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 ahold 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.MOTHER is a 1989 FamicomEastern RPG, the first installment of a series and the predecessor to the significantly more famous EarthBound and MOTHER 3. Set in the year 1988, the story follows Ninten, a normal American boy. He's got a workaholic dad, a loving mom, and twin kid sisters. 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 learn about what happened many years ago, including what happened to his great-grandmother Maria. Meanwhile, strange phenomena are happening all over, and it's become quite apparent that an alien force is arriving. Just what connection does Ninten's family have with the alien invasion?In the late nineties, a prototype for an unreleased English version was found by a collector and subsequently put on the internet as a ROM. This prototype version, named Earth Bound (with a space, unlike the more famous bearer of the name), contains a mix of technical enhancements, bowdlerization modified maps to reduce difficulty, and a significant lengthening of the rather short old ending. Several other prototype cartridges have since 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. After several modifications to the ROM to make it playable on the widely-used NES emulator of the day, the game became widely known as "EarthBound Zero" to attempt to avoid confusion with its far more famous sequel. This page was located at that name for years, but was eventually moved to its current location.In the lead-up to the long-awaited release of MOTHER 3, this game was rereleased in 2003 along with its immediate sequel, as MOTHER 1+2 for the Game Boy Advance; it contained almost all of the modifications of the "EarthBound Zero" prototype, confirming that the prototypes were indeed the real deal. The port was only released in Japan, though word has it that it was almost released internationally. In 2011, the MOTHER 1 portion of the game received a fan translation from the same team behind the MOTHER 3 translation, providing a much more polished take on the script than the rather barebones and dry "EarthBound Zero" translation. A small comparison of these translations can be viewed here.
All There in the Manual: Not much about the character personalities are stated in-game, but in the Mother Encyclopedia it says many interesting things about Ninten, Ana, Loid 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 Giygas 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 Giygas, and he has no official art.
Animate Inanimate Object: Your journey starts off with you being attacked by a Lamp. Then you fight a second one and your first boss, a possessed Baby Doll to get your first MacGuffin. The things you fight along the way just get stranger from here.
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.
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: The world is safe, the captured people are rescued, and our heroes can all go home to meet warm welcomes. However, Magicant is gone forever, along with Maria, who never got a chance to reconcile with her adopted son. Not to mention, Giygas is still out there, somewhere...
This is especially the case in the original Japanese version, as it's implied that Teddy got killed.
Black Bead Eyes: As in all of the MOTHER games, though here it can come across as mere technical pragmatism as opposed to a deliberate stylistic choice.
Boy of My Dreams: Ana fell in love with Ninten when she started seeing him in her dreams.
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 cigars and knives were removed from the battle sprites of the Crow and Teddy respectively. Crosses and religious text were removed. Holy Loly Mountain had a Dub Name Change to Mt. Itoi, probably half because of the religious reference and half because, well, it is a major Difficulty Spike as well as The Very Definitely Final Dungeon. (Also, to avoid lawsuits, a mention of Dragon Quest was changed to Super Mario Bros..) Some stuff got past the radar, like the strip club in Merrysville and doctors saying "go off and die then" if you refuse their services, though the strip club instance was changed in MOTHER 1+2. The Dragon Quest reference was also changed to "that game" as opposed to a Mario reference. All of the sprite changes were also in MOTHER 1+2.
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.
Chekhov's Gun: There's a war veteran with a tank in Yucca 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 Ellay 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.
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 NP Cs 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, but she has the same level up growths as Teddy. Shame you can't keep her for long.
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 Loid, 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.
Duel Boss: When you reach Ellay and do a dance show with your team mates, Teddy comes onstage and demands 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 killed off. The item is like a second Onyx Hook, except that instead of Magicant, it transports you to that same spot that EVE died. The IC-Chip is still in the GBA version, but Dummied Out.
The item "Time Machine" was in the original Famicom 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's Factory is an annoying large version of this that you are required to go in to continue the plot and if you're lucky enough to find the right room a second Franklin Badge can be found.
Dungeon Town: Spookane/Halloween, unlike other towns where enemy encounters stop upon entering, they can still happen even after entering the town limits.
Eagleland: Although explicitly taking place in America, (which Itoi later denied in an interview concerning the sequel's use of this trope) it clearly follows the trope, and is the predecessor to the Trope Namer.
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.
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.
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, which is All There in the Manual.
There is a second Remake in progress at the moment, 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 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 and Duncan's Factory.
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.
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.
Hell Hotel: The hotel at the abandoned Ghost Town, Spookane. The clerk at the hotel is actually a Starman in disguise, who, after paying a much cheaper than normal lodging fee, attacks you immediately the next morning.
Heroic Albino: Lloyd, who, despite being 11 years old, has white hair. It is also noteworthy to mention that albinos have poor eyesight, and Loid wears glasses.
Lloyd could be Leucistic instead as albinos are intolerant to the ultraviolet radiation of sunlight.
Hopeless Boss Fight: The three R7-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 character - permanently). But Lloyd destroys 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: Giygas reason for invading earth and abducting people. He learned that Ninten's great grandfather, George, had stolen information that could be used against his own kind. This information was used to create psychic potential in humans which is the explanation for Ninten's and Ana's psychic powers.
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!
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 Elementary lab. 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 Famicom version that did something similar when you bought it, but it was removed from later versions.
Killed Off for Real: EVE. For players of the original Famicom version, nothing says that Teddy survived, so most assumed that he died. However, in later versions of the game, they make it clear that Teddy actually lives.
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.
Moment Killer: Right after Ninten and Ana confess their love for each other, 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, severely injuring/killing Teddy. Real moodkiller there.
Mrs. Robinson: Mrs. Rosemary. Somehow this stayed in the English prototype in the middle of Nintendo's bowdlerization days.
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.
Never Trust a Trailer: The Japanese TV spot had Ninten and Ana defeat a R7307 or one of its relatives. This is impossible to do in-game, where all of those enemies need heavy weaponry to defeat.
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.
No Ending: The original release ended with the aliens, defeated, leaving in their spaceship, and the party just looks at the sky and the credits play in the sky. It didn't tie up any loose ends and left some Fridge Horror / No Endor Holocaust. The prototype English version and later the GBA re-release significantly extended the ending.
Nostalgic Musicbox: The ending tune starts and ends with a music box rendition of the Eight Melodies.
Ominous Music Box Tune: The first of the 8 Melodies is a music box hidden in Ninten's sister's formerly possessed naked baby 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.
PK Fire Ω destroys all enemies instantly.
Outside-the-Box Tactic: In a convention to be continued throughout the series, the Final BossGiygas cannot be defeated by ordinary methods. You must sing Queen Mary's song eleven times to subdue him.
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 Robot to make it a Scrapper.
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.
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 parents of Youngtown being abducted by the aliens.
Also also, Loid's parents are essentially handwaved. His father shows up in/as a trashcan at a remote location in a swamp nowhere near where Loid 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.
Singing Maria's lullaby to Giygas 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. Giygas 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?
Puzzle Boss: The R7 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 Famicom game. 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 New-Age Retro Hippie, and "Eight Melodies (Queen Mary's Lullabye)", occur frequently and are used in the later games.
Savage Wolves: The Wolf, Silver Wolf and Lone Wolf enemies. Also, Stray Dog.
Sequel Hook: Added in the prototype/MOTHER 1+2: at the very end of the credits, we see Ninten's father calling him, saying that 'something's come up'. It's an unusual example in that obviously therewere sequels, but neither followed up on this hint and indeed had next to nothing to do with this game in general.
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, and then in the epilogue you wonder why he's "getting better" since you never actually met him and he was never injured.
Alternatively, you can recruit him and leave Loid in the dust for the rest of the game with further sequence breaking, if you so choose.
Shout-Out: Ninten fights a Kewpie doll in the beginning of the game.
Two of the towns in the prototype (Merrysville and Spookane) are named after cities in Washington State, where Nintendo of America is located (Marysville and Spokane, respectively.)
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 uses the third.
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 Geek.
Spinning out of Here: The Teleport 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 exhaust from Killer Tractor Trailers can render him unable to act unless someone uses an inhaler on him.
Stuff Blowing Up: One of the first things that Loid does after joining your party is blow up the science lab.
Sufficiently Advanced Alien: It's strongly implied that Giygas 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 R-series 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.
Theme Naming: Pretty much every location is named after a holiday. 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, opening the door to humankind getting psychic powers. 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!
Two-Part Trilogy: Aside from PSI and Giygas, 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.
Video Game Cruelty Potential: Dear god, the Flying Men. Seeing the cemetery 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.
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.
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. The cop also confiscates his weapon and you need to buy it back.