pure Japanese game made available. And we did that for a number of titles. They did okay. Mr. Iwata and I had that conversation about Mother 3. What ended up happening is that we launched the first Mother game called EarthBound Beginnings on the Wii U eShop. That’s a sense of the conversations that were happening and the thought process."
EarthBound Beginnings had a reputation for its high difficulty and, in many ways, is like a prototype build of the SNES follow up, so it was already a bit of a niche sell to anyone but diehard EarthBound fans. And its sole release in the Wii U (until Switch Online), a console that had disappointing sales numbers, was probably a bit of a barrier.
Reggie talks more about Iwata — who famously joined production on EarthBound while the project was in dire straits and was possibly responsible for rescuing it — who had multiple discussions with the NoA president about the Mother 3's potential rerelease.
"And who knows? If Mr. Iwata had not passed away, if maybe the Wii U had done better in the marketplace, maybe the Mother 3 game would have made it at that point. So there were certainly conversations, but it would have needed to have been done the right way.”
This is clearly Reggie speculating or thinking aloud about what could have been, but it's a sad note to finish on. Reggie spoke at SXSW about how Iwata's death led him to re-evaluate his life, so it's clear the two were close.
Earlier today, we reported on Shinichi Kameoka's thoughts on why Mother 3 hasn't been localised on the Kit & Krysta Podcast. Fans are still desperate to see an official release of this game, and perhaps all of this chatter from major names at Nintendo and Brownie Brown will bring about something.
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What would be the official English name if it ever got localized? Earthbound Endings? Earthbound 2? Earthbound Jim?
With the logic Nintendo sometimes has we'll be seeing Mother 4 before we ever get Mother 3
... this is so much new news for a game that had no doubt of ever coming to the west. Do you think? No, I can't bring hopes up.
@KimBread Earthbound 2 would probably be it. Earthbound Endings does have a nice ring to it. Itoi said that he's done with the series, so that should be pretty future-proof.
I feel like we could see it for the Switch eventually. It would be the perfect console to release it on, especially since the game has become so popular again recently.
Honestly, not really surprised; from this, it doesn't sound like Earthbound Beginnings did all that great. For all the noise that gets made online about Mother 3, I think there's only a very small group of people that would actually care about it getting localized.
@Uska I mean, it technically has come to the west...
everyone, at this point, the fan translation IS the localisation. Play it and enjoy it. Nintendo is not going to touch this game ever again.
@SwitchVogel I believe the opposite. I think the fan outcry has been so large that I'm seeing people who normally wouldn't know about an unlocalised Japanese Rpg hear about the game, and express strong passion and desire to play it. Sure Earthbound Beginnings might not have done very well, but I would attribute that mostly to its aesthetic and age. Earthbound itself finally got a Wii U localisation in America and (for the first time in Europe) after it's disappointing Western launch back in 1994. The game consistently became one of the highest selling Virtual Console games on the Wii U, all from word of mouth. One can only assume that Mother 3 would receive similar attention, if not more, due to its mythical reputation, as well as the number of times official Nintendo spokesmen have talked about it, with it even getting an extremely public feature in Nintendo's infamous 2014 direct.
What a shame, it was very close to being localized this entire time... oh well! Time for Nintendo fans to learn how to emulate.
A fantranslation has existed for years, instead of begging for a localization Nintendo fans could've just downloaded that and played the game years ago.
Huh, seems like there were many more discussions than what I expected in regards to localising the game. Now I actually have some hope it will get localised one day.
Poor marketing? The game stunk because the manual had scratch 'n' sniff patches. I miss stuff like that.
It’s probably time to let this sleeping dog lie.
@KimBread I was thinking Earthbound Future.
@SwitchVogel I kind of agree, but I don't think that should be held against Mother 3. If Earthbound Beginnings didn't do that great, it's because it wasn't that great. It's an interesting curio, a sort of prototype of the truly great Mother 2, but Mother 3 is a fully-formed fantastic game in its own right.
Earthbound had some odd marketing back in the day...comedic and oddball, like very weird, tongue-in-cheek travel guides in the rpg section of Nintendo Power, repeated in the player's guide that came with the game. A lot of effort went into it at the time, but the tone probably did miss the mark.
The only other thing I would say is that Earthbound was an rpg that came when rpg's were beginning to really become popular and kids like me were still learning what a jrpg was. I remember people at the local video store talking about how long it took to play through the game and how hard it was, like that was weird in itself. I think the Mother series really did suffer from being ahead of it's time.
It's just another example of Nintendo being Nintendo. For better and for worse, Nintendo is often out of touch with various parts of its consumer base, especially its most passionate fans. Other examples:
I can't explain it. My best guess is hubris / arrogance by some of its top executives and their narrow view of the market. It often works in their favor! The same attitude gave us the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Switch, for example. But it hurts the fan base quite often, too.
Thanks for coming to my TED Talk
The Nintendo Switch needs to have a Mother 3 localisation. Please Nintendo, make it happen.
Honestly I was expecting Reggie to say that he tried his hardest to get it localized but Miyamoto was against it or something.
I call BS on thos one. I mean, if it was already localized why not realese it? I mean, to put it on virtual console, cant be more dificult than pushing a few buttons but IDK. I would have thought that with a struggling console on the market, Every dollar counts but looks like thats not the case.
I remember when Earthbound came out, and back then I was a big JRPG fan. It definitely was a weird marketing plan. It did not grab my appeal at all with the humor intertwined. I’m glad they localized Earthbound Beginnings as we finally got to experience the first game, even tho Ness and Ninten look toooooo much alike.
@EriXz It was never officially translated. If you're referring to the fan translation by Tomato, Nintendo cannot use it. Despite Tomato giving permission, it would open some doors Nintendo might not want to be opened legally. Even their translation of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light (NES) was a fresh translation and did not use an existing fan translation. That would mean if Nintendo translated Mother 3 they'd bring in either Nintendo of Europe or Nintendo Treehouse to do the translation rather than use the one by Tomato. Translating a GBA game is very difficult, to begin with, due to memory limitations of the ROM, so it would be rather costly, so Reggie and Iwata were probably using Earthbound and Earthbound Beginnings to gauge interest. With Iwata's passing and Reggie's retirement, that means Furkawa and Bowser will need to evaluate interest based on how Earthbound and Earthbound Beginnings does on NSO... which odds are not very high as Reggie kinda hinted that sales of Earthbound and Beginnings were not great on Wii U VC.
So not as simple as just dumping it. Sorry if I came off as a buzz kill :/
EDIT: If you're curious what the cost and technical difficulties could look like Tomato went over the issues he ran into in his blog. Give it a read it is rather interesting.
Should have continued development as the big budget 3D project it was originally planned to be, instead of de-making it into a GBA game. Oh, what could have been.
@Wexter Old console limitations should not be considered, when FE1 for Switch came out people found the original ROM and some non-NES files that consist of the translations.
This way Nintendo was able to add variable width text, which fan translations haven't been able to achieve due to limitations of the game.
At this point, I can’t say that I’d care at all if Nintendo did indeed bring it over to the West. They’ve had years to listen to fans and give us what we would gladly have paid for, and they didn’t. I strongly recommend just playing the fan translated rom and call it a day, it’s an amazing game and my favorite in the series.
It's taken way too long, i don't think I'd waste my time playing a GBA game in this day & age personally. I would have bought it 10 years ago, tho, for sure.
@AlienX That's good! But the translation would still cost a pretty penny as they'd still need a fresh translation and Itoi's writing style is not easily translated. That and the potential perceived problematic depictions of minorities in the game (the magypsies ). I want the game so badly on NSO, but I think there are still some barriers in the way that does not make it as simple as dumping it on the eShop.
Just a straight Japanese port would be terrible also I loved earthbound beginnings it was a fun challenge, retro themed earthbound
Too bad there's not a fan translation people could pla...wait a minute. There is.
@Wexter the article stated Reggie had an english copy on his possession
I need an honest opinion. Was Mother 3 as mind blowing as Earthbound? Earthbound made a major impression on me despite being a tad difficult to trudge through (I'm not a fan of turn-based gameplay in RPGs). I've always wanted to check 3 out in the hopes that it's just as good as Earthbound, but something tells me it isn't. Earthbound was a 10 out of 10, yet Mother 3 strikes me as an 8 out of 10 based on what little I've seen of it.
@T317 It's better. The story is actually really deep and heart wrenching but with the same loveable quirkiness and fun that the series is known for. The characters are FAR more interesting, memorable, and well written than Earthbound's too. I'll always love Earthbound, but MOTHER 3 is just a better game.
I played Earthbound first and it became a 9 or 8.5 out of 10 after playing MOTHER 3, which I consider a 10 out of 10. Please do yourself a favor and play it. It's not a waste of time and you'll wish you played it sooner.
Don't hype yourself up too much or too little for it. Just go in blind and enjoy the ride.
Nintendo: Mother 3 is unable to come to the West
Fans: Understandable. Have a nice day.
Fans 5 months later: BRING MOTHER 3 TO THE WEST
@EriXz I reread the article it did not mention that at all.
For those of you bringing up the fan translation, there's a pretty clear reason why it's still not the end-all solution - Unless you get your hands on a fan-made physical copy, it's all emulation at this point. Emulation for a game you'd have to buy through a process of exchanging currency and creating a new account and dumping a Japanese game to install a mod of an unofficial English translation that doesn't carry the same value as an official translation is not worth it for some people. Unless it wasn't obvious, some people want to play this on a Nintendo console without the difficulties of emulation, especially if they're trying to do it legally.
I also cannot stress the difference in value. That branding makes a huge difference in people's perception of value on Mother 3, and if a fan translated it, there's a false impression that there isn't as good of a standard as what the official translation would offer.
@DrewBA77 @Mikmoomamimocki @KimBread I always thought that the perfect name for Mother 3 would be EarthBound Finale since they added Beginnings to the first one. Is a really well fitting name since is the final entry of both the story and the series. Specially if you take into account the definition of the word "finale" i think it describes the game well.
@Chibi_Manny That would be ok but not much more. Endings is more of a direct antonym to Beginnings. Also, it has that crunchy alliteration that makes everything better.
@Mikmoomamimocki That's not bad, I like it. I like EarthBound Finale a lot but EarthBound Endings sounds really good too. That's a good one.👍🏼
@EriXz Go back and re-read NL's flavor text in the beginning about him tweeting he had an English copy.
@Wexter You too can get an English copy of Mother 3. Go to eBay and search Mother 3 gba English. 😉 This is invariably what Reggie was talking about, a repro cart that had the fan translation on it. As EriXz pointed out, that's not something Nintendo could release for the reasons EriXz stated. They would have to do a fresh localization, as evidenced by Reggie in one of those snippets saying, "There’s a lot of time and financial investment in localizing this type of content."
I think Nintendo should have released Earthbound Beginnings with the easy patch installed. That's how I played it and I loved it. 🤓
@totalHenshin @Wexter you guys think Reggie would have admit to have an iliegal (or unofficial) english translation??
@Wexter Sorry, I confused who I was addressing. My bad. Switch the @‘s in my last comment.
@TotalHenshin NP mistakes happen
@EriXz I can totally believe it! Reggie is a fan of video games and while he might not have had a lot of time to game while president of NOA, I'm sure he played some of the fan translation to get an idea of what fans were clamoring for. He even openly admits before becoming the boss of NOA he played his original Xbox quite frequently so it's not like he was a hardline Nintendo loyalist and he loves his 3DS (his favorite games were Tomodachi Life and Animal Crossing New Leaf).
Reggie is a fan of video games. His body was ready!
Shame on you mister ex president withholding EarthBound related main games. Multibillion dollar corporation can't translate one of their best RPGs for sure. Yeah, give us more Pokecrap.
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