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Entry updated 8 September 2018. Tagged: Game.

Videogame series (from 1989). Nintendo. Designed by Shigesato Itoi.

Mother is a series of Japanese Console Role Playing Games (see Computer Role Playing Games), beginning with the three-dimensional Isometric view Mother (1989 Nintendo, NES) designed by Shigesato Itoi. This game, released only in Japan, follows the adventures of a young boy who travels around the world finding friends with special talents, often Psi Powers, and collecting eight melodies with which to save humanity from Giygas, leader of an alien race whose members can control human minds (and a possible reference to Gary Gygax). The second game, Mother 2 (1994 Nintendo, SNES, vt EarthBound in the US) designed by Shigesato Itoi is a sequel which largely repeats the first game's plot, displayed in an oblique view which gives the illusion of three dimensions. This iteration of the series begins with a young boy who is visited by an alien from a future where Giygas has returned and conquered the Earth. The player, in the role of the boy, must gather a group of friends with similar gifts and personalities to those seen in the first game. With their assistance he can visit eight sacred places where he can amplify his own psychic powers, allowing him to finally confront and defeat Giygas.

The Mother games are unusual amongst Japanese CRPGs both for being set in a broadly modern day milieu, with sf elements, and for their irreverent sense of humour. While the gameplay is fairly conventional for a Computer Role Playing Game, depending on a mixture of puzzle solution, exploration, combat and character interaction, the series satirizes the Clichés seen in many similar fantasy games, with characters using baseball bats as weapons against evil hippies and dangerous table lamps. The sequence is set in a twisted version of America, a fantastic dream of the West which combines the fairy tale world of Little House on the Prairie (1974-1983) with aliens and Psionic powers. Much importance is attached to friends and family; in Mother 2, the main character's mother can always be found at home, and sessions are saved by telephoning his permanently absent father. In essence, the first two Mother games tell children's stories which are eminently suitable for adults.

Related works: Mother 3 (2006 Nintendo, GBA) designed by Shigesato Itoi is a further sequel, using a two-dimensional overhead view and currently released only in Japan. Its story is darker and more adult, with multiple viewpoint characters. The plot is based on an invasion of "Nowhere Island" by an army wearing pig masks, who introduce disruptive technology into a rural paradise. [NT]


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