For the last 10 years, a group of developers have been working on their own, unofficial sequel to Mother 3, the final game in a series that us westerners refer to as Earthbound. The group originally announced that its game, then called Mother 4, would be available in the winter of 2014. But alas, Santa came and went, and Mother 4 was nowhere to be found. Little else was heard from the team until 2017, when it announced that its game was no longer a fan sequel, and therefore, no longer called Mother 4.
Another few years of radio silence brings us to today, when, surprise! The game is called now Oddity. As seen in the debut trailer below, Oddity certainly wears its Mother/Earthbound influence on its sleeve, but to call it strictly derivative would be unfairly dismissive, in my honest IMO.
Set in “the Seventies,” Oddity put players in the shoes of Travis Fields, “an ordinary boy who leaves home in a bid to save the world,” according to the trailer’s Youtube description. Armed with a baseball bat and a pop-gun, Travis meets new companions on his journey, including Zack Fields, who I’m assuming is Travis’ brother, Meryl Hinton, who might be an idol stand-in of some type, and “Leo,” whose combat footage was seized by the Christmas County Sheriff’s Office. Together, the team might just uncover why “people are crabby, demons run amok, the moon’s covered in creepy ooze, [and] a bear did something.”
Oddity will be out “when it’s ready,” according to the trailer, and fans are encouraged to “relax ’til then.” This may be easier said than done though, especially since some folk have been waiting since late 2014 to get their hands on this thing. While the old Mother 4 website has been abandoned since 2016, the team has periodically provided updates about the game on its official Twitter account, which today was rebranded to match the new name of the project. I’ve reached out to the developers to see if they’ve got an official name they’re going by — “O197X” is a possibility, since that’s the name of the Youtube account that published today’s trailer, but one must never make inferences when reporting on something that might enter the public record.
Earthbound for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System was, until 2015, the only game in the Mother series to make it stateside. Released in Japan as Mother 2 in 1994, Earthbound bombed in North America due to its infamously horrible advertising campaign, which included putrid scratch-and-sniff magazine advertisements branded by the phrase “this game stinks!” Despite this, Earthbound gained traction among die-hard JRPG fans and would eventually become a cult favorite on the then-burgeoning internet. Nowadays, Earthbound cartridges go for hundreds of dollars on eBay, with prices approaching $1,000 for copies that include the box and instruction booklet.
The original Mother was released on the Famicom in 1989, but wouldn’t make it to American shores until it was translated and re-released as Earthbound Beginnings on the Wii U Virtual Console. This remains the only legal, official way to play Mother in English, though countless fan translations were released during the decades prior. Mother 3, meanwhile, was originally developed as a Nintendo 64 Disk Drive game, and Nintendo even went so far as to announce it for the west as Earthbound 64. The project was cancelled after Japan failed to adopt the 64DD and Nintendo canned its worldwide release, but Mother 3‘s storyline would live to see another day. In 2006, Mother 3 came out in Japan as a Game Boy Advance title — it has never been officially translated or released elsewhere.