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- This article is about the cancelled Nintendo 64 title. For the Game Boy Advance game of the same title, see Mother 3.
ＭＯＴＨＥＲ３:豚王の最期 Mother 3: Fall of the Pig King
|Developer||Ape Inc. / HAL Laboratories|
EarthBound 64 (Japanese: ＭＯＴＨＥＲ３：豚王の最期 Mother 3: Fall of the Pig King) was intended as the third game in the Mother series, with a projected release on the Nintendo 64DD in 1999. The project's development switched to a normal Nintendo 64 cartridge when the Nintendo 64DD proved to be unsuccessful, but due to the inexperience of the development team with three-dimensional games, the game was ultimately cancelled before being brought back into development for the Game Boy Advance in 2003. At one point, the team considered bringing Mother 3 to the GameCube.
During development, the game was stated to have 12 playable characters across 12 chapters, with the revealed characters including all of the party members that were in the final game, as well as two unknown characters. The subtitle used in the Japanese game was changed several times during development, with one being "Forest of the Chimera" (森のキマイラ), but the most common one being "Fall of the Pig King".
Though the storyline of the game is, for the most part, the same as the Game Boy Advance release, several things were changed from the planned Nintendo 64 game. For one, EarthBound 64 was intended to be placed some ten years after EarthBound, in 200X, rather than the unstated amount of time the final game occurs after its prequel. The length of the game's story, in time, also was altered, with EarthBound 64 having 12 chapters spread over the course of ten years, each with their own main character, unlike the final game, which only has eight chapters spread over the course of three years. A "main" character had not been chosen during the Nintendo 64 development, though it was likely that Lucas would have eventually come to be in this role, as in the final game. One of the chapters was stated to feature the disappearance of a character's 40-year-old father. An expansion pack for the game titled MOTHER 3.5 was planned early in development and was to allow players to access new adventures and other content, but the idea was scrapped. The overall tone of the story was intended to be darker then the final product was. Particularly the final boss was intended to include no dialogue and to be more of a terrifying experience.
The story was intended to consider one place changing over time, and day by day seeing how the area changes, and consistently changing "town gossip" was an idea in place as a plot device. Each enemy was supposed to have its own perspective, no matter how minor.
As for the setting, Itoi stated that "there’s a strange world that you can’t quite decipher between the middle ages or the old west, and in the end you realize the circumstances of what made it so strange. It was made in a way that you’d be thinking “This is weird…” then make it through chapter eleven, and hit chapter twelve and scream. It’s terrible." Unfortunately, the story was deemed too complex to be told on the N64 hardware given its limitations, and the story that became Mother 3 was composed.
Little is known about the other chapters that were cut. Flint was meant to be playable for longer during the game, as evidenced by a battle shown in the trailer depicting a party of Flint, Kumatora and Lucas. Screenshots are shown with Salsa being playable in a snowy area, presumably Snowcap Mountain. A mine-cart scene was displayed in a trailer that included Lucas and Claus together, so there may have been a chapter dedicated to Claus that further developed his character and his relationship to Lucas, or it may have been part of chapter 1.
EarthBound 64 was planned not long after EarthBound itself was nearing release, with an in-game reference to the development team planning Mother 3 in Japan, localized as them planning EarthBound 2 in the English release. The initial planning stages were for a Super NES release, though with the system quickly on its way to being replaced by the Nintendo 64, development shifted to the Nintendo 64DD instead. When the addon proved a failure, the game was changed to a cartridge release, with a planned use of the same size cartridge which contained The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and utilization of the Rumble Pak addon for the Nintendo 64 controller. Due to the difficulty of development, with the 3D aspect of the game being far more complex than the 2D sprite-based past games, the team, including Shigesato Itoi, were discouraged from making a fourth game in the Mother series. Other aspects of development were shortchanged as well, as Iwata stated in an interview regarding the devleopment of Mother 3 for N64, "any normal project has a trial period where you make a sample product and get the green light based on the response. But MOTHER 3 was special in that we skipped the trial period and went straight to game production. Without that trial period, all we had was our experience and achievements from making MOTHER 2, without the benefit of starting off with a team of people who worked on MOTHER 2". These shortcuts were primarily due to financial concerns. Development also was impacted by the financial situation at HAL Laboratories, and their lack of ability to afford to train talent". At the end of the day, the team realized they felt an obsessive need to force something that did not need to be 3d, into 3d, and that to tell the story they wanted to, 3d was not necessary.
A trailer and playable demo were featured at Nintendo Space World 1999, with a projected release date of March 22, 2000. However, on August 21, 1999, Shigesato Itoi announced that EarthBound 64 was canceled. Some time after the cancellation, Itoi uploaded screenshots and music from the game to his website, with some featuring areas from EarthBound, among them a destroyed Onett and wrecked Monotoli Building.
State of the Product as of Cancellation
In an interview, Satoru Iwata estimated the game was about 30% complete, while Miyamoto believed it was approximately 60 percent complete from a programming perspective. Apparently a complete script was produced but not perfected. Development apparently went astray when Iwata was unable to be on sight to act as a director/"game-play manager". No content from the game was properly released beyond the small samples from the Space World convention and leaks, as the team believed that putting out the unfinished and buggy product would let down the high expectations set for the game. In the same interview, Itoi said that "the first half of the game runs pretty normally". The whereabouts of the few copies produced are largely unknown. Rumors regarding them surface periodically, but nothing to the effect of the Earthbound Zero cartridge. At least one is believed to be with Brownie Brown, and some other may be circulating, but without a concrete trail.
Acording to an Employee that worked on testing Mother 3, and played the demo cart for Earthbound 64, "there is no mystery Mother game was never released. You got Mother 3. When development was handed over to Brownie Brown, they were also given everything they needed to get the job done, including previous reference material. The GBA version is the final draft of a vision that took a long time to get out the door".
Other plans for the Material
Itoi had stated he would be interested in novelizing the concept for Earthbound 64 or turning it into an anime.
- The billboard in the screenshot of Onett highly resembles the one used in the Onett stage in Super Smash Bros. Melee and onward.
- Three songs from EarthBound 64 were revealed, and each can be found in the GBA version of Mother 3 in some form:
- The theme used for the game's trailer is recreated very closely by "Big Shot's Theme".
- Several variations of the theme for "Tatsumairi Village" appear in the GBA game, such as "Monkey's Delivery Service".
- The game's only revealed battle theme was slightly altered into the final version's "Etude for Ghosts", an unused version of which sounds more like its N64 counterpart.
- PSI was called magic in some demo versions.
- Sneaking up on an enemy would tilt the screen.
- The Space World 1999 trailer
- The music heard in the trailer
- The battle theme
- The early Space World 1996 footage
|by Shigesato Itoi|