Most video game fans probably know the Mother series through the appearance of its protagonists, Ness and Lucas, in the Super Smash Bros. franchise. However, with the recent release of Earthbound: Beginnings and Earthbound on Nintendo Switch Online, fans will get to play through this wacky RPG adventure at home or on the go.
Despite the lack of Mother series installments beyond re-releases, the franchise has had a huge influence on game developers. Many recent RPG releases of the past ten years have cited Earthbound, or the Mother series entirely, as inspirations. These games are perfect for diehard fans of the long-dormant Nintendo franchise.
Updated September 2, 2023, by Blaise Santi: Although Nintendo doesn’t seem to have any plans to make future Mother games, many independent video game developers have been inspired by the RPG when making their own projects. While some games take pride in their similarities to projects like Earthbound, others keep their homages to the SNES game in more subtle ways, such as through narrative themes or setting. For fans of the Mother series, try checking out these games like Earthbound.15 Eastward
Platform(s)Nintendo Switch Xbox One macOS Windows
Released in 2021, Eastward has some pretty obvious connection to Earthbound due to being an RPG set in the near future. However, the game also incorporates elements from other RPGs, with the developers specifically citing titles like Dragon Quest and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as inspirations.
The game takes place in a world almost eradicated by a toxic plague, with remaining cities almost overtaken by nature. After its release, reviewers specifically gave acclaim to its RPG similarities to Earthbound, while also crediting the game for its more involved action gameplay. Plus, the game has enough lovable characters to appeal to Mother fans.14 Night In The Woods
Infinite Fall, Secret Lab
Platform(s)Windows macOS Linux PlayStation 4 Xbox One Nintendo Switch iOS
Night in the Woods is a unique entry on this list, by virtue of not being an RPG. The adventure game doesn’t even have that much intricate gameplay, instead featuring a laid-back gameplay style that encourages players to become more engrossed in the characters and dialogue. However, it takes a big lesson from Earthbound when it comes to its setting.
In Night in the Woods, players control Mae, a college dropout who finds herself investigating strange happenings in her hometown after returning. The game, like the Mother series, puts a lot of effort into making this rural American setting seem both lively and unnerving, which certainly might have drawn inspiration from the social satire of Earthbound.13 South Park: The Stick Of Truth
Platform(s)PlayStation 3 PlayStation 4 Xbox 360 Xbox One Nintendo Switch Windows
It was unexpected for the gaming world when South Park: The Stick of Truth debuted at E3 2012. For a long-awaited video game adaptation of the hit animated series, no fan expected a fully-fledged RPG allowing players to explore the titular Colorado town. However, this idea wouldn’t have been possible without Earthbound.
According to Trey Parker, co-creator of South Park along with Matt Stone, Earthbound was a huge influence on the adaptation. Other influences included the original Paper Mario, as well as Skyrim. However, the small-town feel of Earthbound with rising, cosmic stakes were helpful to keep the game feeling like an episode of South Park.12 Omori
Platform(s)macOS Windows, Nintendo Switch Xbox One Xbox Series X/S PlayStation 4
These days, many games find their success via Kickstarter campaigns. For Omori, that’s exactly how this webcomic became a successful creation of RPG Maker. The game was initially released on PC in 2020 but has seen further releases on Nintendo Switch and Xbox One, with a planned release for PlayStation 4 in the near future.
Like Earthbound, the game finds players controlling a party of four characters. However, the urban setting of the Mother franchise is traded in Omori for an exploration of the main character’s subconscious dream world. Even the battle system makes use of the game’s themes of mental health and depression.11 Costume Quest
Double Fine Productions
Platform(s)PlayStation 3 Xbox 360 Windows macOS Linux iOS Android
Costume Quest was first released for PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade in 2010. The game incorporates RPG elements reminiscent of the Mother series, especially when it comes to its adolescent characters. Players find themselves exploring a small town on Halloween, trick-or-treating and fighting monsters.
The merging of RPG mechanics with a modern-day setting, according to the developers at Double Fine Productions, was inspired by both Earthbound and Pokemon. Overall, this is the perfect game for fans of old-school RPGs who want to try something new. Plus, there are tons of costumes to try on!10 Undertale
Platform(s)Nintendo Switch Xbox One PlayStation 4 PlayStation Vita macOS Windows Linux
One of the biggest games to follow in the footsteps of Earthbound is Undertale, an indie game released in 2015 by developer and composer Toby Fox. The art style and gameplay are directly inspired by the Mother franchise, featuring a childish main character who explores a vast, underground world underneath the Earth.
What makes Undertale a spiritual successor to Earthbound, however, is its charm. The game’s become a cult phenomenon for its soundtrack, characters, and story. It’s also praised for its multiple endings, based on choices the player makes throughout the game. Undertale is a must-play for anyone who enjoys the Mother series.9 Deltarune
Release DateOctober 2018 (Chapter 1) September 2021 (Chapter 2)
Platform(s)Nintendo Switch PlayStation 4 macOS Windows
Several years after Undertale’s initial release, Toby Fox put out the first chapter of Deltarune. The game has a loose connection to Undertale’s narrative, though the gameplay has been completely overhauled. This time around, the turn-based combat system resembles that of Final Fantasy rather than the Mother series.
Deltarune still incorporates a lot of the tone and charm it shares with its predecessor. However, it serves as more of a continuation of Undertale than its own separate game inspired by the Mother series. The game’s last three chapters have yet to release, so perhaps players will find even more connections to Earthbound in those.8 Citizens Of Earth
Platform(s)Windows Wii U Nintendo 3DS PlayStation 4 PlayStation Vita
Citizens of Earth was released in 2015, the same year as Undertale, though it features a much brighter tone. In Citizens of Earth, players take control of the Vice President of Earth on a quest to save the planet. However, unlike Earthbound, the Vice President does not participate in turn-based battles. That job is left to his constituents.
Citizens of Earthworks like a cross between Earthbound and Pokemon. Players journey through the planet collecting various citizens, who the Vice President controls during combat. This game is perfect if Earthbound fans are looking for a goofy, satirical adventure that gameplay-wise resembles the Mother series.7 Knuckle Sandwich
Knuckle Sandwich is a game created by Andrew Brophy that is currently in development, with a demo available on Steam. The game shares a lot of similarities with the Mother franchise: a sense of humor, a top-down perspective, and a mystery that unfolds in a small town. However, the turn-based combat system is more unique than the one in Earthbound.
In Knuckle Sandwich, players engage in turn-based combat by completing WarioWare-esque mini-games specific to the enemy they’re facing. The game was featured in PAX East’s 2020 Indie Mega Booth Showcase. Those who are interested can follow the game’s development on social media or Steam, or check out its Kickstarter page for more frequent updates.6 Contact
Contact may be a good reason for diehard Earthbound fans to return to the Nintendo DS. The game surrounds a Professor who crash-lands on a mysterious planet and enlists the help of Terry, a young boy, to explore the terrain. The role-playing game is notably similar to Earthbound due to its humor, though the combat is wildly different.
Players take on neither the role of the Professor nor Terry in Contact. Instead, they assume the role of an omnipotent force in Terry’s life, guiding him throughout the world and during battle without the boy’s knowledge. Even the traditional RPG combat is controlled by Terry, with players simply influencing it by giving the boy abilities.5 OFF
Unproductive Fun Time
OFF was released worldwide for PC in 2008, becoming a cult classic over the years. In the game, players assume the role of “The Batter,” a baseball player fighting ghosts and monsters in order to “purify” the world. Already, it’s easy to see how the absurdity and frequent horror in this top-down RPG have drawn comparisons to Earthbound.
However, the game’s designer, Martin Georis, has stated that the connection between OFF and the Mother series is purely coincidental. Furthermore, he listed the Final Fantasy franchise and PC classic Myst as inspirations for the game. Nevertheless, its similarities to the Mother series may be enough to satisfy fans.4 Yume Nikki
Yume Nikki was created by Japanese developer Kikiyama, and released for PC in 2004. The game was notably designed using RPG Maker 2003, which has spawned many Earthbound spiritual successors over the years. However, Yume Nikki is unique, as it features no battling or leveling up mechanics common in RPGs.
The game shares a lot of inspiration with Earthbound and the rest of the Mother series thanks to its dark visuals and suspenseful dream world scenarios. Players control Madotsuki, a girl whose dreams offer a large, horrific world to explore. The game has garnered a cult following akin to Earthbound, with manga adaptations and fan games.3 Lisa: Definitive Edition
July 2023 (Definitive Edition)
Platform(s)Nintendo Switch PlayStation 4 PlayStation 5 Xbox One Xbox Series X/S Windows macOS Linux
This franchise has three installments, starting with Lisa: The First in 2012, then Lisa: The Painful in 2014, and ending with Lisa: The Joyful in 2015, which were all re-released as Lisa: Definitive Edition in 2023. The trilogy’s developer, Dingaling Productions, has cited Earthbound as a central inspiration for the game’s mechanics, comic relief, and art style.
The second installment in the series, Lisa: The Painful, is the most critically acclaimed of the trilogy. Players control Brad Armstrong, the older brother of the titular Lisa, in search of his adoptive daughter, Buddy. Diehard Earthbound fans simply must check out the Lisa trilogy in full, as they offer dark, compelling stories with an absurd twist.2 OneShot
Platform(s)Nintendo Switch PlayStation 4 Xbox One Windows macOS Linux
OneShot was initially released for free in 2014, before later finding a home on Steam in 2016 with plans for a console release in the future. The game has seen many comparisons drawn to Undertale, even though OneShot predates it. However, it can’t be denied that this game’s originality and tone are very inspired by the Mother series.
The game is a typical top-down puzzle-adventure game, though some clues to puzzles involve players having to navigate outside the game. Some clues involve interacting with their computer’s operating system, or looking into the game’s file system. This game is definitely niche, but may be fascinating to fans of Earthbound.1 Oddity
Kane Long & Zane Riley
Platform(s)Windows macOS Linux
Oddity is another upcoming game that’s been in development since 2008 and still hasn’t seen a release after several delays. The game has a strong connection to Earthbound, beginning as Mother 4, an unofficial fan game taking place in the world of the Mother series. Eventually, the development team rebranded, making Oddity its own standalone game.
While the game still has yet to release, it obviously takes a lot from the Mother franchise, from its turn-based combat to interactions with non-playable characters. It also adds a few new features, such as a day/night system. Simply put, when this game releases, Earthbound fans will essentially have an all-new Mother game to play until Nintendo decides to release Mother 3 in the West.
Earthbound and Earthbound: Beginnings are currently available on Nintendo Switch Online.