The February 2021 Nintendo Direct was full of ports and absences, but one port (and marker in our bingo card) in particular was noticeably absent: Mother 3 (or Earthbound 2). This oft-requested RPG was missing once again from the digital presentation. Fans were hoping that the game would finally see a broader release.
The Mother 3 Nintendo Direct dream dies once again
Part of this anticipation comes from the game’s looming 15th anniversary. It came out in 2006 on the Game Boy Advance but only in Japan. Mother 3 never officially came out outside of Japan, but fans translated it in 2008. Nintendo did re-release it on the Wii U, but, again, only in Japan. Its reception and rarity has cemented it as some sort of mythical game, a myth that perpetuates as Nintendo refuses to make it more widely available. Some have even offered to translate it for Nintendo.
Nintendo did, however, choose to port a couple of obscure Famicom games: Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir and Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind. These two titles from 1988 and 1989, respectively, have relatively little fanfare yet are seeing modernized releases for the Switch, complete with localized English dubs and high-definition visuals. Remasters or re-releases of deep cuts like this still deserve to see the light of day, but this sort of prioritization is odd since these two Nintendo games haven’t been in Smash or been as widely requested.
It’s not clear if Mother 3 will come to other audiences in the near future. According to Video Game Story Time, a Mother 3 port died with Satoru Iwata. Iwata was a “consistent advocate” in telling Nintendo of America to look at the game. Since he died in 2015, no one else within Nintendo is apparently championing that game. Eurogamer also reported in 2016 that Nintendo was translating it, but further reporting from FanByte’s Imran Khan said that work on the project had stopped. Some of the issues seemed to have been around the game’s problematic and outdated portrayal of transgender people.