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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Reggie Fils-Aimé Had “A Serious Conversation” About Bringing Mother 3 West With Iwata

Image: Nintendo Life / Zion Grassl

Today has been a day full of Reggie Fils-Aimé tidbits. The former President of Nintendo of America’s new book, Disrupting the Game, launches in North America today, and we had a chance to read it ahead of time. You can read our thoughts on the book right here in our review.

However, fans who pre-ordered the audiobook version have access to some exclusive bonus content, where Reggie talks with his close friend and host of the Game Awards, Geoff Keighley. The discussion naturally comes around to — guess what? — Mother 3.

This is a game that people often associate with Reggie’s tenure at the Big N, one that fans have pestered Reggie about for years while he worked at Nintendo and beyond. Reggie often toyed with fans in response, once saying owning an English version of Mother 3 on Twitter. And how can we forget the opening of Nintendo’s 2014 E3 Digital Event?

Contents of the bonus audiobook have been compiled by Nintendo Everything around Mother 3. Reggie spoke to Keighley about Nintendo’s decision, which was made before he joined the company. When he was on board, Nintendo was already pushing on the marketing for the Nintendo DS. Reggie reveals that the marketing for its predecessor, EarthBound, was indeed taken into consideration.

“The initial decision not to launch the game had happened before I joined the company, but certainly afterwards I had many conversations with Mr. Iwata about this game, about the fan passion, and certainly the perspective was the first game on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System had not sold all that well. Certainly as I’ve gone back to look at it, the marketing wasn’t great. I think it was marketed some bizarre way like ‘this game stinks’ or something like that. It really was not the best marketing activity behind the launch of a new game. Because it hadn’t sold well, because yes there’s a lot of time and financial investment in localizing this type of content, it just really wasn’t a priority.”

Considering EarthBound grew in popularity long after the game initially came out, this isn’t too surprising. If you include the fact that the focus was on DS at the time, and the Wii was also on the horizon, “it really just was not a strong business priority.”

That’s surely disappointing to hear, but the conversation around Mother 3’s localisation didn’t stop there. With the 3DS and Wii U era, digital-only purchases were only growing in popularity, and the success of the Virtual Console on the Wii was fresh in Nintendo’s mind.

Reggie reveals that he had a conversation with Satoru Iwata about bringing the third entry in the Mother series to the 3DS or the Wii U via this method. He suggests that rereleasing the first game — EarthBound Beginnings — was an example of dipping toes in the water.

“We had already had conversations about having a group of games that were not localized, that it was the pure Japanese game made available. And we did that for a number of titles. They did okay. Mr. Iwata and I had that conversation about Mother 3. What ended up happening is that we launched the first Mother game called EarthBound Beginnings on the Wii U eShop. That’s a sense of the conversations that were happening and the thought process.”

EarthBound Beginnings had a reputation for its high difficulty and, in many ways, is like a prototype build of the SNES follow up, so it was already a bit of a niche sell to anyone but diehard EarthBound fans. And its sole release in the Wii U (until Switch Online), a console that had disappointing sales numbers, was probably a bit of a barrier.

Reggie talks more about Iwata — famously joined production on EarthBound while the project was in dire straits and was possibly responsible for rescuing it — who had multiple discussions with the NoA president about the Mother 3’s potential rerelease.

And who knows? If Mr. Iwata had not passed away, if maybe the Wii U had done better in the marketplace, maybe the Mother 3 game would have made it at that point. So there were certainly conversations, but it would have needed to have been done the right way.”

This is clearly Reggie speculating or thinking aloud about what could have been, but it’s a sad note to finish on. Reggie spoke at SXSW about how Iwata’s death led him to re-evaluate his life, so it’s clear the two were close.

Earlier today, we reported on Shinichi Kameoka’s thoughts on why Mother 3 hasn’t been localised on the Kit & Krysta Podcast. Fans are still desperate to see an official release of this game, and perhaps all of this chatter from major names at Nintendo and Brownie Brown will bring about something.

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