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February 16th, 2010 | EarthBound, Interviews

In the November 1994 issue of Famicom Tsushin (later renamed to Famitsu) was a section about what Shigeru Miyamoto and some other famous people thought of MOTHER 2, which had been released a few months earlier. I’ve translated the article below. I don’t have a copy of this issue myself, so I can’t provide scans or other info, so if anyone comes across this issue, let me know!

It’s probably worth noting in advance that Miyamoto is kind of notorious for his dislike of RPGs, which he’s talked about in the past on several occasions.

What Famous People Think About MOTHER 2

Shigeru Miyamoto

–We heard from Mr. Itoi about this, but is it true that MOTHER 2 was the first RPG you ever beat?

Miyamoto: I’ve finished MOTHER 1, too. Though I had to use the debug mode. (laugh) But this is the first one I ever finished on my own. I even restarted from the very beginning when I lost my save file. I was pretty impressed with myself, to be honest. (laugh)

–So, what is your honest opinion of the game?

Miyamoto: Mostly, it made realize just how lacking games have been in terms of writing until now. Seeing how well things can be explained in only one or two lines of text had an impact on me, as did seeing words used in ways that I can’t use them. Playing the game, I realized that vocabulary isn’t about knowing lots of difficult words, but about how many simpler words you know.

–What did you think of the story?

Miyamoto: A story isn’t an outline. An example is “Twin Peaks”, with its cast of colorful characters. The story is what’s born from having a bunch of colorful characters together. My opinion is that it isn’t just a simple outline of event after event. In that sense, MOTHER 2’s story made a real impression on me.

–The townspeople are really unique and well-crafted, aren’t they?

Miyamoto: The characters are really well-done, even down to the moles that explain things to you. What left the biggest impression on me was the scene where Everdred was lying in the street. When he gets up, the middle-aged ladies back away. It was so obvious and natural, and made me wonder why video games had never used that level of expressiveness before. It perfectly portrays people’s emotions. We treat game characters as parodies of people and nothing else, so seeing how Mr. Itoi handles his characters so properly left a great impression on me.

–What are your thoughts on the graphics and the battle system?

Miyamoto: Saving Fourside’s graphic style for the fourth town was really effective. It’s a little dizzying, but that change of perspective was really good. I do have to say, though, that the battles aren’t very interesting. (laugh) Even though I was involved with them a little bit. (laugh) It’s no more than a few pictures plastered on the screen, so it lacks a feeling of uniqueness or personality. I think we could make something even more Mr. Itoi-like if we tried, though. I’d love to improve it for MOTHER 3.

–Lastly, what do you feel an RPG should be like?

Miyamoto: Let’s say you tie someone completely up – even their individual fingers – and then wait a while. Then, if you start to untie the ropes one by one, they’ll of course be happy. Anyone would. The method of sticking someone in an incredibly tight situation then untightening it little by little and then saying, “There! Aren’t you happy now?” becomes very boring as soon as it becomes evident. So, instead of that, my personal theme when making RPG-like games is, “What can I do?” I don’t think creating happiness comes from starting from a negative and returning to zero. It’s starting from zero and ending at one hundred, and I try to think of ways to allow that.

Character Names: Miyahon / Lui / Raymond / Yasuko
Pet Name: Lon
Favorite Food: Natto and Rice
Favorite Thing: Multimedia

Takuya Kimura (famous SMAP member and guy in the MOTHER 2 commercials/ads)

Character Names: Takuya / Anda / Tsuyoshi / Shigesato
Pet Name: Michael
Favorite Food: Spaghetti
Favorite Thing: SMAP

Shingo Katori (another SMAP member, most of these answers are sushi/food-related)

Character Names: Riiga / Susshi / Tooro / Tagoma
Pet Name: Kai
Favorite Food: Negitoro
Favorite Thing: Chef

Tamakichi Sakura

Character Names: Tamakichi / Lumbini / Jouro / Mage (ponytail)
Pet Name: Maru
Favorite Food: Okara (bean curd refuse)
Favorite Thing: Sokushinbutsu (Buddhist monks who get mummified)


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30 Comments to Miyamoto’s Thoughts on MOTHER 2

Mr. Crosser said on Feb. 16, 2010

Very interesting article.

ThatGuy said on Feb. 16, 2010



Poe said on Feb. 16, 2010

hee hee I think it’s cute that Kimura named one of his characters Tsuyoshi :3

Chrissii said on Feb. 16, 2010

That was SUCH a good read. Even in such a simple conversation his genius shines through. I particularly enjoyed reading what everyone named their characters, etc.. PK Chef sounds hilarious. XD

PK Coffee said on Feb. 16, 2010

PK Mummified Buddhist Monk is even more hilarious.

That’s a great way of explaining gameplay, with the finger analogy. You always notice it when you play Metroid or Zelda and you’re traveling slower, you don’t have as many weapons, you can’t reach a bunch of places (but the worst thing is walking slower). But wait, Metroid and Zelda are both great games, but they’re the first I thought of when I heard the finger-tying analogy…

LakituAl said on Feb. 16, 2010

Is it just me or “Twin Peaks” was also mentioned in a “Iwata Asks” about Link’s Awakening?

Roo said on Feb. 16, 2010

Huh, Miyamoto is a Twin Peaks fan. Who knew?

Mother 4 said on Feb. 16, 2010

Roo, give me some monees.

neonix said on Feb. 16, 2010

“I think we could make something even more Mr. Itoi-like if we tried, though. I’d love to improve it for MOTHER 3.”

I think they accomplished this goal. 🙂

Claus said on Feb. 16, 2010

Wait, whats the Mother debug mode?

Chasmang said on Feb. 16, 2010

Unless I misunderstood what he meant, Miyamoto was kinda’ talking out of his butt about the whole “what and RPG should be like” question.

I assume Zelda was on his mind when he answered the question. I just can’t think of any games where his metaphor of being tied up would fit. Most games work the way he said they should: You start with nothing and end with everything. How can you start with less than nothing?

Mato said on Feb. 16, 2010

I’m thinking he’s referring to old RPGs of the time. You know, where if you wanna buy a weapon in the first village you gotta grind and grind and grind, then you actually get to go and do stuff in the game. Until the next such situation. That was my take on it, anyway.

Chasmang said on Feb. 16, 2010

Ah, I guess I was taking him too literally.

Hendricks266 said on Feb. 16, 2010

Is there still a debug mode in MOTHER/EB0?

santiagoff said on Feb. 16, 2010

Nice, thanks for translating!

Lothis said on Feb. 16, 2010

Hey me and Miyamoto share something in common: EarthBound was the first RPG I beat legitimately, too.

steinmitz said on Feb. 16, 2010

I like what Miyamoto says about story and characters ( if I’m understanding him correctly ). Earthbound’s use of characters really does seem to contrast with , say , Final Fantasy ( particularly the post 16 bit ones ) , in the way that Miyamoto seems to be saying . The characters in Earthbound develop and show personality without being affected or influenced by the driving events of the central narrative , behaving as people would in being part of a living and breathing world , as opposed to being simply a link in a set chain of events . I’m probably not explaining myself well , but in any case , I appreciate the fact that Miyamoto has regard for at least some story driven games .

JoeShmoe said on Feb. 16, 2010

So he lost his save file, too, eh? How neat… haha. Goes to show just how good EB is if more than one person can lose their first save file, yet almost immediately continue the game and finish it in the end.

Vinny said on Feb. 17, 2010

It’s funny, like Miyamoto, I also hate RPGs. Mainly because the times between game sessions for me can be very long, and I completely forget what is going on. But Mother 2 and 1 I can’t get enough of.

Javi said on Feb. 17, 2010

Well, it’s great that he bothered to continue to finish the game even after losing his save file. Not many games can make you do that.

SmaMan said on Feb. 17, 2010

Heck, I’ve lost my file on at least 3 different occasions. That means Earthbound is gonna be INSANELY AWESOME! Maybe it’ll be worth the $102.50 I might have to pay for it in the auction I’m winning on eBay right now…

Dr. Hobo said on Feb. 17, 2010

I had no idea Miyamoto isn’t a fan of RPGs. Which is weird because he made Zelda 2 an RPG. Maybe that’s why he hates them so much, because Zelda 2 wasn’t too popular. “I made an RPG once and no one liked it so I HATE RPGS from now on. They’re stupid.”

Poe said on Feb. 17, 2010

Zelda 2 wasn’t a true RPG, it just had a few RPG elements. I don’t think he hates RPGs because Zelda 2 wasn’t popular ;P

Ninji said on Feb. 17, 2010

Hmmm…. This article was actually really cool, I hope LT has it stocked up somewhere, I NEED to read the rest of this NOW!!! 😀

Ricardo said on Feb. 17, 2010

How do you get EB0 Debug Mode?

Mato said on Feb. 17, 2010

I don’t know of a Mother/EB0 debug menu in any of the final versions of the games. They obviously had debug modes during the game’s development, and I’m sure someone like Miyamoto would be able to play a development version of the game if he wanted.

skyrunner14 said on Feb. 18, 2010

@ Mato
True… maybe he even played that one version from that early promotional video. You know the one I mean, right?


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