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EarthBound Beginnings

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EarthBound Beginnings
EarthBound Beginnings boxart.png
EarthBound Beginnings boxart (Nintendo Switch Online)
System Famicom
Rereleases Wii U Virtual Console (initial platform outside Japan)
Nintendo Switch (Nintendo Switch Online)
Genre RPG
Rating T for Teen (ESRB rating, EarthBound Beginnings rerelease)
Publisher Nintendo
Developer APE Inc.
Release dates
Japan July 27, 1989
June 14, 2015 (Wii U Virtual Console)
February 10, 2022 (Nintendo Switch Online)
North America June 14, 2015 (Wii U Virtual Console)
February 9, 2022 (Nintendo Switch Online)
Europe June 14, 2015 (Wii U Virtual Console)
February 10, 2022 (Nintendo Switch Online)
Other boxart
Mother boxart.png
Mother boxart
StrategyWiki Logo.png StrategyWiki guide for Mother.

EarthBound Beginnings, also known by its Japanese name Mother (Japanese: マザー, stylized as MOTHER) and sometimes retroactively referred to as Mother 1 when using the Japanese titles, is a 1989 role-playing video game originally released in Japan on the Famicom. It was developed by Ape Inc. (stylized as APE Inc.) and was published by Nintendo, and is the first game in the EarthBound series. Created by Japanese copywriter Shigesato Itoi, EarthBound Beginnings follows the travels of four children — Ninten, Lloyd, Ana, and Teddy — and their attempts to stop an intergalactic alien's invasion of Earth. Gameplay takes place within an overworld consisting of Americana themes and tropes, where random encounters trigger turn-based battles with menu interfaces. The game was released to positive reception and commercial success in Japan, although some noted its difficulty.

In 1990, Nintendo of America created an English version of the game under the name Earth Bound (stylized as EARTH BOUND). However, the then-imminent release of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and other difficulties resulted in the localization not being released for the NES. It was later released in 2015 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of EarthBound releasing in North America, where it was retitled as EarthBound Beginnings to distinguish it from its sequel, despite the title screen still referring to it as Earth Bound. Earlier, in 1998, the fan group Neo Demiforce, who had been working on their own translation of the game at the time, discovered one of the prototype cartridge had been sold to Kenny Brooks, a game collector, and made a deal with him to release a ROM of the game to the public in 1998. The ROM was released with a patch that featured minor alterations from the prototype cartridge to get around the copy protections Nintendo had placed on it. For confirmation that the patch worked, the patch also changed the title to Earth Bound Zero, which became a common name used by fans to distinguish the game from its sequel. Since then, four other cartridges with the prototype have been found, one of which resides in Nintendo of America's headquarters.[1]

EarthBound Beginnings would be succeeded by EarthBound in 1994 and Mother 3 in 2006. In 2003, the game was re-released in Japan alongside EarthBound as part of the Game Boy Advance compilation Mother 1+2. Following its first international release on the Wii U in 2015, the game was released again on Nintendo Switch in 2022, this time being made available for subscribers to the Nintendo Switch Online service.


Warning! Spoiler warning: this article or section may contain major plot or ending details! Proceed with caution.

During the early 1900s, a cloud forms over a small American town, during which a couple, George and Maria, are abducted. Two years later, George quietly returns, and begins a study of powers called PSI.

In the year 1988, Ninten, a young boy north of the city of Podunk, has his house wracked by a poltergeist causing his lamp and sister's doll to come to life. Once the poltergeist left he examines the doll, which holds a tune that he memorizes. His father calls and instructs him to go on an adventure to realize his PSI skills. He advises Ninten to find his Great Grandfather's diary left in the basement. In the town, Ninten searches for a young girl named Pippi, who had gone missing in the graveyard. After rescuing her, Ninten is tasked by the mayor to calm the Zoo, where animals had gone crazy. Along the way he returns a lost canary chick to its mother, who sings a song which Ninten memorizes. At the zoo the animals became hostile due to the influence of a cosmic Starman. After defeating it and calming the animals, he learns another melody from a singing monkey. Heading east, Ninten comes across a cave with a strange pink rock where he hears a voice speak to him telepathically. He reads the Great Grandfather's diary, which opens an entryway to Magicant—a mystical world ruled by Queen Mary. She explains the importance of finding Eight Melodies to complete a song.

Returning to the normal world, Ninten finds a frequently-bullied boy genius named Lloyd, who joins Ninten's party after receiving a bottle rocket from the nearby factory. After this they head north to find a way to clear a landslide which is blocking the train station past the town's northern exit. After traveling through the large Duncan's Factory, Lloyd fires a bottle rocket to blow up the rocks to clear the way. They head to the wintry town of Snowman, where a psychic girl named Ana joins the party after Ninten returns her hat. Ana informs Ninten that they must check on the town of Youngtown. Along the way the children investigate a haunted house in Spookane, where a piano plays a melody for Ninten all on its own. They then head through a vast desert where a talking cactus sings another melody. At Youngtown they find that all of the childrens' parents have been abducted by a large spaceship and taken to Mt. Itoi, beyond a swamp and to the town of Ellay.

Ninten, Lloyd, and Ana arrive in Ellay. The fearsome leader of the Bla-Bla Gang, Teddy, attacks the group in the Live House, but soon becomes amiable after losing to Ninten and joins the party leaving Lloyd behind to rest. They continue to find the rest of the melodies, where one is guarded by a dragon beneath Magicant. Their next destination is Mt. Itoi, where inside a house at the plateau, Ninten and Ana profess their love and share a dance. A large robot attacks their cabin, and the party is saved by Lloyd. Teddy, however, is severely injured, forcing Lloyd to rejoin the team. The party continues to climb Mt. Itoi, and meet George's benevolent robot, EVE. Their quick ascent ends after EVE sacrifices herself to defeat a large robot, however the wrecked EVE is revealed to contain a melody for Ninten to learn. At the peak of the mountain they find George's gravestone. Suddenly crystal fragments appear to teach Ninten the final melody. The party returns to Magicant to sing the full song to Queen Mary. She recalls the Melodies along with her adopted young alien child named Giygas, and reveals herself as Maria. Magicant, a result of her own conscience, disappears, along with Maria herself, leaving the children to face the alien threat at the summit.

At the top, Giygas reveals himself, telling how George stole the ability of PSI, unknowingly "betraying his people". Giygas attempts to unleash an attack on the party, but the children sing the Eight Melodies to him. Giygas, recalling Maria and her motherly love, is overwhelmed in emotion, and departs from the Earth, vengefully promising to Ninten that he will return. The children free the captive adults from Mt. Itoi's summit; Ana is finally reunited with her missing mother; Teddy recovers and begins performing daily at the Live House in Ellay; the captive parents from Youngtown happily return to their children; Ana and her mother return to Snowman, with Ana promising that she, Ninten, and Lloyd will meet again; Lloyd returns to Merrysville and is treated as a hero by Twinkle Elementary School's students, effectively abolishing his bullied status; and Ninten returns home. Later on, Ana receives a letter from Ninten, expressing her wish to see him again upon reading it; Ninten then falls asleep in his bed "now that the earth's crisis is over." After the credits, his father calls, and while waiting for Ninten to answer, states that "something has come up".


The year is 198X. As Ninten, a young boy from Podunk with psychic powers, you must locate the eight melodies to aid the Queen of Magicant. Armed with your trusty baseball bat, you'll fight crazed hippies, zombies... and the occasional Magic Snail? Find out what's causing these strange phenomena in the first-ever US release of the EarthBound Beginnings game!

Robots are everywhere, and Ninten can't beat them alone. You'll have to team up with a colorful cast of unexpected characters–including Lloyd, Ana, and Teddy–to win intense battles with psychic attacks. PK Fire! PK Thunder! PK Freeze! Sound familiar? Well, Ninten isn't the only one with psychic powers–his companion Ana also uses offensive PSI attacks to help out in battle.

But that's just the beginning of your epic team-ups. On Ninten's journey between Magicant and Earth, you'll join forces with the Flying Men too! Have a blast exploring an abandoned zoo, saving the world, and more!


Playable characters

EarthBound Beginnings has four different characters that can be controlled by the player. At the beginning of the game, the player must give a name to the following four characters. Only three can be in the party at a time.

Sprite Name Description
Ninten sprite.png Ninten
Ninten is the game's protagonist. A 12-year-old boy from the town of Podunk, he is sent by Queen Mary of Magicant to locate the Eight Melodies. Ninten can use special PSI abilities like 4th-D Slip and Quick Up. He can also use various baseball bats to attack opponents.
Lloyd sprite.png Lloyd
Lloyd is an 11-year-old weak and nerdy boy from Merrysville. Although lacking PSI, Lloyd can attack enemies using various types of guns and explosives.
Ana sprite.png Ana
Ana is a 12-year-old girl from Snowman. Ana joins Ninten to look for her missing mother. She possesses many powerful offensive PSI abilities. Additionally, Ana can use frying pans as weapons.
Teddy sprite.png Teddy
Teddy is the boss of the Bla-Bla Gang. Teddy joins Ninten to avenge his murdered parents. Although he lacks PSI, Teddy excels in physical combat, especially with blades.

Non playable characters

EarthBound Beginnings has a variety of non-playable characters. The following are important factors in the storyline:

  • Maria is Ninten's great grandmother. She and her husband were abducted by aliens in the 1900s. Her consciousness appears in Magicant, where she rules as Queen Mary.
  • George is Ninten's great grandfather. While abducted by aliens, he studied and stole the knowledge of PSI.
  • EVE is a robot created by George to defend Ninten. Residing at the base of Mt. Itoi, EVE possesses the seventh melody.
  • Giegue is a vengeful alien that was sent to retrieve the information of PSI. He is the main antagonist of the game.


The game utilizes random encounters, similar to other early RPGs, such as the Final Fantasy series. When Ninten takes a certain number of steps, the screen will transition to the battle screen, displaying a random enemy. In battle, Ninten must defeat the enemy simply by attacking or using PSI, short for Psionics. Additionally, Ninten has the option to run if the enemy is too powerful to fight. If Ninten defeats the enemy, he and any members in his party will gain EXP. Once Ninten gains a certain amount of EXP, his level increases, allowing for greater stats and new PSI powers. A high level is mandatory to finish the game, as the enemies progressively get more and more powerful as Ninten progresses. The first-person perspective in the battles (where you can only see the enemy and not the player character[s], unlike the Final Fantasy series) is directly based off of the Dragon Quest series.

Status ailments

Status ailments are conditions that hinder the player or an enemy in battle. They can usually be cured with certain items.

  • Asleep - renders the player unable to do anything.
  • Asthma - renders the player unable to attack. This ailment is exclusive to Ninten.
  • Blindness - decreases the accuracy of an attack.
  • Bound - similar to paralysis, can only be afflicted with a rope.
  • Cold - causes the player to lose 1 HP for every 8 steps in the overworld.
  • Confusion - confuses the player, making them able to attack anyone, even those in their party.
  • Faint - occurs when the player's HP reaches zero. The player gains a Game Over if their entire party has this ailment.
  • Paralysis - renders the player unable to do anything.
  • Poison - same as Cold.
  • PSI Block - renders the player unable to use PSI
  • Puzzled - causes the player to daydream.
  • Stone - renders the player unable to do anything.


  • HP (Short for "Heart Points") - Shows the amount of damage a character can withstand. Any healing item replenishes this.
  • PP (Short for "Psychic Points") - Shows how much PSI a character can use.
  • Offense - Shows the maximum amount of damage a character can deal with a normal attack.
  • Defense - Shows how much damage a character can resist from an enemy attack.
  • Speed - Determines how fast a character can attack. If they have the greater speed, they attack first.
  • Strength - Determines how much HP is gained when a character levels up.
  • Fight - Determines the likelihood of an attack being successful, as well as the likelihood of it being a Smaaaaash! hit.
  • Wisdom - Shows how likely a status ailment can be inflicted on an enemy.
  • Force - Determines how much PP is gained when a character levels up.


Normal enemies

Image Name HP PP EXP Money Location
Lamp M1 sprite.png Lamp 6 0 1 $0 Ninten's house
Rat.gif Rat 10 0 3 $2 Ninten's house
Choucream Zoo
Sweet's Little Factory
Centipede.gif Centipede 12 0 1 $1 Podunk
Choucream Zoo
Crow.gif Crow 22 0 3 $4 Podunk
PseudoZombi.gif PseudoZombi 30 0 8 $12 Podunk
South Cemetery
Snake.gif Snake 18 0 2 $8 Podunk
StrayDog.gif Stray Dog 16 0 4 $10 Podunk
Duncan's Factory
TheHippie.gif The Hippie 25 0 6 $35 Podunk
Wally.gif Wally 20 0 5 $35 Podunk
GangZombie.gif Gang Zombie 34 0 12 $32 South Cemetery
Ghost.gif Ghost 20 0 5 $10 South Cemetery
Rosemary's house
MrBat.gif Mr. Bat 20 0 4 $7 South Cemetery
Alligator.gif Alligator 30 0 21 $18 Choucream Zoo
Elephant.gif Elephant 70 0 60 $99 Choucream Zoo
Fly.gif Fly 10 0 1 $1 Choucream Zoo
Gorilla.gif Gorilla 40 0 23 $52 Choucream Zoo
Hyena.gif Hyena 30 0 12 $20 Choucream Zoo
Tiger.gif Tiger 35 0 24 $47 Choucream Zoo
BionicCenti.gif BionicCenti 35 0 18 $14 Outside Choucream Zoo
North Podunk
LilSaucer.gif Lil Saucer 32 20 20 $22 Outside Choucream Zoo
BigWoodoh.gif BigWoodoh 70 0 100 $140 Magicant
Dadseyes.gif Dadseyes 40 0 35 $53 Magicant
Magicant Underground
Foureyes.gif Foureyes 40 0 32 $26 Magicant
Magicant Underground
Groucho.gif Groucho 35 0 3 (If defeated)
60-80 (If left alone; EXP granted to only one party member)
$12 Magicant
Magicant Underground
MagicSnail.gif Magic Snail 50 0 42 $28 Magicant
Momseyes.gif Momseyes 40 0 35 $34 Magicant
Magicant Underground
RaebYddet.gif Raeb Yddet 40 0 25 $27 Magicant
SkyYddet.gif Sky Yddet 74 0 40 $23 Magicant
Watcher.gif Watcher 30 0 5 $20 Magicant
Magicant Underground
Woodoh.gif Woodoh 40 0 40 $38 Magicant
Ullrich.gif Ullrich 40 60 50 $65 Magicant Underground
BagLady.gif Bag Lady 90 0 63 $150 Merrysville
Eagle.gif Eagle 45 0 36 $30 Merrysville
Fugitive.gif Fugitive 60 0 60 $350 Merrysville
M1 Mad Car sprite.png Mad Car 40 0 55 $32 Merrysville
M1 Mad Truck sprite.png Mad Truck 60 0 57 $30 Merrysville
M1 Maniac Truck sprite.png ManiacTruck 80 0 75 $58 Merrysville
M1 Psycho Car sprite.png Psycho Car 40 0 61 $45 Merrysville
M1 Psycho Truck sprite.png Psycho Truck 58 0 24 $37 Merrysville
Rope.gif Rope 80 0 48 $80 Merrysville
Barbot.gif Barbot 60 40 32 $45 Merrysville
Sweet's Little Factory
Bear.gif Bear 80 0 70 $250 Merrysville
Cougar.gif Cougar 42 0 32 $25 Merrysville
Skunk.gif Skunk 40 0 32 $32 Merrysville
Wolf.gif Wolf 50 0 34 $31 Merrysville
Bomber.gif Bomber 60 0 56 $32 Duncan's Factory
DrDistorto.gif Dr.Distorto 60 0 45 $40 Duncan's Factory
FireBall.gif Fire Ball 58 50 61 $35 Duncan's Factory
OldRobot.gif Old Robot 60 30 54 $38 Duncan's Factory
Scrapper.gif Scrapper 70 30 65 $38 Duncan's Factory
BigFoot.gif Big Foot 90 50 150 $48 Snowman
LoneWolf.gif Lone Wolf 80 0 100 $41 Snowman
PolarBear.gif Polar Bear 100 0 160 $50 Snowman
LoneWolf.gif Silver Wolf 80 0 66 $43 Snowman
AlarmGhost.gif Alarm Ghost 50 0 80 $27 Rosemary's house
Armor.gif Armor 120 100 200 $300 Rosemary's house
BionicBat.gif Bionic Bat 50 0 40 $34 Rosemary's house
DustBall.gif Dust Ball 78 0 80 $100 Rosemary's house
NastyZombie.gif Nasty Zombie 90 0 68 $58 Rosemary's house
Shroudley.gif Shroudley 90 0 58 $34 Rosemary's house
Zombie.gif Zombie 70 50 48 $43 Rosemary's house
BionicScorp.gif BionicScorp 100 0 61 $56 Yucca Desert
EnergyRobot.gif EnergyRobot 80 0 202 $70 Yucca Desert
Gabilan.gif Gabilan 100 0 70 $43 Yucca Desert
Nancy.gif Nancy 120 60 68 $50 Yucca Desert
OmegaSaucer.gif OmegaSaucer 65 50 82 $57 Yucca Desert
Rattlesnake.gif Rattlesnake 100 0 57 $54 Yucca Desert
Scorpion.gif Scorpion 75 0 50 $36 Yucca Desert
StarmanM1.gif Starman 80 50 165 $68 Spookane
Yucca Desert
Mt. Itoi
Tarantula.gif Tarantula 120 0 205 $85 Yucca Desert
UltraBarbot.gif UltraBarbot 80 50 220 $87 Yucca Desert
RedSnake.gif Red Snake 150 0 500 $37 Youngtown
Spider.gif Spider 80 0 48 $40 Youngtown
Titanees.gif Titanees 130 40 78 $50 Youngtown
Bison.gif Bison 160 0 186 $63 Swamp
Buffalo.gif Buffalo 150 0 103 $95 Swamp
Crocodile.gif Crocodile 120 0 172 $88 Swamp
Kelly.gif Kelly 120 80 102 $88 Swamp
Mook.gif Mook 85 80 166 $42 Swamp
Seagull.gif Seagull 90 0 100 $44 Swamp
Mt. Itoi
BBGang.gif B.B. Gang 80 0 72 $60 Ellay
BlueStarman.gif BlueStarman 100 80 150 $91 Mt. Itoi
Cerebrum.gif Cerebrum 200 180 89 $80 Mt. Itoi
Gargoyle.gif Gargoyle 180 60 110 $86 Mt. Itoi
GrizzlyBear.gif GrizzlyBear 340 0 250 $65 Mt. Itoi
Megaborg.gif Megaborg 160 60 197 $109 Mt. Itoi
Rockoyle.gif Rockoyle 120 60 162 $93 Mt. Itoi
SuperEnergy.gif SuperEnergy 120 0 230 $260 Mt. Itoi
M1 Titanian sprite.png Titanian 320 0 180 $130 Mt. Itoi
OhMook.gif Oh-Mook 160 250 175 $110 Mt. Itoi
GigaBorg.gif Giga Borg 180 80 98 $143 Mt. Itoi
Juana.gif Juana 300 200 270 $362 Mt. Itoi
StarMiner.gif Star Miner 200 0 209 $138 Mt. Itoi
LastStarman.gif LastStarman 120 100 330 $389 Mt. Itoi
OmegaBorg.gif Omega Borg 230 150 180 $205 Mt. Itoi


Image Name HP PP EXP Money Location
Doll.gif Doll 12 0 10 $50 Ninten's house
StarmanJr.gif Starman Jr. 52 16 32 $5 Choucream Zoo
TheFish.gif The Fish 65 0 140 $180 Magicant Underground
Dragon.gif Dragon 650 220 500 $1,200 Magicant Underground
R7037.gif R7037 1,000 0 205 $71 Yucca Desert
BBBoss.gif B.B.'s Boss N/A 0 0 $0 Ellay
R7038.gif R7038 1,000 0 430 $101 Mt. Itoi
R7038XX.gif R7038XX 1,000 0 550 $180 Mt. Itoi
Giegue.png Giygas N/A 0 0 $0 Mt. Itoi


M3 Almost Mecha-Lion sprite.png
This article or section of the page is incomplete.
Please help by contributing to it.

Development for the game commenced in the late 80s, after Shigesato Itoi pitched the idea of a modern-day RPG game to Shigeru Miyamoto. Beforehand, Itoi was well-known for his copywriting career in Japan, although he habitually played the Nintendo Famicom to "a degree that most would consider obsession".[2] Being asthmatic, he was prone to violent coughing fits whenever he tried to lay down to sleep; so at night, when he woke up with another coughing fit, he would play Miyamoto's Super Mario Bros. In essence, "Mario saw him through his asthma" since he couldn't call anyone, and because of that, Itoi always felt indebted to Nintendo.[3] One day he became an avid fan of Enix's Dragon Quest franchise. While playing the first game late at night, he pondered the changes he would make to the RPG formula if he were in charge, as RPG games at the time primarily consisted of knights and princesses in a fantasy medieval-european setting. While they were flourishing in Japan, he didn't know anything about medieval Europe, and he started to imagine an RPG game set in contemporary times as he found a modern-day setting far more investing and interesting.

As he did not know how to develop a game, he initially wondered whether he would be able to find a company to make the game for him, calling up a friend and asking if the concepts he had in mind would make for a good title. In the meantime, he continued developing the idea, and, later on, when Nintendo happened to call Itoi over for a minor business matter entirely by coincidence, he saw the perfect opportunity to propose his ideas for the project to Nintendo themselves. Having brought along some game design plans he had created himself, he fretted over when he could show them his plans while he was on his business matter. When he finally did show them, the people there were surprised, with Miyamoto himself agreeing to meet with Itoi about the project. At the meeting, Itoi stated how the modern-day setting would be unique because it conflicted with the standard RPG formula, as real life did not support magical powers and the children could not simply brandish firearms. He also enthusiastically suggested ways for how these natural limitations could be overcome to produce a distinctive and exceptional game.

Miyamoto's reception was lukewarm at best; while he praised Itoi's ideas, he calmly and gently told Itoi that his project proposal was in no way an indication that he could actually pull it off. Itoi's work in the advertising industry had not prepared him for the game development of the game industry; while he was used to fleshing out concepts and ideas and executing them with a team, even if they didn't quite achieve their original vision, the development of a video game was significantly different: the plan to create something, no matter how impressive it was, was meaningless unless it could actually be achieved. Itoi would have to be an active participant in the development of the game, something that he had no experience with, since he was a complete amateur with the game industry. The proposal stage of the project wasn't the part that impressed everyone, like he had originally thought: he was no different from anyone else who presented their ideas to other game companies (aside from his fame). [4] Miyamoto then reluctantly asked: "I know it's a lot of work, but...how about starting over from the beginning and making it simpler?"

While Miyamoto had explained this in the most considerate way possible, Itoi was still overcome with an immense feeling of powerlessness. He was convinced he had something incredible on his hands, having put an immense amount of time and effort into fleshing out his concept, but when he realized the project would require an actual ability to be able to bring it to reality, he felt a deep sense of loneliness. [5] While he was discouraged, he kept a positive attitude about him during the ordeal and took Miyamoto's words "in a good way", but he was eventually overwhelmed with helplessness and he wept bitterly on the bullet train ride back to his home. [6] Unbeknownst to Itoi, Miyamoto was intrigued by many of his ideas; another reason he held back from immediately green-lighting the game was the abysmal failure of celebrity-endorsed games in the past, as well as doubt that Itoi could remain invested in his project throughout its development. After some thought, he called Itoi, giving him permission to return to Nintendo to propose his idea again. At the meeting, Miyamoto brought a "super thick" packet of development texts from a text adventure game and insisted to Itoi he would have to write a similar document for the project. (Add info from Miyamoto's Mother perspective at the MOTHER 3 N64 Roundtable Cancellation talk) He also told Itoi from experience that the game would only be as good as the amount of effort Itoi invested into it, stating that Itoi would be unable to invest the appropriate time in the project with his current copywriting-filled schedule. Itoi restated his interest for his project and lessened his workload in response, and Mother was officially green-lit by Nintendo in 1987.

After Nintendo green-lit the project, it took a month for Miyamoto to assemble a development team for Itoi and assess the team for compatibility. The development for Mother officially began in the city of Ichikawa in the western Chiba Prefecture. In order to participate in development, Itoi had to take daily commutes from Tokyo to Ichikawa, which was exhausting for him. But at the same time, as he stated in an interview, he "wanted it more and more." [7] Itoi also showed his dedication to the project by writing the entirety of the game's script. The basic elements of the project remained mostly unchanged from the germination of the game to the end of development. Early on, Itoi's development team didn't have much faith in him, as there were rumors circulating that he had only ever attended two meetings at Nintendo, and the general consensus was that Mother was a sort of "vanity project" to Itoi. In addition, Itoi was hesitant to discuss his involvement in Mother with anyone, as other people had interpreted Miyamoto's earlier request to Itoi about "making it simpler" as Miyamoto asking Itoi to "please stop." But Itoi was serious about bringing Mother to fruition, even if it meant having to work all-nighters like other game developers.

Earlier on in development, Itoi had mentioned that he favored work atmospheres that felt like an extracurricular club consisting of volunteers who worked out of an apartment, which Miyamoto tried to accommodate for the project. Miyamoto himself also received criticism from some to consenting towards a celebrity and hiring a copywriter (Itoi) who might not have been up for the task. Later on, Miyamoto stated that his decision to move forward with the project was based on his confidence in Itoi.

While typical RPG titles made the protagonist work from a zero to being a grand hero, Itoi had the main protagonist work from a "negative number" to 'zero hero' to better reflect real life. Some NPC characters are condescending towards Ninten, which was purposely designed by Itoi to evoke feelings of rebelliousness and irritation within the player character, so the emotions supposedly felt by Ninten actually came from the real world (you) and not just the game world.

During development, Itoi drew upon multiple sources for inspiration, including the iconic Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey, which can be seen with Mother's extraterrestrial themes and the importance of monkeys within the game's plot. To provide a fantastical element in the game, the city of Magicant was created, in which its ruler is critical to the story's progression. One inspiration led to another when forming Mother, which Itoi himself calls a "blending of genres". This principle applied to the music as well, with the composers Hirokazu Tanaka and Keiichi Suzuki drawing from the works of Prince, Frank Zappa, The Beatles, and My Bloody Valentine for inspiration. Tanaka was also the engineer for the Famicom's sound chip, and he pushed the limits of what types of sounds he could create on the system.

When Mother was first green-lit, Tanaka was forcibly ordered by his superiors to compose music for the project. He and Itoi also disagreed on the game's soundtrack at first, with Itoi wanting a unique BGM track for the game distinct from other game titles; however, his "technique was incredible", and after composing demo track after demo track for the game, he came to understand Itoi, and they built a firm relationship of trust between them. Keiichi Suzuki, a musician who co-founded the Moonriders, one of Japan's most innovative rock bands, was brought on to help guide the direction of the game's soundtrack and composed the songs "Pollyanna" and "Bein' Freinds" for the game. The approach the duo took with composing the game's songs were "to establish the rules that governed the audio for this world. There were considerations in terms of how time and space were related, how characters were associated with one another, and how the concepts of good and evil were represented." While Suzuki composed the game's soundtrack, Tanaka programmed every single sound into the game, including both the game's BGM and its SFX. This was unusual, as typically separate teams handled the composing and programming; however, Tanaka was confident in his abilities, as he had designed the Famicom's sound chip. He struggled with the Famicom's hardware limitations, especially the memory capacity of the Famicom's audio channels. One such difficulty was a channel falling out every time a certain sound effect played: he circumvented this by leaving a short pause before the note in the song to emphasize the effect. Ultimately, Tanaka wasn't able to implement all of the sounds he intended to in the Mother soundtrack.

(Add info about Keiichi Suzuki here, especially Louis Philippe's Flying Man song)

The official Mother soundtrack album

The president of Nintendo of Japan at the time, Hiroshi Yamauchi, was impressed by Itoi's work on Mother, going so far as to call him a "genius"[8] and proposed the idea of a new company meant to support new talent within the video game industry. Itoi then formed the company Ape Inc. (stylized APE Inc.) on March 1987 with him serving as chief executive producer, which then joined the Mother development team towards the end of the game's development. In coming up with the name for the project, a temporary title, "ESP1", was used until the word "mothership" provided the primary influence for Itoi. But the title held other meanings as well; the John Lennon song "Mother" served as an influence in particular, which moved Itoi so much that he wanted to evoke the same feelings in other people through his Mother game [9], while Itoi felt that the game had a "motherly" feel compared to other RPGs at the time: the feeling of motherhood was also present in the game through Maria's maternal love for Giygas. The title could also evoke connotations with the feel of the phrase "Mother Earth" as well. Part of Itoi's drive to complete Mother was to simply play it himself, and share the game with his friends and let them play it also: after all, his starting point for the project was to create a game that he would want to play himself if it ever existed. While the development was painful for a multitude of reasons (It was littered with detailed limitations due to the RPG's contemporary setting, which the team had to overcome), Itoi felt that by the end of the game's development, it had turned out to be something "really interesting."


A promotional poster for EarthBound Beginnings from Famitsu #20, featuring a still of the live-action Mother commercial.

Mother was originally released in Japan for the Famicom on July 27th, 1989. The game was officially translated into English by Nintendo of America in 1990 and slated for a Fall 1991 release under the new title of Earth Bound, but marketing delays prevented the game from being released. Unlike the original Japanese release of Mother, the prototype English translation contains detailed enemy descriptions, some redesigned areas, and an ability to run, among other differences. A few of the changes were requested by Nintendo of America producer and scriptwriter Phil Sandhop, who stated that there were plans to release the game with an 80-page instruction manual and a separate release of the game's soundtrack, but the production costs, memory-intensive improvements from the Famicom original [10], and the potential financial risk from marketing and releasing an undoubtedly-expensive to manufacture NES title ended up having the game cancelled. Most of the alterations later saw official release in Mother 1+2.


Game Boy Advance release

Main article: Mother 1+2

Virtual Console release

On June 14th, 2015, Nintendo announced and released Mother for the Wii U Virtual Console service, in Japanese as well as its first ever English release, under the title EarthBound Beginnings. While the English version is the same as the unreleased English prototype (minus the copy protection), the Japanese version had several changes from Mother 1+2 backported to it. Notably, the Crow's cigarette was removed and a line in Twinkle Elementary School that mentioned [Dragon Quest IV] had the reference to that game removed.[11]

On February 9th, 2022, EarthBound Beginnings and its sequel EarthBound were added to the Nintendo Switch via the Nintendo Switch Online application for NES games.


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Mother was a commercial success in Japan, receiving the "Silver Hall of Fame" score of 31/40 from Weekly Famitsu. According to a Famitsu poll, it was considered the 9th best Famicom game and the 38th best game of all time. EarthBound Beginnings also received strong positive reception in the west, similar to its successor. It was one of the most bought NES games on the Wii U Virtual Console during its lifespan, and was the only NES game with a 5-star rating during the first few months of the release. Critics praised its originality, music, and artstyle, while saying how it "parodies" other more "serious" RPG games such as the Dragon Quest series. Around the time of its initial release, EarthBound Beginnings was the best selling downloadable game on the Wii U in America and Europe, surpassing Splatoon in digital sales[12].

Balance issues

While positively received, there are still various criticisms with the game - namely, the infamous difficulty spikes. Many parts of the game have enemies far more powerful than the previous section's (most notably Mt. Itoi) which forces grinding. Another complaint is also the random encounter rate, with enemies appearing far more frequently than other RPGs of the time.


For the subject's image gallery, see Gallery:EarthBound Beginnings


Promotional art

Title screens and logos


  • Mother was named after the John Lennon song of the same name.
  • Another (possible) reason Shigesato Itoi named Mother after the John Lennon song of the same name was the fact that Itoi lived most of his life without his father and his mother being present in his life, with he and his sister being raised by their grandmother; John Lennon's song describes the singer's real-life childhood with his absent parents.
  • It took 26 years for Mother to get an English release, making it only the second game in the series to be released outside of Japan.
  • Most of the characters and enemies in the game were made into clay models, which are prominently featured in the game's instruction manual and the Encyclopedia Mother.
  • Since Earth Bound was never released in the Fall of 1991, one can only speculate how well it could have performed. The reasons for its cancellation are still debated today, though it was probably a multitude of factors that led to Nintendo of America's higher-ups deciding the potential gain was not worth the financial risk.
  • Space Bound, the potential name for a possible sequel that was devised by Earth Bounds localization team, may or may not have been inspired by Mother 2's early development, in which Itoi toyed with the concept of sending the Mother characters into outer space; ultimately, it was scrapped by Itoi for being "too cliché". The date at which the copyright for Space Bound was filed, however, was many months after Itoi rejected the outer space concept for the sequel, suggesting it could just be coincidental. Whether or not it was inspired can only be speculated, though.
  • The font used for the Mother logo is "Poster Gothic" by Morris Fuller Benton.


External links

EarthBound and MOTHER
by Shigesato Itoi
Ninten Ness Lucas Mr. Saturn
EarthBound Beginnings (Mother) EarthBound (Mother 2) Mother 3 Mother 1+2

Unreleased titles
Flint Ness
EarthBound 64
(EarthBound 64)
Untitled EarthBound game (Nintendo GameCube)
(Nintendo GameCube)

Mother Characters of
EarthBound Beginnings
Main Party
Ninten sprite.png
Lloyd sprite.png
Ana sprite.png
Teddy sprite.png
Mimmie and MinniePippi
Queen MaryFlying MenEve
MickMrs. LindgrenA. GoodmanAbbottMysterious Goods-KeeperMysterious MimickerBenevolent Old ManForgotten ManGoldrich DuncanOld Sawbones BennyMysterious TeacherSuzyBuggerror RosemaryTom GarricksonGarrickson babyLloyd's fatherBla-Bla GangAbleBaker
List of all characters
Locations in EarthBound Beginnings

Cities and towns
Areas of interest
Ninten's houseSouth CemeteryCanary VillageChoucream ZooTwinkle Elementary SchoolSweet's Little FactoryDuncan's FactoryUnion StationMislay TriangleRosemary's houseSnowman ChateauYucca DesertRuins of DesertSwampLook-Out TowerHarborIslandLive HouseMt. Itoi BaseCave of Mt. ItoiMt. Itoi
Special locations
MagicantMagicant UndergroundQueen Mary's Castle