Original North American Release Date: June 5th, 1995
Developer: HAL Laboratory/ Ape, Inc.
If there’s one Nintendo-owned property that continues to be criminally underutilized in North America, it’s the Mother franchise. Although technically a sequel to the Famicom-exclusive RPG Mother, the game was relabeled as EarthBound so western gamers wouldn’t be confused by the original Mother 2 title. Most JRPGs in the 90s typically use a medieval fantasy setting, but EarthBound turns this convention on its head by using a modern setting influenced by Americana and 1950s science-fiction films.
EarthBound was not a financial success, but the game’s strange themes, emotional storytelling, and incredible sense of humor have given it a large cult following amongst gamers. Unfortunately, EarthBound’s loose follow-up, Mother 3, still remains exclusive to Japan, where it was originally released for the Game Boy Advance.
Perhaps continued support for the Mother franchise will finally convince Nintendo to re-release it in the West, and EarthBound certainly fits that mold. Modern RPGs like South Park: The Stick of Truth even credit EarthBound as being a large influence and inspiration, which is a great testament to how well the game holds up today.