Fans have been clamoring for it for years. We’ve seen it done successfully with other games in the same genre. Given the popularity of the Switch and the political capitol of Nintendo in 2021, it’s time for Shigesato Itoi to direct a remake of Earthbound.
Earthbound is perfect for the Switch. The console has made itself home to RPGs past and present, and the default place for remasters and remakes (Final Fantasy VII aside but that’s okay, I’m not upset). With countless classic RPGs now on the system, there’s no reason for the lack of presence from the Mother series. The gap in the library is strange. If Nintendo didn’t care about making money from the series, why didn’t they release the games on the NES and SNES Nintendo Switch Online emulators? And if Nintendo isn’t giving the games to us, then does that mean they’re saving them for a special reveal? July 27th will be the 30-Year Anniversary of the first Mother game’s release, but until then we can only speculate.
Nintendo has seen success with similar remakes in the past. Two examples stand out: Trials of Mana and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. Both games are top-down RPGs from the NES and SNES era. Both remakes provided an overhaul of the game’s graphics and gameplay mechanics. Perhaps most notably, both games brought new fans into the respective franchises.
Earthbound is a strange and loveable game. Its dialogue is quirky and unforgettable, its plot theatrical and meaningful. It’s a story about growing up and it’s a game about realizing yourself. The game would fit incredibly well in the Switch’s growing library of games enjoyed by adults and kids alike. If an Earthbound remake is a success, it could pave the way for the first and third entries in the series to be remade – or at least brought to the Switch.
The series means so much to so many people who played the originals on the NES and SNES, and to the 31,000 who petitioned for Mother 3 to be released. The franchise has developed a cult-like following due, perhaps, in part by Nintendo’s reluctance to show the games any love. In fact, there still is not an official English localization of Mother 3.
I would settle for a remaster, or really any recognition of the series from Nintendo, but Earthbound deserves to be remade, remembered, and realized by a new generation of gamers. The game is too good to be forgotten by many and known by too few. The Switch is an opportunity for Nintendo to capitalize on the series and make it a flagship of the genre. Whether the franchise’s potential is truly recognized remains to be seen.