Mother 1

Made by Ape Inc., released in 1989

Livin on easy street



Current Zar note: I did this LP in 2015! I left my write-up mostly unchanged.




Inspired by the recent release of EarthBound Beginnings on WiiU Virtual Console, I decided to finally do something I've been meaning to do for ages and actually play Mother 1 myself. However, the number one thing I know about Mother 1/EarthBound Zero is that it's hard. It's grueling and exhausting and grind grind grind-heavy, and anyone who's played it will tell you about that at length. Since that doesn't sound like much fun to me and I really want to enjoy this game, I'm going to do the fantranslation with the included Easy Ring instead of EBB proper. The fantranslation brings Mother 1 more in line with EarthBound, keeps references to the sequels to come, isn't censored or graphically altered anywhere, but most importantly, the Easy Ring greatly increases exp and money and lowers the encounter rate. All good things! So that'll be the version we'll be seeing.

I haven't gotten very far in Mother 1 yet, but with the Easy Ring, I'm finding it very managable, not grindy at all. And I'm also enjoying it a lot in general. You can see the spirit of EarthBound and Mother 3 in M1 very clearly... so much of what makes the series what it is is here, in Mother 1. It's made me realize just how much of a love letter to the first game EarthBound really was. I'm trying to keep in mind Mato's tips for playing Mother 1 about keeping an open mind and being willing to explore, as well as keeping in mind the very different context for when the game came out, and really in general, I want to appreciate Mother 1 in its own way just like the other installments in the series. It often gets overlooked, its notoriously harsh difficulty being a factor, so I want to try and look past that and really love Mother 1 for being itself. I don't want to be harsh to Mother 1 when I was so kind to the other installments of the series, it deserves a chance to shine. And without it, EarthBound and Mother 3 wouldn't exist. I don't know if this makes sense, I'm in a weird place right now. But anyway, I'm really liking it so far, but it's entirely possible some future event will wreck it for me, but hey, won't know til I get there.

Like Snatcher and other games I played blind, I'm going to play a chunk, stop, write up some posts, then go back to it, that way I can keep a new sense of wonder as I go through. I know bits and pieces about Mother 1, but a lot of it is going to be new to me, so it'll be fun exploring it all, hopefully.

Gotta get this disclaimer out of the way. You can pick up the patch over here.

This isn't actually based off the original Mother 1 famicom cart, this is (as implied above) the Mother 1+2 GBA dual cart that got released a while back. Which is probably not a bad thing, since if I recall the port of Mother 1 (which was actually based off of the Earthbound Zero prototype cart I think blah blah blah blah) added some handy features, like a run button and a map you can check anytime. Real purists can probably rattle off the changes between them.

Haha look at those weird old carts

It's weird, I never even played Mother 1 properly but for some reason this intro screen got me choked up anyway. It could be because of the intro theme, which showed up again in Mother 3 and is the victory fanfare for Ness and Lucas. Come to think of it, it's kind of slow and somber for an intro to a game like this, though I can't imagine it starting any other way. An unusual beginning theme for an unusual game, haha.

Anyway, after starting a new game we get to name characters as usual! Of course, this one's a given.

Woops missed Ana's screen, duhoy

The other guy, you know him

I know in the other games it was either pasta or noodles but I couldn't remember which one was which, so I just went with my heart.

LOOKING GOOD

Interestingly they don't ask for your favorite thing. That will come IN THE FUTURE

gasp

Going back oldschool here. This town has a different name in Earthbound Zero but I forget what it is (Podunk?)

YEAH LET'S GET STARTED paint my ENTIRE ROOM SALMON PINK PLEASE

This is a pretty truncated menu you got here, Mother 1. Like EarthBound (or Dragon Warrior, where this whole system comes from I think) you choose commands from a menu like so.

House Theme is really pretty mellow, not too far off from the general intro of the game really.

Darn right I do

I like this status screen for some reason, I just like how it's neatly filed into compartments. And a nice little section for melodies!

I'LL EAT MY ATM CARD IF I WANT TO GAME

Never taking this off

As I head out the door, something odd happens

DUN DUN DUNN i actually only JUST noticed right now that the lamp has a scary face on its bottom D:

SOMEONE GET THIS LAMP UNDER CONTROL

THIS DRESSER, IT'S TOO FINELY MADE

Poltergeist is some HARD ROCK well not exactly but it's pretty driving, haha.

Ninten's got himself some sisters apparently

So we meet again, evil dolls

Cupie of death

Haha it's weird to see SMAAAASH in green

that's right went up TWO levels EFF YEAH EASY RING

Could it be a human head

This better not be one of those Thomas Edison talking dolls

As you can probably guess, it's a piece of the iconic 8 Melodies from Mother 1 (which is not the same as the 8 Melodies from EarthBound, though they're similar in concept). Again despite never playing Mother 1 myself gd if this theme doesn't always bring tears to my eyes. My hobby is crying to every version of 8 Melodies. Or god forbid the 16 Melodies from Mother 3, just rip my heart out and stomp on it.

And you can see a cute little music note in the status screen! This'll be a piece of cake.

Mmm, orange juice. She actually gives you infinite juice, which I thought I was being super clever in taking advantage of until I remembered oh yeah, limited inventory (A POX ON LIMITED INVENTORIES).

Downstairs, let's talk to Mom!

Haha I'd say Ninten and Ness both have absent fathers but to be fair so did Lucas after a certain point. FATHERS NEVER STICK AROUND IN THIS SERIES

well good luck with that, i'm ordering another ice cream sandwich

Say, could that be the George we read about just a second ago?

the house is so cluttered, how am i supposed to find anything

Haha awww, it's the same as it is in EarthBound. :D EarthBound no doubt drew from Mother 1 here.

Let's venture into the wild world outside! The overworld theme here is Pollyanna (I Believe in You) which reprised both in EarthBound and in Mother 3, haha. I've wept about how much I love this song before, so I won't repeat myself here.

I GUESS SO

I actually had to go back and store stuff so I could take this key but I cut that. THE INVENTORY IN THIS GAME IS REALLY KILLING ME

Haha just like in EarthBound. |D

Free sister storage! PREPARE TO STORE AND TAKE OUT STUFF A LOT

we blew a bulb and no one's gotten around to replacing it

good girlfriend diary

This'll be important, people have told me

:O Could this relate to Mother 3? HMM

why did we store it under all those soggy rags

Aha! For this reason! I'm still not entirely sure how you do this, I used the bread once and made crumbs, I guess when I want to go back I use them again? I'll have to test it later in a dungeon

(i died before i could use them that other time, cough)

And here's the map! Haha the town names. Actually wait, I remember reading a thing about this from the guy who translated Earthbound Zero, let's see...

Sandhop: "Itoi originally wrote them to sound friendly. I don't believe that towns named after holidays was friendly. Matter of fact I thought it sounded stupid and thought older players would really be turned off. I wanted it to be enjoyable for all ages."

Harsh, haha. To be fair it is kind of silly to an English speaker. The EB0 names are...

Mother's Day -> Podunk (Haha, I was right!)

Thanksgiving -> Merrysville

Santa Claus Station -> Union Station

Halloween -> Spookane

Easter -> Youngtown

Valentine -> Ellay

Holy Rolly Mountain -> Mount Itoi

Spookane is an inspired localization choice, that's amazing. Ellay I assume is L.A., haha. I can't get over how clever Spookane is for Halloween though wow.

Anyway walkin around doo doo sup lady

ON IT

so you say

>:O

I WAS REALLY CONFUSED BY THIS AT FIRST thanks for explaining, random mouse

that lives in a house by itself

and if you did and you saw Jules I am NOT here, okay?!? YOU NEVER SAW ME

No tollbooths then

Sounds like a job for some random punk kid

yarrharr come to ye olde anchor inn, fiddle de dee

Haha I forget exactly where it plays but often in buildings like hotels or stores or other places like that, you'll hear Humoresque of a Little Dog, which you'll probably recognize as the shop theme from EarthBound. |D It's fun hearing it in so many places here, haha.

pfft, hotels

sure, why not

raaaa

WAIT COME BACK I WAS JOKING

but when i went and looked he was nowhere to be found

PFFFT WHO NEEDS MONEY

no reason, just do

Interestingly there's no way to sell things to a normal vendor, you have to go to this dude down here specifically to sell something. Probably some coding thing.

Hey, asthma spray! Ninten has asthma, if you didn't know. :B I should have bought some but I didn't like a fool.

I have no money here but for the sake of argument pretend I did and I bought the canary. WHY? WHY NOT

Eh, probably not

I'll tell her hi for you

:O

IT'S MY DUTY AS A MAIN CHARACTER

I actually zoned out a bit while playing this and totally forgot about the lady who was looking for her kid up by Ninten's house, I was just like WELP MAYOR LOST A KID, BETTER FIND EM

Dream big, Abbot

(Hey, wasn't there someone in Mother 3 named Abbot?)

Rude

Haha I love these kind of stores, EarthBound had them too.

GOOD LUCK WITH THAT

WOOPS

The town boundaries aren't very clearly marked, this guy jumped out of nowhere, haha.

I don't remember exactly which themes go to which enemy, but here's Battle with a Dangerous Foe. You'll probably recognize it from EarthBound! Haha so much of the sound effects and music ended up reprising in EarthBound, it's amazing.

You can see at this point I'm just letting the auto-battle take care of things for me. No sweat.

sorry kid i'm busy

~creepypasta~

PAY ATTENTION TO THIS MECHANIC the game screams

we have a zoo? cool

WHAT NO

I'M NOT PREPARED FOR THIS

Oh some more bits from battle, since we haven't seen too much of it so far.

Sucker. Oh hey!

Lifeup, sweet.

HEY KID WANT A CIGARETTE

Interestingly, it seems like PSI isn't tied to your level or even your experience in this, but I guess to the number of battles you're in? I mean I learned new PSI even in battles I ran away from at points. :O It's a very odd system, haha. Kind of cool though, you never know when a new PSI is coming.

Yeah healing woooo

But I have no friends :(

BLAAAAAAAAARRRGHHHH

I dunno why I'm impressed by the shading on this dog but I am.

OH another battle theme is Battle with a Flippant Foe, which did not end up reprising in EarthBound for once I think, haha. Kind of a jazzy 50s beat to it.

So you're not slaughtering these critters, haha. They just become tame!

YESSSS THE NEW AGE RETRO HIPPIE as we saw in EarthBound, haha. And the music's the same too!

Now for a second I want you to sit back and think about the context of this battle and this enemy. Picture being a kid back in 1989. Most of the RPGs of the time tend to be pretty serious faux-medieval affairs like Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior, or Gauntlet or Wizardry. You fight magical fantastical monsters in some magical far-off land of wonder. Things are very serious, it's a matter of life and death. Monsters are serious. Weapons are serious. Battle is serious.

Then you pick up or rent Mother 1 on a whim not knowing anything about it, just to see what it's like, and you end up in a modern world not unlike your own, fighting a new age retro hippie with goofy rock music playing. Can you imagine what a delightful surprise that would be? Everything about this is new to you! No one else has done anything like this! I mean it's no wonder that this series left such an impression on people who played it, haha. Even to this day, I can't think of many RPGs like this, that are just kind of silly and creative and close to home at the same time.

It's not just the enemies though, the whole world itself. Having an ATM card, calling your dad on the phone to save, going into convenience stores to buy burgers... the world of Mother is so unique, and it's just our world. I dunno, it's part of what makes it stand out so much to me.

ALSO BATTLE MESSAGES LIKE THESE

One of my absolute favorite things about the Mother series are the weird things enemies do in combat, and it turns out that all started with Mother 1 as well! EarthBound and Mother 3 just continued that legacy. I love seeing unique little things like this, it adds so much character and personality and fun to battles.

GET A JOB

YOU THINK I FEAR DEATH

I'VE BEEN SMOKING SINCE I HATCHED

this is exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about, just weird little enemy behaviors that don't even do anything or affect battle, just give you a little charming insight into the monster's mind. I want more rpgs to do this.

Hmm this place looks friendly

Looks like you had a run-in with a tommy gun pal

ain't even breaking a sweat

heading down to the graveyard, dum de dum

SUCK IT

Battles so far have been mostly a cakepiece, but it does get a bit tedious with multiple enemies at once. It just takes a while for each turn to cycle through.

Haha and this came back in EarthBound too! :D I'm so delighted to find out how much of EB were callbacks to Mother 1.

GIVE ME A HUG

help i broke a heel

Oh right, this took me a bit to figure out, checking your PSI from your menu only shows you PSI you can use outside of battle, so I'd learn new PSI and then be like ??? where is it in the menu. Turns out you can only see battle PSI in your status screen here by scrolling through some pages. It's a bit wonky and hard to get used to, haha.

hey a church

Oh yeah, the music changed in the graveyard, I think to A Ghastly Site, an ominous dirge kind of thing.

This is such a Mother line, how to even quantify it

holy balls a lot of people have died in Mother's Day. WHAT WERE PEOPLE DOING IN THIS TOWN

that thing looks suspicious, let's jump in it

twitchy coffins! my favorite

Oh yeah, the music down here I think is Underground theme, just sort of sparse and menacing. I THINK this reprised in EarthBound? I can't remember though.

HOW COULD THIS HAVE HAPPENED

what's the normal level you should be here, i'm curious

surely this one will be fine

OH NO NOT AGAIN

woops i missed a cap, it was another zombie :B

THIS ONE will be fine i know it

OH NO

huh huh yeah i guess so

You seem pretty upbeat after being locked in a coffin, Pippi. Don't let nothing bring you down!

Since I'm level 8 we'll have no problem

Pippi's pretty much got no equipment but honestly that hasn't featured much into anything yet, I'm not super worried.

YOU'RE SAFE WITH ME, PIPPI

so many baaatsss

Oh also, for the heck of it, You won! I think it's the same little ditty they use in EarthBound. :B

Anyway WE ARE FREE! And adorably, the music has changed since Pippi joined my party! It's now Bein' Friends, one of the sweetest little songs ever when you hear it with lyrics.

(I'm actually about to cry listening to the lyrics, man I'm really messed up right now, yeesh)

I remember posting remixes along with the OST during the EarthBound run, but I think this time I may just wait until the game is done and then just post every remix all at once. This idea's struck me out of nowhere and sure I'm gonna do it, why not.

Ninten's dad is similarly loaded.

UH

Despairing or approving? Hard to say.

I DUNNO MAN

WHO'S TALKING

oooooM

DON'T TELL ME HOW TO LIVE MY LIFE

the cursor blinks so sometimes it's hard to tell but i said no here

GLAD YOU CAME BACK AFTER ALL, PAL

Pippi's shooting up levels nicely. I sort of like having all the info neatly laid out there on the screen.

oh dang that sounds delicious

I then got lost and wandered pretty far afield. WHERE AM I

and airplane food, am i right guys?

OW that's the most damage i've taken so far, maybe i shouldn't be here yet

I guess there's an incident at the zoo. OH YEAH THE MAYOR i should probably go see him

Haha later Onett's police would take to roadblocks with relish.

and when you cut your sandwich wrong, you know what i'm talking about

just rub it all over my wounds

the american dream

Oh yeah, you can do this and it'll say "Danger is nearby..." if there's an enemy, but I really haven't found much use for this, honestly.

I probably should've gone here earlier but I was already south so I just kept going to the graveyard, but since I'm back up here

Birdies! They aren't very chatty though.

THIS MEANS SOMETHING

BUT WHAT?

what canary OH the one i tried to eat

i mean, what

Beats me, I talked to all the birdies in here but none of them responded. OH WELL. Maybe she's somewhere else.

Ooh, apparently Dimensional Warp is a 100% successful run from battle. Which will probably come in handy.

New enemies! kekekekeke

you're not a possum

wow rude

AAGH

After roaming around the zoo for a bit I remembered OH YEAH THE MAYOR and finally backtracked to him.

heeheehee

I think one of the things that adds to Mother's charm to me, in both this and EarthBound, is how limited the sprites are in their expressions. There's something weirdly amusing to me seeing a little :) sprite like this saying a random non-sequitor or doing something in parentheses like this. This applied in Mother 3 too, even though the sprites moved a bit more. Weirdly their lack of expressiveness just brings out the quirkiness of their dialogue even more. Makes it more memorable, in a way. Like, can you picture this bit of dialogue done with a HD super detailed FF15 model with voice acting? I can't. The kind of feel of this sort of line is lost when the medium changes to much I think.

YEAAAH GONNA BUY ME A... i dunno sandwich

let's go over by the big quartz block now

sure, got nothing else to do

I SURE DO

your ankles are covered

teehee |D

LAZY MAYORS

WHAT IS YOUR SECRET LADY

some guy in the pet store stole it

yeah sure

WHAT IT'S TRUE cough

Anyway I wandered around randomly for a while before I remembered OH YEAH PIPPI'S HOUSE IS NEAR MINE ISN'T IT?? SHE WANTED TO GIVE ME SOMETHING so finally headed back over here

I said yes I think |D

yeah sure

A badge! Neat

Aww harsh

A very frank badge

So THAT'S why it's called that :O

whaaat I DIDN'T EVEN NEED A KEY

bunniiess

ominous

GET OFF MY LAWN

cruisin down easy street

fat pandas

hey, this'll come in handy i bet

flamingoes!

WHERE'S THE MONKEY

I WANT A REFUND

i'm gonna go complain

very minimalist in mother 1

found this in a box, sure

This makes me think of some corrupted screencaps I saw from Mother 1, let's see if I can find em... here they are.

Brrr.

Hey it looks like there's still space over here.

Oh that'd be why.

YOU BETTER RUN

Dr. Mario?!

OH JESUS

THROW UP ALL SHIELDS ALERT ALERT

Oh man thank god I hung onto that badge

Can you even imagine

That was not as hard as I thought it'd be, huh.

WELL BYE

Now we're talking

WOAHOAH

Hey wait, I'm missing one

I gotta get on this

but first PENGUINS

So I figured it HAD to be canary related cause they kept talking about it, so I went looking for Laura again, but couldn't find her... then I thought maybe i could push that white pillar and find something, but nope. THEN I saw a birdie outside the walls! So I ran around Canary Town for a while to try and find a way back there to no avail. Finally after fiddling around for a while, it turns out the white pillar hides a HOLE IN THE WALL and you can just walk back there, haha. Very Dragon Warrior.

SUP LAURA THE CANARY

There we go, that's better.

This makes me think this area is complete!

FINALLY THE SECRET

Paula? No wait, Ana, that's her name here.

:O

NOT EVEN THE KEY TO A SHACK?

yes

no!

Well that's straightforward enough.

you hinting at me bro

i'm doing it, i'm doing it

Hey, cliffs!

A windy windy cave. With a very ominous theme!

Huh, weird twisty thing with Xs.

OH right one of Ninten's PSI abilities is telepathy which you can use to read minds at specific points. :O So I gave it a shot here. This was all the rock would say though, so whatever. That was pointless.

But that just takes me to that weird rock! There must be something I'm missing here.

New enemy :O A Lil' UFO, haha

After wandering around for a bit it occurred to me that OH the diary probably has something to do with this, so I went all the way back home and got it out of storage and came back. I can't imagine how annoying this would be if the encounter rate was normal. As it is it's mostly not too bad, though sometimes it does go one step enemy, one step enemy, but it's rare. I can dart around for a while without running into enemies normally.

the WHITE SHIP?

woah what

actually this almost a perfect halfway point, so I think I'll leave off here. Next time we'll see what's going on in Magicant!

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