Does Nintendo really have to release Mother 3 in the West yet?

Image: Nintendo Life / Gavin Lane

That Mother 3 was never officially localized and released outside of Japan has been a source of sadness and frustration for EarthBound fans in the west since the game released 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 only saw the light of day in Europe with the release of the Wii U and 3DS Virtual Console – was a very late arrival to GBA. However, backwards compatibility meant that Japanese gamers entering the heyday of WiiDS didn’t have to dig out their old handheld to enjoy the final chapter of author Shigesatao Itoi’s trilogy.

For over a decade and a half, passionate fans have been calling for Mother 3’s official Western debut, but despite behind-the-scenes talks, there’s no sign of it just yet. We’ve got EarthBound Beginnings on Wii U (the previously unreleased localization of the first Famicom-only entry) and we recently heard from Reggie Fils-Aimé that there were “serious talks” about a possible release of the handheld Dreiquel. Coincidentally, the game’s producer, Shinichi Kameoka, also recently speculated that translating Itoi’s unique writing style could be a sticking point for an official Western release.

We’re not sure we’ll buy that though – it seems far more likely that despite a very vocal core fanbase, Nintendo isn’t convinced the game would find an audience big enough to make an investment in this ” to justify “challenging” localization work. In terms of Itoi’s style and inimitable charm, he was beautifully captured in EarthBound’s localization, so there’s no reason to believe the same couldn’t be achieved again.

Indeed the same has already was accomplished in a brilliant fan translation updated just last year. Which brings us to the question: Is there really anything to need that Nintendo Mother 3 released now?

Don’t get us wrong, we’d be at the front of the queue to download a limited edition Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light themed 3arthBound set or a surprise standalone digital release a la EarthBound Beginnings or a GBA update added to the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack. We absolutely would love to play Nintendo’s official version of this brilliant finale.

But the fact of the matter is that most of us who want to play it have already played it. Though Mother 3 was never released in the west, it currently sits neck and neck with Metroid: Zero Mission at the top of our reader-rated list of the best Game Boy Advance games. Series die-hards and curious gamers have already bought the original Japanese game, downloaded the fan translation, and played the thing. A cursory search of the web will reveal various readily available reproduction carts, not to mention the myriad other ways a determined fan can find to play GBA titles on original hardware – even using entirely legal methods, provided you own the original ROM in a legal format.

One of the reasons we still want an official release is that a new generation can easily access the game and maybe discover the series for the first time. It’s such an impressive journey that we’d love to see the widest possible audience have the opportunity to play on Switch. With over 100 million consoles out there, it could quickly surpass the roughly 658,000 global sales of the original EarthBound if even a tiny percentage took part in this quirky little adventure. We really just want to spread motherly love.

Although played by a relatively small number of players, the series inspires so much love, as you’ll see by watching our celebratory “Mother’s Day” video featuring testimonials from some familiar faces. We’ve recently seen Link’s Awakening remake-style tributes hinting at what a Mother 3 remake might look like. The passion for this game and series is impressive, but most pragmatic fans will not only understand Nintendo’s reluctance to release an official localization from a business perspective, but will have already found a way to experience the game for themselves.

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

But what do you think? Let us know where you feel about Nintendo’s 2022 release of Mother 3 in the polls below, and share any other thoughts in the comments. Does Nintendo really have to release Mother 3 in the West yet?

Fry Electronics Team

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