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Mother 3

Mother 3 BoxMother 3 is a role-playing game developed by Brownie Brown and HAL Laboratory for the Game Boy Advanced.  Published by Nintendo the game released in 2006 exclusively in Japan and is the third installment in the Mother series.  Like the previous entries in the series the game features a top-down perspective with turn-based combat.

Development of the game began shortly after the release of Mother 2, known as Earthbound outside of Japan.  The Mother 2 development team were retained, and Initial development began in late 1994 however the development team ran into a number of roadblocks that would cause the game to be delayed, cancelled and then ultimately restarted from scratch.  Development of the game took over a decade and spanned across four different Nintendo consoles.

The original concept for the game was to create a sequel to Mother 2 using the same hardware, the Super Famicom.  The development process began in late 1994 for the Super Famicom but was quickly transitioned to the Nintendo 64.  Series creator Itoi Shigesato wanted to create a game in the style of a Hollywood film.   Inspired by Super Mario 64, the development team sought to create a 3D open world adventure that would end up exceeding the capability of the Nintendo 64.

Exceeding the memory limitations of the Nintendo 64’s cartridge-based media, the development team scaled back the scope of the game and moved development to Nintendo’s upcoming Nintendo 64 addon, the 64DD.  When the Nintendo 64 first launched game cartridges were available between 4MB and 8MB.   Super Mario 64 was released on an 8MB (64Mbit) cartridge which the development team initially thought would be enough space for their vision for an open world RPG, but they easily surpassed the 8MB limitation.

Developer(s)Brownie Brown
HAL Laboratory
License OwnerShigesato Itoi
PredecessorMother 2 – a.k.a. EarthBound
Platform(s)Game Boy Advance
Media TypeCartridge
ReleaseJP: April 20, 2006
Development Time12 Years
SalesApproximately 400,000
RatingCERO: A
Rereleased Platform(s)Virtual Console
Wii U – 2015 (JP)

Moving the development of the game to the 64DD provided the development team the ability to utilize 64MB (512Mbit) of storage space.  The capability of Nintendo 64’s cartridge-based media would improve over the course of the console’s lifespan and would ultimately reach a maximum storage capability of 64MB however when the decision was made to move development to the 64DD cartridges were only available at 16MB.  Mother 3 was expected to be a launch title for the 64DD addon however development of the game required more time and due to the commercial failure of the addon peripheral development was moved back to the Nintendo 64 base unit.

The new vision for the game was to release it for the Nintendo 64 using a newer 32MB (256Mbit) cartridge, like what The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was being developed on.  Nintendo showcased a playable demo of Mother 3 at the 1999 Nintendo Space World trade show in August.  The demo was estimated to be a 50% completed version of the game which had a projected release date of mid 2000 in Japan.  The game was also being promoted as EarthBound 64 for release outside of Japan and became a highly anticipated title for the Nintendo 64.

In August 2000, Shigesato Itoi announced that development of Mother 3 was cancelled following several further delays.  Nintendo was in the process of migrating away from the Nintendo 64 with their new GameCube console set to launch in 2001 and shifting the game to the GameCube would have been an enormous effort.  Nintendo felt that the focus on 3D graphics made the project overly complex and they did not want to fully abandon the project as they were still interested in bringing the game to fruition.

After a few years of the project being placed on hold, Shigeru Miyamoto approached Shigesato Itoi with the idea of developing the game for the Game Boy Advance using pixel art.  Developing the game using 2D graphics opposed to 3D would remove a lot of the complexity that the development team faced during the game’s initial development.  Ioto revisited the idea of starting the project over from scratch for the Game Boy Advance and agreed to proceed forward.  When the decision was made to restart development for Mother 3 for the Game Boy Advance, Brownie Brown was selected as the lead development studio for the project. 

All development material from the N64 version of the game was provided by HAL Laboratory to Brownie Brown in late 2002 for reference and inspiration.  When the decided to restart development in 2003 for the Game Boy Advance a lot of faith was put in Brownie Brown to lead the development with input from Itoi.  Co-developed with HAL Laboratory the team was able to finally complete the last installment in the Mother series, a game that’s development would span twelve years and four consoles before its completion.

Nintendo 64 vs Game Boy Advance comparison

Nintendo released a compilation game consisting of Mother 1 and Mother 2 for the Game Boy Advance in June 2003, which they used as an opportunity to announce the development of Mother 3 for the Game Boy Advance.   When Mother 1+2 released Nintendo aired a television commercial for the game and as part of the commercial announced that the development of Mother 3 had restarted for the Game Boy Advance.

Brownie Brown led the development of the game with input from Itoi.  While the game was completely overhauled from an open world 3D environment to a 2D top-down perspective, the story was not altered.  Taking place after the events of Mother 2 in the Nowhere Islands, the story is told over eight chapters, including a short prologue.  The game follows Lucas, a young boy with psychic abilities, and a party of characters as they attempt to prevent a mysterious invading army from corrupting and destroying the world.

Development of the game finally completed and was released on April 20, 2006, in Japan.   The game was a critical and commercial success upon its release in Japan.  Mother 3 received critical praise for its character development, stylized graphics, music, story, and mature theme.   Even though the game was a commercial success in Japan and has since generated a cult following the game was never localized for release outside of Japan.

Game Screenshots:

Game Trailer & Commercial

Shigesato ItoiShigesato ItoiStory
Nobuyuki InoueNobuyuki InoueDirector
Satoru IwataSatoru IwataExecutive Producer
Shinichi KameokaShinichi KameokaProducers
Kensuke TanabeKensuke TanabeProducers
Keisuke TerasakiKeisuke TerasakiProducers
Tatsuya HishidaTatsuya HishidaProgress Supervision
Kazuyuki GofukuKazuyuki GofukuProgress Supervision
Shogo SakaiMusic
Masaaki IwasakiSound Effect
Profile PlaceholderKunimitsu TanakaEvent Design
Profile PlaceholderAkiyuki SuzukiEvent Design
Battle Data Design
Profile PlaceholderSeiichi EmuraEvent Design
Profile PlaceholderHideki OkumaEvent Design
Akihito TodaAkihito TodaMessage Design
Profile PlaceholderTomonori HiraishiSystem Programming
Profile PlaceholderMasaki AikyoBattle Programming
Profile PlaceholderNobuhiro ImagawaArt Director
Gen KadoiGen KadoiMap Design
Profile PlaceholderYukie InoseMap Design
Profile PlaceholderHiroshi SatoCharacter Design
Profile PlaceholderShinobu NagataCharacter Design
Profile PlaceholderKuninori UenoCharacter Design
Profile PlaceholderSeitaro WakabayashiMonster Design
Effect Design
Profile PlaceholderMasanori HoshinoMonster Design
Profile PlaceholderSatoshi MatsuuraMonster Design
Profile PlaceholderFujiko NomuraArtwork
Profile PlaceholderSachiko NakamichiArtwork
Profile PlaceholderYoshinori OdaArtwork
Profile PlaceholderTakayoshi MatsuiArtwork
Profile PlaceholderAkane OtsukiArtwork
Profile PlaceholderYuka MoritaDebug Support
Profile PlaceholderJunichi AkamaDebug Support
Profile PlaceholderYuki TanikawaDebug Support
Profile PlaceholderGou EndouDebug Support
Profile PlaceholderKei HoshibaSound Debug
Mario ClubSuper Mario ClubDebug
Profile PlaceholderMasahiro TakeguchiTechnical Support
Hirokazu TanakaSpecial Thanks
Keiichi SuzukiKeiichi SuzukiSpecial Thanks
Kōichi ŌyamaKōichi ŌyamaSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderKōji TsudaSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderTomoki AnazawaSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderTakeo ŌinSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderMakoto TakahashiSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderYuko ItoSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderHiroki MatsuuraSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderHiroki ArayaSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderYasuaki OkumuraSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderKiyotaka SakaiSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderNaomi OsadaSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderMakoto SuzukiSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderAyano IshidaSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderChinae NakashimaSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderTatsuya YamadaSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderBrendan SechterSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderSatomi OnoderaSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderHirotaka HoshiSpecial Thanks

Game Boy Advance (Japanese Release)

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