Reggie Fils-Aimé Had “A Serious Talk” About Bringing Mother 3 West With Iwata
Today was a day full of Reggie Fils-Aimé treats. The new book from the former president of Nintendo of America, disrupt the game, launches in North America today, and we had a chance to read it ahead of time. You can read our thoughts on the book right here in our review.
However, fans who pre-ordered the audiobook version get access to exclusive bonus content, where Reggie chats with his close friend and Game Awards host Geoff Keighley. The discussion naturally revolves around – guess what? — Mother 3.
It’s a game that people often associate with Reggie’s tenure at the Big N, a game that fans have harassed Reggie for years while he worked at Nintendo and beyond. Reggie often toyed with fans in response, once saying he owned a English version of Mother 3 on Twitter. And how can we forget the opening of Nintendo’s E3 2014 digital event?
The bonus audiobook content was compiled by Nintendo All About Mother 3. Reggie spoke to Keighley about Nintendo’s decision, which was made before he joined the company. When he was on board, Nintendo was already pushing the marketing of the Nintendo DS. Reggie reveals that the marketing of its predecessor, EarthBound, has been well considered.
“The original decision not to release the game was made before I joined the company, but I’ve certainly had many conversations with Mr. Iwata about this game, the passion of the fans, and certainly the perspective was the first game on Super Nintendo Entertainment. The system didn’t sell very well. Granted, as I went back to it, the marketing wasn’t great. I think it was marketed in a way weird like “this game stinks” or something. It really wasn’t the best marketing activity behind launching a new game. Because it didn’t sell well, because yeah, there has a lot of time and financial investment in localizing this type of content, it really wasn’t a priority.”
Considering EarthBound rose to popularity long after the game’s initial release, that’s not too surprising. If you include the fact that the focus was on DS at the time, and the Wii was also on the horizon, “it really just wasn’t a strong business priority”.
It’s surely disappointing to hear, but the conversation around Mother 3’s location didn’t end there. With the era of the 3DS and Wii U, digital-only purchases only grew in popularity, and the success of Virtual Console on the Wii was fresh in Nintendo’s mind.
Reggie reveals that he had a conversation with Satoru Iwata about the third entry in the Mother series on the 3DS or Wii U via this method. He suggests that the re-release of the first game – EarthBound Beginnings – was an example of dipping your toes in water.
“We had conversations before about having a bunch of games that weren’t localized, that it was the purely Japanese game being made available. And we’ve done that for a number of titles. They Mr. Iwata and I had this conversation about Mother 3. What ultimately happened was that we launched the first Mother game called EarthBound Beginnings on the Wii U eShop. is a sense of the conversations that were taking place and the thought process.”
EarthBound Beginnings was renowned for its high difficulty and in many ways felt like a prototype for the SNES sequel, so it was already a niche sell to anyone but hardcore EarthBound fans. And its only release on Wii U (until Switch Online), a console that had disappointing sales numbers, was probably a bit of a drag.
Reggie talks more about Iwata – who joined the production on EarthBound when the project was in dire straits and was possibly responsible for rescuing it – who had multiple discussions with NoA’s president about the potential re-release by Mother 3.
“And who knows? If Mr. Iwata hadn’t died, if maybe the Wii U had done better in the market, maybe the Mother 3 game would have been successful then. So there were certainly conversations, but it should have been done in the right way.
It’s clearly Reggie speculating or thinking out loud about what could have been, but it’s a sad note to end on. Reggie told SXSW how Iwata’s death caused him to re-evaluate his life, so it’s clear the two were close.
Earlier today, we reported on Shinichi Kameoka’s thoughts on why Mother 3 wasn’t localized on the Kit & Krysta podcast. Fans are still desperate to see an official release of this game, and maybe all that big-name Nintendo and Brownie Brown chatter will help.