Fan Game Showcase – Mother 4
If you are a fan of retro games, you likely played at least one title in the Mother series. Better known as Earthbound, the Mother series of RPGs is unlike anything else on the market today or… ever for that matter. These quirky modern day RPGs tug at your heartstrings with problems you identify with. The protagonists aren’t knights or spikey-haired youths out to save the world. They are children, children who are scared and who have to deal with responsibility far beyond what their little minds can cope with. They get wrapped up in adventures that deal with things like the duality of nature and technology, the self-destructive attachment a child feels for his parent, and the responsibility one takes for his own actions. Simply put, they are pretty amazing… and they are unfortunately not being made anymore.
Yes, Nintendo has basically given up on the Mother series. If not Nintendo, then definitely the creator of the series Shigesato Itoi. Itoi has repeatedly said that the last Mother game he had planned was Mother 3, which came out for the Gameboy Advance in 2006. Nintendo had no plans to bring the game here, but the Mother fanbase was so dedicated, they produced their own English fan translation in one of the most extensive and professional fan translation projects yet. Hearing that Itoi did not plan to continue the series, this very same community came together to create this week’s Fan Game Showcase, Mother 4.
Mother 4 is, as you would expect, an unofficial sequel to Nintendo’s Mother 3. But for an unofficial sequel, this game has some serious production values. It’s a top-down sprite-based RPG, just like every other game in the Mother series, but the sprites are far higher definition than any Mother sprites of the past. Maps and environments are similarly more detailed, with everything feeling a little bit bigger than it did in official Mother releases.
Its story revolves around Travis and Zack, two brothers who grew up in the town of Belring. One day Zack finds a strange alien structure outside of his town, as you do in Mother games. This is the starting point that catapults Travis and Zack into an adventure involving a biker gang, a group calling themselves the Modern Men, and a whole host of supernatural happenings.
Everything in Mother 4 will be custom built from the ground up. The game is being built in its own custom engine. No middleware or RPG makers are being used here. No sprites or environments will be re-used from earlier Mother games. The soundtrack is also completely new, made by several Mother fans to replicate the goofy yet unsettling feel of the series. Samples of the soundtrack can already be found on the game’s official Soundcloud.
The game will share many similarities with previous Mother titles. The art style, in particular, is very Mother-esque. The battle system is also the classic first person Mother style. Like Mother 3, the battle system in Mother 4 will be somewhat based on music, although the developers have not revealed how. It too has received a graphics upgrade, with new icons standing in for the standard text based menu options, brand new battle backgrounds, and HD enemy sprites. Other classic Mother features like rolling life counters, relaxing butterflies, phone calls to your mom, and a fully customizable psychic special move will also make an appearance.
But the best part about Mother 4 is that it’s completely free. This project has been going on for several years now, and is completely unfunded. It’s a total labor of love done by a group of fans in their free time. The game will be playable on Windows, OS X and Linux. There are currently no plans to release this game on any other system, but if we were Nintendo, we would give these guys a call and purchase the game as a brand new killer app for the Wii U.
Mother 4 is slated to release in late 2014. For more information, check out the official Mother 4 website.