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A brief history of the Mother / Earthbound series

When Earthbound was released for the SNES back in 1995, few American gamers knew just what had been brought to their shores. It was one of those wacky RPGs, packaged in an overwhelming box, with nerdy characters and a no-name developer attached to it. We owed it nothing, and gave it less.

Striped shirts mean business in the Mother series.

Those players who did give it a chance found themselves immersed in a world they couldn't explain to their friends. They were spending their afternoons and weekends in a humorous, snarky, and at times illogical place based on a realistic present day, but mixed up with magic and fantasy elements. Their new hero was that of a boy not unlike themselves: a baseball-capped, yo-yo-swinging boy with bed hair, a doting mother, a loyal ragamuffin dog, and an obnoxious neighbor knocking on his door late at night. How is this setup "one of the greatest games ever"? It sounds typical. Dull. Leave it alone.

A few years later, a little title by the name of Super Smash Brothers was released on the hottest new system, the N64. We get to fight as all of our favorites! Mario, Link, Kirby! Wow, Pikachu, Samus and Fox! Oh, and...Ness? With only 12 playable characters in the first Smash Bros. game, pitting the seemingly no-name Ness alongside mega-stars like Mario, Link, and Pikachu was mind-boggling at best. Who is this guy, Western current-gen-ers wondered. A year later, the public confirmation that the sequel to Ness's title, Mother 3 (which had been in production for the N64 and then 64DD for four years), was officially canceled brought even more attention to the series of mysteriously beloved titles from Japan, along with the nationwide wailing heard from fans in the know.

Mother refused to conform to your 3D standards of beauty, late '90s.

I have to imagine that Starmen.Net's creation in 1999, (known as Earthbound.Net for the first year of its existence) helped increase this attention and awareness of the Mother series. Not only the greatest Mother fansite on the net, but possibly one of the greatest fansites period, Starmen.Net gave disconnected fans of the series a place to meet and share their love, while simultaneously taking significant strides to bring more of the Mother series to our shores, including the elusive Mother 3. Through fan art, petitions, postcards, and plenty more, awareness and requests built and built into a massive following of kitschy, niche love. Though a still much more minor following over here, the Western Mother fans have grown to a respectable size, filling 130 pages of topics at GameFAQs, appearing in EGM and on 1Up multiple times (each), and downloading the recent translation patch of Mother 3 X-thousand number of times (there's no direct count at the moment, as far as I can tell).

We owe them so much.

The series which began its fame in America as just an oversized box with weirdo characters is now a true gaming phenomenon, and merely being a part of it is an experience all its own. The final installment has been completed, released; its fan translation is finished and available. My review is temporarily delayed but on its way; stop throwing doorknobs at me.