New EarthBound is ‘impossible,’ says series’ creator

earthbound title screen

It was announced earlier this month in the most recent Nintendo Direct broadcast that EarthBound (known as Mother 2 in Japan), the endearing cult classic RPG for the SNES, would finally make its way to the North American Wii U Virtual Console.

This comes as an unexpected but welcome surprise to longtime fans of the game, as well as those who only know of it by way of its strong cult following online. Until now, Mother fans in North America have been virtually ignored, as the only game in the series to see an official release came out nearly 18 years ago. Since then, Mother 3 (originally slated for the Nintendo 64) and a compilation re-release of the first two games, called Mother 1 + 2, were released for the Game Boy Advance, but only in Japan. The series gained further exposure in North America when Ness (Mother 2) and Lucas (Mother 3) were added to the Super Smash Bros. games. To further add to what some fans saw as taunting on the part of Nintendo, Mother 2 was re-released in Japan this past March — this time, for the Wii U Virtual Console.

But Nintendo is now, at long last, recognizing the series’ fanbase outside of Japan, as gamers in North America can finally experience this gem without dishing out hundreds of dollars for a cartridge on ebay, and without illegally emulating the game on their computer.

Unfortunately for Mother fans worldwide, the series has met its end, according to Shigesato Itoi, the series’ creator. Itoi, who is known throughout Japan for more than just his acumen as a game developer, responded to a tweet he received from a Japanese fan asking him to consider making Mother 4. The 64-year-old essayist answered with a succinct and emphatic, “Impossible.”

The good news for fans outside Japan is that if EarthBound sells well enough on the Virtual Console, Nintendo may consider localizing the other two games in the series.

Clyde Mandelin — also known as Tomato (or Mato) to fans in the EarthBound community — is a professional Japanese-to-English translator for the anime distributor FUNimation Entertainment, and is best known for his fan translation of Mother 1 and Mother 3. Mandelin, who co-founded the EarthBound fansite,, and runs the fan blog, EarthBound Central, has offered to let Nintendo use his Mother 3 text translations free of charge.

“When we released the Mother 3 fan translation patch in 2008, it was because it was clear that Nintendo had no interest in releasing an official translation of the game. Still, there’s always the hope that the game might be re-released someday on some new platform, at which time us fans will clamor for an official translation yet again,” Mandelin wrote in a recent blog post.

“I realize that localizing a game this size can cost a lot, so if it’ll help in even the slightest, I’ll gladly offer to let Nintendo use my text translation files for any use at all, completely for free. I’ll even edit the files to fit whatever new standards are necessary (content, formatting, memory size, etc.), completely for free. I’ll even retranslate everything from scratch if need be. Just whatever it takes to get an official release out,” he continued.

Mandelin said he realizes the unlikelihood of a major company such as Nintendo using the work of a fan translation, but cited Ys: The Oath in Felghana as one such game that did just that.

He also added, “In any case, if it matters, I’m actually a professional translator with many years of experience,” and provided links to his portfolio.

While Shigesato Itoi shows no interest in developing any more games for the series he created, Clyde Mandelin and many others work tirelessly to see that fans in North America can have access to the ones he’s already made.



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Author: Josh Robinson View all posts by
Josh is a 25-year-old man-child who loves pizza, video games, baseball, cartoons and anime. Most of his heroes are middle-aged Japanese men, and he's been known to quote Seinfeld at random. You can find him on Twitter using the handle @averagejosh.

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