I love Mother 3. I mean I really love Mother 3. I have played through it with the fan translation patch four times, and the ending still gets me choked up. I have seen multiple instances of people wondering why Mother 3 has such a massive cult following, and then they play it themselves and immediately join in. So why, if this game is so absolutely beloved, does Nintendo seem to simply refuse to bring it westward? Here’s why Mother 3 hasn’t been localized.
Here’s Why Mother 3 Hasn’t Been Localized
Theories abound as to why Nintendo hasn’t made any effort to bring Mother 3 to English-speaking audiences. The company is clearly aware of its prominence, or else Lucas wouldn’t have become a recurring Super Smash Bros. character. So what’s the hangup?
Some believe that it’s a result of the Mother series’ creator, Shigesato Itoi, departing Nintendo following Mother 3’s release. While Itoi is, as far as anyone knows, still on good terms with the company, he was apparently resolute in being finished with the series, likely feeling relieved after the extremely intensive developmental process that went into Mother 3.
It’s also been theorized that Nintendo isn’t quite sure how to handle some of Mother 3’s heavier elements. Despite its goofy, pastel appearance, Mother 3 can get very intense at times, and features some upsetting themes that western audiences may not approve of (at least in Nintendo’s view). Heck, I’m a grown man and the ending still brings me to tears every time.
But at the bottom of it all, Nintendo just doesn’t really view the venture as profitable, at least not right now. In a May 2022 interview with YouTube channel Kinda Funny Games, former Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé said that while Nintendo is aware of the demand for localization and would even like to provide it, there are two major factors that prevent such a venture from getting off the ground: profitability and quality.
“The company knows there’s a lot of passion for that franchise, but thinking about how to make it current, thinking about how to make it bigger than just the – you know, let me call it the relatively small group of fans that desperately want to see Mother 3 or something next in the Earthbound series – that’s what the company I’m sure has been thinking about,” said Fils-Aimé. “And they just haven’t figured out yet the solution to that, or at least they haven’t been prepared to talk about it.”
While unfortunate, it does make sense; Mother 3 is an absolutely gigantic game with pages upon pages of script. Translating all of Earthbound was a massive investment of time and money, considering the efforts required to capture Itoi’s writing style in another language, and one that, despite Earthbound’s cult classic status, wound up costing the company more than it made. It’s probably a safe bet that Nintendo would incur similar expenses in translating Mother 3’s script.
Even if they were to take a crack at it, there’s a good chance that whatever Nintendo comes up with in the translation department would disappoint a lot of existing fans who are already familiar with the fan-translated script. The company wants to be sure that if they do this, they can do it right, and, well, they aren’t.
As much as I love Mother 3, I am sympathetic to Nintendo’s concerns. It is undoubtedly a niche game, one that wouldn’t really fit their current developmental paradigm. This is a business, after all, and we need to be understanding of their fiscal and creative concerns. That said, I would like to just let the record show that if Nintendo ever does make an official localization of Mother 3 happen, I would immediately slap down the cash to play it a fifth time.