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The player is simply whoever is playing the game, and can be given their own alias in-game. They are mentioned in all three games, and play a vital part in EarthBound and Mother 3. In the Japanese versions of the games, the player is asked to name themselves in both Japanese and English to allow them to appear in the credits.
The option to name the player is first presented inside of the healer's house in Snowman. If Ninten uses the phone, his father will ask for the player's name. If he does not use the phone in Snowman, another opportunity arises in the swamp east of Youngtown, where Lloyd's father asks for the player's name if they have not entered it in yet. If they already have, he allows them to change their name one last time before confirming it. The land mine in the Yucca Desert refers to the player's name, but only if they have entered it by that point. If the player's name has not been entered, it is omitted. The default name if the player chooses not to talk to Ninten or Lloyd's fathers is "NO NAME".
Unlike the two games after it, however, the player is not acknowledged by the in-game characters. The player's name does, however, appear in the ending credits, even if they have not entered their name.
The first time that the player is ever mentioned is in Toto by Tony on the phone. He breaks the fourth wall by asking the player to say their name and to make sure to take care of Jeff for him. Later, after Ness and his friends cure the Tenda of their shyness problem, the Tenda chief asks the player to sign his or her name, giving them one last chance to confirm their alias. In the final battle, after Paula runs out of people to pray for, the player prays for Ness and his friends, dealing the final damage needed to defeat Giygas. Finally, the player is given a special thanks in the credits.
In the Japanese versions of the game, the two times to enter one's name serve slightly different purposes. In Toto, the player's name is given in English letters for usage in the game's all-English credits, while the Tenda Village instance asks for the spelling in Japanese characters for usage in the final battle's text. Since both usages are obviously in English in the American release, the second instance was relegated to simply double-checking the name.
In Mother 3
The player is first asked for their name in Chapter 1 when Flint offers a prayer before entering the Sunshine Forest. The name is later confirmed in Chapter 4 by Mr. Brown. The player's name is used at the very end of the game, which is only activated if the player moves the END? message as if it were a character in the story. They speak to everyone who survived the awakening of the Dark Dragon.
The two opportunities for entering one's name in the Japanese version of Mother 3 function similarly to the two instances in Mother 2, asking once for the name in English and once for it in Japanese. The Mother 3 fan translation edited this to match EarthBound, with the second input being a double-check.
In the Mother 3 fan translation, if the player names themselves "HARD MODE" at either time in the game, the difficulty of enemies will increase, including a raise in enemy stats, lower experience gained upon winning, etc. If done in Chapter 1, it can be reset in Chapter 4 if the player enters any other name when speaking to Mr. Brown. To get a message informing the player how to access hard mode, all enemies must be recorded in the Battle Memory before speaking to the final Save Frog in the game. The enemy's alternate sprites do not need to be recorded, however. Despite this, hard mode can be accessed even without seeing this message.