I would consider myself a big fan of “mother-like games”, at least the modern ones (RPGmaker era and forward).
The thing is… what the hell is a mother-like?
The starmen.net page recommends RPGs with similarities in the settings: they star kids (more like starkids.net (gottem) ), some include aliens and time travel. It’s a good start, I think, but it misses a lot.
TV Tropes says the following:
The series has become a major source of inspiration for indie-produced RPGs with a similar offbeat-yet-creepy atmosphere. Notable examples include Undertale, LISA, Yume Nikki, OFF and Space Funeral.
Offbeat-yet-creepy atmosphere. I’d say that’s a big part of it! To expand on it, there tends to be a contrast between a quirky, lighthearted tone in the story that eventually reveals a dark, serious, emotional side usually in the ending (much like Earthbound). Many do it differently, making the serious parts more prominent (LISA) but still keeping a joking attitude.
Now we have a bunch of elements present in these games, but I’d argue it actually isn’t very useful. Similar terms like metroidvania or souls-like have much more meaning to me. Mother-like is very broad. Is it fair to group Yume Nikki and Hylics together, let alone group those games with the Mother series? Also, some of these games very commonly cited as mother-likes were not even inspired by Mother! (very good read)
I am a bit conflicted. On the one hand, I often like games that people describe primarily as “it’s like Earthbound”. Were it not for people making these connections, loose as they may be, I would have never discovered some of my favorites. My journey looked something like Mother->Undertale->LISA The Painful->LISA The First->Yume Nikki->Yume Nikki fan games and by that point I was playing a ton of stuff.
On the other hand, the label feels inaccurate and unclear. I don’t want to be the Boss Baby Guy.
What does everyone else think? Do you have any thoughts on what a mother-like is, or a better name for them?
PS: I think people will enjoy this and it serves as some recommendations! Game list in replies.