Wild MOTHER Party – Part 3

Omega and Itoi

This is part three of Wild MOTHER Party – a round table discussion on the MOTHER/EarthBound series of video games with series creator Shigesato Itoi, musician Maximum the Ryokun (of Maximum the Hormone) and Kenny Omega.

You’ll probably want to start with Part 1 if you’re just joining in.

At the end of the second installment of Wild MOTHER Party, Kenny Omega mentioned Porky – a major antagonist in the second and third games in the series. In part three of the round table discussion, Omega, Shigesato Itoi and Maximum the Ryokun continue talking about…

A Villain Named Porky

Nagata: Mr. Itoi, you consider Porky to be central to the series’ overall theme, isn’t that right?

Itoi: There’s a very special place in my heart for Porky. Taken as a whole, MOTHER is Porky’s story, really.

Every now and then I see a character in someone else’s story who fills the same narrative space as Porky, and that makes me really happy. For example, the neighbor boy in the first Toy Story film.

Ryokun: Ah, the violent delinquent.

Itoi: The main boy in that film, who owns all the toys, is more narrative device than character. But Sid next door, he’s different, for sure. Let’s see, I can name some more Porkys. There’s one in Back to the Future. You know, the bad guy, the good-for-nothing…

Ryokun: Biff!

Itoi: That’s it, Biff. So Back to the Future has beef, and MOTHER has pork.

Ryokun: Wow, nice one!

Itoi: There’s a town in MOTHER 3 called New Pork City, which is full of relics of Porky’s memory. The idea being that kids would see it and instead of thinking, “what’s wrong with this guy?” they’d think, “well, maybe he’s not all bad, maybe he has good points too…”

That was a major goal I set for MOTHER 3.

Nagata: To add to that a bit, when Mr. Itoi was designing New Pork City with all its Porky mementos, he took great pains not to put it together like a producer would. As he laid out the city, he said over and over again, earnestly, “yes, this is what a kid like Porky would have in his house…” And he knew he was on the right track when the other staffers sitting near him would respond, “Oh, yeah, no question about it.”

Omega: Wow!

Ryokun: All the little set details and designs in MOTHER are so stylish and unique that I just assumed it was a foreign game at first.

Itoi: I modeled the games’ aesthetic after an exciting America; the sort of America you see in Steven Spielberg’s adventure movies. To be honest, I hoped one day Spielberg would make a MOTHER movie! The absentee fathers in the series? Might as well be straight out of E.T..

Ryokun: Ninten [the main character of the first game] has asthma, just like in Goonies.

Itoi: I didn’t notice that until after the fact. The reason Ninten has asthma is because I do, too.

Ryokun: Me, too! It made me happy to play as a character who had that in common with me.

Itoi: Oh, really? Kids with asthma aren’t exactly rare, but it’s still seen as a weakness that shows up under pressure. I wanted to have an element like that in MOTHER. And then, like you said, I wanted to encourage other kids with asthma, too.

Omega: There really is something cinematic about the characters and story in MOTHER. If there were a movie, I’d probably watch it over and over again.

I keep finding myself going back to MOTHER 2, and I’m extremely interested in figuring out why that is. The story never gets old, and I notice new things every time I play it. That’s something that’s necessary in my line of work, too.

Itoi: You mean pro wrestling?

Omega: Right. People watch wrestling matches and then forget most of what they saw right away. And I can’t stand that. Wrestling takes a toll on your body – We’re out there sacrificing ourselves, and the performance gets forgotten in an instant. Thinking about that drove me nuts!

So I started thinking of how I could make my matches stick around in people’s memory. I learned a lot about that from MOTHER. I can’t claim I understand it 100% myself, but I think MOTHER has that sort of “memory power.”

That’s why I wanted to meet you, Mr. Itoi – Not only as a MOTHER fan, but also because I want to learn how to stick around in people’s memory from the master.

Itoi: Is that so? I’m honored to hear you say you want to learn from me, but to be honest, if you’re thinking about everything you just told me while you wrestle, I think you already know everything I could teach you.

Omega: Hmmmm, I dunno about that!

Itoi: You may not have the perfect, ten-out-of-ten answers, but you’re already conscientious of when you should do something more, and when you should give it up. So you’re already on your way. You have to think about that constantly when you’re trying to make memories for people.

Omega: I think about that all the time. Because I don’t want anything to go to waste. My health, my own body, sure, but also my opponents and their condition, and the work they put into their performances – I want all of that to mean something.

That’s true of my next big match [against Hiroshi Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom 13], too. It’s a very important match, on the largest possible stage, and I want people to remember every bit of the performance. I want it to stick with people forever, just like MOTHER does.

To be continued…