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The Real Reason Mother 3 Never Released In The US

If you're a hardcore Nintendo fan, there's probably one question you've heard more than a few gamers ask, "when will 'Mother 3' come to America?" A Game Boy Advance game released in Japan in 2006, "Mother 3" is the third installment in the franchise that fans in America know as "Earthbound." The cult-classic RPG series has become a favorite among fans of Nintendo and has received increased popularity thanks to the inclusion of characters like Ness and Lucas in the "Super Smash Bros." series.

Still, Nintendo has never offered up a localization of "Mother 3" for American fans. Despite the extensive fan requests and Nintendo's official acknowledgment of the fan campaigns (including, but not limited to, several jokes from former Nintendo president Reggie Fils-Aimé), the call for localization has never been answered. Even with the addition of Game Boy Advance games on the Wii U Virtual Console, Nintendo never took that opportunity to re-release the game. With the fan requests continuing to receive attention, gamers may wonder what's kept Nintendo from bringing such a game to an audience that desperately wants it.

Mother 3 had a tumultuous development

"Mother 3" went through a notoriously lengthy and tumultuous development cycle before its release in 2006. Originally in development for the Super Famicom in 1994, the game was first shown to the public as "Earthbound 64" for the Nintendo 64. The game's scope exceeded what the Nintendo 64 would be capable of, causing the developers to move it to the 64DD add-on. The 64DD's commercial failure caused Nintendo to move it back to the Nintendo 64 on a 256-megabit cartridge, but despite strong early showings, the game was canceled as a result of the 3D graphics leading to the project becoming overly complex.

By 2003, the game was restarted as a 2D title for the Game Boy Advance, and it finally saw a release in 2006. This may have impacted the decision to keep its release limited. By 2006, the Nintendo DS was earning major sales and Nintendo was preparing to release the Wii, which would also push a lot of units. Nintendo may have had too much on its plate at the time, and may have felt that fans would not give as much attention to "Mother 3" as they would end up giving to the DS and the Wii.

Is it too much of a hassle?

Perhaps Nintendo also felt that localizing another "Mother" game would be too big of a hassle. While "Earthbound" became a critically acclaimed gem, it was a commercial failure as the game's expansive (and expensive) marketing campaign alienated fans, with foul-smelling scratch-and-sniff ads that read "this game stinks" failing to sell the product. Even with the recent reissues of the first two "Mother" games on the Switch Online service, Nintendo may have felt that it was not worth the effort of going through another marketing campaign for a game that may not sell all that well.

There may be some other reasons that have turned Nintendo away from localizing the game. One gamer commented on a message board, explaining that "Mother 3" localization was planned, but that Nintendo turned back on it on the grounds that some elements of the game, such as drug use and animal cruelty, would be cause for controversy. Nintendo may just be protective of the games it specifically publishes. The publisher notably delayed its own "Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp" in response to the crisis in Ukraine. Thus, fans who are waiting patiently for "Mother 3" to be localized may have to keep waiting if they want Nintendo to officially re-release the game.