Nintendo Switch Online Retro Games Could Open the Door for Mother 3

When Nintendo fans talk about games that the studio hasn't released in North America, it's hard to avoid the topic of Mother 3. The Mother franchise, also known as the EarthBound franchise outside of Japan, has a curious and complicated history, with those complications coming to a head in Mother 3. EarthBound's international release drummed up lots of fans for the franchise, but Mother 3 still has yet to get an official English localization. In response, fans have done everything from localizing Mother 3 themselves to making an unofficial Mother 4 now called Oddity, but Nintendo still remains stoic, showing no sign of bringing Mother 3 to the West.

Even so, there may be more hope now than ever that Nintendo will finally do something with Mother 3. When Nintendo launched the Switch's Nintendo Switch Online service in 2018, fans were delighted to also gain access to a ton of classic games that thrived on Nintendo's earliest consoles. Through NSO, Nintendo fans can play dozens of NES and SNES titles, including the earliest entries in highly influential Nintendo franchises, like The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario, and Metroid. Mother 3 isn't available in English yet, but NSO provides a perfect venue for it, especially considering the fact that NSO already includes some titles once exclusive to Japan.

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NSO is Begging For Mother 3

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Nintendo didn't have to translate past games for NSO if it didn't want to. It easily could have just uploaded titles like the original Zelda and Mario games that got English language versions and still gotten lots of attention. Even so, Nintendo put a few games on the service that had never appeared in North America before. For example, the game that Western audiences knew as Tetris Attack released as Panel de Pon in Japan, featuring a cast of original fairy characters instead of Tetris Attack's characters borrowed from Super Mario. Panel de Pon's inclusion in the English version of the NSO game library suggests that Nintendo is aware that some of its fans are interested in games that didn't get English versions before.

The same hope could be applied to Mother 3. Although admittedly Nintendo didn't need to translate or localize the vast majority of games available through NSO, Nintendo's willingness to do so for even a handful of games opens a door to further localizations. English-speaking Nintendo fans have been saying for years that they're interested in playing Mother 3; even beloved actor Terry Crews says he wants Mother 3 localized. Since NSO serves as a good possible platform for Mother 3 and already offers newly localized games, NSO and Mother 3 would be a match made in heaven.

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Mother 3 Should Lead the Game Boy Charge

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Mother 3's case is further helped by the latest rumor that Game Boy games are coming to NSO. Nintendo has waited for some time to expand NSO's game library into a new Nintendo console, but the Game Boy and the Game Boy Color seem like the next logical platforms to add. Mother 3 is a Game Boy Advance title, so technically it came out for a later Game Boy generation, but it's possible that an NSO Game Boy expansion would reach more broadly across the platform's generations than fans expect. Mother 3 may have been a later Game Boy title, but considering how iconic the RPG is and how badly fans want to play it, it would be the perfect face of a Game Boy expansion.

Admittedly, NSO isn't the perfect hope that Mother 3 will get localized. Nintendo has had about three years to put Mother 3 on NSO, and yet it hasn't done so. Even before that, it's had nearly 20 years to do a traditional Mother 3 localization, and Nintendo hasn't done so even though there's an obvious market. Even so, NSO's newly localized games could be the breaking point. Maybe Nintendo just needs to warm up to revisiting the classics first.

Mother 3 is available now for Game Boy Advance.

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