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Shigesato Itoi on Mother 2's Overseas Release
Today, following the announcement of Earthbound being released in the US and Europe, Shigesato Itoi tweeted a message about it too.
“Please share this news with your friends overseas. Mother 2 (Earthbound)’s revival is confirmed. It was announced it is going to be released within the year.”
Itoi said something interesting.
Yesterday, a new Shigesato Itoi interview appeared on Yomuka. In it, he says:
— How about consistent themes throughout the series [Mother]?
Itoi Oh, there are none. (laughs) Games are meant to be played, so you can’t just go around and make every game revolve around a theme.
Say a ball is falling. What can you do to that ball to turn it into a game? If there’s someone to catch and someone to throw, you can play catch. If someone has a bat, you can play something else. So if you wanna know what the theme is, it’s “there was a ball”. (laughs)
But young developers would be mocked if they said they didn’t have a theme, so they can’t really say that.
This struck me as odd.
Don’t get me wrong, the Mother games have some quirky elements—but, for the most part, they’re conventional. Even if Itoi doesn’t think in terms of themes, they’re definitely present in the Mother games. For instance, they all deal with how the relationship between parent and child changes over time.
Hobo Nichi Mother 2 Re-Release Discussion - Part 3
Part 3 - The Quiet Creator of Special Games
Iwata: If you think about why Mother games are special, I think it’s because of Itoi-san’s presence. There’s no one else like Itoi-san among game makers so there are no other games like Mother.
Itoi: Is that right? (laughs)
—: I think so!
Iwata: From a overall format point of view, Mother falls in the same category as other JRPGs and in that regard I don’t think it is that special. However, generally speaking, it is regarded as a unique game that no others compare to. I think that is because Itoi-san is permeated throughout game. Whether it’s something interesting, something there’s just too much of, something beyond what you would normally expect, or even something completely absurd, I think all those different game play elements are influenced by him.
—: Certainly, Mother has lots of different play elements and ideas like that which aren’t in any other games.
Itoi: Or even the guy who comes to take your picture.
Both: Yes, yes, yes.
Itoi: Or the pizza delivery guy.
—: Speaking of the pizza delivery guy, when he can’t make it to somewhere the main characters are, he calls and says something like “I’ve decided, honestly, that… I should give up,” right?
(Translation note: In the original Japanese text what the delivery guys says is closer to “I couldn’t do it (IE: make it to you)” but when translating this part, I took the extended text directly from the official Earthbound translation.)
Itoi: He goes out of his way to call. (laughs)
—: Also, the fact that there is a delay included is great. It makes you think like he must have been walking all over.
Itoi: Yeah. That part really has attention to detail.
Iwata: Yes, it does. (laughs)
—: Details like that are exactly the point. I think there are other games that have fun-seeming content and ideas put in them. But surrounding those ideas with equal absurdity or even putting in the care to do so for the sake of absurdity in such a diligent way is what Mother games are all about.
Itoi: It came up before. We also did it when your father calls you and says “shouldn’t you take a rest?” After telling you that, it continues.
—: Yeah. If you tell him you want to keep playing he tells you “I understand your point about the fate of the world being at stake” right?
Iwata: Right, right. (laughs)
—: His asking you “how about taking a break soon?” and, if you refuse, his saying “I understand your point about the fate of the world being at stake” is just…
Itoi: Let me say, having made it and played it are both fun.
Iwata: Definitely. There’s nothing else out there with stuff like that.
—: Yeah, there isn’t.
Itoi: When I think about it, when it comes down to it, well, I’ve always been doing things like that.
—: I suppose so. (laughs)
Itoi: When you look at it from the point of view while playing, all the fun had while making it really reflects in the game, doesn’t it.
Iwata: Also, Itoi-san, as someone who has experienced really getting into and playing video games, is able to understand what that means from the point of view of a player. From that point, he’s experienced all kinds of things a normal person making games has not. I feel that is what has allowed him to tie all those things together and make them his own and unique.
—: That’s true. For Mother 2, however, not just Itoi-san was special, the other people connected to the game were also special. I heard that, for example, Mother 2 was the only game whose graphics Kouichi Ooyama, the artistic director, had a hand in working on. Also, for the music, this was the only game Keiichi Suzuki and Hirokazu Tanaka teamed up to create music that would be only in Mother.
Itoi: Hearing you say it again, I agree with that.
Iwata: It you condense it all, there were lots of things that were created that can only be found in Mother. That’s why even though close to 20 years have passed, everyone still remembers them.
Itoi: That’s right. I’m really happy that everyone remembers those fun lines I wrote. There’s nothing like it.
Itoi: Nothing compares to being told “I can never forget that line” by someone who can repeat it word for word.
Iwata: Clearly, since games are interactive entertainment that you control yourself, they have a special way of sticking with you. It is really powerful. Things really stay with you whether it be something that moved you to tears or something that made you laugh out loud and everything in between.
—: Nevertheless, the ways in which Mother sticks with you is really varied depending on the person and random things stay with you.
Iwata: That’s right. Different people remember different parts.
—: To tell the truth, even now there are still voices expressing those things. Itoi-san, when you hear them, what is it like?
Itoi: … Uht oh, you’re asking me?
Itoi: When it comes to Mother, I am always the person everyone is overly concerned with but I just remain silent. I am glad and thankful but when asked if I have anything to say, I don’t really have anything and just listen like I am now. Still, in response to those voices, as the creator, when finding something else to say, the first thing I probably would say is “thank you,” but well, that’s all. So, what should I say, I’m happy but I remain silent.
Iwata: Of course, that makes sense. Nagata-san, as a player would, take a look at the game creator Itoi-san. What do you see?
—: Hmm. I see that when it comes to Mother, the man himself is pretty quiet.
Itoi: Yep. (laughs)
—: That is to say, pretty much, Itoi-san is 100% an author. Even for non-Mother things, it’s the same.
Itoi: That’s right.
—: For the true author, there are lots of things they’ve made or are connected to but when their work is put together as a finished product, it’s the same as Mother. As the author of the book, you think about the people around you that you want to include in the book and that all is in the book and that’s that. So I feel probably that’s why they then wind up being quiet about it. With all that in mind, Twitter came about a few years ago and I think it’s given the opportunity to say “thank you” to the fans.
Itoi: Yea, that’s right. That’s how it is.
—: I guess you can’t just write “thank you” to your fans in your work. I think Iwata-san has also had similar experiences with things he’s worked on.
Iwata: That’s right. Even if it is something I’ve really felt, there’s never been the chance to express it.
Itoi: Definitely, as far as that goes, Twitter has been something huge for me. Because it’s let me casually be able to say like I’m glad.
Iwata: And then, when other people see Itoi-san say something like “I’m glad”, it makes them feel quite happy as well and those feeling keep spreading.
—: For the player, even though time has passed and they’ve become adults now, they still remember it all and are able to express that just by saying “I’ll never forget.”
Itoi: That’s right. Quite succinct. So from my side, I can say “thanks.”
—: Miiverse is also the same format.
Iwata: That’s right. It’s the same. That’s why I’m really excited about it.
Itoi: That’s also why Iwata-san keeps grinning and suggesting that “If you’re going to play, I think now is the time.”
Iwata: Right. I think now we’ve been able to put all those elements of that game together well. Without them all, over the past 19 years, we weren’t going to bring the game back before it was ready.
Iwata: 19 years have passed since we made it and, to bring it back, you could say it’s because we’ve created an environment for everyone to enjoy it in or you could say we’ve taken long enough. It’s not that we’ve been cultivating the game. It feels like there’s a good connection between the player and the game. Well, that’s because, Mother, at it’s core, is a tale about a father watching over his children from afar.
Itoi: Right, right. That’s like the feeling I wanted to leave. Fathers all tend to be hands off like that.
Itoi: For a lot of people, once they have kids, it kinda feels that way. Yeah, so that could also be a reason why I get quiet. Mother, as unexpected as it may be, is a story about family. However, when you think about that theme, I didn’t create it that way on purpose. You can probably say it turned out that way on accident. Then again, maybe I’m able to talk like this cause it’s been 19 years.
Itoi: Also, what I’m feeling more and more lately is that if I hadn’t made Mother then, there are a lot of people now who feel they may not have come together the way they have.
Iwata: Yeah, quite well said.
Itoi: Whether it’s a young game creator or someone whose said they wanted to meet, many people have said it’s because they liked Mother. I’ve also been told “If it wasn’t for Mother, I think I wouldn’t be the person I am now.” That’s just, what should I say… I’m absolutely grateful and it makes me feel assured that now, when it comes to things I’ve made, there are those who can find the joy in them.
Iwata: I also, if there was no Mother, wouldn’t have met Itoi-san.
Itoi: Yeah, that’s right. It’s because of making that game that we met. Oh yeah, Nagata-kun too, right?
—: More or less, yes. (laughs) Well, it’s almost time so do you have one last thing for the people enjoying the Mother 2 Revival Event?
Iwata: Yes. On the back of the package for Mother 2 when it came out, it said “children will become adults and adults will become children.” The more time passes, I agree with that. In that feeling, including things we’ve made like the WiiU and Miiverse, I’d like you to play the game again. Maybe, if it’s your first time, it may have a strong effect on you. Even still, while playing wherever you are, you could receive a message directly from the creator Itoi-san. Everything I just said is sort of like the feeling of a dream becoming reality before you; that’s pretty exciting.
—: Thank you very much. Next… from the creator.
Itoi: … I’m really not sure what to say.
Itoi: No, I’m surprised too!
Iwata: This really is a special line of work, right?
Itoi: That’s right. Well, that’s why, if you were to ask the people who know me well, they’d say this is how I am. That’s the best I can say.
Iwata: Well, this is the first I’ve seen Itoi-san not enter into a conversation like this.
—: Yeah, that’s right. If I hadn’t moved the conversation along, he wouldn’t have spoken at all.
Itoi: Yep. (laughs) So that’s why, it’d be best to let it go.
—: That’s what I’ll do. Thank you very much for today.
Iwata: Thank you very much!
Itoi: Ah, what should I say…
(Thank you very much for reading all the way to the end.)
The above message is both from the original text and myself, KameDani! :)
So this tumblr is slowly but surely becoming very Mother-centric. I don’t really have a problem with this, and I’m hoping that anyone who reads this also doesn’t. While I have yet to beat Earthbound, I have gotten through Mother 3, and that experience was ridiculous. I don’t know what else to call it. It’s one of the few games that had me thinking about it days after beating it, and it was emotionally provocative throughout its entirety, in terms of both good and bad feelings. After the sunflower chapter, I shut the game off for several hours… I just didn’t want to go any further for awhile. I wanted to let that sink in. I won’t say it was a life changing experience, but its importance to me is definitely up there with DuckTales, Lunar, and Pokemon.
Shigesato Itoi is a genius.
Mother 3: Duster vs. Lucky
I’m guessing we don’t mind Mother 3 spoilers at this point, the translation having been out for a few years now.
Anyway, I’m going to spoil the ending of the game here, so be wary.
Duster? It’s true that I don’t even remember my real name, but I’ve lived my life as Lucky for years now.
Memory plays a key part in Mother 3.
As you learn from Leder, the citizens of Tazmily long ago erased their memory of the planet’s destruction and rebirth. The people’s corruption had led to the planet’s destruction; they hoped to become pure by forgetting everything, staging a sort of rebirth for themselves.
Once Porky invades, though, he corrupts the people himself. He uses them for his own end: awakening the Dark Dragon at the core of the planet and erasing life altogether.
By erasing their memories, the people of Tazmily were able to live in a pure, Edenic state. However, had they retained their memories, they would have known of the Dark Dragon. (Remember, they were enemies of the Dark Dragon before they had erased their memories.) They would have seen Porky’s plot and known it was foul far in advance.
It’s a familiar concept, right? The sins of the father shall be visited upon the son, history repeats itself, etc.
Mother 3 is a mission to reveal history so as to prevent a repeat of the tragedy that happened years ago.
That’s what this Lucky vs. Duster bit is about in chapter 4.
Duster was happy to live his life as Lucky, with no memory of his past. As Duster, he was a son that disappointed his father; as Lucky, he’s a beloved bassist.
However, Duster can’t continue to live in ignorance of his past. He’s crucial to the heroes’ quest of saving the planet. If he continues to live in ignorance, the planet will go unsaved, with him none the wiser.
Unfortunately, the villagers do continue to live in ignorance—both in ignorance of their prior lives and in ignorance of the destruction around them—and eventually the Dark Dragon is awakened.