Difference between revisions of "Mother (1989)"

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Revision as of 20:28, 4 May 2021

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

This article may reveal major plot points, especially considering the game had either been released recently or not in specific countries yet.‎

"Take a melody, simple as can be, give it some words, and sweet harmony. Raise your voices, all day long now, love grows strong now, sing a melody of love, oh love."

Eight Melodies

Mother (1989)

MOTHER (Earthbound Zero) nes.png

Mother Wii U.jpg

"No crying until the end."
Protagonist: Ninten (Also known a Boku. Can be renamed)
Genre: RPG
Platforms: Famicom
Game Boy Advance
Wii U
Release Date: July 27, 1989 (Famicom)
June 20, 2003 (Game Boy Advance)
June 14, 2015 (Wii U)
Developer: Ape
Publisher: Nintendo
Franchise: Mother
Next Game: EarthBound

Mother (Stylized as MOTHER, also known as EarthBound Zero or EarthBound Beginnings) is a turn-based role-playing game developed by Ape and published by Nintendo. The game released on the Famicom on July 27, 1989 and was re-released on the Game Boy Advance in the Mother 1+2 compilation on June 20, 2003. The game was also localized for the Wii U on June 14, 2015.


Warning: The plot description reveals major plot points and events in the story. Reader discretion advised.

In the early 1900's, there was a young couple named George and Maria mysteriously disappeared from their hometown in rural America. Two years later, George returned, but Maria never returned. Many years later in the 1980's, a 12-year old boy named Ninten wakes up to a superantural event occuring in his house. After it ends, Ninten's dad calls him and tells him George, who is Ninten's great-grandfather, studied psychic powers, also known as PSI, and asks Ninten to investigate a crisis occurring across the world.

Eventually, Ninten finds a cave that warps him to a mysterious land known as Magicant. He visits Queen Mary, the leader of that land, who tells him to find the Eight Melodies and play them for her. Along the way, Ninten meets two other people who join his quest: Lloyd, a kid who is bullied for being a weakling, and Ana, a girl who has PSI, just like Ninten.

Soon after finding half of the melodies, Ninten is harassed by Teddy, the leader of a street gang. Teddy, challenges Ninten, but is defeated. After his defeat, Teddy explains that his parents were killed by animals on Mt. Itoi. He joins Ninten's party, replacing Lloyd, and tells the group to climb Mt. Itoi and avenge his parents.

The group climbs up Mt. Itoi, and eventually reach a cabin on the mountain. Ana leads Ninten into a room, where they two dance and confess their love for each other, but are interrupted by Teddy, who tells them there is strange noises coming from outside. They then encounter R7038, a robot that devastates the party. Fortunately, Lloyd comes and destroys the menace, but injures the party in the process, leaving Teddy close to death, and Ninten and company continue to climb the mountain as they leave Teddy at the cabin to rest.

As they continue to climb, they encounter a second robot known as EVE, who joins the party after defeating her. Another robot named R7038XX fights the party, with EVE self-destructing to save Ninten and his friends. They reach the peak of Mt. Itoi, where they find a cave barricaded by several rocks. Along with the cave, they find George's grave, where his spirit communicates to Ninten and sings him the last melody.

Ninten returns to Magicant and plays all eight melodies to Queen Mary. After the melodies are played, she remembers her true identity: Maria. It turns out, she and George had taken care of Giegue, the alien planning to invade the planet, and that she and George loved Giegue very juch and took care of him. After remembering her identity, she passes on and Magicant disappears, which turned out to be her imagination.

When the party returns to Earth, the rocks blocking the cave are gone. Inside they find human prisoners that were taken by Geigue, including Ana's mother. They are told they need to find and destroy the Mother Ship to free the prisoners, which the party encounters and finds a fluid-filled tank that contains Giegue. He expresses gratitude for George and Maria for raising him, but explains that George stole vital information from his people that could have been used to betray them, and accuses Ninten of interfering with their plans. However, he offers to save Ninten if he boards the Mother Ship, but Ninten refuses. This causes Giegue to attack him in an attempt to put him to sleep. The party sings the Eight Melodies to Giegue, which makes him overwhelmed with the emotions of Maria's motherly love to him. He swears he will meet Ninten again and takes off in the Mother Ship.

Why It Rocks

  1. The setting and environment is very different from other RPGs in the area, opting for a contemporary setting in Rural America rather than a fantasy swords & sorcery setting from other RPGs at the time like Final Fantasy.
  2. The enemy types are really different and are unlike the skeletons and goblins commonly seen in most other RPGs at the time. Instead, players fight hippies, birds, trucks, and even alien invaders.
  3. An awesome, emotional, and catchy soundtrack that perfectly matches the setting and tone of the game, such as the happy tone of "Bein' Friends" and the creepy sounds of "A Ghastly Site".
  4. The game is very funny and has a lot of unique humor, with easily quotable dialogue and humorous encounters, but the game is also very dark and serious at the same time, which is very hard to pull off.
  5. While not as fun as EarthBound's battle system, the battle mechanics are well designed and creative, with normal options like "Attack" or "Run", but also an autofight option and a "Check" option that allows you to see an enemy's attributes.
  6. An emotional story that is worth experiencing for yourself. It starts out with a light hearted tone in the beginning, but gets more serious as you progress through the story. You even feel sympathetic for the villain, who feels hurt for the loss of his mother.
  7. Despite being being a little simplistic, the art style is very unique (The characters look a lot like the kids from Peanuts). For example, the enemy sprites are well detailed have strange designs that also fit with the tone.
  8. Unlike EarthBound and Mother 3, you can take multiple different paths to finish the game instead of the same linear path. You may want to find the third melody from the singing monkey second, or find the eighth melody sixth.
  9. The final boss, Giegue, is a very creative final encounter, that relies on keeping your party members alive and lasting long enough to finish the encounter. A similar boss idea comes back for Mother 3.
  10. The Mother 1+2 re-release adds a few quality of life changes to the original game such as being able to run with the R button, a different PSI obtain order, and an option to speed up the text. A few graphical changes were done as well, such as a background effect when you obtain a melody.

Bad Qualities

  1. The game is very unbalanced, and you have to grind enemies over and over to hit a decent level mark. Random encounters also happen very often.
  2. Every time a new character joins your party, they start at level 1, so you have to grind to get their level up, which can get annoying.
  3. The graphics, despite looking a little unique, are pretty bland, such as one solid color for most of the floors.
  4. Duncan's Factory is the most frustrating location in the game, with complicated mazes and long pathways that make navigation frustrating without consulting a map. Fortunately, you can place breadcrumbs to find your way back if you get lost.
  5. There are a few minor but annoying inconveniences, such not being able to sell items together and not being able to attack at all if the enemy that you were supposed to attack was already killed earlier during your turn.


Upon release, Mother was the sixth-highest selling game in Japan. Famitsu gave the game a Silver Hall of Fame score of 31/40. Reviewers noted the game's similarities with the Dragon Quest series and its simultaneous parody of the RPG genre. However, they disliked the game's high difficulty and balance issues.

Game Tips

  1. It may be unpleasant, but you are going to have to grind a lot to get to a high enough level of strength. If this is to bothersome, there is a fan translation for the GBA version of the game called Mother 1+2 which has an easy mode that alleviates the grinding time considerably.
  2. There actually is a way to keep Teddy in the party and not get injured and being replaced by Lloyd. To do so, you have to avoid triggering the karaoke performance in Ellay until you get the 7th Melody from EVE. To do so, you have to ascend Mt. Itoi while having Lloyd in the party. You need to use him to repair the motorboat to acess the underwater lab and reach EVE. Once EVE is in the group, you can face R7038XX. When you acquire EVE's melody, return to Ellay, activate the karaoke performance, and then recruit Teddy, replacing Lloyd in the process. However, going to the healer's house on Mt. Itoi still triggers the event that removes Teddy, but you don't need to go there to complete the game.
  3. The game doesn't give descriptions of the PSI powers in game, so here is a list that explains what each ability does. The full PSI descriptions are below.

Offensive PSI

  • PK Fire: Deals damage to all enemies. The highest version of the spell instantly kills all enemies.
  • PK Freeze: Deals damage to one enemy. The highest version reduces enemy health to critical status.
  • PK Thunder: Deals damage to one enemy. Highly effective against mechanical foes. The highest version attacks multiple foes.
  • PK Beam: Deals heavy damage to a single enemy. The highest version of this attack can instantly kill a enemy.

Assist PSI

  • PSI Shield: Shields an ally, which reduces damage taken by one half. The higher level version shields all party members.
  • Power Shield: Shields an ally, which reflects all damage taken back to attacker.
  • Offense Up: Raises an ally's offense for the battle
  • Defense Up: Raises an ally's defense for the battle. The higher level version raises defense of all party members.
  • Quick Up: Raises an ally's speed for the battle.
  • Defense Down: Lowers an enemy's defense for the battle. The higher level versions lowers the defense of all enemies.
  • Brain Shock: Makes an enemy feel strange.
  • Brain Cyclone: Makes all enemies feel strange.
  • Hypnosis: Puts an enemy to sleep.
  • Paralysis: Paralyzes an enemy.
  • Darkness: Blinds an enemy.
  • Shield Off: Breaks a foe's PSI Shield if they have one.
  • PSI Block: Stops an enemy from using PSI.

Restorative PSI

  • Life Up: Restores a party member's health. Higher level versions heal all party members.
  • Healing: Removes an effect from an ally, with an extra type of effect possible for removal for each level of the spell.
  • Super Healing: Revives an ally to full health.
  • PSI Magnet: Steals 10 PP (Psychic Points) from an enemy.

Other PSI

  • Telepathy: Allows you to see the thoughts of another character. Only usable outside of battle.
  • 4th-D Slip: Flee from a battle, can fail.
  • Teleport: Allows you to travel to any location you have visited.


  1. While it wouldn't have an official English translation released until 2015, there was a plan to translate it for North American audiences in 1990. There was even an article about it in Nintendo Power. However, the idea was shelved due to the release of the Super Nintendo, but not before five prototype carts were produced.
  2. While the main villain is known as Giegue in the Mother English translation, he is known as Giygas in EarthBound translation, despite the Japanese spelling being the same.
  3. Upon the game's release, an album called Mother Original Soundtrack released, which gave 11 songs re-recordings, as well as lyrics for eight of the songs, as well as an extra 24 minute track that is compilation of the game's chiptune soundtrack. A reimagining of the soundtrack called Mother Music Revisited was released in 2021.
  4. The title of the game is named after the song Mother by John Lenon, which had moved Shigesato Itoi (the game's creator) so much he wanted other people to be moved in a similar way. He also felt the title was fitting due to the game being more "feminine" than most RPGs.
  5. The last parts of the game were not tested for bugs or balance due to time constraints.


The Soundtracks


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