Mother [Model HVC-MX]

Nintendo Famicom cart. published 35 years ago by Nintendo Co., Ltd.

Listed in MAME

Mother [Model HVC-MX] screenshot

Mother © 1989 Nintendo.

Mother is a single-player, role-playing video game set in a slightly offbeat, late 20th-century United States. The game deliberately avoids traits of its Japanese role-playing game contemporaries: it is not set within the fantasy genre and only enters science fiction for its final sequence. The player fights in warehouses and laboratories instead of in standard dungeons. Instead of swords, assault weapons, and magic, the player uses baseball bats, toy guns, and psychic abilities. The game's protagonist, Ninten, is about 12 years old.

Like the Dragon Quest series, Mother uses a random encounter combat system. The player explores the overworld from a top-down perspective and occasionally enters a first-person perspective battle sequence where the player chooses attack options from a series of menus. On their turn, the player selects between options to fight, guard, check enemy attributes, run away, use items, or use offensive, defensive, or healing psychic powers. The player can also set the battle on autopilot with the auto option. Critical hits register with the series' signature SMAAAASH text and sound.

The player can press a button to have Ninten check or talk with nearby people, animals, and objects. There is a game save option through using a phone to call Ninten's father, an option to store items with Ninten's sister at home, and an automated teller machine for banking money (ATM). The members of Ninten's party are all visible on the overworld screen at once, and are analogous to EarthBound's party members in style and function. Mother's world map does not keep locations separate, and instead connects all areas (akin to the Pokémon game series). The game's story begins as Ninten discovers a music box and receives the journal of his great-grandfather, who studied psychic powers nearly a century earlier. Ninten is attacked by household items, and ventures outside to find a crazy world with hostile everyday objects and other odd events.

Goodies for Mother [Model HVC-MX]
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Mother was released on July 27, 1989 in Japan.

According to Itoi in a 1989 Famitsu interview, the word 'mothership' was the influence for the game's title, although he states the title had other meanings too.

Mother was developed by Ape and Pax Softnica and published by Nintendo. While visiting Nintendo for other work, copywriter Shigesato Itoi pitched his idea for a role-playing game set in contemporary times to the company's Shigeru Miyamoto. He thought the setting would be unique for its incongruence with role-playing genre norms, as daily life lacked the pretense for magic powers and they could not simply give the child characters firearms as weapons. Itoi's project proposal suggested how the natural limitations could be circumvented. Miyamoto met with him and praised the idea, though he was not sure whether Itoi "could pull it off". As an advertiser, Itoi was used to concept proposals preceding the staffing process, but Miyamoto explained that video game concepts needed people who signed on to "make" the product. Itoi was overcome with "powerlessness".

Miyamoto was also hesitant to work with Itoi at a time when companies were pushing major celebrity product endorsements, as Itoi's involvement would be for such a game. When the two met next, Miyamoto brought the documentation from a text adventure game and told Itoi that he would have to write similar documentation himself. Miyamoto said that he knew from his own experience that the game would only be as good as the effort Itoi invested, and that he knew Itoi could not invest the appropriate time with his full-time job. Itoi restated his interest and reduced his workload, so Miyamoto assembled a development team. Upon assessing for compatibility, they began production in Ichikawa, Chiba. Itoi had said earlier that he wanted his work environment to feel like an extracurricular club consisting of volunteers and working out of an apartment, which Miyamoto tried to accommodate. Itoi wrote the game's script and commuted from Tokyo, a process he found "exhausting". Even with asking Itoi to prioritize the development process, Miyamoto received criticism of acquiescing to celebrity and of hiring a copywriter not up for the task. Miyamoto said that his decision to pursue the project was based on his confidence in Itoi.

The game was scheduled for a U.S. release as Earth Bound, but the project was cancelled.

The game's soundtrack was composed by Keiichi Suzuki and Hirokazu Tanaka. Tanaka was a video game composer working for Nintendo who had previously composed for games such as Super Mario Land and Metroid, while Suzuki was a composer and musician for bands of many different genres. The Famicom was only able to play three notes at a time, which Suzuki has noted greatly limited what he was able to produce, as he could not create some of the sounds he wanted.

Goodies for Mother [Model HVC-MX]
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Director: Shigesato Itoi
Game Designers: Shigesato Itoi, Miyuki Kure
Music Producers: Akio Ohmori, Ritsuo Kamimura
Musical Effects: Keiichi Suzuki, Hirokazu Tanaka
Character Designers: Shinbo Minami, Tatsuya Ishii
Figure Modeling: Masao Tottori (Tottori)
Programmers: Kazuya Nakatani, Takayuki Onodera, Motoo Yasuma
Scenario Assistants: Masayuki Kameyama, Hideo Kon, Katsutomo Maeiwa, Kuniko Sakurai
Coordinators: Masahiro Tatemoto, Takashi Kawaguchi, Keizo Kato, Motohiro Ishii, Akihito Toda, Yukari Saito
English Script Writer: Phil Sandhop
Translators: Toshiko Watson, Yuka Nakata, Hiroko Faulkner
Special Thanks To: Tony Harman, Dayv Brooks, Noriyuki Minami, Bin Ohgawara, Yoshihisa Wada, Hikonori Suzuki, Takao Shimizu
Producer: Shigeru Miyamoto
Executive Producer: Hiroshi Yamauchi
Created by Nintendo Tokyo Research & Development Products, APE inc.
Produced by Nintendo.
Presented by: Shigesato Itoi


Game's ROM.