In 1996 Nintendo and HAL Laboratories planned to release a sequel to the quirky RPG series known as the Mother series in Japan (the game is caled Earthbound in the USA). It was well planned out and the project was headed by Shigesato Itoi, the same person who was involved in Mother 1 and 2 (and is commonly considered as the Japanese Dave Barry). The game continued in the unique, offbeat style of the past games of the Mother series, with various different elements all combined into one game.

The story of Mother 3 does not seem to link back to the past games in the series, despite the fact that the end of Mother 2 leads to a sequel. The story involved a small family living in a redneck-like community in the midwest. The main character appeared to be a cowboy known as Flint who had two twin sons, named Ryuka and Kraus. Flint also has a dog, Boney, who accompanies him around the town.

The story begins with a UFO crashing down nearby the town in which Flint lives. Flint goes out to investigate the noise. In the playable demo that was shown at tradeshows back in 1997, Flint went through various different landscapes, starting with usual RPG desert canyons and underground dungeons, but then the game swerved into a completely different direction, as a giant green dragon runs through the landscape and runs alongside a futuristic bullet train. This blend of various elements, from a redneck town to a bullet train, is something that one would see in the Mother series. The demo also showed other elements of Mother 3, such as a very interesting mine cart scene with Ryuka and Klaus riding through an old mine shaft. Finally, a rock band known as DCMC plays some nice music (nevertheless, I want my Runaway Five back!).

While the storyline was well planned, the development team was not used to working with 3D graphics. They had trouble developing it, and the game suffered delay after delay after delay. It ran into further delays when, around 1998, it was announced as one of the launch titles for the 64DD, a disk-drive attachment for the Nintendo 64 which planned to enhance games. As the 64DD met it's doom in Japan near the end of the Nintendo 64's life cycle, Mother 3 moved off of the list of new games. It made an appearance at another tradeshow in 1999, this time showing screenshots, a movie, and a playable demo. With this it looked as if the game would finally see the light of day.

All of these signs of completion were misleading, however. The game suffered further delays and finally, in late summer of 2000, it was announced that Mother 3 was cancelled. Gone. Dead. Kaput. The development team behind the game simply had too many problems making the game work as a whole and was ordered to disband and work on other projects. The team was also losing interest, as the then-upcoming Nintendo GameCube system was about to make the Nintendo 64 obsolete. Completed work on the game (what there was of it) was locked away in the Nintendo vault of unfinished games, joining Super Mario 64 2 and Starfox 2.

With the storyline complete and a lot of the graphic and mechanics behind the game somewhat complete, we might see the game completed and released someday. In fact in April 2003 an announcement of a Game Boy Advance port of Mother and Earthbound have sparked rumors that Mother 3 may not be too far off. Us Earthbounders can only hope. And if it does come out, Mr. Saturn had better be in it!

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