This page details prerelease information and/or media for Mother 3.
Time for the home stretch!
Mother 3 is notorious for having undergone a rather extensive development phase. It had originally started out development on a planned CD-ROM add-on for the Super Famicom, based on an early concept Itoi had for Mother 2. After the add-on was scrapped due to a hot mess of shenanigans between Nintendo and Sony, the game moved onto the Nintendo 64DD, which had better hardware to help realize the team's ambitious ideas. The development ended up lasting nearly the console's entire lifespan due to the 64DD's long-delayed release, with the team downscaling to a standard N64 cartridge in 1999. Development was then cancelled due to the impending launch of the Nintendo GameCube, only to resume a matter of months later as a Game Boy Advance title, with the game's vision having constantly changed along the way.
Development for Mother 3 ended up taking 12 years, with a nearly three-year gap between the N64 version's cancellation and announcement of the GBA version. Upon release in April 2006, Mother 3 sold moderately well for a late GBA game, but failed to meet Nintendo's expectations. Critical reception from media was favorable with high scores, while the fan response in Japan was polarizing to say the least, owed to its substantial deviations from its predecessors. However, upon release of the English fan translation in 2008, Mother 3 gathered a dedicated and passionate following outside of Japan. The lack of an official overseas release has directed much attention towards uncovering more info about the game's development history.
Below is the most comprehensive, and chronological, compendium on the game's development.
Summarized Development Timeline
Oh boy. There's a lot to go over.
- Late 1989 - During the initial concepts for Mother 2, Shigesato Itoi develops the idea for what would become the basis for Mother 3. He conceptualizes the idea of a game that follows a detective investigating marital affairs between two towns, while being a single father of one son. Although this idea was scrapped, it would return as the foundation for what would become Mother 3.
- Early 1992 - Itoi calls up Satoru Iwata, producer of Mother 2, in the middle of the night about his idea for Mother 3. He told Iwata about his concept of one town that changes over time, as opposed to the typical "road trip" structure of most RPGs. Iwata liked his idea, but encouraged they finish Mother 2 first.
- June 19, 1992 - Mother 3 is officially hinted at in Weekly Famitsu. Itoi says he isn't sure if the title will be called "Mother 3", but states it will be a CD-ROM title.
- June 1994 - Development of Mother 3 officially commences upon the completion of Mother 2, with the same team as the previous game, on the Super Famicom.
- Late 1994 - An interview with Itoi says Mother 3 would see store shelves as a "next-generation product" within two years, as the Super Famicom CD addon was canceled.
- November 1995 - The Nintendo 64DD is announced.
- July - Iwata officially announces in Dengeki Nintendo 64 that Mother 3 will be a launch title for the Nintendo 64DD. He reveals the game would defy players' expectations, and the idea of multiple protagonists. Porky(Pokey) was also stated to have an important role in the game.
- November 12 - A new hire at HAL, Shogo Sakai, pitches a demo tape to the Mother 3 team. He proposes the idea of having a "fresh" sound to the game, and the team hired him on the spot having loved his music.
- November 22 - Mother 3 is unveiled for the first time at Shoshinkai. Footage features a limping blonde character named Duster walking through a nightclub called Titiboo to see the band, DCMC. Additionally, many scenes of a village called Tazmily are shown, along with a young brunette child named Lucas wandering a jungle along with another unnamed character who bears a striking resemblance to Ninten and Ness.
- November - Itoi reveals more details about Mother 3 in 64 Dream. He states the supporting scripts, maps, and characters had been completed and their next step was bringing the game to life. While he was vague about specific details, Itoi revealed that all the characters were indeed new and not returning (retroactively revealing the Ness-lookalike to be a new character). On the other hand, he did announce that both Mr. Saturn and Porky would be returning for Mother 3.
- November - Many details about the game are revealed in magazines like 64 Dream, Weekly Famitsu, and Dengeki 64. Characters include Lucas, a young boy who likes to pick mushrooms in the forest; Salsa, a mysterious peddler's pet monkey; and Duster, a young man with a master named Wess who sleeps all day and enjoys a nice nighttime walk with a cocktail. Tazmily Village is also detailed to be the main town, with the Pig Warrior army being revealed as the main antagonists. It is also offhandedly mentioned that Lucas has a brother.
- January - Mother 3: キマイラの森 (Mother 3: Forest of the Chimera) is covered in Weekly Famitsu, with the subtitle being revealed for the first time. The first new screenshots are shown since Shoshinkai, which include Lucas, Duster, and Salsa exploring a vast forest with sky beams; the Pig Warrior Army gathered in a hall; and an unknown character exploring a snowy trail. It was here that Itoi stated the Pig Warrior Army was composed of ranks, with the red-clothed Lieutenant being the highest ranking. Iwata also slips out the chapter-based structure of the game.
- April - In an interview with 64 Dream, Itoi spoke more about his ideas in creating Mother 3. He did not envision Tazmily as "the first town", but rather a field for the player to explore. The total number of playable characters is said to be 8, with Lucas and Duster having prominent appearances. He also experimented with the idea of Mr. Saturn being a playable character, but the team objected against this. Lastly, speaking on the theme of Mother 3, Itoi said there is no central theme in mind, but rather to encourage the player to "play intensely".
- June 19-21 - The game's art director, Benimaru Itoh, does a couple of interviews regarding the game at E3. He talks about how Itoi hated his original design for Lucas for looking too similar to himself, and requested something more straightforward. He describes Lucas as a boy who "loves flowers and small birds", and says Mother 3 will feature a dynamic world with over 250 characters. Many 64DD features are talked about, including Lucas being able to grow a garden in real time by planting seeds, and attracting monsters by placing food down. The game was said to feature not only Mr. Saturns, but a race of new creatures that "will make you cry" inspired by Itoi's doodles. Porky is also said to not only return, but have "grown older" in this era he hastily escaped to. Lastly, Itoh says "EarthBound 64" was chosen as the North American name as it was easy for overseas fans to recognize.
- June 26 - In Weekly Famitsu, Lucas' redesign is revealed, going from a brunette child in a poncho to a blonde child with a fanny pack. Flint, Lucas' father is also revealed to be a main character in the game alongside images of them walking in the forest. The "metal-and-wood" logo is also shown for the first time, being inspired by the game's focus on chimeras. Itoi also reveals the game will be 12 chapters long.
- Summer - Itoi completes writing the ending for the game upon a boat trip to Saipan.
- August - The MOTHER 3 Times articles are launched in Dengeki Nintendo 64. The first one goes in depth about the DCMC - nonchalantly showcasing Duster's redesign, who now looks more simplified and sports a beret.
- September - The game's development staff are introduced in the MOTHER 3 Times. With Atsushi Kakuta directing the game, Masayuki Miura providing script editing, Akihiko Miura leading CG design as well as several others. "Bon Voyage Amigo" is also said to be the DCMC's new hit single.
- October - In this month's MOTHER 3 Times, the game is announced to be playable at Spaceworld (rebranded from Shoshinkai). A contest at the venue is also announced, where Mother fans could send in photos of their collections in order to get their face put in the game through Mario Artist.
- November 21 - Mother 3 is shown on video at Spaceworld, with the playable demo having been pulled at the last minute. An apology was issued in the guidebook. The game is given a new subtitle, 奇怪生物の森 (Forest of Strange Creatures), because someone held a copyright on the word "chimera". The contest that was announced in Dengeki Nintendo 64 is also held, with 12-year-old Hiroki Mukodani being the winner. Footage of him running around in the game was shown, along with other new footage which included Flint walking around Tazmily and talking to villagers, a Kraken emerging from a large brown substance, battles against the Pig Warriors and some capybaras using "Magic" and combos, as well as Lucas infiltrating the "Clayman" Factory.
- December 19 - The MOTHER 3 Times covers all that was shown at Spaceworld. Claus is finally officially revealed, being Lucas' brother who's "energetic" and into "high-tech stuff". An interview with Shogo Sakai (composer) and Takuto Kitsuta (sound programmer) is published. Sakai details his fresh approach to composing the music, having wanted to surprise Mother fans. He praised Kitsuta's faithfulness in adapting his music to the N64, and gave him free reign to handle all techno or "mech"-sounding music.
- January - An interview with the game's programmer, Akihiko Miura, was published in the MOTHER 3 Times, where he details his studies of mathematics in order to properly bring the game to life. Great Scale Village is also revealed to be another location in the game, where a large sea creature (the Kraken) is said to be disturbing the waters, resulting in the death of Lighter's wife Tobacco.
- February - An interview with the game's script editor, Masayuki Miura, is published in the MOTHER 3 Times. He details his approach in working with Itoi, which he did previously in Mother 2. Lucas and Claus are also officially stated to be twins, with Hinawa being their loving mother.
- March - The MOTHER 3 Times interviews Tazmily's mayor, P.K. Pirkle, about his pride in making life in the village happy for everybody. The staff also showcases Mother 3 fanart in the magazine.
- April - P.K. Pirkle is again interviewed in the MOTHER 3 Times, this time about a mysterious "carefree guy" who suddenly showed up in the village. This character bears a strong resemblance to the enemy hippies in Mother and Mother 2.
- May - A mysterious purple Drago lookalike is examined in the MOTHER 3 Times, having saved two lost children named Richie and Nichol in the Sunshine Forest.
- May 27 - Mother 3 is shown on video at E3 1998 on an upcoming games sizzle reel. All of the footage is recycled from Spaceworld 1997.
- June - Great Scale Village is again showcased in the MOTHER 3 Times, with a pile of feces from the Kraken washing ashore.
- July - Some more villagers are interviewed in the MOTHER 3 Times, about vicious flying rats that have suddenly appeared in Tazmily, having bitten some people's heads.
- August - A mysterious fortune teller named Ionia is interviewed in the MOTHER 3 Times, revealing the game's "Magic" system possibly being a science known as "PSI", which appeared in Mother and Mother 2.
- August 14th - Greg Wallace, a Nintendo of America employee leaks through an email exchange the game was going to release on cartridge instead.
- September - The annual Tazmily Breeder's Cup is detailed in the MOTHER 3 Times, with a 15-year-old boy named Butch having won due to his marvelous pigs.
- October - The game's currency is revealed to be large acorns in this MOTHER 3 Times issue, which the general store keeper named Thomas admires for their smooth texture. We also learn the people of Tazmily like to wear pig noses in the Fall season.
- November - A strange winged bug creature is shown in the MOTHER 3 Times, who is described as ferocious and likes to fly in people's faces. It is also said the DCMC are experiencing a fallout.
- December - A villager named Isaac discovers a searing crop circle in the Sunshine Forest in this issue of the MOTHER 3 Times. Apparently, he was picking mushrooms and noticed some strangely-dressed people just before he saw the circle. The DCMC situation is also dived deeper into, with the band hoping to find a new member to play the bass.
- January - The MOTHER 3 Times talks about the people of Tazmily creating a square wheel. A recipe for "Kraken Soup" is also detailed.
- February - The Syd family is shown in the MOTHER 3 Times, with Ed's newborn son Alle blessing the household. It is also here that the Save Frog is officially revealed. Additionally, the weather forecast in Tazmily says it will rain sardines(!).
- March - In the MOTHER 3 Times, we learn about how Butch's grandmother Bar likes to knit wool sweaters for the villagers come Wintertime. The disappearance of a villager named Nana's father is also reported, who went missing at sea one year ago.
- April - The Sunset Cemetery is shown off for the first time in the MOTHER 3 Times, with rumors circulating that the dead have been rising during its renovation. The villagers also speculate about what's underneath Flint's signature hat, with the MOTHER 3 Times editors encouraging fans to send in their theories.
- May - Boney is featured in the MOTHER 3 Times as Claus' one-year-old pup, who the villagers love to call "Benjamin". A location in Tazmily called Toilette Falls is also revealed, which is a romantic waterfall several kilometers east of Tazmily.
- May - The scenario of Mother 3 is finished all the way to the end, with development of the Spaceworld demo beginning as the main game is put on hold. A new supervisor joins the team to help speed along development.
- May - Benimaru Itoh tells 64 Dream the Pokémon 64 Modelling staff were sent to help the MOTHER 3 team.
- June - Butch and another villager attempt to differentiate Lucas and Claus in the MOTHER 3 Times. Another location called Osohe Castle is also revealed, which is an abandoned kingdom now used as a vegetation field by the villagers. It is hinted that a Princess once lived at the castle.
- July 13 - Nintendo of Japan officially announces MOTHER 3 has moved to cartridge format and will no longer release on the DD.
- July 27 - On the 10th Anniversary of Mother, Itoi anonymously posts on a fan message board that Mother 3 would be playable at the upcoming Spaceworld.
- August 1999 - The final volume of the MOTHER 3 Times is published, which introduces the Bell Ringer and the Bell of Repose, which rings in Tazmily everyday at 2 hour intervals. The 10th Anniversary of the series is also celebrated.
- August 21 - A 50% complete version of Mother 3 is playable at Spaceworld, with the final subtitle, 豚王の最期 (Fall of the Pig King). The demo features both a playable Flint and Lucas roaming around Tazmily Square, underground Snake Caverns, and the searing yellow desert. The battle system features rhythm combos to the beat of the music, as well as a character swapping mechanic by performing high-fives on the overworld or flicking the analog stick in battle. Several cutscenes are also shown, featuring treacherous minecart rides with the twins, the DCMC rockin' out, and Flint sending Boney off to fetch Duster in the rain. The Pig Warriors are also renamed the Pigmasks here as well.
- August 21 - Akihiko Miura is interviewed at Spaceworld. He reveals many details about the game, saying it "will make you cry", and is about Lucas and Claus going on separate paths as they grow up. Some game mechanics are also spoken about, such as how the enemies' battle music will fade in on the overworld in silent areas. He also hints that the 12-chapter structure might be subject to change.
- November 19 - Itoi interviews Shigeru Miyamoto on 1101.com. He praises Mother 3 as being something entirely different from what they'd make in Kyoto, and estimates the game to be around 80% complete. He also commends the graphics for being on another level and unique from most games at the time.
- March - Itoi is interviewed in 64 Dream, and claims he's currently reviewing the game chapter by chapter. He states Chapters 1 and 2 are complete, with the ending having been finished last Spring. However, Itoi considers the possibility that the game might not come out, but reaffirms he will continue working on it no matter what. He states while there are 5 main characters, Lucas incidentally became the primary protagonist. He also describes the ending as an empty white void that's beyond tears, and will leave the player shocked.
- August 22 - Mother 3 is cancelled due to the upcoming release of the GameCube and the need to move resources over to support the console's launch. While development was progressing fine, Iwata insisted they could not spend more time on it in the current climate. They spent much time downsizing the vision, cutting 12 chapters to 9. While they considered moving development to the GameCube, they stated it would not solve all the issues they had. The Game Boy Advance was also mentioned by Miyamoto, but Iwata vocalizes that a GBA game would take just as much time as an N64 title. A novel or stageplay was also considered by Itoi himself, but he resolves the story could only work as a game. In tribute, many screenshots and a couple of music tracks are released from the final prototype. The developers questioned the state of the game, ranging from 30-60%, but Iwata shrugged these estimates off. According to him, the foundation was completed and only another year or so of finishing the remaining programming and polish was needed to complete the project.
- Bumping this, Lucas was set to debut in Super Smash Bros. Melee and was going to replace Ness if Mother 3 had been released before Melee. However, due to the problems that resulted in Mother 3 being cancelled indefinitely, Ness was kept in Melee before development ended.
- November - Shogo Sakai hosts a secret Mother 3 chamber concert for key members of the development staff, as a final sendoff to the project. This was his first time conducting an orchestra.
- December 4 - Itoi appears on a livestream with Yomiuri News Stream HP. He says the team felt their work was wasted, and denounces the possibility of making Mother 3 for the GBA, feeling it wasn't the right choice to help realize his ambitions.
- 2001/02 - Itoi goes out for lunch with Miyamoto and Iwata. Upon entering the taxi, Miyamoto broke the question if Itoi would be alright with developing Mother 3 for the GBA. Itoi wasn't against it, and Miyamoto convinced him by saying "We could pull it off through pixel art, if you're okay with that!" Itoi then decided to revisit HAL regarding the idea.
- August 27, 2002 - Benimaru Itoh appears onstage at a Super Smash Bros. Melee concert, and hints that Mother 3 news will be coming soon.
- Late 2002 - Brownie Brown is chosen to develop Mother 3 for the GBA. When Itoi first met the team at Brownie Brown, he informed them of the game's storyline by recounting it off the top of his head. Along the way, he improvised many new details that weren't present in the N64 version.
- Late 2002 - All development materials from the N64 version were provided by HAL to Brownie Brown, including the last prototype build which was used as reference and inspiration.
- Late 2002 - Reportedly, the start of redevelopment of Mother 3 on the GBA was rough. Shogo Sakai stated that sound was one of the few things that was carried over, while almost everything else had to be redone. Itoi vocalized it was difficult re-imagining all the art in 2D, and according to Masahiro Sakurai early on, the game did not resemble Mother 2 at all like the final product. The visual style of the GBA version was eventually chosen by the game's art director, Nobuhiro Imagawa.
- April 15 - After the release of Mother 1+2 in Japan, Mother 3 is confirmed to be in re-development for the Game Boy Advance, with commercials for 1+2 even including a brief Mr. Saturn message to this effect. An interview with Itoi is also published on 1101.com the same day, where Nagata questions the decision to make it on the GBA. Itoi says he "carefully thought it over and came to the realization that I was trapped in the mindset that everything I made had to be epic and grandiose. I was trying to give everyone a work of epic proportions and that's where I failed. But recently, I've started to feel that perhaps there's a different niche I can fill. And this realization, while not the sole reason, is among the reasons why I chose the Game Boy Advance for MOTHER 3."
- April 28 - Another interview with Itoi is published on 1101.com. Here, he says he's hesitant about saying too much about Mother 3 because he doesn't want to set anything in stone at this point. He encourages people to forget about the game for now.
- March - Mother 3: Fall of the Pig King for Game Boy Advance officially enters content review by Nintendo of Japan, with a projected October 2005 release date. However, it's noted that a delay is possible.
- September 22 - Itoi publishes a blog about being in Kichijoji working on "it." Fans begin to speculate Brownie Brown is developing Mother 3 from this vague information.
- September - A Flash game called Project B is posted on Brownie Brown's site, highly resembling the battle system of Mother 2. This further drives speculation that they are developing Mother 3.
- November 4-7 - Itoi announces that Mother 3 is close to completion.
- December - Upon reviewing a "crucial scene", Itoi decides the original sad Pigmask theme no longer fit and requested Sakai compose a new theme. Sakai turned up the new "Love Theme" almost immediately.
- December 31 - Itoi confirms that Mother 3 would be released in Spring 2006.
- February 7 - The official Mother 3 website is launched.
- February 13 - The first batch of screenshots are revealed, which feature Flint and Boney in the rain, as well as Lucas and Boney in a laboratory. A couple of battle images are also revealed.
- April 18 - Itoi publishes his final message to the fans before the game's release: "MOTHER 3 is a playground with plenty of room for your imagination to run free. The more you think about it, the greater MOTHER 3 will become. The more you feel it, the deeper it will become. The more fun you have, the more you'll grow."
- April 19 - The game is leaked online hours before launch.
- April 20 - Mother 3 is released in Japan.
All the changes done between the 64DD/N64 and GBA versions.
Detailing the development of the original version of Mother 3. Much of the creative process in creating what became the final game began here.
| Early N64 Development
Early development concepts for Mother 3, between the years of 1994-96.
Following the announcement of Mother 3 on the 64DD to its reveal at Shoshinkai '96.
Press starts rolling out as Mother 3 begins constant development updates in Dengeki Nintendo 64, leading up to Spaceworld '97.
Marketing continues in Dengeki Nintendo 64, with an appearance at E3 in North America. Development is said to have switched to cartridge format during the summer.
Things look up when the game makes its first playable appearance at Spaceworld.
With Iwata's absence, development takes a sudden, uncertain turn. Development is canceled on August 22, due to the upcoming launch of the GameCube.
Due to the failure of finishing the game on the N64, Mother 3 on the GBA was developed in almost absolute secrecy. However, much was revealed in retrospect, which you can find here.
| Early GBA Development
A look at the early process of re-imagining the original N64 title for the Game Boy Advance.
A "limbo" period where the future of Mother 3 seems uncertain, with only vague hints of a revival.
Development of Mother 3 for the GBA is officially announced, although information remains sparse.
Itoi and Nintendo begin development updates for Mother 3, with a Spring 2006 release announced at the end of the year.
The official Mother 3 website receives constant updates, leading up to the game's release.