Friday, January 20, 2012

Manual Stimulation: Mother (Famicom)

I'm loath to admit it, but I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the instruction manual that's included with every copy of the cult classic known as Mother (EarthBound Zero to some of you).

Why on earth do I hate the Mother manual? Well, for starters, it's not a manual, per se. Rather, it's a huge piece of paper--a poster, really--that's been folded into a two-inch-by-three-inch rectangle. (What can I say? I much prefer manuals that can be flipped through, one page at a time, to ones that require folding and unfolding.)

Another reason I'm not a huge fan of the Mother manual: There's a lot more text, and a lot fewer illustrations and screenshots, than I expected to see in such a production.

That's not to say it lacks any interesting art whatsoever. On the contrary, a number of interesting illustrations and photos (of what appear to be clay models) can be found within the folds of Mother's instruction manual. (They're fully responsible for the love I feel for this booklet, by the way.)

For instance, there are these models of the game's main party members (Ninten, Ana, Lloyd and Teddy):



I also like the models seen on this otherwise-text-filled page:



Click on any or all of the scans above or below to take a closer look at them, by the way.

Photos of even more clay models can be found on the following page, which details Mother's many enemy characters.



Interestingly, the game's items and weapons are illustrated rather than crafted out of clay. That's OK with me, though--especially when said illustrations are as well drawn as the ones in the scan below:



The pièce de résistance of the Mother instruction manual, though, has to be the world map that takes up the entirety of the manual's back side. (All of the above-mentioned illustrations, photos and text are included on its front side.)



I'm sorry the map above isn't perfect, by the way. It's large enough that I had to make nine different scans of it and then piece the best parts of each scan together like a puzzle. As a result, you'll be able to spot a few "issues" here and there should you look at it closely enough.

See also: Previous 'Manual Stimulation' posts

19 comments:

Retr0gamer said...

Thanks for posting this, I'm a huge Mother fan and didn't realise how great the manual is. I'd love to get my hands on those clay models!

Viewtiful_Justin said...

This is awesome. My favorite thing about the Earthbound strategy guide was the clay figures that lined the pages! Glad to see some of them made the jump to the sequel unchanged! These are truly gems!

Bryan Ochalla said...

You're welcome, Retr0gamer! As soon as I opened it up I knew I had to post some scans of the manual here. As for the clay models: I wish I could get my hands on some of them, too! I especially like some of the enemy models.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Justin: Do you mean that some of the figures/models that appear in this manual show up in the Earthbound strategy guide? If so, I guess that would make sense, since the two games share a number of similarities.

By the way, this post is reminding me that I have to get back to playing this game. I really enjoyed the chunk I played last year, but something popped up and took my attention away from it...

Viewtiful_Justin said...

Yup. The Starman in particular came through unchanged.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Very interesting, although it makes a lot of sense. The folks at NOA were probably like, "Hey, let's make things easy on ourselves by reusing some of those clay models that were used in the manual of the first game!"

Speaking of EarthBound, I'm *reallllly* going to have to get myself a copy of that game (and its guide/manual) someday. Heck, if it weren't so damn expensive, I'd buy one now...

Retr0gamer said...

The hard part about getting a complete copy of Earthbound is getting your bank manager to agree to the mortgage you'll have to take out to get it. I've seen the box on its own sell for 100 dollars. Even cart only it's an expensive game. Wish I had a copy :(

Motherplayer said...

This was quite interesting. Some of the weapons seem a bit risque. Kid's using knifes and pistols and stuff (Though they might be more for Teddy the adult)would seem to make people point fingers along with the star of David. Also I can't see how RPG fans could find the mother series a passover when you have all those unique enemies shown in the manual. I know I've seen some people dislike the series, but most of the people I've seen or heard that do I doubt have really sat down and played these games.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Yeah, I know, Retr0gamer. It's too bad something so wonderful has to cost so much! Sigh.

Bryan Ochalla said...

I agree, Motherplayer -- especially with your comments about the weapons seeming a bit risque. That's one of the things that makes this series so great in my opinion, though!

I also agree with your comment people passing over this series. I'm actually guessing a lot of them do so because of the graphics. I distinctly remember finding EarthBound's graphics a bit ... odd (and not really in a good way) when it first came out, for instance. Also, the series is so hyped at this point that I can see some folks turning their noses up at it for that reason, too.

Regardless, it's too bad, as these games are well worth experiencing thanks to their uniqueness and their wonderful storytelling, among other things.

Jyr said...

Just looking at that beautiful map, and seeing Mt.Itoi/Holy Loly mountain sticking out. Having some nasty flashbacks here.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, Jyr! Nice to see you back here again :) When are you going to update your own (great) blog, by the way?

As for the map included on Mother's manual/poster: Yes, it is pretty darn beautiful, isn't it? Like I told Justin, above, looking at this manual made me want to get back to playing through the game. Maybe this weekend...

Jyr said...

Holy-procrastination, Batman! You've still not finished it?

SUIKA said...

What a coincidence. Out of weeks of boredom of summer orchard work, I realized I could play Earthbound, properly, as of like yesterday. And it's great. I own it along with its prequel via the.. What was it.. You know they released both on one cartridge for the Game Boy Advance in Japan? That thing. Also, when I was in Japan, they had all these new MOTHER figures in UFO machines. Yeah. Also, your enthusiasm for manuals is great.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Sadly, no, Jyr. I only played it for a few weeks, though -- and even then it was on and off. I'll get back to it, don't worry :)

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, SUIKA! Ah, so you're playing the version that was on the Mother 1+2 GBA cartridge, or are you playing the recently translated version via emulation? Regardless, I applaud you!

Also, I'd kill (well, almost) to own some of those Mother figures you just mentioned. Why can't I live in Japan, or at least travel there frequently?

Finally, I'm glad you appreciate my enthusiasm for manuals. It's an easy enthusiasm to have these days, given the current state of the gaming biz (which seems to have a vendetta against such booklets).

Kaze said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kaze said...

I love the manual scans! Thanks for sharing them! ^^ Seems like a few Famicom games went with the poster route for instruction manuals. I think in Japan Castlevania II and Megaman 1 did this as well.

I need to play through Mother 1 one of these days! I'm a huge Earthbound fan! I'm lucky enough to still have my original copy of the game with strategy guide from 16 years ago. (The scratch and sniff is still intact too! lol)

Bryan Ochalla said...

You're very welcome, Kaze! This is the first poster-like manual I've come across for the Famicom, but I'm sure you're right that there were others. It's not my favorite style of manual, to tell you the truth, but it's hard to complain about them too much when they're as nice as the one produced for this game.

As for you playing this game: Yes! Especially if you're an Earthbound fan. It's a bit of a step back, obviously, but I still think it's well worth experiencing.

Also, I'm completely jealous that you still have your copy of Earthbound and its strategy guide. I've never owned a copy of the game myself -- just rented it as a kid -- but I *wish* I had bought it back when it could still be had for about $60 (or whatever the MSRP was in those days).