If there is one game that Reggie Fils-Aimé will ever be associated with on a personal level (well, besides Wii Fit) it’ll be one he never released. The cries of “come on Reggie, give us Mother 3” have echoed since 2006, with the EarthBound fandom of the late ’00s almost holding him and him alone to the task, and he’s been associated with it ever since, becoming almost a standard punchline for him in the years since he’s left Nintendo. But it turns out that the release of Mother 3 was in fact a tangible possibility on the 3DS and Wii U eShops — but it fell apart due to similar misfortunes that prevented a localization with the initial GBA release.
The decision to not localize Mother 3 on the GBA happened before Reggie joined NOA in May 2006 (about a month after Mother 3’s JP release). Reggie saw the fan passion and talked to Iwata about it, but the SNES EarthBound sales just weren’t convincing (Reggie takes a moment to politely deride the title’s infamous “this game stinks” marketing), which combined with the higher localization efforts for the kind of game Mother 3 is (corroborated by Producer Shinichi Kameoka just a few days ago) and the fact the company was focused on DS titles like Metroid Prime Hunters and Mario Kart meant it was a very low business priority. “But boy, the game journalists had to ask me every single time,” Reggie says.
Later on, however, there was serious consideration given to releasing the game during the 3DS/Wii U era. Since production and distribution costs digitally are far cheaper, and Nintendo released a handful of Japan-only titles on the American storefront untranslated, Reggie talked with Iwata about Mother 3. They ended up releasing EarthBound Beginnings for the Wii U instead (presumably because the game was already translated and had simply never been released). Reggie then says that if Iwata hadn’t passed, and the Wii U had done better, then who knows? Mother 3 might have made it.
So twice the stars simply didn’t align right for the game to make it outside of Japan, the second time even more heartbreaking than the first. But fan demand has never truly died, even over 15 years after release — there are people today asking for Mother 3 who weren’t even alive when it was released. If (or when) a GBA emulator comes to NSO… who knows? The third time might be the charm. Like Paula in the final battle, we can only pray.
Reggie’s comments about Mother 3 are taken from an exclusive interview with Geoff Keighley offered as a bonus interview for the audio version of his book Disrupting The Game: From The Bronx To The Top of Nintendo.
Via: Nintendo Everything