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Nintendo releases Earthbound Beginnings for Wii U, a remake of cult classic Mother

Mother, the 1998 cult classic by Japan-based development house Ape, is getting a stateside re-release in celebration of its 20th anniversary. Nintendo yesterday announced the game’s availability on the Wii U eShop as Earthbound Beginnings. It’s up for purchase now.

For the uninitiated, Mother is a role-playing game modeled on (and in some ways a tonal parody of) Nintendo’s Dragon Quest series. Set in the late 20th century United States, it follows Ninten, a boy with psychic powers, as he battles the agents of an invading alien race.

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Mother’s road to a US digital release has been long and winding. Nintendo localized it in English ahead of a planned North American launch before ultimately pulling the plug, but the translation later leaked on the Internet and came to form the basis of unofficial fan adaptation called EarthBound Zero. 

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Despite a lukewarm critical reception, Mother performed well commercially in the company’s home country of Japan. It sold 150,000 copies on the Nintendo Famicon, enough to warrant two sequels (Earthbound in 1994 and Mother 3 in 2006) and a Game Boy Advance re-release in 2001.

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Earthbound Beginnings wasn’t Nintendo’s only nostalgic revisiting at its Internet-streamed E3 festivities yesterday. The publisher sourced Mother in part for new, paid downloadable Super Smash Bros. content — Lucas comes with unique movesets and stages on both the Wii U and 3DS.

Earhbound Beginnings may not be the release fans of Nintendo’s Mother franchise have long been clamouring for — Mother 3 is the best-received and arguably the most popular — but it might well be a sign of re-releases, remasters, and remakes to come. For the sake of posterity, let’s hope that’s the case.