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Tips for Buying EarthBound

April 30th, 2012 | EarthBound, MOTHER 1

For years and years and years fans have been theorizing about how Ninten and Ness are related. A common theory is that Ninten is Ness’ father, but other fans are quick to point out that MOTHER 1 takes place in 1988 while MOTHER 2 takes place in 199X. That doesn’t give Ness, who’s apparently 12 in MOTHER 2, enough time to grow up. So unless you do some iffy math or say Ninten had a kid when he was 11, it doesn’t work out.

Anyway, I was watching an old Fanfest video the other day and the Fangamer guys were talking about this problem. Offhandedly and jokingly, someone suggested this: Maybe Ninten’s dad and Ness’s dad are the same person, they just have different moms?

Looking at things that way, everything fits pretty well – it explains why Giygas “strikes back” and fights Ness, who’s another member of the same family. It explains why the dad is always away from home, and even why the two characters have similar powers.

Personally, I feel that there isn’t a connection between the games at all, but for people who are really into the theory aspect of the fandom, maybe this is an interesting jumping off point for something new.

Anyway, if you have any other theories on how the characters and games are connected, share them in the comments!


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53 Comments to Ninten and Ness’s Relationship?

Satsy said on Apr. 30, 2012

Funnily enough I recently wrote an article around this subject that I’ll be submitting later today. Not specifically to this idea, but how Ninten and Ness could be related, in two worlds that are the same but very very different.

Bomboleriot said on Apr. 30, 2012

So simple to have been found earlier xD
Interesting theory and makes sense, is there a topic about it on starmen or something ? Where did this come from ?

Mato said on Apr. 30, 2012

I just added the video where I ran across it, check out the post.

Sato said on Apr. 30, 2012

That’s…. A pretty awesome theory actually.

Brian said on Apr. 30, 2012

What if Ninten and Ness are the same person, in different dimensions? It would explain similar music, enemies, names, powers, etc. Maybe Giygas gets stopped in Dimension A, and decides to try Dimension B just in case. Ness stops him in B, and Pokey moves on to Dimension C in Mother 3.

JamesBond007 said on Apr. 30, 2012

Ninten and Ness are different incarnations of the same hero, like Link from The Legend of Zelda.

Anonymous said on Apr. 30, 2012

I think that there cousins.

TragicManner said on Apr. 30, 2012

I’ve always felt that it had something to do with dimensions or parallel universes. In Mother 2, this is supported by a couple things Pokey says in the fight with Giygas:

“In this bizarre dimension, you four are the only force fighting for justice…”

“And here you stand, waiting to be burned up with all the rest of the garbage of this universe…Haaaaah!”

Giygas is also called the “arch fiend of the universe”, and I always felt like this meant he had the ability to travel beyond the universe as is known in Mother 2 to be able to target other universes, etc.

I also found what the talking rock in the Lost Underground says as pretty important:

“Your destiny is not only yours… It’s the destiny of the whole universe. There will be a time in which all of you in the universe will overlap each other.”

Tomato compared this script to the original Japanese (http://earthboundcentral.com/m2eb/lost-underworld/), and I feel like the original translation emphasizes the Universe so much more, making it feel as though this was the first time that specific Universe had to face an evil like Giygas, but “Gyiyg Strikes Back” still makes sense because he is striking out against the same person, but in a different reality. But hey, that’s just my interpretation. If that’s the case, though, then Ness is the same figure as Ninten, but in a different Universe/dimension/reality, or whatever you want to argue about that.

Mother 3 seemed to solidify a lot of this to me, just because of how different the setting was in the game. It was like a whole new reality that Porky had stumbled upon. But yeah, enough of that I suppose.

I like the common father idea, though. It also helps explain how Lloyd and Jeff might both be sons of Dr. Andonuts, but I haven’t looked into that idea enough to really know. But ultimately, I feel like the reality of it all was that Mother 1 and Mother 2 are only linked in the fact that they were created by Itoi, and that they needed to be linked somehow to help boost marketing. Part of me does really feel like Mother 2 is basically Mother 1, but made in the 90s with better technology and with some themes being avoided simply because they had already been done.

Bucky said on Apr. 30, 2012

To say that they two games aren’t related is a stretch, in my eyes.

If you were to write based on the theory that Ninten and Ness are half-brothers from another MOTHER, then you’ve got several hints that back this idea up. Since Ninten is older than Ness, you can infer that Dad was with the former’s mother first. Then there is a whole new theory on Dad being connected to George in some way, but I won’t dare go near that one. Ness’s family has financial trouble and Dad is never around because he’s “at work.” He’s probably at work some of the time, but probably sleeping with Ninten’s mother most of his off-time. This isn’t entirely far-fetched if you examine his character in Earthbound: He has none. He borrows money from his rich neighbor, lets his family take the fall for it while he’s away, and is Ninten and Ness are half-brothers, then that means they also share half-sisters. Why would any man continue an affair with a woman if she has already had ONE child? A dirty dog.

I believe all of the games are related…and I also believe Itoi’s word may not be entirely sacred when considering theories. In the same way a director or musician may lie about the meaning of their work, why can’t a game director? He’s human.

TragicManner said on Apr. 30, 2012

I never said that they aren’t related. They are DEFINITELY related. And in hind-sight, it’s fun to try and fill in the gaps in their stories and see exactly what that relation might be.

I don’t think it is unreasonable to believe that the two games were not meant to be directly linked in story, but instead have recurring elements, characters, and themes.

This interview kind of locks that idea in for me:

Itoi says:
“The player names the main characters, so those who played M1 might use those same names this time. But people who started the series from M2 might feel like everything starts at that point. That’s why you can either see them as the same kid, or as two different kids.”

Leaving it up to the player to kind of decide if the main character is Ninten or someone new makes me feel like this was meant to be a chance to relive the experience of Mother 1 or just leave it as a new story. I really do think that, in a lot of ways, Itoi wanted Mother 2 to be what he had imagined for Mother 1, but wasn’t able to accomplish. He points out several advancements in technology during that interview that he felt made Mother 2 a better game, and allowed him more creative flexibility. Bringing the same boss back, though, confuses the issue a little bit, and I feel like that’s why most people then try and figure out a timeline or some kind of other explanation, like parallel universes.

Let me just say that I feel Itoi is a brilliant man, and that I am not trying to discount his accomplishments in the Mother series by saying Mother 2 was more of a reboot of Mother 1 than it was a continuation of story. In a lot of ways, I feel like this approach was actually pretty genius for the time, if it is indeed what he did. The feeling of nostalgia, deja-vu, and familiarity is very potent when you go from Mother 1 to Mother 2, so much so that you even get it when playing Mother 1 for the first time having already played Mother 2. These feelings of return, of experiencing everything again, but having it so richly different at the same time, creates some pretty powerful responses in a player, and I feel that is why the series was so well received in Japan. So many people loved Mother 1, and Mother 2 was like a dream come true in expanding the experience.

As much as I think the idea that Ness and Ninten have the same dad with different mothers, I just don’t think it makes sense in light of what Itoi has said. So, to me, thinking about whether the Dad is the same person, and going to the point of speculating about how much of a scumbag the guy was is pretty counter productive. From what Itoi has said, Ness and Ninten’s dad is only the same person because Ness and Ninten are meant to possibly be the same person. Not two kids from two different estranged lovers.

Of course, I’m sure that if Itoi were asked, he’d probably say “That’s an interesting idea, perhaps the player will feel this, and if he does, he is right.” Itoi left so many of the gritty background details vague, in part because of limitations to the technology and the development process, but also because he wanted the Mother series to feel like it belonged individually to each person who played it.

Bucky said on Apr. 30, 2012

“I never said that they aren’t related. They are DEFINITELY related. And in hind-sight, it’s fun to try and fill in the gaps in their stories and see exactly what that relation might be.”

I wasn’t responding to your post. Mato said he doesn’t believe the games are related.

“As much as I think the idea that Ness and Ninten have the same dad with different mothers, I just don’t think it makes sense in light of what Itoi has said.”

…and I thought I made it clear that I really don’t care about what Itoi says. The series is so much more than Itoi. A lot of people put their spirits into it, including many of the fans who went to the trouble of translating Mother and Mother 3. That being said, I think you’re taking what he said out of context. Remember, he said: “That’s why you can either see them as the same kid, or as two different kids.” Don’t discount the latter idea of Ninten and Ness being separate people. Itoi is basically saying it’s up the the fans. Indeed, it’s up the individual playing the game, not Itoi, you, or me. If you have one interpretation, that’s yours and yours alone.

“So, to me, thinking about whether the Dad is the same person, and going to the point of speculating about how much of a scumbag the guy was is pretty counter productive.”
That’s pretty harsh, even if you didn’t mean it to be. That’s like saying Tesla’s experiments were counter-productive when Edison had already perfected electricity. There’s no such thing in the creative realm.

Hejiru said on Apr. 30, 2012

Here’s my theory:

Ness is Ninten, just in an alternate reality. When Giygas goes back in time he changes the future by meddling around in the past, altering the course of history. This is why Mother takes place in America but Earthbound takes place in “Eagleland.” Same country, just different realities. In the new history, America was never named America, but instead “Eagleland.” Ninten was reborn as Ness (same person, but different because of the altered timeline) Ana as Paula and Loid as Jeff. This also explains why Ness, a seemingly regular kid, is so important. He’s the only one who can defeat Giygas: because Ninten did it in the original history, and Ness is really Ninten in a parallel timeline. Giygas of course, remembers Mother 1’s timeline and recognizes Ness as Ninten.

tl;dr version: Ness IS Ninten, after Giygas changed the past.

Milo said on Apr. 30, 2012

Wasn’t the year that Mother 1 takes place retconned? Maybe in Mother 1&2? I thought I remembered that happening, which made the father theory more plausible.

In some ways Earthbound is an enhanced remake of Mother 1, in a similar way to how Super Metroid is an enhanced remake of Metroid. In terms of gameplays concepts they are essentially the original, improved, but a new plot ahs also been added to make them sequels.

The ridiculous fan in me loves the theory of Ninten and Ana being Ness’s parents, and Loid being Dr. Andonuts. Heck maybe Teddy is Everdred. Of course the alternate universe idea is also very appealing, and has evidence in the games. Either one is fine really! The fact that it is open to interpretation is a real strength of the series.

TragicManner said on Apr. 30, 2012


Fair enough! I didn’t mean to come across as harsh, I just suppose I saw the father’s role in the game in a more light-hearted way than you did. But that’s not to say you were wrong!

As you said, my interpretations are mine alone, and I was presenting them as that. And I don’t think I took what Itoi said out of context at all, because to me he basically says that people are going to take these games differently, and each interpretation is correct, because these games are supposed to be personal. Sorry if I came across as thinking at all differently. My point was, we all find something different in the Mother series, and that’s how Itoi wanted it.

Ninten said on Apr. 30, 2012

It’s true. My father told me everything. He is the reason they weren’t released in America! Those dirty translaters found out this and cancelled Mother 1 and 3!

Chris said on Apr. 30, 2012

Itoi did a similar thing — leaving interpretations open, not agreeing with one set of readings — with Flint being Ness. I think there’s plenty of evidence that supports the case, but I believe he more or less said “We put some things in to encourage those kind of beliefs, but if you don’t want to you don’t have to. It’s a bit ambiguous.”

Actually I’m not sure why that’s in quotes because it’s not at all a direct quote, but he said something similar.

SU-Team8 said on Apr. 30, 2012

I don’t think they’re related at all. I just think they are two random children who live on earth.

Ninten=ness said on Apr. 30, 2012

Maybe both ninten’s dad, and ness’s dad are brothers. After all, they’d have to come from a rich family to get all those money.

NorthofOnett said on Apr. 30, 2012

Haha you done it now, Mato 😛

This is gonna be in the popular posts bar for the next 6 months.

2Sang said on Apr. 30, 2012

I have to agree with the whole zelda embodiment theory. Same thing with lucas, no actual connection in relation (although EB 64 may have changed that)

EpicSatellite said on Apr. 30, 2012

One theory that I love is that Buzz Buzz is Ninten, just transported into a mechanical bee-like body. At the beginning of the game, it is clearly shown that Buzz Buzz was the hero who once temporarily defeated Giygas (Much like Ninten at the end of Mother 1…)

There’s also the Starman Junior battle, which was a boss fight in Mother 1. What’s also interesting is that you never encounter another Starman Jr. again in EarthBound. I was actually posting about this over on starmen.net the other day… Might as well rehash it over here :p

Anonymous said on Apr. 30, 2012

i’m not sure. doesn’t one take place in “america” and the other in “eagleland”? why do the characters need to be related?

the extreme muggers said on Apr. 30, 2012

^Same alien, different regions?

JOsh Johnson said on May. 1, 2012

Meh, all this speculation mad me want to play though the games again. tomorrow, I shall dust off my EB cart and SNES.

Dialga Thunderstar said on May. 1, 2012

I think that they are cousins or something.

DJMankiewicz said on May. 1, 2012

So at long last I’ve imported copies of both Mother 1 and Mother 3, which allowed me to at long last play the fan translations of those two games. (I’m not comfortable with piracy.)

I like the time travel idea, I like the alternate reality idea, and I ditched the “Ness is Ninten’s son” idea almost the moment I considered it.

There’s the somewhat unsatisfying “Mother 2 is just a re-imagining of Mother 1” idea. That is probably fairly accurate, but not really easy for me to accept. I accept this for Starfox 64, but not in this case.

Itoi basically stating it’s in the hands of the fans to interpret it as they see fit is great, but that leaves fan groups responsible for one small thing. I don’t think any fan group, no matter how large, should ever lay claim to a “definitive” explanation, even with a label like “largely accepted” and work it into any timeline. I think it would be better for fan sites to simply list a number of favorite explanations and offer them all.

So… as much as the time travel explanation fits nicely, there’s a couple reasons I’ll reject it on a personal level. Firstly, I don’t like the notion that the Mother 1 timeline is just dead. That’s never fun. Of course it could work like in the most recent Star Trek movie, the old time line exiting side by side with the altered one. However, the other reason is taking that quote from Itoi as a personal challenge to come up with my own unique explanation.

Well, here goes.

So, from what I’ve played of Mother 1, it seems the origin of PSI was George stealing it from aliens. Somehow or another, this gift was given to his grandson Ninten and also Ana. I never found out how Ana gained those abilities, but supposedly once it was brought to earth something happened to give certain special kids those powers. Well, there’s no reason to think that Ness needed to directly inherit those abilities. He could just be one of the lucky ones. In other words, they could be completely unrelated, just as Ness isn’t related to Paula or Poo yet they still have Psi powers. It could be the same world but from the perspective of some brand new kids in that world. In this version, I suspect that when George got back to Earth, he “seeded” the whole planet in the upper atmosphere with whatever the source of PSI is, and it only “took” in a very small number of newborns over the decades.

Mind you, any explanation which says it’s the same world needs to explain where the heck Ninten is during Ness’s adventure. I imagine he’s off with his own dad investigating the strange happenings on their own adventure. The ending of Mother 1 did have his “dad” call him and reveal there was some major secret he had to reveal to him. None of that was ever revealed, so I’m left to just imagine something. Maybe they were the ones to find the apple of enlightenment? I dunno…

So the other explanation is simply these are alternate realities but Giygas is the same, fleeing from the Mother 1 world to the Mother 2 world after it’s defeat.

I’ll probably favor one on Monday and another on Tuesday.

tiradefaction said on May. 4, 2012

I don’t think there’s any real connection between the two games, anymore than there is between Final Fantasy 3 and Final Fantasy 4. And I think it’s pretty clear that Mother 2/Earthbound is a re telling/remake of sorts of Mother 1.

Just my POV though…

Bucky said on May. 4, 2012

I think there are some players who would argue that all of the FF games are related in some way.

…but no one, including Itoi, made it “pretty clear” that Mother 2 is a remake of Mother 1 at all. They are pretty different…

Earthbounder said on May. 4, 2012

How did Flint get Franklin Badge? Maybe he got it from his dad, who could be Ness or Ninten I think related somehow.

Earthbounder said on May. 4, 2012

How did Flint get the Franklin Badge? Maybe he got it from his dad, who could be Ness or Ninten I think it’s related somehow.

Bucky said on May. 5, 2012

There may be more than one Franklin Badge. I’m not sure its origin is ever explained, is it?

tintinophile691 said on May. 5, 2012

@Bucky: There were two Franklin Badges in MOTHER 1.

Crystalwarrior said on May. 5, 2012

Now, two Franklin’ badges…?
That leaves me to another idea…
but nah, won’t work. too flawed.

Bucky said on May. 5, 2012

Perhaps Franklin Badges were made by George to counteract Giegue’s attacks (I realize that the Franklin Badge deflects electric attacks).

Opinionated said on May. 5, 2012

George creating them to counter Giegue does make some sense after you think about that. During the second part of the Giygas battle in EarthBound (right after the Devil’s Machine is turned off), Giygas’s “You cannot grasp the true form!” attack deals electric damage, if I remember correctly.

The Great Morgil said on May. 6, 2012

I always thought they were cousins or something.

Bucky said on May. 6, 2012


Your argument/example only supports the idea that they were made to counter Giegue/Giygas.

It’s just one theory, though. I don’t see many others.

RedDekuScrub said on May. 7, 2012

What if Earthbound takes place in some sort of Magicant… O_____O


Anonymous said on May. 8, 2012

Didn’t Itoi said on an interview that whether Ness and Ninten are the same kid is up to the player? Something like if you played Mother 1, then it’s the same protagonist in Mother 2 (IF the player wanted him to be), but if you played 2 first, then it’s another kid… to me it seems as if Itoi wanted to make a sequel, but not strictly connected to the first game, so it could be friendly to people who didn’t play the first. And it worked, as pretty much the majority outside of Japan played 2 first and still enjoyed it without knowing it was a sequel.
Still not a bad theory, I don’t think Itoi actually thought about it while making the game, but he’d probably be like “Oh, it could be that way, I suppose (laughs)” or something.

Puck Your Mother said on May. 17, 2012

Itoi’s wrong for two reasons:

Lloyd: Not Jeff
Teddy: Not Poo!

lucki_vibrato said on May. 22, 2012

My theory:
Ninten and Ness grandfather
/ \
/ \
Ninten’s father Ness’ father
/ \
/ \
Ninten Ness

Is ok?

lucki_vibrato said on May. 22, 2012

………..Ninten and Ness grandfather…….
….Ninten’s father………Ness’ father…..

It’s ok?

Username? What's that? said on May. 22, 2012

I doubt it.

Paula Polestar said on May. 22, 2012

I totally agree with all the theories of Ninten being Ness in an alternate dimension. I thought up a theory based on little rumors/theories I found online that actually made sense.

Well…here you go.

Giygas was battling in Ninten’s dimension first. Then, he went to a different dimension because he couldn’t defeat Ninten and co., but ends up in the same universe, just a different dimension. (I guess that would explain how America and Eagleland are so similar. Plus, all the EarthBound characters act just like their MOTHER1 counterparts and ONLY the main protagonist and the girl in the party have PSI.)

…Jeff and Lloyd are there because Ness and Ninten can’t do their algebra homework…

Any-who, since Giygas is in Universe A, Dimension Y, he thinks Ness is Ninten, who defeated him in Universe A, Dimension X.

But, then again, Buzz Buzz does say he’s from ten years in the future from 199X, so I really don’t know.


Y’know that part where Giygas looks like Ness? Well, some folks over @ starmen.net are saying that it’s not Ness. They state that “Giygas is taking form of Ninten, who would have been the last human he had seen before meeting Porky, and he was the one who originally defeated him and indirectly caused him to destroy himself.”

That quote over yonder is from: http://forum.starmen.net/forum/Games/Mother2/Giygas-theory. PLEASE DON’T SUE ME!!!!

Paula Polestar said on May. 22, 2012

OM to the G. Buzz Buzz is from 2009!

Earthbounder said on May. 23, 2012

Hmmm… ya know that cutscene in Earthbound? when they talk about giving Ness a hat and his Dad (Ninten) will grow into it.

lucky said on Jul. 21, 2012

Their the same person

jinxkatty7 said on Jul. 21, 2012

I think EB0 and EB take place in entirely different worlds. I saw a map (not sure if its official) of the EB (M2) world. It’s continents are shaped NOTHING like todays. Those theories of Gyigas changing the future? How could someone, even if they are the ultimate evil, change the way continents move?

qwertyuiop said on Jul. 22, 2012

they are not the same person

CaliforniaRollz said on Jul. 22, 2012

All that “other dimension” thingy majigies just seems too complicated to be true in my opinion. What I’ve always thought was Ninten and Ness have absolutely no relation. Mother 1 and Mother 2 are just different stories with a similar character scheme. I think that Itoi wanted to tell a similar story to the original Mother but wanted a twist to it. I know that Mother 2 has the subtext “Giygas Strikes Back” but to me that seems like a message to the player like “He’s back and you gotta do it again”.

Rlol said on Nov. 24, 2012

There probably just distant cousins…

PKanaFYRE said on Apr. 26, 2013

Hello. I was originally Paula Polestar, but I like Ana better now. Anyway, I have a new, original theory:

What if EarthBound is Ninten’s dream? He does go to sleep in the ending of MOTHER, doesn’t he? Maybe Giygas is getting revenge for singing that song (or something) and putting him in a coma. So he imagines himself as a new person. They look similar, but it’s a wish fulfillment: he can now attack. Ana is always with him because he loves her, so she came out as Paula, older and more mature than before, but still with her holiness. Loid is Jeff, I mean, they’re really alike, but this one is Ninten helping Loid out and making him more popular. Notice also that both characters go to a defined school. He did this all because he never wants the adventure to end.

Anonymous said on Aug. 10, 2013

I can’t get that headcanon out of my head that Ninten and Ana are Ness’s parents, just because I believe that Ness’s clothes were inherited from Ninten while his psychic powers were either inherited from Ninten or Ana.


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