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April 21st, 2009 | Interviews, Itoi, MOTHER 3, Uncommon Knowledge

This is a semi-follow up of this update from last week.

Shigesato Itoi and Satoru Iwata ended their big Animal Crossing discussion with some stuff about MOTHER 2 and MOTHER 3. I’ve translated the text here:

Itoi: I found this out while making a clone of myself (in Animal Crossing) – it feels like I’m making my own creation inside this.

Iwata: Oh, inside Animal Crossing?

Itoi: Yes, that seems to be the only way to explain it. I’ve used game-playing to make a creation all my own.

Iwata: (laugh) Do you remember way back when we were extremely busy working on MOTHER 2 and you said, “I came up with an incredible idea for MOTHER 3.”?

Itoi: Yeah (laugh)

Iwata: The reason I bring that up is because I think many of your ideas for MOTHER 3 then share things in common with Animal Crossing.

Itoi: Now that you mention it, you might be right. When we were working on MOTHER 2, RPGs were all basically “road movies”. The main character would set out on a journey and go from town to town. By laying this out in a spiraling fashion, an RPG’s structure would start to resemble a simple board game.

Iwata: Yes.

Itoi: But I felt that there was a limit to this road movie/board game style of moving from one spot to the next. Kind of like, “Okay, I made it this far, but what’s happened to the people in the last town?”

Iwata: Uh huh.

Itoi: That’s when I thought of an RPG in which you stay in a certain town for a long time.

You’d be a detective who would get hired to follow someone’s wife to see if she’s having an affair, or you’d be asked to catch a shoplifter. You’d do things like that while living in the second floor of a run-down supermarket. That’s about the level of detail I’d come up with already.

Information would change every day while you wandered around, and you would solve small cases based on that information. As you’d repeat this, you’d get caught up in a large incident. Once you got the information to solving the big incident, you’d be able to go to the next town and work there.

You wouldn’t get stronger by beating stronger and stronger enemies; the things you could do would increase as you went around the same place over and over.

The game would have character relations, and the people would all have their own lives. This way, we could do all sorts of things in the game. For example, someone who recently hung laundry out to dry would be wearing those clothes the next day. I wanted to make an RPG in which you could grow closer to the people as time went on.

Iwata: Right.

Itoi: Actually, MOTHER 3 took shape shortly after, and in the game, you’re in a village called Tazmily for a long time. That came from this idea.

I had hoped to include other things that didn’t adhere to the “road movie” pattern. I really wanted to do a lot more of that sort of thing.

Iwata: I guess that idea always remained deep in your mind then, huh?

Itoi: Yes, maybe so.

Iwata: Animal Crossing is the realization of that idea, which I guess is why you were able to create your newest work of art known as Nikonikori Village. (note: that’s Itoi’s town in Animal Crossing)

Itoi: For which I’m very happy. (laugh)

Anyway, the rest after that is just them ending the interview with unrelated jibber-jabber.

I remember hearing about this detective thing and stuff from somewhere before, but it must be in some old magazine article I’ve yet to translate. I’ll see if I can dig it up and get any more info about it sometime.


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31 Comments to Itoi, Iwata, and Old MOTHER 3

Poe said on Apr. 21, 2009

Oh maaaan! If Itoi made a detective game, I think I could end my gaming career with it. No other game would be able to surpass it for me.

mitch said on Apr. 21, 2009

Wow. You know, I had an inkling that Mother 3’s world was smaller for that reason, but i never pieced it together.

Itoi is a really genuine guy. I gotta hand it to him.

the retard of epic proportions said on Apr. 21, 2009

all my friends mom plays is detective games, it would be awesome if Itoi made one.

Jeeves said on Apr. 21, 2009

That really does sound like a game I’d like to play, and not just because of Itoi.

Anyway, I’m glad he went down that sort of route for Mother 3, as I very much enjoyed the more intimate feel of the environment compared to the globe-trotting of the previous entries.

Jim said on Apr. 21, 2009

Detective RPG where you stayed in one town for a long time? Shenmue. The fanbase between Shenmue and Mother have a ton in common too.

Mato said on Apr. 21, 2009

Although I’ve only played like 30 minutes of it, his description reminded me a lot of what Radiata Stories was supposed to do. Never got far enough to actually see that stuff in action, though.

pooppoop said on Apr. 21, 2009

sounds like he really likes harvest moon

Flint said on Apr. 22, 2009

Now I can see how would MOTHER 3 had worked on the N64 DD! It sure was an ambitious project.

Hey said on Apr. 22, 2009

No mention of Majora’s Mask? Come on. That’s totally what Itoi meant. At least, the sidequest portion of Majora’s Mask where you use the Bomber’s Notebook to solve all these cases to make people happy, and the more you go into it the more detail you notice about the NPCs and the more you relate to how realistic they are.
I can’t imagine a closer game to Itoi’s original vision than this.

Big A2 said on Apr. 22, 2009

That’s a pretty good point Mr. Hey. I’m not sure whether Itoi is much of a fan of Zelda though. I’ve never heard him mention it.

night said on Apr. 22, 2009

The exploration is one of the things I missed a lot for portions of Mother 3

EBP said on Apr. 22, 2009

in that last pic of Itoi…it looks like he just did a silent but deadly…in fact that gives me an idea..

HoboDan said on Apr. 22, 2009

^^^ oh nos!! your not going to do what i think your going to… are you?

I got the ingrowing toenails, pop. I'm in agony. said on Apr. 22, 2009

Tazmily and the surrounding areas is only a bit bigger than your standard RPG town. I think that’s why it probably felt more restrictive than an open game where you can travel wherever you want.

A real town is a lot, lot bigger, and if Tazmily was similar to that I think a lot less people would complain about feeling restricted. That could be a problem too though, if it was too big some players would never bother exploring everything, or might never feel attached to the setting because it’s so big. Maybe they struggled with that, as well as making the setting of the town fit in with the story, which requires travel.

Lots of things like this make Mother 3 feel unbalanced and unpolished, like a rough gem. I don’t know if it would be better if it was perfect and completely realized.

Hugh Isaacs II said on Apr. 22, 2009

Hopefully the fact that they’re willing to talk about such a neglected game will mean that we’ll see a Mother/Earthbound collection for the DSi with some extra features and maybe new graphics (wouldn’t matter to me if the graphics were left unchanged).

"Akira" "Hikaru" said on Apr. 22, 2009


I met Itoi today! It was a total chance encounter. (I hung around his office for the past three weeks) It surprises me he’s not like most other famousy people who have to go everywhere with a gaggle of bodyguards.

Anyway, I can speak a little “conversational Japanese” as they call it, so I hit him up! Maybe I could convince him to export the famed “MOther” series to America for DS or even Nintendo’s Wii?

He told me to never come near him again.

santiagoff said on Apr. 22, 2009

Cool to hear this. Pretty creative gameplay , indeed!

Aerostella said on Apr. 22, 2009

A detective game like that sounds pretty interesting. XD

gwalms said on Apr. 22, 2009

Ingrowing toenail: I’m suprised no fans are trying to make a 3D version of Mother 3. Maybe 3D-ized it would seem more polished.

Devaux said on Apr. 22, 2009

This gives me new hope for Mother 4.

Mother 3 began as a detective game that centered on some random idea Itoi had one day and wound up evolving into Mother 3. That’s one huge step. Who’s to sat Itoi won’t have yet another brilliant notion and wind up creating Mother 4?

I’m still a cynic that doesn’t believe it’ll happen, but this puts it into the realm of conceivability for me.

Darien said on Apr. 22, 2009

Hey: I also thought of Majora’s Mask when I read that bit. The way Clock Town changed and advanced over the course of the game, and in particular the way all the mobs went about their lives according to the game’s timer and not triggered by events, was very interesting.

In fact, it was the only thing I liked about Majora’s Mask. 😉

DrGlove said on Apr. 22, 2009
Deiphobus said on Apr. 22, 2009

oh come on, you liked rolling over people as a goron. admit it.

Darien said on Apr. 22, 2009

Okay, yeah. And that mask that makes you explode was pretty fun, too.

Mend said on Apr. 22, 2009

I’m always revisiting towns in games to see if they’ve changed ^^;
They do in some of the good games.

The whole “centred around one town” thing reminded me of Persona 3….maybe because I just beat it.
(It was really good. Go play it XD)
And yeah, it is a lot like Majora’s mask.

I was really happy that things changed all the time while I was playing Mother 3. I ran around for hours trying to track down all the NPCs XD

hollow leviathan said on Apr. 26, 2009

Non-linear story-telling? My word! It’s like he’s discovered western style RPGs.

Mato said on Apr. 26, 2009

Keep in mind that this all took place in like 1992/1993, so while some of his ideas are old/cliche by now, back then they would’ve been pretty fresh.

dale said on May. 30, 2009

Itoi + Famicon Detective Club + Mother = best game ever!

Dan said on Feb. 16, 2010

Holy shit, that detective game sounds ridiculous(especially if it had lots of different cases/towns/endings/etc)…especially if Itoi was at the helm and it had the Mother 3 art style too.

Mr. Carpainter said on Sep. 19, 2013

Heck, anything Itoi makes is great


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