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August 2nd, 2013 | Interviews, Itoi, MOTHER 1, Uncommon Knowledge

Good ol’ Aquas sent me an e-mail the other day:

Hey Mato. I recently discovered blackoak from Shmuplations.com strayed away from his usual vein of translations related to Shooting Game development and translated a small article from Itoi’s point of view on the development of Mother 1. It sounds a bit familiar to some things we’ve learned about the development of Mother, but there are some things I feel like we don’t know so it may be fresh.

And here’s a description of the article:

“In this 1989 interview, Mother series creator Shigesato Itoi talks about the events leading up to the creation of Mother and his desire to break RPG conventions. Mother is one of the better documented series in terms of developer interviews, but this interview is, to my knowledge, the earliest one with Itoi.

This interview was found at the GSLA, a Japanese a website that, among other things, preserves game developer interviews from older, now-defunct print sources. The GSLA often redacts the original interviewer questions, so the text ends up reading more like a narrative than an interview.”

Check out the interview here!


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15 Comments to One of Itoi’s Earliest MOTHER Interviews

Anonymouse said on Aug. 2, 2013

“The title Mother has various meanings. Bosen means “Mothership,” which is probably the closest.”

What does he mean by this? In a later interview he said that it was the John Lennon song that inspired the title.

Mato said on Aug. 2, 2013

He’s given many reasons. In fact, in that interview where he talks about Lennon he also gives other reasons too.

Vukadin said on Aug. 2, 2013

About the part where he talks about PSI/ESP…

It just occured to me, what IS the difference between psychic powers and magic? I mean if we hypothetically imagined a psychic guy wrecking havoc on a city and then a magic guy trying to stop the psychic guy… How would normal people distinguish between the two? How would normal people know when to panic and when to not?

It’s not like magic is any different than psychic powers: you can teleport with magic, mind control with magic, use telekinesis with magic…

Furthermore, in the Mother games, you can use PK ‘Fire’, PK ‘Freeze’ (correct me if I got the name wrong) and PK ‘Thunder’. As I understand, these are NOT psychic abilities but rather are always associated with magic, correct? Then why are they treated as psychic abilities in the games?

I’m replaying EarthBound right now and a girl refers to Paula’s powers as ‘magic-like’.

This only creates more confusion.

I’d be happy if anyone could elaborate all this to me, and I presume other confused people.

I know a lot of people are gonna go ‘Well, it IS Itoi’s work of fiction… He can do whatever he wants with it.

It wouldn’t be refered to as ‘PSI/PK/ESP/Psychic abilities/Psychic powers’ if it didn’t follow things associated with those terms now would it? If it was his ‘original’ idea, then he would have just given it a new name now wouldn’t have he?

I’m not refering to the psychic abilities of the Mother series ONLY, I’m talking about psychic abilities and magic in general.

Don’t give me that ‘magic uses rituals and hand signs’ crap: there are tons and I mean TONS of fiction where the protagonist just literally creates fire/ice/thunder/whatever from his hand, without use of ‘ancient scrolls’ or wands or whatever-you.

Vanasto said on Aug. 2, 2013

Vukadin: I think that in some fiction, magic is performed by channelling and transforming power from the elements of nature. In that sense it differs quite a bit from a person wielding psychic powers that come from their own mental (and physical) concentration and attention control. But yeah in most RPGs the MP gets replenished by sleep, etc. – the same as HP, which makes it seem like it’s a product of the caster’s own internal abilities. At the same time, however, I guess tapping elemental energies would take focus and strength and could be considered a type of psychic power in its own right (and hence PSI/PK Fire, Freeze, Thunder, Starstorm, etc. using PP).

In the interview, Itoi claims that the PK/PSI abilities aren’t just a substitute for magic spells in RPGs with medieval settings, but really the way it works in the Mother games is no different at all! He was just trying to have the abilities fit the setting, and so the premise of psychic powers did a nice job of that I think…

Question for people: If it were magic spells and MP rather than psychic abilities and PP, how would that change your feelings about the Mother series? For me, I’m not too sure it would have mattered too much had I not known about the alternative, but Itoi’s decision, like so many others, made the game seem just that much more polished and thought-out. Those little things really add up!

Ness1985 said on Aug. 3, 2013

After I read this interview I fell asleep shortly after and had a dream that I went to Japan and met Shigesato Itoi and got his autograph.

BusterTheFox said on Aug. 3, 2013

@Vanasto: Mother using Magic and MP reminds me a lot of the Shin Megami Tensei series. Those games generally take place in modern day Japan, and the characters use magic. Of course, they’re very different games anyway. But just imagine Persona 4 with psychic abilities instead of magic… It would feel a lot more like EarthBound, huh? I think EB would’ve felt a lot more like Dragon Quest had it used magic instead. That’s my take on it. It’s a pretty interesting subject to think about, though!

Vukadin said on Aug. 3, 2013


I guess it wouldn’t have really affected the Mother series in any significant way.

Ness said on Aug. 3, 2013

@Ness1985: I keep having a recurring dream where I meet with Itoi and get the Earthbound 64 beta blue disks and cartridges.

The Apple Kid said on Aug. 3, 2013

@Vukadin I think it was Itoi’s way of controlling how we viewed the series’ characters. If it was called “Magic” we would view the characters as teens that are Warlocks/Witches, and in turn, think back to when magic was seemingly more relevant: The Middle Ages. However, with the tag “Teens with Psychic Powers!” they don’t seem too abnormal, and psychic powers are more relevant today than in the distant past, therefore, furthering our immersion into the “modern” RPG.

Vukadin said on Aug. 3, 2013

@The Apple Kid

Dragon Ball had both magic AND psychic powers.

As well as Starwars.

Bear in mind that they are both futuristic.

In Dragon Ball, magic and psychic powers were weak and meaningless. Users of magic and psychic powers (*Ahem* Chiaotzu, Guldo, Babidi… These are the ones at the top of my head) had such low powerlevels that basically Earthlings like Yamcha could have easily crushed any of them. Some of them, of course, took literal advantage of those powers (Babidi) and mind controlled people. Mind you, Babidi was a MAGIC user. Usually you would think that psychic folk mind control people, not users of magic. Magic is a versatile thing I guess…

In the Starwars universe, ‘super’ psychic powers are known as ‘the force’. As for magic, it is very mysterious in the Starwars universe. Some say that magic and ‘the force’ are the same thing, others disagree. Magic was apparently used by ancient alien races if my memory serves me right. We don’t even know what magic is… A manifestation of ‘the force’? Alteration of the fabric of reality itself? I remember Han Solo refered to Obi Van Kanobi’s powers as ‘magic’. In fact, the average Joe in Starwars uses magic and ‘the force’ interchangeably. Psychic powers weaker than ‘the force’ are used by other alien races as well.

If anything happened to magic or psychic powers in the Dragon Ball universe… Nothing significant would change, other than maybe a few story parts of the Buu/Babidi saga.

If ‘the force’ was replaced by magic in the Starwars universe… Nothing much would happen either.

What I’m trying to say is: neither is more suitable than the other for a certain time period be it the past, the present and the future. Chrono Trigger is a great example of this.

EnnuiKing said on Aug. 3, 2013

Wait, somebody falls in love with Teddy? I… don’t remember ever seeing such a scene.

Mr. Tenda said on Aug. 4, 2013

Interesting, thanks for always posting these great interviews.

The Apple Kid said on Aug. 4, 2013

@Vukadin I guess I can’t really think of anything else then. Given the fact that pop culture heavily influenced the game (Star Wars even showed its influence with the Sky Walker), so my answer is: I don’t know.

FuzzyPicklez said on Aug. 6, 2013

I love how this foreshadows MOTHER 3. I guess he had always wanted to make a MOTHER game with a completely different story from the first one.


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