A question I often see is, "I've never played anything in the EarthBound/Mother series but want to get into it. What do you recommend?" I've made this page to answer that question and give some suggestions to eager newcomers to the series.

The Series

There are basically three games in the Mother series: Mother, Mother 2, and Mother 3. Outside of Japan, the naming gets a little weird, kind of like how Final Fantasy titles had weird changes back in the early days. Here's a quick summary of everything:

MOTHER 1 (Famicom) / EarthBound Zero (NES)

Mother (Nintendo Famicom, 1989) / "EarthBound Beginnings" (Wii U, 2015)

The first game in the series. Nintendo localized it into English in the early 1990s as "Earth Bound", but never released it. Years later, a prototype copy surfaced and a ROM was dumped. To avoid title confusion, fans called it "EarthBound Zero". This same English version eventually got an official release on the Wii U Virtual Console in 2015 as "EarthBound Beginnings".

MOTHER 2 (Super Famicom) / EarthBound (Super NES)

Mother 2 (Super Famicom, 1994) / EarthBound (Super NES, 1995 & Wii U, 2015)

The second game in the series. Nintendo of America gave this one a top-notch localization and released it in North America as "EarthBound". Sales were poor and NOA has never released any other games in the series since.

MOTHER 3 (Nintendo 64) / EarthBound 64 (Nintendo 64)

Mother 3 / EarthBound 64 (Nintendo 64 DD / Nintendo 64, canceled)

This third game in the series was designed for the N64 Disk Drive at first, then was later changed to be a standard N64 game. Then it was canceled in 2000 after years of development. Outside of a demo at Spaceworld '99, no one's ever played this game.

MOTHER 1+2 (Game Boy Advance)

Mother 1+2 (Game Boy Advance, 2003)

A compilation of the first two games was released for the GBA in Japan only. The port of Mother 2 is especially known for its poor audio and extra bugs. The port of Mother 1 includes all the improvements found in the unreleased English-language NES version.

MOTHER 3 (Game Boy Advance)

Mother 3 (Game Boy Advance, 2006)

The third game in the series. This shares many things with the unreleased N64 version, but isn't exactly the same. The game was never released outside of Japan despite fervent demand, so some fellow fans and I released an unofficial translation patch.

What Order Should I Play the Games?

Each of the Mother games is self-contained, so you can jump into any part of the series and have fun. There are two main schools of thought for how newcomers should play the series, choose whichever one you think sounds better.

Suggested Order #1:

Suggested Order #2:

Even though the games are all self-contained, there are story elements, characters, etc. that span all three games, though, so if you want to go for the full experience I recommend playing the games in this order:

I guess the main thing to take away is this: Mother 1 is an acquired taste for most players, so if you do decide to try it, give my Mother 1+2 translation patch a try, it's much more polished and enjoyable than the unfinished NES beta. I made it specifically for fans who could never get into the first game (I was one of them myself), and it's been pretty well-received.


The recommendations above aside, you should definitely support any official releases. Nintendo has officially stated that the games' sales on the Wii U Virtual Console are important to determining demand for other games, so please support the official releases whenever possible.


If you have any questions, feel free to contact me any time at @ClydeMandelin, at @ebcentral, or via e-mail at tomato@starmen.net!