EarthBound Beginnings, or Mother, as it’s known in Japan is a role-playing game for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Created by copywriter Shigesato Itoi, it is the first entry of the Mother series, followed by EarthBound (Mother 2) for the Super NES and Mother 3 for the Game Boy Advance. EarthBound Beginnings, much like its sequels, is known for deviating from the traditional sword and sorcery motif typical of the role-playing genre, by taking place in a modern American setting.
In the early 1900s in Rural America, a man named George and his wife Maria mysteriously vanish, only to have George turn up again a year later. George tells no one where he was or what he was doing during that time and immerses himself in the study of PSI, or psionics. Some 80 years later, George's great-grandson, Ninten, gets caught up in strange happenings, starting with a poltergeist attacking his house. After Ninten stops the attack, he calls his father, who sends Ninten on an adventure to investigate the cause of the strange event.
With his great-grandfather's diary in hand, Ninten discovers a magical realm called Magicant and is asked by Queen Mary, the ruler of Magicant, to find the eight fragments of her melody so that she can sing it again. Along the journey, Ninten travels back and forth from Rural America and Magicant, battling zombies, aliens, and other unusual foes including hippies and floating eyeballs. In his search for the eight melodies, Ninten is joined by Ana, a psychic girl, Lloyd, a boy genius, and Teddy, a gang leader with a heart of gold.
EarthBound Beginnings much like most role-playing games (RPGs), has the player control the characters in an overworld where one can walk, run, check objects, talk to non-player characters and so on. In certain areas of the overworld, the player can get drawn into battles at random.
During battles, The enemy character(s) appear on screen and the player is given a menu of different commands. These commands include Fight, which deals damage to a foe of the player's choosing ND PSI, which allows the player to pick a psychic ability to use. PSI powers include PK Beam, a damge dealing move, 4th-D Slip, which guarantees the player a 100% chance to successfully run away from battle, and LifeUp, which recovers HP.
HP stands for Hit Points and determines the characters' health. If the HP counter reaches zero, the character in question falls unconscious and cannot take any action until he or she is revived, either at a hospital or by means of PSI. Using PSI consumes Psychic Points, or PP. Once the PP counter reaches zero, no PSI can be used until PP is recovered by staying at a hotel or by other means.
For winning battles, the player is awarded Experience Points (EXP) and a varying amount of money, which must be withdrawn from an ATM before it can be spent. When a character gains enough EXP, he or she will level-up, which means stats will increase. Such stats include Fight, which determines attack power, Defense, which determines how much damage enemies can deal to the character, and maximum HP and PP, which increase by varying amounts per level-up.
Player characters can also equip certain items to boost their stats such as boomerangs, ray guns, and baseball bats to increase Fight and coins and pendants to increase Defense.
Ninten - A twelve-year-old boy living in Podunk with his mother and two younger sisters. Ninten is a strong attacker and in the course of the game, learns a variety of PSI powers for defense and healing. His favorite food is prime rib and he also likes to play baseball.
Ana - A girl who lives in the wintery town of Snowman with psychic powers. Unlike Ninten, she can learn offensive PSI powers such as PK Fire and PK Beam. She joins Ninten on his quest in search of her mother, who mysteriously vanished.
Lloyd - A timid boy with a genius IQ who get picked on in school. Lloyd joins Ninten to see Duncan's factory, which is constructing a large rocket. While Lloyd cannot use PSI, he makes up for it by being the only character who can use certain tools in battle, like bottle rockets and even a flamethrower. He is also good with machines.
Teddy - The leader of the Bla-Bla Gang (Black Blood in the original Japanese). Despite his appearance, Teddy is not as bad as he seems and joins Ninten to avenge his parents, who were killed by "mountain creatures." Teddy also possesses no PSI, but he's very strong and is the only character who can equip swords.
Ninten's father - Though he is always away from home, Ninten's father is always a phone call away. He deposits money into Ninten's bank account and can also save your progress.
Pippi - A little girl who gets captured by Zombies. Ninten rescues her early in the game and she temporarily joins him. Pippi can help fight in battle and can even level up. In addition, she gives Ninten the Franklin Badge, an important item required to progress through the game.
Queen Mary - The beloved ruler of Magicant, Queen Mary is known by her subjects for her beautiful singing. However, she forgot how her song goes, but knows that it was divided into eight parts and is scattered in various locations for Ninten to find.
Flying Men - Five brothers who resemble birds and can aid Ninten in battles in Magicant. They represent Ninten's courage.
Mother was released for the Nintendo Famicom in 1989. It was slated for a release in North America under the title Earth Bound (note the space) in 1991, but despite being fully translated into English, the release was cancelled. Mother was re-released in 2003 for the Game Boy Advance as part of the compilation game, Mother 1+2. On June 14, 2015, Mother was finally relaeased in North America and Europe for the Wii U Virtual Console under the title EarthBound Beginnings.