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, Maria raised Giegue, so it's likely she taught him the human tongue.
  • All There in the Manual: Not much about the character personalities are stated in-game, but in the supplemental "MOTHER Encyclopedia" it says many additional things about Ninten, Lloyd, Ana and Teddy that you could never find out just by playing the game. It is in Japanese, but was translated into English by a fan.
  • 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 MacGuffin at the end of the Disc One 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.
  • 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 MacGuffin. 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.
  • Apocalypse How: Once you show all eight melodies to Maria in Magicant, she disappears, taking the entirety of Magicant with her.
  • Award Bait Song:
  • Badass Adorable: Let's just sum up the three main characters as this. Okay, Lloyd 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 unlock the Paradise Line, 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.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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 doctors saying "go off and die then" if you refuse their 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.
  • Bubblegloop Swamp: The Swamp east of Youngtown is a swamp but appears more like an extra large pond. Even so, swamp like enemies are present here.
  • Chekhov's Gun: There's a war veteran with a tank in Advent Desert. If you do a sidequest, 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 a sidequest 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 sidequests, 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: The SMASH attack ignores all physical defense of the target, and does a lot more damage. However, enemies can perform these criticals with roughly the same chance as you. 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.
  • Death Mountain: Mt. Itoi is this as well as the Definitely Final Dungeon due to its difficulty and the fact that Gigue is fought 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, again.
  • Difficulty Spike: Advent Desert, and later Mt. Itoi, the latter of which is almost completely filled with Demonic Spiders.
    • The Advent 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 luck (and more grinding), players can pass the tunnel alone, though this is very tough and time consuming.
  • Dr. Jerk: The doctors that restore your negative statuses... for a price.
    Doctor (if you don't have enough money for his services): Fine, die all on your own. I'll phone a mortician.
  • Dub Name Change: EarthBound Beginnings changed 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 Son of Starman) 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 stoned 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.
  • Eagleland: Much like its Trope Naming follow up, though unlike EarthBound, it explicitly takes place in America.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: This game is highly different from its two sequels due to having Random Encounters, no rolling HP/PP meter, and generally different gameplay. Also, there are absolutely no Mr. Saturns, which went on to become the series mascot.
  • Escape Battle Technique: The game has the 4-D Slip PSI, which allows a guaranteed escape from battle. Considering how brutal the late game enemies are, it's very helpful at times.
  • Escaped Animal Rampage: This happened early in the game due to an alien invasion. It's your job to investigate and stop the aliens causing the trouble, all the while battling angry elephants and tigers.
  • 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 appears early on but is relatively small and does not have a lot of 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 part of the MacGuffin. 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: Zombie mooks pop up in this game: in the early graveyard section, and in the Rosemary's house.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Your first enemies are two desk lamps and a baby doll. It just gets better from there.
  • Fan Remake:
    • A remake of MOTHER is being developed as a Game Mod for its sequel.
    • There is a second, already complete Remake celebrating MOTHER's 25th anniversary, but unlike the first one, this is a remake redone in the original NES game, polishing sprites, the overworld, the script (using Tomato's newer translation) and enemies. It will also rebalance the enemies to tone down the game's difficulty, and make it less confusing to get around the swamp land and Duncan Factory.
    • There have been multiple attempts by fans to remake this game, but all of them eventually disappeared from the internet after a while. A rather notable one was one that attempted to remake it using the graphical and gameplay styles of MOTHER 3, ala what the fan sequel to it is doing. Unfortunately though, all that ever really came of this was few sprites of the main characters in MOTHER 3 style, some updated remixes of the songs from the game, and a few long deleted gameplay videos.
  • Fan Sequel: MOTHER: Cognitive Dissonance.
  • 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 notably is in the early parts of the game is you can get it even before you rescue Pippi, which requires you bring the baby canary to Canary Village. However you only get told where Canary Village is once, by a random NPC, and how they tell you where it is is vague at best. Even if you bought the baby canary you may end up dragging it around for half the game and not realize that it's the key to the second melody.
  • Haunted House: Rosemary's house.
  • 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 albinos have 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) but, as you are tankless then, R7038 will destroy your party (along with your strongest controllable character - permanently), but 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, and only when the robot 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: 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 his own kind. It is not directly stated what exactly this information is, but it is suggested to be either the advanced technology used to create Eve or possibly awakening latent psychic potential in certain humans - or both.
  • 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!
  • Infinity1 Sword: The Boomerang. Not only can anyone equip it, outside of Teddy, it's three fourths of the party's second strongest weapon. It's a bit pricy, costing one thousand and one hundred dollars, 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.
  • 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. As is the Last Weapon, the Real Rocket is expensively buyable 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 goes 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 Sword.
  • 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 R7038. 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, who's been shut off in the realm of her own mind, Magicant, after being killed and shattered into fragments of song by Giegue in the game's backstory.
  • MacGuffin: The Eight Melodies.
  • Magical Mystery Doors: Rosemary's house.
  • 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.
  • Market-Based Title: Earthbound Beginnings in the long-overdue English release.
  • 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
  • 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 R7037 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.
  • 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 works frequently on late game enemies.
    • PK Fire Ω destroys all enemies instantly.
  • Outside-the-Box Tactic: 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 father doesn't appear until the ending (and only in the unreleased 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.
    • And let's not forget Queen Mary / Maria to Giegue, which is what sets the plot of the game in motion. Needless to say, this is a far more complicated example of this trope...
  • 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, they make it clear that Teddy lives regardless.
  • 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/The Power of Rock:
    • Singing Maria's lullaby to Giegue is what defeats him. And it doesn't just defeat him: in EarthBound, it is found that it drove him absolutely insane.
    • After reading a bit of description, it seems there's a bit more to it than that. Giegue apparently still harbored affection toward Maria, but was basically forced to detach from her and invade the Earth as per his people's orders. Considering Maria basically raised the poor little guy since he was a baby, any reminders of her would create something of a conflict of interest, and make attacking her people (or more specifically, one of her descendants) quite a bit harder, don't you think?
    • Goes deeper still. Through Maria's dialogue about how Giegue would respond when she would sing to him, it's implied that her singing actually caused him real pain of some sort, though whether it was physical pain to his ears or psychic pain to his mind is unknown. Thus, the pain Maria's singing was causing Giegue made him instinctively lash out psionically to make it stop, effectively killing her body and fragmenting her mind/soul into the melody fragments Ninten needs to collect and sing to her in order to restore her memory and bring her wholeness again so she can rest in peace. Therefore, the heroes singing to Giegue at the end of the game drove him insane because it was the combination of actual, real pain being inflicted on his either ears or mind (or both), the massive guilt he's being reminded of for what he did to Maria in that fit of uncontrollable desperation that destroyed her, and being mentally torn over his orders and his remnant love for her that utterly breaks him. Yeah. Itoi is a master of masquerading dark, complex stories in purposefully misleading simplicity, adorable visuals, and charming humor, only dropping subtle hints for particularly perceptive players to pick up on and piece together themselves. And for the record, that alliteration was entirely unplanned and coincidental.
  • 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 Lullabye)", 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 unproduced localization, the Raeb Yddet (and by extension, the Sky Yddet) in Magicant.
  • Savage Wolves: The Wolf, Silver Wolf and Lone Wolf enemies. Also, Stray Dog.
  • Sequel Hook: In EarthBound Beginnings and MOTHER 1+2, there is a Post Credits Scene of Ninten's father 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. For people perceptive enough to connect the games together and figure out who Buzz Buzz really is in EarthBound, this line implies that something much worse is coming and that the aliens are on their way back in retaliation for Giegue's defeat.
  • 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.
    • 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 which is Ana's hometown. Its cold environment along with its remote location mean it is the least populated town in the game.
  • 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 "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, he was apparently going to be called 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. On top of being masters of psychic powers, they can hurt you in ways that can't be explained or understood by anyone, even other psychics, and are incapable of receiving physical damage. Emotional damage, on the other hand...
  • Taking You with Me: Eve is no match for R7038XX, but she explodes when defeated, instantly destroying the foe and leaving behind a MacGuffin.
  • 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 of Desert in the Yucca Desert. Ninten's only way in is to break in via tank. The ruins were first built about 1,000 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.
  • 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 a majority of random encounters, and PK Fire Ω, which instantly nukes every single random encounter in the entire game. You have to severely grind 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.
  • 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 a chance to accept or get a word in edgewise.
  • 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.
  • 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