After years of delays and speculative reports suggesting cancellation, HAL producer Shigesato Itoi recently sat down in Japan to discuss the status of Mother 3 for the N64.
Question: Can you give us a status update on the development of Mother 3?
Itoi-san: Lately I'm filling in dialogue in between other jobs. In a broad sense, the girders of the building are in place and we've poured the concrete. Now we're moving in the team of builders.
Question: Keeping with that theme, what about interior decorating?
Itoi-san: That's just about done. If we were still in the SNES age, this game would have gone on sale long ago. There are so many new issues in 3D. For example, a character running around a sharp corner, things like that happen constantly. In that sense, I think the introduction of 3D into the RPG genre has been something of a double-edged sword. We're developing the game at a time when consumers expect it to be 3D, and that makes it all the more tiresome. At this point a Mother 4 is completely out of the question, the development team would hang themselves.
Question: So there's no plans for a sequel after Mother 3?
Itoi-san: For the time being we have to get Mother 3 out. We were working on the concept of Mother 3 while Mother 2 was still in development. However, the production difficulties associated with Mother 3 have demoralized us to the point where we don't want to do a '4.' Besides, mentioning another sequel would get me in trouble. [laughs..]
Question: So the story of Mother 3 was done two years ago?
Itoi-san: Actually, it was much longer ago than that.
Question: So out of the original 1996 N64 lineup, Mother 3 and Mario RPG2 are still in development?
Itoi-san: Back then RPGs were on the decline. Lately, its become almost compulsory to give your players a long gaming experience. But back then everyone was satisfied is making games just entertaining enough to sell copies. If your game only lasts three days though, it's comparable to blowing your entire budget on just setting up the basics and never actually delivering content. Finding just the right balance is very difficult.
Question: So when can we expect Mother 3?
Itoi-san: We were aiming for March, but everyone kept arguing about minor issues. To make matters worse, Mr. Iwada's next project is already kindling a fire under his backside. In other words, his time overseeing the development of Mother 3 is extremely limited. I really want to bring the project to a conclusion while Mr. Iwada is still on board. Some may accuse me of being 'the boy that cried wolf,' but I'd like to release it this summer.
Itoi-san: I'm already reviewing the completed portions of the game. Now it's just a matter of adding in events and tuning the balance, which takes time.
Question: We've heard you're typically glued to your desk adding dialogue when the game finally gets into its finishing stages, right?
Itoi-san: During the last phase of development, my life consists of nothing but adding dialogue. That's why I feel Chapters 1 and 2 flow so well.
Question: Has the game drastically changed since last years Spaceworld?
Itoi-san: The content hasn't changed that much, but it looks much better. That's mainly due to improvements in our development tools and the efforts of the Pokemon Stadium team, who have given us plenty of help.
Question: You were originally planning 12 chapters?
Itoi-san: Yes, but they will be abbreviated.
Question: Are there five main characters then?
Itoi-san: I don't know who you can really call a 'main' character, if you really wanted to knit pick, I suppose you could argue there's only one.
Question: Is that Ryuka?
Question: Is it true there's a novel featuring characters from the series including Ryuka and Kurausu?
Itoi-san: Yes, they're from a novel called 'Le Grand Cashier.' It's about the bonds between twins.
Question: What sort of novel is it?
Itoi-san: Well, it's similar to an RPG and it has an incredible presence. The authors name is Agota Kristof, and its the first novel in a three part series. The publisher in Japan is Hayagawa Press.