When franchise creator Shigesato Itoi told the world he was done with the Mother saga and now it was up to whoever took the torch, a certain group of fans stepped in. That was back in 2009, and today, we still get to see semi-regular updates on Mother 4.
After months of total silence (which they like to dub “radio silence”), the team behind Mother 4, the fanmade sequel to the now “defunct” Mother franchise, held an AMA on Reddit to announce some big internal changes regarding the game’s branding.
Namely, in lieu of similar fanmade projects taken down by DMCAs, they’ve decided the risk isn’t worth it and, as a preemptive measure, will rebrand the game removing all Mother references.
This was both a bummer and a cause of worry among fans, who feared the game would lose its purpose, or otherwise get its quality compromised. Pastel, the project’s director, was quick to assure us the game will stay the same, and while specific elements like Mr. Saturn, some enemies and songs will get removed, the dialogue, story, characters and general style won’t suffer any change.
“…what we’ve been making is a celebration of the games that meant a lot to us growing up, something familiar but also different. The game has grown up with us. We want to share that”, tells Pastel, reminding us this project is born out of love of the Mother franchise and other similar games, rather than just trying to copy their success.
That being told, they still haven’t settled on the new title for the project, but did clarify there wasn’t room for “on the nose” ideas like “Step Mother”, or anything with “Father” or even “-bound” on it.
“The new title will be something that fits”.
Story-wise, we got some characterization bits, but the biggest fact is in the powers description: while Mother used PK (“Psychic”) abilities, now we have VOX – a shorthand for Voice Operated Switch. This game takes place in the 70s and puts a big focus on radio waves; the general idea is that abilities like fire and ice magic are the result of radio waves transforming the climate around them from “nothing” to “something”.
In that sense, now psychic people are “Transmitters” since they can produce these powerful waves, and telepaths would be “Receivers” (Travis, the game’s protagonist, is such a character). This change is half avoiding troubles with something cheekier like “PK Blaze” or “Psychic Fire”, and half integrating stories and abilities together; so in the narrative sense, it’s a winning situation.
The battle system, now equally unbound from the Mother style, is now being reworked to improve the battle flow, while keeping the Sound Battle rhythmic style featured in Mother 3.
Among fans questions, we got plenty of more technical info, like the fact the game will remain free, for PC (no Steam, and no marketing), and translation tools are an idea they hope to materialize.
Also, the dripping Earth in the logo won’t go anywhere (it might need some reworking though); and Pastel seems very fond of The Modern Men (the game’s villains), wanting everyone to “meet them” very soon.
Mother is the odd child franchise at Nintendo: the first NES game didn’t reach overseas, and Earthbound (actually Mother 2 in Japan) was such a financial flop, that when the third game rolled in (the beloved Mother 3 for GameBoy Advance) they didn’t even consider getting it out from Japan.
All the meanwhile, the games garnered one of the biggest cult followings of any JRPG, and most other children got to know the franchise thanks to Super Smash Bros., which features characters and other elements from Mother (namely Ness and Lucas).
Today, the original Mother has been released as Earthbound Beginnings on the WiiU’s Virtual Console, Earthbound goes for hundreds on Ebay, and… still no word on Mother 3’s localization.