Video Game / EarthBound Beginnings
aka: Mother 1
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

In the late 1980s, Shigesato Itoi got a hold of Dragon Quest, the first video game he ever played. Though he definitely enjoyed the game, as a professional writer, he couldn't help but be intrigued about the game's use of the unconventional medium to tell a story and say to himself, "I could do better". Several meetings with people from Nintendo and a John Lennon-inspired name later, that's exactly what he did.

The game is a 1989 Famicom Eastern RPG, the first installment of the MOTHER trilogy, and the predecessor to the significantly more famous EarthBound and MOTHER 3. Set in the year 1988 (or "198X" in the eShop description), the story follows Ninten, a normal American boy. He's got a workaholic dad, a loving mom, twin kid sisters, and a pet dog. Everything is pretty normal and everyone is happy, up until the day his desk lamp suddenly attacks him, another lamp attacks one of his sisters and a doll starts attacking his other sister. Calling his dad after settling this, Ninten learns that psychic powers run in the family, and to learn more about it he has to get his great-grandfather's diary and discover what happened many years ago, including what happened to his great-grandmother Maria. Meanwhile, other strange phenomena are happening across the country, and it soon becomes apparent that an alien force is at work. Just what connection does Ninten's family have with the alien invasion?

While always known as MOTHER in Japan, the English version had a troubled history. It was initially planned to be released in North America as Earth Bound, but Nintendo of America scrapped release plans after finishing work on the English localization (the Super Nintendo had already launched, making it Nintendo's major focus). A copy of the localized cartridge surfaced years later in the hands of a collector, the ROM of which was subsequently leaked on the Internet and became known as Earthbound Zero after modifying it to run on the widely used NES emulator of the day, as well as adding "Zero" to the title screen to distinguish it from its sequel. On April 29th, 2011, a polished fan-retranslation intended for MOTHER 1+2 was finished; however, on June 14th, 2015, the unaltered Earth Bound localization was finally released as EarthBound Beginnings for the Wii U Virtual Console in North America and Europe.

Compared to the original Famicom release of MOTHER, EarthBound Beginnings contains a mix of technical enhancements, bowdlerization, modified maps to reduce difficulty, some altered graphics, and a significant lengthening of the rather abrupt ending. Several other pre-production cartridges have also turned up on eBay; four legitimate ones are known to exist, with at least one more theorized to be archived at Nintendo of America's headquarters. In the lead-up to the long-awaited release of MOTHER 3, this game was re-released in 2003 along with its immediate sequel as MOTHER 1+2 for the Game Boy Advance; it contained almost all of the modifications of what is now known as EarthBound Beginnings, confirming then that it was indeed the real deal and that not all the work had gone to waste. This port was only released in Japan, though word has it that it was almost released internationally. When the game was released for the Wii U Virtual Console in Japan (alongside its international debut), many of the GBA changes have been retained.

This game has examples of:

  • Absurdly High Level Cap: The max level cap is 99, but you're likely to be around the early thirties when you beat the game, possibly early forties with Ninten if you deliberately level grinded for Ana's PK Fire Ω.
  • Affectionate Parody: As noted above, the game was inspired by Dragon Quest. Thing is, it's set in a (then-)modern "Eagleland" as opposed to a generic fantasy setting. Instead of magic, you have Psychic Powers. Instead of swords and bows you have bats and slingshots. Monsters are not killed but instead regain their senses, and said monsters include things like dogs and hippies. The juxtaposition of classical Eastern RPG mechanics and tropes with the modern setting contributes to the surreal quality of the game.
  • The All-American Boy: Ninten.
  • Aliens Speaking English: An alien, Giegue, talks directly to Ninten's party when he appears. However, not only was Giegue raised by Maria, a human woman, but the faction he's a part of is implied to have been studying humans for some time, so there are any number of ways he could've picked up the language.
  • All in a Row: Started the series tradition of having additional party members follow behind the main character as opposed to disappearing into the leader's sprite.
  • All There in the Manual: Very little about the characters' backstories and personalities is stated in-game, but the supplementary guidebook Encyclopedia MOTHER contains a good deal of additional information about Ninten, Lloyd, Ana, and Teddy that you could never find out just by playing the game. Naturally, the book itself is only available in Japanese, but was translated into English by a fan, who made it available to read here.
  • All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": If you're not Japanese and have heard of this game, you probably know that Giegue is the main villain. It actually isn't revealed at all until you get the final Plot Coupon near the end of the Very Definitely Final Dungeon, and most of the plot is just you going around the world to learn a song for an ailing queen who you met after a bunch of weird stuff started happening in your hometown. Even the game guides have no information on Giegue, and he has no official art.
  • Anachronism Stew: The game supposedly takes place in The '80s, and while there is some stuff that is relevant for the time such as pay phones, ATMs, and transit trains, a lot of the setting is notably far more rural in many areas and certain house designs look very old, to the point it somehow feels more like a mishmash between The '80s and The Gay Nineties.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Ninten's father calls him at the end of the game about an unspecified important matter that has come up; presumably, something that would warrant his son's attention.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Your journey starts off with you being attacked by one of two moving lamps. Then you fight your first boss, a possessed doll, to get your first Plot Coupon. The things you fight along the way just get stranger from here.
  • Another Dimension: Magicant certainly counts as this.
  • Anti-Poop Socking: Whenever you save your game, your dad will urge you to turn off the game and go to sleep. If you play long enough in one sitting, he'll call you out of nowhere on some sort of telepathic phone to pester you about it some more. He will also allow you the opportunity to save and quit wherever you happen to be when he calls you this way.
  • Award Bait Song:
  • Badass Adorable: Let's just sum up the three main characters as this. Admittedly, in Lloyd's case, it took a while for it to shine through, but still.
  • Bears Are Bad News: The real-world bear enemy and its polar and grizzly derivatives. The latter variant can knock you out in one hit.
    • If you use the Check command on them, you'll notice the localization team took a few pages from... um, Goldilocks...
  • Beef Gate:
    • Once you unblock the railroad leading to Union Station, it's possible to go anywhere in the Overworld at that point. Heck, it's even possible to reach places before unlocking it by travelling the train tunnels. However, while this is possible, it's a very, very unwise thing to do. Doesn't stop most people from Sequence Breaking to get Ana earlier than they're suppose to.
    • There's also a big difference between when you can wake the dragon in Magicant and when you should wake it. More experienced players know to wait until they have Teddy for his raw damage output before fighting it.
      • Alternatively, just get Ana up to Level 21, when she learns PK Freeze γ, and follow it up with even just a normal physical attack from anyone to take out the Dragon in two actions, Teddy or no Teddy.
  • Big Bad: Giegue.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: South Cemetery which is not full of ghosts but rather full of zombies, one of who has kidnapped Pippi and hid her in a casket. A more straight example is Rosemary's House outside of Spookane, which is a classic house full of both zombies and ghosts.
  • Big Damn Heroes: After a robot nearly defeats the party (and severely injures Teddy), Lloyd shows up and destroys it. With a tank.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Outside the Famicom original and Japanese Virtual Console versions, the strange happenings in the world are put to an immediate cease, things quickly return to normal, and Teddy becomes a singer. However, Magicant vanishes, along with Maria, who never gets a chance to reconcile with her adopted son. Not to mention that Giegue is still out there, somewhere...
  • Bookends: The game begins and ends with Ninten getting a literal Call to Adventure from his father.
  • Bowdlerise: The English translation got quite a few changes as a result of Nintendo's censorship policies at the time. Infamously, blood was edited out of sprites, and cigarettes were removed from the battle sprites of the Crow and Bla-Bla Gang (originally called the Black Blood Gang) as well as the knife Teddy was holding, the nipples on the female suit of armors' breasts were replaced with smooth shines, and crosses and religious text were also removed. Other changes were made to avoid lawsuits, such as some overworld characters lessening an unintentional resemblance to Peanuts and a mention of Dragon Quest III and Dragon Quest IV was changed to Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario Bros. 7. Some stuff got past the radar, like the strip club in Merrysville (originally called Thanksgiving, as all the town and city names were holidays) and the Merrysville doctor, Old Sawbones Benny, saying "Fine, die all on your own. I'll phone a mortician." if you refuse his services. All of these changes were also in MOTHER 1+2 and the Japanese Wii U Virtual Console release, with the strip club entirely removed and the Dragon Quest reference was further changed to "that one game" as opposed to a fictional Mario title, with no reference to another title in the series.
    • It should be noted that Itoi was quite involved in the localization of this game and every Bowdlerization and Woolseyism that occurred had to have his approval. This may also explain their use in MOTHER 1+2.
  • Boy of my Dreams: In EarthBound Beginnings, Ana says that she fell in love with Ninten as soon as she started seeing him in her dreams. This line doesn't exist in MOTHER and MOTHER 1+2, however.
  • Brain in a Jar: The Cerebrum enemy, found at the caves of Mt. Itoi, has a lot of PSI attacks and huge defense, but, if you manage to block its PSI, it'll be an easy fight, although tedious.
  • Bubblegloop Swamp: The Swamp connecting Youngtown to Ellay. While it is a swamp, complete with an enemy population to match, it looks more like a marshland or a large pond in-game, due to tileset limitations.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": Psychic Points, or PP, take the place of standard MP to match with PSI being the series' equivalent of standard RPG magic. Also, critical hits are called "SMAAAASH!!" hits instead.
  • Chekhov's Gun: There's a war veteran with a tank in Yucca Desert. If you get enough ticket stubs from him, you get to ride it, and he warns you to be careful with it because it's his most prized possession. Inevitably, it breaks, and when you get to Valentine you have to pay him to replace it. Also, in an optional subplot that you can do later, Lloyd gets a Big Damn Heroes moment with a tank. What other tank could he possibly get access to? If you do both those events in order, it's Chekhov's Boomerang.
  • Cherubic Choir: The vocal version of The Eight Melodies. Also used in the 1989 Japanese commercial.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Giegue is defeated by singing Queen Mary's Lullaby to him, similar to how he's finally defeated in EarthBound.
  • Creepy Doll: The possessed doll in your sister's room.
  • Critical Hit: "SMAAAASH!!" attacks ignore the target's physical defenses, dealing a lot more damage than normal hits. However, enemies can also perform these "SMAAAASH!!" hits, with roughly the same odds as your own party members. Since your party is generally much better defended than them, and you have to fight a lot of them, the chance of a defense-piercing hit becomes bad news for you.
  • Crutch Character: The enemies on Mt. Itoi are so dangerous that EVE the robot is the only character that's strong enough to take them out quickly. Unfortunately, EVE doesn't remain in your party for long.
  • Curtain Call: Done at the end of the game, all the characters and NPCs running along the bottom of the screen and looking towards the player before running back off.
  • Cute Bruiser: Pippi may not have the typical personality of this trope as far as we can tell, but she has the same level growths as Teddy. Shame you can't keep her for long.
  • Damsel in Distress: Probably the only RPG in existence in which you have to rescue Pippi Longstocking from zombie gangsters.
  • Dance of Romance: An optional scene with Ninten and Ana alone inside the bedroom of a healer's house.
  • Dark Reprise: A slow, melancholic version of Pollyanna plays in the room where Teddy is recuperating after R7038's attack.
  • Death Mountain: Mt. Itoi is this, as well as the Definitely Final Dungeon due to its difficulty and the fact that Giegue is confronted at the top. It is also where the team meets EVE and gets the seventh melody.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Though the fight ends before there's actually a winner, you can get Teddy to join this way.
  • Definitely Final Dungeon: Mt. Itoi.
  • Delinquent: Teddy, of course.
  • Difficulty Spike: Yucca Desert, and later—and more infamously—Mt. Itoi, the latter of which is almost completely filled with Demonic Spiders.
    • The Yucca Desert enemies can actually be found even earlier in the game; in the train tunnels. This is to probably prevent you from going out to get Ana before Lloyd, but with enough luck, Level Grinding, and PP for 4th-D Slip, players can pass the tunnel with Ninten alone, though this is very tough and time consuming.
  • Dr. Jerk: Old Sawbones Benny, a sleazy doctor who always charges you exactly half the money you have on hand (rounded down) for his services.
    Old Sawbones Benny (if you don't pay for his services): Fine, die all on your own. I'll phone a mortician.
    • Beat Them at Their Own Game: It's possible to get doctor services from him for free if you talk to him with exactly $1.00 on hand, since it won't trip the detection for having no money at all, but one divided by two and then rounded down is zero, leading to Old Sawbones Benny amusingly charging you a service fee of $0.00.
  • Dub Name Change: EarthBound Beginnings changed the names of many things, including most of the major locations: Mother's Day to Podunk, Choucream Zoo to City Zoo, Thanksgiving to Merrysville, Tinkle to Twinkle Elementary School, Santa Claus Station to Union Station, Halloween to Spookane, Advent Desert to Yucca Desert, Easter to Youngtown, Valentine to Ellay, and Holy Loly/Rolly Mountain to Mt./Mount Itoi. The reason for the holiday theme being removed was due to it being considered juvenile rather than welcoming. Some other changes were made to enemies, items, and weapons due to space constraints, censorship issues, or just plain preference. Since the sequel only had one returning translator in the localization team, most of these changes (like Giegue in favor of Gyiyg/Giygas) were dropped, but a few others (like Starman Junior over the Japanese original Starman's Son) were retained.
  • Duel Boss: When you reach Ellay, you can do a dance show if you have a team of three (which you should by this point normally). Teddy will come onstage and demand to know who is beating up his gang, taking Ninten into a one-on-one fight with no PSI. It ends fairly quickly, to which he sends Lloyd off and joins your team.
  • Dummied Out: Poison Needle and Stone of Origin were items that poisoned and petrified the enemy respectively, but in the final game they are just enemy attacks.
    • There is another unused item called IC-Chip. It may or may not be related to the Memory Chip item which was added to MOTHER 1+2, which is obtained after EVE gets wrecked. The item is like a second Onyx Fish Hook, except that instead of Magicant, it transports you to EVE's wreckage. The IC-Chip is still in the GBA version, but Dummied Out.
    • The item "Time Machine" was in the original Family Computer version of the game but Dummied Out of later versions. Just like the Real Rocket, which remained in later versions, it was an item for sale in the elementary school, but buying it triggered a humorous cutscene in which it is accidentally used to temporarily blow up the room.
  • Dungeon Crawling: Duncan Factory is an annoying large version of this that you are required to go in to continue the plot, although if you're lucky enough to find the right room you can find a second Franklin Badge.
  • Dungeon Town: Spookane, unlike other towns where enemy encounters stop upon entering, they can still happen even after entering the town limits.
  • Dynamic Akimbo: This is the normal pose of the Starman enemies.
  • Eagleland: Much like its Trope Naming follow up, though unlike EarthBound, it explicitly takes place in America.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: EarthBound Beginnings is noticeably different from its successors in a number of ways.
    • Firstly, the Preexisting Encounters found in EarthBound and Mother 3 weren't introduced yet; the game uses the genre staple of Random Encounters instead.
    • Similarly, the HP odometer system that EarthBound and Mother 3 use is also absent, which results in the combat system lacking any real distinguishing factors compared to other turn-based RPGs.
    • Unlike its successors, the world is very open and nonlinear, which can lead to fans who are used to the more linear and guided progression of the latter two games becoming lost due to a comparative (and, admittedly, somewhat objective) lack of direction. Many scenes and even entire party members that would be mandated in order to complete most other RPGs are actually completely optional; Ana and Teddy, who together account for a full half of the four main characters named at the start of the game, don't even need to be encountered in order to complete it. To note, the possible endgame party configurations are...
    • Ninten, Ana, Lloyd
    • Ninten, Ana, Teddy
    • Ninten, Lloyd
    • Ninten, Ana
    • Ninten
    • Ninten, Ana, Lloyd, EVE (Japanese Famicom version only)
    • Ninten, Lloyd, EVE (Japanese Famicom version only)
    • PSI in EarthBound Beginnings is rather strange compared to the latter two games. For starters, it has the highest count of PSI moves unique to it in the entire series (Telepathy, 4th-D Slip, Super Healing, Quick Up, PSI-Block, Darkness, and Shield-Off). The Healing series each cure a single specific status ailment, rather than curing all status ailments from a progressively-larger list. There are also some PSI moves with different names from their appearances in later games; Brain Cyclone is better known to most fans of the series as Brainshock Ω, Power Shield exists in EarthBound as PSI Shield β, and generally-speaking, PSI abilities that have only two power levels are ranked as α and β, rather than α and Ω as in later games. The PK Thunder series in general had having the tightest damage range as its distinguishing feature instead of attacking multiple times randomly with a good chance of missing. There's also the fact that Offense PSI moves did not have a constant effect sans power level across all their stages; PK Freeze γ reduces the target to critical HP, PK Beam γ and PK Fire Ω attempt to annihilate one enemy or all enemies, respectively, and PK Freeze Ω, PK Beam Ω, and PK Thunder γ all target all enemies instead of one. Oh, and PK Thunder Ω just doesn't exist at all.
      • Additionally, rather than the PSI moves being sorted into three smaller menus by effect category and then arrayed in a column, with the power level selected from a row, EarthBound Beginnings lists each level of each PSI move as its own entry in a single standard RPG skill menu.
    • Perhaps the biggest difficulty fans of the latter two games encounter when playing EarthBound Beginnings, however, is the fact that the game is significantly harder—with a much steeper difficulty curve—compared to EarthBound and Mother 3. While it was likely balanced for a player who would be figuring things out for themselves—and thus would gain a lot of levels simply exploring the world—in today's gaming environment, where walkthroughs are almost always readily available via the internet, what it ends up amounting to is a lot of time spent Level Grinding to keep up with the game's wonky difficulty curve. And this is before taking Mt. Itoi into account.
    • While EarthBound Beginnings does still have its share of sillier enemies, its bestiary is comprised predominantly of enemies that are more down-to-earth and sensible for the setting and story; lots of violent wild animals, rowdy citizens, and alien soldiers, and fewer wacky, out-of-nowhere enemies like the Worthless Protoplasm of EarthBound or the Negative Man of Mother 3.
    • EarthBound Beginnings is also devoid of Mr. Saturns, the strange, helpful little critters who would go on to become the series' mascots following their introduction in EarthBound.
  • Equipment Spoiler: Teddy's Butter Knife and Sword weapons can be obtained well before reaching Ellay, where he's encountered. Of course, it's a good deal less spoilery than most examples, considering you see Teddy's sprite and enter his name at the beginning of the game, but even so.
  • Escape Battle Technique: Ninten's signature 4th-D Slip, which allows a guaranteed escape from battle. Considering how brutal the late game enemies are, it's very helpful at times.
  • Escaped Animal Rampage: Happens early in the game, orchestrated by the alien invaders. Fighting through escaped crocodiles, tigers, and elephants to investigate the cause of the recent disturbances around Podunk serves as the finale to the first arc of the game's story.
  • Escape Rope: The Bread Crumbs are used as this. You use Bread wherever you want to get back to, roam into a dungeon or elsewhere, then when you want to leave you follow the breadcrumbs all the way back where you placed them.
  • Eternal Engine: Sweet's Little Factory is visited fairly early on, but is relatively small and doesn't really have any threatening enemies. Later on the group visits Duncan's Factory, a more proper dungeon, where bottle rockets are made.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: It's Giegue's memories of his adoptive human mother, Maria, that end up defeating him.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: A singing monkey gives you a Plot Coupon. Later you get to go in a cave full of monkeys. A majority of them lie to you.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: In the beginning of the game there is a zoo with a penguin pen. Later in the game you go in a cave full of monkeys (mentioned above) and there is a secret room with a single lost penguin in it. In addition, Ninten's favorite animal is said to be the penguin, according to the encyclopedia.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: The Podunk Graveyard features two kinds of zombie enemies as random encounters, while stronger forms of those same enemies appear in Rosemary Manor. Additionally, there are a couple of NPCs near the south end of Podunk who will reveal themselves to be zombies and attack Ninten when interacted with.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Your first enemies are two desk lamps and a baby doll. It just gets better from there.
  • Final Death: The Flying Men. If one of them runs out of HP and faints, unlike your other party members, he cannot be revived at all.
  • First Town: The town of Podunk. Ninten is a resident of Podunk and lives on the town's outskirts.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: The land of Magicant appears as a kingdom resting on a group of puffy pink clouds in the sky, as created by Maria's imagination.
  • Forced Level-Grinding: The grindiest game in the whole series.
    • You even have to grind at the very start of the game to avoid getting annihilated by enemies right outside your house.
  • A Friend in Need: Ninten finds Lloyd cowering in a garbage can from some bullies, who then tells him that all he really would like is to fire a rocket. Ninten then goes and gets him one, and they are buddies from then on.
  • Galactic Conqueror: Giegue.
  • Ghost Town: The town Spookane after it became infested with monsters and ghosts.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Ana and Pippi have these.
  • Global Currency:
    • Justified as being dollars, and the game mostly taking place entirely in America... though don't ask how Magicant also takes them.
    • The shopkeeper claims to want them just for novelty's sake.
  • Guest Star Party Member: Several, including EVE and Flying Man.
  • Guide Dang It: The effects of PSI attacks. The game itself doesn't give you any clues on what most of them do. This becomes crucial when you need to figure out which "Healing" skill to use, because unlike in its successors, each level cures only a specific ailment. Plus, Healing γ doesn't revive unconscious party members; rather, it cures petrification.
    • It's also fairly easy to miss several parts of the Eight Melodies if you don't pay attention to the environment. Most notable is the second melody—obtainable even before rescuing Pippi—which requires you bring a baby canary to Canary Village. However you only get told where Canary Village is once, by an NPC, and the directions they give you are vague at best. Even if you did get the baby canary, you may end up lugging it around for half the game and not realize that it's the key to the second melody.
  • Haunted House: The old Rosemary Manor near Spookane.
  • Hell Hotel: The hotel at the abandoned Ghost Town, Spookane. The clerk at the hotel is actually a Starman in disguise, who, after charging a much cheaper than normal lodging fee, attacks you immediately the next morning.
  • Heroic Albino: Lloyd, who, despite being a kid, has white hair. It is also noteworthy to mention that albinism is linked to poor eyesight, and Lloyd wears glasses.
    • Lloyd could be leucistic instead, as albinos are intolerant to the ultraviolet radiation of sunlight.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: The three giant robots. The first two can be destroyed only by a tank (and, with a tank, the first one is hopeless for R7037). However, R7038 attacks the party when they don't have any heavy artillery to defend themselves. While there's no way to avoid it decimating the heroes—and gravely wounding Teddy in the process, hospitalizing him for the remainder of the game—Lloyd shows up in the nick of time to destroy it with a tank. When you fight R7038XX, even your new giant robot buddy deals only about 50 points of damage per hit, and only when she explodes does R7038XX die. Fortunately, it doesn't try to attack you, it only attacks EVE. So, you win, but for EVE, it was hopeless.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Implied to be Giegue's reason for invading Earth and abducting people. His adoptive father and Ninten's biological great-grandfather, George, had stolen information that could be used against Giegue's people. It is not directly stated what exactly this information is, but it is suggested that it could be related to PSI or to the technology used to construct EVE, or perhaps both.
  • Humongous Mecha: The three aforementioned giant robot bosses, as well as EVE.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Similar to the sequel, almost nobody uses a real weapon. Teddy, a leader of a gang, is an exception: he can use a knife, a sword, and eventually a katana!
  • Infinity–1 Sword: The Boomerang. Not only can anyone equip it, outside of Teddy, it's three quarters of the party's second strongest weapon. It's a bit pricey, costing $1100, but once you have one for everyone, it becomes an effective Disc One Nuke.
  • Inn Security: In Spookane. $18 for a single night is very inexpensive! ...Starman drew near!
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Mecha: EVE. The three giant robot bosses also count, for villainous examples.
  • Interspecies Romance: One of the monkeys in the Monkey Cave flirts with Ana.
  • It's All Upstairs from Here: The final battle is at the peak of Mt. Itoi.
  • Joke Item: The Swear Words and Words O' Love, both of which require a small sidequest, only display the words "I hate you!" and "I love you!" respectively, when used in battle. The Last Weapon tells you how to reset the game. Much like the Last Weapon, the Real Rocket is available to buy for a steep price in the Twinkle laboratory. From the name of it, it seems like it would be quite a cut above the Bottle Rocket item. But if you buy it... it never even makes it into your inventory.
    Scientist: "Oops! It's gone into orbit. A success... sort of."
    • The Time Machine was an item in the original Family Computer version that did something similar when you bought it, but it was removed from later versions.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: The Katana is Teddy's Infinity+1 Sword. It's better than the presumably European-style Sword found in Magicant.
  • Level Grinding: The player is forced to do this after recruiting Lloyd and Ana. They come at a low level, and so one naturally goes to Magicant to train them.
  • Lost in Translation: After Lloyd has his Big Damn Heroes moment in the tank while Ninten, Ana and Teddy were getting their butts handed to them by R•7038. However, due to how his speech was translated, it seems as if Lloyd accidentally shot Teddy, and that it's actually his fault that Teddy is critically injured. Turns out that, as shown in the MOTHER 1+2 Fan Translation, Lloyd was supposed to instead say that he was too late. Of course, there are more moments than this, but this is one of the most notable.
    Lloyd (EarthBound Beginnings): "Shoot! I missed!"
    Lloyd (Fan Translation): "Oh no! I'm too late!"
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Queen Mary is actually Ninten's great-grandmother, Maria, whose consciousness lingered within Magicant after her death.
  • Mad Bomber: The Bomber enemy at Duncan's Factory, and its more powerful variant, the Star Miner, found at Mt. Itoi; both attack by throwing bombs that damage your entire party.
  • Mad Scientist: The Dr. Distorto enemy, found at Duncan's factory.
  • Magical Mystery Doors: Rosemary's house.
  • Magic by Any Other Name: PSI, just like in its successors.
  • Marathon Level: Duncan Factory is really huge. If you know where you're going, it's not too bad, but the place is designed like a maze with multiple paths, and the overall aesthetics are very similar and samey, so it's very easy to get disoriented and turned around without a map of the place.
  • Mating Dance: There is a house where the third party member will leave Ninten and Ana alone to be together in a room with two beds, in which Ana will ask if Ninten likes her and they will engage in a very intimate dance. The party member returns after and asks why they're blushing.
  • The Maze: There are a quite few. Duncan Factory, the Swamp, Mt. Itoi caves...
  • Mental World: Actually Maria's, not Ninten's.
  • Metal Slime: The Red Snake.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art
  • Missing Secret: The game has four main Offense PSI series; PK Freeze, PK Fire, PK Thunder, and PK Beam. All of these have four power levels, going through α, β, γ, and ending on Ω... Except PK Thunder, which ends at γ for some reason, having only three power levels.
  • Moment Killer: Right after Ninten and Ana confess their feelings (maybe), Teddy barges in the room and asks the pair why they are blushing. To be fair he does apologize for interrupting but did so because he was hearing odd noises outside, and then a giant robot attacks them, mortally wounding Teddy. Real moodkiller there.
  • Mrs. Robinson: The Rosemary mother. Somehow this stayed in EarthBound Beginnings.
  • Muggles Do It Better: In both instances where you're forced to fight the giant, alien created R robots, they're Hopeless Boss Fights if you attempt to take them on normally... However, they're surprisingly weak to tanks.
  • Never Land: Youngtown, due to Alien Abduction of all of the adults.
  • Never Say "Die": Similar to the sequel, enemies "become quiet", "don't move anymore", etc. Justified because you're not using real weapons (for the most part) and you're fighting possessed animals and humans, as well as supernatural beings. You're not beating them to death, you're beating them until they stop attacking you. The implication is that you're only reacting in defense against these enemies.
    • This is demonstrated explicitly with Magicant's Groucho enemy, who will simply say "Hello!" and walk away if you don't attack it, giving a randomly chosen character a solid experience boost. If you kill it, each of your characters is given a single experience point.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The Japanese TV spot had Ninten and Ana defeat R•7037 or one of its upgraded model robots. This is impossible to do in-game, where all of those enemies need heavy weaponry to defeat.
  • Nintendo Hard: Lots and lots of Random Encounters, generally unbalanced enemies, a huge proliferation of One-Hit Kill moves, and too much Forced Level-Grinding make this the hardest game in the whole series. Itoi even admitted to completely skipping over balancing it out because by the end, everyone was so tired.
  • No Ending: The original release ended with Giegue, defeated, leaving in his spaceship, the party solemnly looking back at the player one by one, and the credits playing in the black sky. It didn't explicitly tie up any loose ends and left some Fridge Horror / No Endor Holocaust. EarthBound Beginnings and MOTHER 1+2 significantly extended the ending, although it automatically assumes that the player recruited all characters. Given the game's non-linear structure, it's debatable if this is truly an improvement.
  • Nostalgic Musicbox: The ending tune starts and ends with a music box rendition of the Eight Melodies.
  • Not Drawn to Scale: If the surrounding panorama is to be believed, the rooftop of the Twinkle School is several hundred stories off the ground - then again, maybe that's just what it looks like to Ninten...
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: The first of the Eight Melodies is a music box hidden in Ninten's sister's formerly possessed naked doll.
  • Opening Narration:
    In the early 1900's, a dark shadow covered a small country town in rural America. At that time, a young married couple vanished mysteriously from their home.

    The man's name was George, the woman's name was Maria.

    Two years later, as suddenly as he left, George returned. He never told anyone where he had been or what he had done. But, he began an odd study, all by himself.

    As for Maria, his wife... She never returned.

    80 years have passed since then.
  • One-Hit Kill: PK Beam γ, a favorite PK attack of Starmen. Fortunately, the Franklin Badge just reflects the attack back at the attacker. Unfortunately, there's only two in the entire game, meaning that one party member will be vulnerable at all times. On the plus side, Ana's own PK Beam γ works frequently on late game enemies, although mechanical enemies are immune to PK Beam γ; both their own Beams reflected back at them and Ana's.
    • PK Fire Ω destroys all enemies instantly.
  • Outside-the-Box Tactic: Necessary or possible at a few points throughout the game:
    • R7037 in the Yucca Desert can't be defeated through normal combat. Instead, you need to get a Tank from the old war veteran camping out in the desert.
      • Unintentionally, in the original Japanese Famicom version only, the R7030-series robots were vulnerable to Fleas, which render them harmless, allowing the player to easily (if tediously) wait out the 256-turn limit on the battle and "defeat" them that way, instead.
    • In a convention to be continued throughout the series, the Final Boss Giegue cannot be defeated by ordinary methods. You must sing Queen Mary's song eleven times to subdue him.
  • The Overworld: One thing notable about this game is, for its day, its overworld was freaking massive, and unlike The Legend of Zelda, it wasn't divided into separate squares. One could even argue it's bigger than EarthBound and MOTHER 3's overworlds! It's pretty easy to get lost in it, but overall falls into somewhere around scale four and five of openness.
    • The overworld's size is noteworthy in that, aside from Magicant, Snowman and Mt. Itoi, nearly everything is part of a single map that can be explored from end to end without even a transition screen. EarthBound is many smaller maps connected by doorways, by comparison.
  • Palette Swap: As an early RPG, nearly everywhere. Some palette swaps at least slightly modify the sprites by overlaying new graphics to make them seem different, such as adding a collar to the Wolf to make it a Stray Dog, or adding defects in the Old Robo to make it a Scrapper. The sprite changes actually are not present when the enemies fade in and fade out at the beginning and end of battle respectively, so you can see what changes were made and what the sprites originally looked like before they added the extra details.
  • Patchwork Map: This game is allegedly set in America, yet the desert is in the north and the arctic town is in the south — the opposite of the real country's geography. The desert is also right next to the ocean, with nothing separating the two.
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • Teddy is an orphan, and Ninten's Dad doesn't appear until the ending (and only in the English version and the Compilation Re-release).
    • Also, all the missing parents of Youngtown.
    • Also also, Lloyd's parents are essentially handwaved. His father shows up in/as a trashcan at a remote location in a swamp nowhere near where Lloyd goes to school, and all he does is ask the player's name - no story exposition of even a minor variety.
      • However, in the novel adaption, his father is said to be in the swamp because he is looking for a special plant to cure a fatal illness Lloyd's mother has, and that appears to be another reason Lloyd joins Ninten.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: Early on when you get Pippi, there's a small area just above and beyond the police guarding the route to the next city that allows you to encounter enemies you're normally not suppose to until you actually make it to the town. Once you have Pippi leveled up enough to where she can one shot most of them, note  it becomes a good spot to grind Ninten up so he can reasonably take on the Podunk Zoo by himself.
  • Plot Coupon: The Eight Melodies.
  • Plotline Death: Eve. For players of the original Family Computer version, Teddy remains bedridden and silent after/if Lloyd returns, so the general assumption is that he didn't survive. However, in later versions of the game, it's made clear that Teddy survived his injuries.
  • Poltergeist: At the start of the game one of these attacks your house...or so the characters think. Turns out it's actually the same psychic influence from Giegue and his race that's bringing other inanimate objects to life, such as vehicles and suits of armor, and making people and animals hostile.
  • The Power of Friendship: Like every game in the series.
  • The Power of Love:
    • Singing Maria's lullaby to Giegue is the only way to defeat him.
  • Psychic Powers: Started the series-long tradition of using PSI as the series' equivalent of magic.
  • Puzzle Boss: The three giant robots are far too powerful for the party to beat on their own, so they have to acquire outside help.
  • Random Encounters: Good grief, there's a lot of them! The world of MOTHER is massive and would be quite fun to explore if it weren't for these. Although you can't really blame it because it's a Family Computer game, so technical limitations at the time made Preexisting Encounters impossible. This gets less aggravating once you get access to Magicant, and more importantly, Repel Rings which prevent fights against weaker enemies.
  • Recurring Riff: Several, including "Pollyanna (I Believe In You)", the battle theme for the Hippie, and "Eight Melodies (Queen Mary's Lullaby)", occur frequently and are used in the later games.
  • Red Shirt: The Flying Men.
  • Retronym: Both "EarthBound Zero" and "EarthBound Beginnings", based on the next game Earthbound.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: In the official localization, the Raeb Yddet (and by extension, the Sky Yddet) in Magicant.
  • Savage Wolves: The Wolf, Silver Wolf and Lone Wolf enemies. Also, the Stray Dog.
  • Sequel Hook: In EarthBound Beginnings and MOTHER 1+2, there is a Post Credits Scene of Ninten's Dad calling him, saying that 'something new has come up'. It's an unusual example in that obviously there were sequels, but neither followed up on this, at least not in an overt or obvious way.
  • Sequence Breaking: Besides generally grinding to do things out of order, you can completely skip the whole thing with Teddy if you don't really think about trying to meet him, and are just looking for the melodies without using the ticket. You can carry this out to such an extreme that you never even hear his name. The same goes for Ana.
    • Alternatively, you can recruit him and leave Lloyd in the dust for the rest of the game with further sequence breaking, if you so choose, provided you've already acquired EVE's melody.
    • Via an exploit involving Bread Crumbs, it's shown that Pippi is the only mandatory recruit in the game (despite having a temporary slot); you don't even need Lloyd if you carefully glitch your way into Magicant's farewell scene and open the final area with the Sing command, although he is necessary in normal gameplay to progress the story.
    • On the side of things that doesn't include skipping party members, most people who unlock the Paradise Line immediately go to Snowman to get Ana in their party, despite the fact that a lot of the enemies there can easily kill the party at that point. note 
  • Shout-Out:
    • Ninten fights a Kewpie doll in the beginning of the game.
    • Two of the towns in EarthBound Beginnings (Merrysville and Spookane) are named after cities in Washington State, where Nintendo of America is located (Marysville and Spokane, respectively.)
  • The character designs, setting and overall aesthetics seem to borrow a good deal from Peanuts so much so that two character sprites were altered by Phil Sandhop for the translation as he believed they were too close to existing Peanuts characters, risking a potential lawsuit. Similar influences can also be seen in EarthBound.
  • Schizophrenic Difficulty: An interview with Shigesato Itoi confirmed that the last parts of the game, specifically Mt. Itoi, had not been tested sufficiently for balance issues.
  • Shifting Sand Land: The Yucca Desert. Ninten has to walk through here on foot because upon his first trip via train, he finds the tracks are broken. A singing cactus that knows one of the Eight Melodies lives within the desert.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The wintry town of Snowman, from which Ana hails.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • Ninten and Ana have a dance near the end of the game, to relax (and to show them growing fond of each other). The tune that plays, "Fallin' Love", is extremely melancholy.
    • The 8-bit version of the song is, but the soundtrack version has a typical romantic adult contemporary feel to it, but with no lyrics.
  • Spell Levels: The tiers for PSI powers are given by the Greek letters α, β, γ, and Ω.
  • Spell My Name with an "S":
    • Roid/Loid/Lloyd. The first was the official romanization in Japan, the international fanbase used the second for quite a while, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl and the EarthBound Beginnings trailer use the third. While the middle spelling has been used the longest in the fanbase and is still the preference in certain circles, the last spelling is more likely since the term roido comes from silent film star Harold Lloyd (after his usual round glasses).
    • Ana/Anna. Despite the name being closer in katakana spelling and pronunciation to the former, the latter was preferred in Japanese merchandise. However, Super Smash Bros. Brawl uses the former.
    • Also shown by the main villain - his name is written ギーグ (giigu) in katakana, written as "Giegue" in the localization, and is finally shown to actually be "Gyiyg" in the sequel. Eventually, Nintendo just made up a new English name for him ("Giygas"). But before that, his name was apparently going to be localized as "The Geek".
  • Spinning out of Here: The Teleportation spell is executed by having the character move around while accelerating rapidly before zooming off; because colliding with anything stops the teleport, the better the player is at moving in a small circle, the more places he or she can teleport from.
  • Standard Status Effects: Subverted at one point, as Ninten has asthma and the exhaust from truck enemies can render him unable to act unless he uses an inhaler.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: One of the first things that Lloyd does after joining your party is blow up the science lab.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: It's strongly implied that Giegue and his kind are this. While only one member of the race is ever actually seen in the entire series, they are implied to be immensely powerful, capable of wielding PSI powers beyond what humans are able to comprehend, and if the various mechanical enemies the player encounters throughout the game, as well as the alien laboratory and mothership found on Mt. Itoi, are any indication, their technological prowess is nothing to sneeze at, either.
  • Sugar Apocalypse: Once you show all eight melodies to Maria in Magicant, she disappears, taking the entirety of Magicant with her.
  • Taking You with Me: EVE is no match for R7038XX, but she explodes when defeated, instantly destroying the foe and leaving behind a Plot Coupon.
  • Tank Goodness: A rental. Lloyd shows up in another tank to defeat the second giant robot.
  • A Taste of Power: The game does this twice, both at the end of the game. Once with Teddy, who can actually defeat the Demonic Spiders on Mt. Itoi without much Level Grinding, and who goes away if you activate a certain cutscene. The second time is with Eve, who joins you in the middle of The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, is insanely powerful, and can defeat any of the Random Encounters in one blow. But if you backtrack, or go forward past a certain point, you are forced to fight a robot that Eve sacrifices itself to defeat.
  • Temple of Doom: The ruins in the Yucca Desert. However, they're being guarded by an enormous robot that can only be defeated using a tank. The ruins were first built about one thousand years before the game's events, and were destroyed for unknown reasons.
  • Theme Naming: Pretty much every location is named after a holiday in the Japanese release. In EarthBound Beginnings, Woolseyism changed these names because the translator thought they were silly names. When Tomato was doing the fan translation of the MOTHER 1+2 version, he agreed with the sentiment but kept the holiday-themed names anyway.
  • Thriving Ghost Town: Averted. This game's towns are the biggest in the whole series, and seem to extend past the cluster of houses into the vast rural areas. Most of the houses' doors are locked, however, preventing the Kleptomaniac Hero (or a thief) from getting in.
  • Tin-Can Robot: The Old Robot and Scrapper enemies at Duncan's factory; the latter is a Palette Swap of the former.
  • Took a Level in Badass: You first find Lloyd in a trash can hiding from bullies. Later, he shows up in a tank to destroy a giant robot that your party could not hope to defeat otherwise.
  • Touched by Vorlons: The details are left vague, but something definitely like this happened between George and the aliens, possibly opening the door to humankind getting technology and/or PSI. And he did it completely without the aliens' permission.
  • Trail of Bread Crumbs: You can eat the Bread item to recover some HP. However, if you Use it instead, you get Crumbs, and by using Crumbs, you return to the spot you were at when you used the bread. Handy!
  • Twelve Bar Blues: The Hippie battle theme uses this chord progression.
  • Two-Part Trilogy: Aside from PSI and Giegue, there is barely any evidence that the world of this game is the same world as EarthBound. This game was hit especially hard, as despite the rerelease, it only had publicity back in its day. The Compilation Re-release's commercials focused mainly on the second game, showing only a very brief clip of this one, which, while this game got a significant update, the only thing that was changed from the second game, besides the inevitable quality drop in porting from Super Famicom to Game Boy Advance, was a few bug fixes and an incredibly minor rewrite.
  • Updated Re-release/Compilation Re-release: This game and its sequel have been compiled into a single cartridge and rereleased for the Game Boy Advance under the title MOTHER 1+2 (only in Japan, of course).
  • Useless Useful Spell: Averted with PK Beam γ, which one-shots the majority of the game's organic enemies, and PK Fire Ω, which instantly nukes every single random encounter in the entire game. You have to do a considerable amount of grinding for the latter, however.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Mt. Itoi, where the Big Bad arrives on Earth.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Dear God, the Flying Men. Seeing the graves next to their former home is just heartbreaking when you realize that if you hadn't come along they would still be alive.
    • Also, using the Bullhorn on Giegue, especially in the fan-translated versions.
    Ninten used the Bullhorn! "You're a disgrace to your mother!"
  • Wackyland: Former Trope Namer, though the sequel's Magicant is most likely what was envisioned when it was named.
    • Though technically they're not the same place; in this game it was a manifestation of Maria's mind trying to regain her memories, while the one in EarthBound was a representation of Ness's mind after completing the Sound Stone's melody.
  • Weapons-Grade Vocabulary: Enemies can "attack" with Threatening Words and Swear Words, both of which decrease someone's Fight stat. Your party can get some words of their own to "attack" with, but they do nothing.
  • We Can Rule Together: Giegue gives Ninten alone a chance to board his mothership, although the game never gives you any choice as to how to respond, and Giegue's next lines indicate that Ninten refused.
  • We Named the Monkey "Jack": Mrs. Rosemary renames her son Buggerror after Ninten. Evidently she likes his namesake better than her own son.
  • Westminster Chimes: The basis for the background music of Twinkle Elementary School.
  • We Will Meet Again: Giegue promises to meet Ninten again before he leaves.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: While the Magicant merchants of EarthBound Beginnings explain that their shops work similarly to the outside world, the Fan Translation instead has them claiming that they are from the real world. This is especially concerning once you realize that they end up vanishing without a trace along with Magicant.
    • Alternatively, they could have simply been dumped back in the real world, just like Ninten and friends, and the reason they don't show up there afterwards is because they live in the unenterable houses and buildings you find all over the place, or maybe they just got dumped back into reality someplace outside of where you can actually go in-game. Realistically, though, it's just that the developers didn't really think to move throwaway shopkeeper NPCs into a world the player would be extremely unlikely to go back and explore more when the game has already made it pretty clear that there's nothing left to do but confront the final boss.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Accepting a drink from a woman in the Live House will cause a cop to show up, chastise Ninten for drinking under age, and arrest him and his friends. The cop also confiscates his weapon and you need to buy it back.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Giegue, now that you know his backstory.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: As true of Giegue' attacks in this one as in the sequel, though at least he has a physical body here.
    EarthBound Beginnings: "The form of Giegue's attack was inexplicable!"
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: In the GBA remake, when Teddy, Ninten and Ana hear a robot monster approaching, Teddy says, "You've got to be kidding me!", and a Hopeless Boss Fight ensues.
  • Zero-Effort Boss: Before entering Duncan Factory, you must defeat its guardian: a Stray Dog.

No crying until the end.

Alternative Title(s): Mother 1, Earthbound Zero