The Mother series of RPGs has always had a fervent fan-base. In fact, these Mother lovers went so far as to make a fan translation patch for the Japan-only GBA adventure Mother 3. Now, a different group of fans have dedicated themselves to making an entirely new Mother game.
Back in 2008 a group of dedicated fans released an English translation patch to Mother 3, the highly acclaimed successor to Earthbound. Using the patch required first finding a ROM of the Japanese game, which is something of a legal grey area. But fans - and curious onlookers - would much prefer to play Mother 3 as it was intended - on a console, purchased from an official source.
Few pregnancies have been as painful and protracted as Mother 3's. The follow-up to Super Nintendo classic Earthbound, a game that won a dedicated following for its cute and funny modern-world styling of the Japanese RPG, was first announced twelve years ago. Numerous false starts and broken promises later, lead designer Shigesato Itoi finally announced its imminent Japanese release for the Game Boy Advance on his blog in 2005.
As the latest instalment in one of Japan's most beloved RPG series, Mother 3 raced to the top of the pre-order charts before enjoying considerable success at retail, a feat that still failed to secure it a Western release. Despite Earthbound's status as a sacred cow amongst gaming's cognoscenti, it sold poorly, a performance that scuppered this sequel's chances for a Western release. Shigeru Miyamoto himself said of the game: "We had high hopes for Earthbound in the US, but it didn't do well. You might not know this, but there was a 'Please Make Mother 3' petition, which received 30,000 signatures! After that, we thought, 'Wow... Earthbound fans are really solid.'"
"Really solid" is understatement when it comes to Mother's followers, whose dedication often beggars belief. So when Nintendo's localisation producer Nate Bihldorff confirmed in an interview that the publisher had no plans to take Mother 3 outside of Japan, it was no surprise that a group of fan translators sprang into action. Extracting the text files from the Japanese GBA game, the team began the painstaking work of translating the game's thousands of lines of dialogue before reinserting them using the Earthbound English language font. Finally, on 17th October, over two years after the group began its work, a fully translated patch was released onto the Internet, freely available for anyone with a digital copy of the game to play via emulator.