(WARNING: This post contains major spoilers. And honestly, if you aren’t a huge EarthBound fan, you’re likely to find it pretty esoteric.)
To even a casual fan of the series, there are obvious superficial connections between all three MOTHER games. Look no further than the iconic protagonist, striped shirt and baseball bat (or stick) in tow.
But the exact chronology connecting them is a different beast entirely. Shigesato Itoi is deliberately subtle with many of the hints he drops, leaving them very much up to your personal interpretation.
Before we get started, it’s useful to talk about the two main methods of time travel portrayed in fiction these days.
The first is on display in movies like Back to the Future and Looper, as well as the classic RPG Chrono Trigger.
- There are no parallel timelines.
- Events happening in the past have an immediate impact on the future (see: Marty McFly fading out of existence, knife marks appearing on Bruce Willis’ arm, Marle ceasing to exist).
- Events in the future can cause events in the past to happen, which is pretty trippy.
The second has been made popular by J.J. Abrams vehicles like Star Trek and Fringe, as well as the recent BioShock Infinite.
- If you travel to the past, you create a new timeline. Period. No paradoxes.
- If you travel to the future, you stay in the same timeline.
- If you travel across existing timelines, your destination must be the present moment or the future.
I just finished the new translation of the original MOTHER, and couldn’t shake how uncannily similar the characters and settings were to those found in EarthBound. So I analyzed all three games with the many-worlds interpretation (method #2) as my lens.
The key event is Giygas travelling back in time to Earth’s distant past. Having a powerful psychic presence messing with the future could easily explain continuity being disrupted in the following ways:
- Ninten, Ana and Lloyd being born several years later, with different names.
- America being named Eagleland, Mother’s Day being named Onett, etc.
- The original Giygas never coming to Earth in 190X.
So far, I’m satisfied. I play the games again every year, so I hope to gain a better perspective over time.