MOTHER-like games, with Twin Peaks Sprinkled on Top

There still remains a web page on starmen dot net for games similar to Earthbound. . . It was last updated around the time Contact came out… It doesn't even have Gunman's Proof on it. I was just a kid when I started going on that site and I was thirsty for more games like MOTHER 2. That list is what got me into the Dragon Quest series back when it was still called D_ragon Warrior_ and I realized United States localizations were usually inferior.

_(I wrote this prior to discovering & joining Insert Credit forums):_

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note:

> I’m not a PC gamer. There will be more and more games inspired by Earthbound coming out from the western indie games scene. This list is of games released for consoles prior to the western indie games boom of the past few years. I’m aware of Undertale and Lisa but this is a list of games I’ve found that I don’t think many people compare to Earthbound as much as they should. If you know of any indies similar to Earthbound feel free to post them but I think those usually are advertising their earthbound similarities pretty loudly like Lisa does.


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    Kawa no Nushi Tsuri

    this game came out for Famicom the year after Mother did. You play as a boy in a Japanese village, participate in first person RPG battles, and fish to complete quests to help people out. The series continued on most consoles up to the DS era, each one is pretty great, although not all of them are in english.

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    Guman’s Proof
    Ganpuru is already well known as a game similar to Earthbound and Mother 3, the similarities are obvious. Cowboys and Aliens RPG might be one of the best niche genres.

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    Itoi’s Bass Fishing

    This wasn't ever really taken seriously by “mother fans”, and that’s really sad. Itoi’s series was developed by HAL, and runs on the same special chip and pastel graphical style used Kirby’s Dream Land 3. Sadly, still no English patch.

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    Animal Crossing
    Itoi helped conceptualize this series. Genyo Takeda wrote the entire script of the original N64/GCN titles, and his writing includes a lot of depth and wisdom. The localization was a huge task and it turned out beautifully.

  • _(putting my thesis in the middle of the list; creative writing)_
    Before I continue with this list; Shigesato Itoi seems to be a fan of Twin Peaks. Twin Peaks was a huge hit in Japan and it influenced a lot of video games. The log cabin aesthetic of Mother 3 harkens back to Twin Peaks and the murder plot of the first chapter does too. The Hobonichi youtube has trailers with music mimicking the Twin Peaks opening theme song. It’s been stated in Iwata Asks that Link’s Awakening was inspired by Twin Peaks, but to me that influence seems even more prominent in Majora’s Mask. The original 64DD version of Mother 3 had a similar day night cycle to Majora’s Mask where the characters in the small town all had their own daily scheduled dramas. (Iwata Asks has also touched on this relationship, they were developed adjacently and ideas _were shared_)This type of open world gameplay was first pioneered by a playstation game called Mizzurna Falls, which undoubtedly took heavy inspiration from Twin Peaks. The rest of this list includes games I’ve found with similar hyper-scheduled character dramas and some with Twin Peaks influences. It was probably hard to escape the Twin Peaks / Soap Opera / Telenovela hype in 90's Japan. (My favorite part of Timothy's review of Tokimeki Memorial Hospital was learning about that popular Japanese teen soap drama.)

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    Chulip

    At this point everyone knows Chulip- it’s become popular because of tumblr, and since then it's grown even more- but it’s a little known fact that it shares staff with Mother. The event designer for Chulip was also the event designer for Mother 3. This game also has heavy emphasis on each characters’ daily schedule, similar to Majora’s Mask and Mizzurna Falls. (I wrote this before listening to the insert credit show where Tim talks about the staff connections between mother 3, chulip, and something else I forget. Rule of Rose? Anyone remember?)

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    Mizzurna Falls
    Shenmue usually gets credit as the first open world game, but this predates it. It’s a murder mystery set in a small town. It also has scheduled character dramas, and this is known as the most Twin Peaks-like game ever, along with Deadly Premonition.

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    Giftpia
    Giftpia shares staff with Chulip and is a coming of age story for the Gamecube.

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    Moon Remix RPG
    You already know

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    Yume Nikki and RPG Maker games
    This is a Japanese RPG Maker game made by one person and undoubtedly inspired by Mother. There’s an area in this game that is a very nice nod to Mother. Also much of this game’s graphics seem to take inspiration from Kirby’s Dream Land 3 as well. It’s the only PC game I have listed here. Like I said above there’s only going to be more and more of these but I feel Yume Nikki was the earliest one to be discovered on the english speaking web. Other obvious ones would be OFF (which I have not played) Space Funeral, and LISA. I’m sure there’s plenty of Japanese RPG Maker projects that are amazing love letters to Mother that have sadly gone undiscovered on the english speaking web.

  • Honorable Mentions:

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    Magical Vacation

    I may have enjoyed this game much more as a youngster. Brownie Brown was the developer behind Mother 3 you can see a few similarities and possible copied elements. Ever wonder why Mother 3’s menu had it’s own theme music or where that weird feather pen cursor came from? It’s a remnant of this game’s design.

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    Silent Hill 1-3
    Silent Hill. With so many ties to Twin Peaks, I think it belongs here. It’s basically a third person dungeon crawler. If it was first person with the same tank controls it would be pretty similar to King’s Field. The setting is Lynchian in that it’s a regular podunk town where nasty things occur.

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    Harvest Moon for SNES
    Later games switched up the graphics a bit but the rural setting is worth noting as something unique. Although it’s vague as to whether the setting is in Japan or somewhere else.

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    Majora’s Mask
    Arguably the most Mother-like Zelda game. It’s story and writing play out like a SOAP OPERA and I love it. There is a fantasy setting but the characters like Kafei and Anju, the Postman and the Goreman brothers have struggles so real it brings the writing down to earth.
    Stuff that I won’t include because there’s already enough people doing obvious comparisons to Mother: Contact, Star Tropics, Undertale, that new garbage world rpg that seemed pretty cool

  • So Mother 3 has unused data that is this mysterious image of a roadside diner:
    [URL=https://i.imgur.com/n2VfQb4.png][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/n2VfQb4.png[/IMG][/URL]
    Would seem totally inexplicable if you weren't aware of Itoi's love of... well... Life, and Twin Peaks. Mizzurna, of course, also has a diner that is a direct reference to Twin Peaks.

    (there's a few more Twin Peaks-like games I've realized since finding Insert Credit, but I'll update with those when I remember them...)

    Following this thread, will follow any conversation involving TP (but interested in MOTHER anyway)

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    @treefroggy#23374 Mizzurna Falls

    Thanks for reminding me I have to try this some time. Reason to bust out the PSP for the first time in a while.

    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 ](https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/Mother) says the following:

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    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!](https://www.pastemagazine.com/games/earthbound/exploring-the-motherlike-or-a-genre-that-never-was/) (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.](https://twitter.com/afraidofwasps/status/1177301482464526337?lang=en)
    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.
    https://twitter.com/TheF1amethr0wer/status/1361085518524665858

    I like a lot of the games cited here, but they don’t really take up the sort of semi-serious busytown (not super accurate but have never known what else to call it) terrain and locality/atmosphere. Some of these games like undertale or lisa connect to the pathos and “darkness” of earthbound but don’t really present a place in a similar sense.

    Earthbound is very materialist for a jrpg: significant parts of it are presented as 1:1 in terms of distance/traversal. You walk from the periphery of you town into the town center, then back out into the boundary areas, then outskirts of the next town, next town center etc. That’s the rhythm of the opening half+ (and best part for me).

    Twin peaks the network series has a similar sense of locale and depth inside that locale. Mother 3 doesn’t have this approach, and fwwm and the return also don't. So I guess I’m thinking strictly of Earthbound and TP original series.

    Just saying that's an essential quality of earthbound in my mind that I'm really struggling to find in other games. I sure would love to find it though!

    @“Snowdecahedron”#p23390 Well, most fans kind of miss the heart of the series, which is Itoi‘s writing and life experiences. The grounded, down-to-earth nature that only comes from real life experience. He was a runaway. Giving the player a somewhat spiritual experience from the game.

    There’s a lot of elements to the series that all come together to form an epic whole. Rarely could one person ever encompass all of it.

    I‘m not trying to be overly empirical here with the phrase “mother-likes”. Please don’t start another Metroidvania debacle here. Just having fun!

    The soap-opera, slice of life heart of the writing is so brimming with Japanese sentiments (read up on The Sentimental Heart of the Japanese) that often times western fans just miss it altogether. MOTHER was actually advertised to moms like a Telenovela. I will find the exact ad I‘m referring to as soon as I can. It’s in Legends of Localization, but my copy was stolen.

    @"yeso"#385 If you think the bustling small-town vibes of earthbound are the most important here, Majora's Mask and Chulip are exemplary of that.

    (next update: Pokemon, The Underside, Creatures Inc., Paper Mario, South Park )

    It's all about the writing and attention to certain details for me. I really like Itoi's website.

    The MOTHER DNA in Pokemon is so obvious, yet Pokemon cast its shadow upon an entire industry, so people tend to miss the connection.

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    APE became Creatures Inc. and it‘s no coincidence that a lot of stuff was echoed in Pocket Monsters. The shared staff should be enough description. Satoru Iwata did programming work on multiple entries in both series, which is Huge. Hirokazu Tanaka would later become the President of the Pokemon Company after composing music for the anime and conceptualizing the card game. Game Freak’s initial setting was originally darker, more adult, post-apocalyptic world before Nintendo took control over the project in the mid nineties and made it a coming of age story just like Mother. The TV set downstairs in your home in Palette Town features a reference to Stand By Me, which was a key inspiration for MOTHER. Additionally, things like the bicycle, phone calls from mom, were important features in Mother 2 that would be echoed in Pokemon from the beginning. (It has been shown that gen 1 and 2 were so closely intermingled, they are essentially two halves to the same first gen, therefore both can be considered “the beginning”) Also worth noting that Shigesato Itoi gets his hands involved in a lot of Nintendo stuff behind the scenes, showing up in many unexpected places. He has been involved in pokemon from time to time, just as he has with every Smash Bros. release.

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    The Underside
    Long forgotten Cave Story clone from 2005 with a more kitschy vibe:
    [URL=https://i.imgur.com/oGC1ugx.png][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/oGC1ugx.png[/IMG][/URL]

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    Paper Mario, I haven't done any staff research yet but it's generally regarded as another one of the golden Nintendo localization projects. The localized script for the game was a gold standard, along with Earthbound and the original Animal Crossing. Tree house at its finest.

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    South Park RPGs
    I actually haven't played either of them, but Matt & Trey directly cited Earthbound as an inspiration.

    Earthbound is one of the earliest / most notable game of my time where you get to murder what are essentially thinly veiled Klansmen. Not many fans double down on that aspect of the game, but I believe it to be extremely remarkable, whether the developers were fully aware of that aspect of American domestic terrorism or not. They equated the american violent extremist and xenophobic cult to their own cult of domestic terrorism, Aleph.

  • I haven‘t gotten around to finishing G O D - Growth Or Devolution, but it came out shortly after Mother 2, and on the same console, it also stars a kid in a baseball cap and striped shirt. It’s been said to be similar to Mother. Really aching to play this, I have my own complete in box copy, and need to fix my EEPROM burner to patch the cartridge to english, then I will play it. (Before I‘m asked why I don’t just use my flash cart, I might get around to it after I finish what I'm currently playing.)




    noone is going to mention YIIK??

    @treefroggy#23408 Sorry, not trying to say you're wrong or have a debate. Just had some thoughts on the topic.

    @yeso#23491 ngl I am very interested to see what that one is all about but no way I am spending money and time on it. Doesn't seem the entertaining kind of bad. It's on game pass, I guess

    I had no idea what YIIK is until I googled it just now and ironically an article defending its creator against widespread criticism has completely put me off giving it a shot. :person_shrugging:

    I don't know anything about it other than it seemed to cataclysmically “miss the point” of earthbound and made everyone mad

    I have some Roblox games I‘ve encountered that belong in this thread! I’ll try to shoot some footage (or at least screenshots) of them when I get home tonight (or maybe later this weekend). None of them are super remarkable, but they represent different interpretations of the Mother series from a lot of the commercial games you listed, so they might be interesting.

    if you call your game “A Postmodern RPG” straight up in the title, my interest drops into the negative

    YIIK looks like it's not my cup of tea regardless

    my cup of tea is Yorkshire with milk btw

    Legend of River King games are v charming and have big Mother energy

    [URL=https://i.imgur.com/kBnN9us.jpg][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/kBnN9us.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

    @bodydouble#23690 Ah yeah, that's top of the list baby! Kawa no Nushi Tsuri! My favorite! Yum!

    ... Which games call themselves "a postmodern rpg" btw?

    Here's BLAMO:

    [URL=https://i.imgur.com/CNrKqfb.jpg][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/CNrKqfbh.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

    It's a game about little purple pill shaped creatures taking the train from one place to another.

    [URL=https://i.imgur.com/dCNl5G1.jpg][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/dCNl5G1h.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

    [URL=https://i.imgur.com/E3XpoBD.jpg][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/E3XpoBDh.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

    [URL=https://i.imgur.com/2pM9che.jpg][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/2pM9cheh.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

    [URL=https://i.imgur.com/8eIV3Jy.jpg][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/8eIV3Jyh.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

    [URL=https://i.imgur.com/zjC57uv.jpg][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/zjC57uvh.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

    (Sorry, some of my screenshots captured the previews of previous screenshots. I'm not sure why OS X does this!)

    The game literally rips half of its music straight out of the Mother series. It also uses some Animal Crossing music (e.g. for the train) and some random earthboundy Soundcloud stuff. This is Roblox, so stealing music is pretty typical.

    There aren't really any objectives. The train takes you to an area, you walk around, and sometimes there's NPCs to talk to. You wait for a new train to arrive, then you board it and go somewhere else.

    The dialogue is clearly trying to be Earthboundish. There's lots of attempts at quirkiness while occasionally trying to slip in some profundity, but none of it really works. Just the visuals and level design are nice though. There are probably hundreds of areas at this point.

    To me, this is the perfect template for a hangout game. Since it's Roblox, you're in a server populated by 12 year olds. But you can also have a friend pop in to wander around with you. Me and my one Roblox friend used to occasionally play this at 1am, walking around random areas, pointing out to each other whatever interesting things we happened upon -- but mostly we just talked about various other real life things. We'd separate each time we entered an area, but the train acted as a funnel that forced us (and everyone else in the area) to regroup. There's almost a middle school field trip vibe to it.

    I'd be interested in a studio with an actual budget and a little more experience/maturity taking this formula and making a full sized game out of it. The areas in Blamo seem to mostly be inspired by the weirder parts of Earthbound, but I actually think adding some of the mundanity that Earthbound had would make an even more interesting experience.

    I know I've seen some other Mother-likes on Roblox. At some point I'll systematically go through my play history and share whatever seems interesting.

    I think that “Mother-likes” might get more of a reputation nowadays for the facade the main antagonist uses, mainly because it‘s an element that Undertale doubled down on. I guess what I mean to say is Undertale isn’t a 1:1 “mother fangame”, it was just as much inspired by a grip of other amazing games, like touhou project….

    That Roblox game reminds me of a game that I get earthbound-y vibes from, only because it's about two dudes fishing, experimental, hangout-y, walking simulator before we started calling them that.. and that game is [Lake of Roaches](http://harmonyzone.org/LakeOfRoaches.html) by the Catamites.

    Itoi is a man who writes memoirs for legends when they die, and has Taiyo Matsumoto do the cover art. Itoi designed the Studio Ghibli movie posters all through the years, not to mention voicing the dad in Totoro, which everybody should know. He's got a rich soul & life experience. He was in biker gangs and stuff as a kid. We're all trying to backwards-engineer Itoi's style through his games, [presumably] without reading any of his literature, aside for the occasional quote in the Hobonichi Techo, (they should release just the quotes for purchase in english.)

    Anyone here who has read Itoi‘s literature, please share!

    I’ve listened to Penguinism a bunch, I understand spoken Japanese more than written:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LEaOjbDRHI

    I've heard good things about the game Omori

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyVv-jFJiJ8

    it's definitely on my radar as something I wanna check out one day.

    but yeah it seems like Earthboundy type of game

    Oh yeah I know the OG composer of Omori from starmen dot net, and several epic parties…!