Monday, October 18, 2010

Of Gods and Starmen

About three years ago, Earthbound supersite held an event called "EB Siege" in which the MOTHER series faithful called Nintendo every day requesting that MOTHER 3 be released in the United States. It went on for quite awhile, but since years later the only English version of MOTHER 3 we have is Tomato's excellent fan translation, you can guess the results.

The logo.

For a brief while though, Nintendo seemed to be taking note of our campaign and we a felt like we could actually pull it off. This essay was written during that final push when it appeared that maybe, just maybe, we might get our wish.

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As you might expect, one meets more than a few people working as a reporter for a weekly newspaper in a small city. I’m not some uber-journalist who would risk his life trying to get the scoop on, say, a zombie-infested mall or something, but I do speak with approximately 10 people a week, depending on the stories I have to write up. Especially with my position as an entertainment writer - with a few hard news items thrown in when my fellow reporters need to actually get some sleep - the people I meet are usually chatty, middle-aged women who love theater, kind-but-boring old men and my favorite, uppity art snobs. But I met someone today who was different – someone whom I actually enjoyed interviewing.

Gerardo Castro is a local artist with an exhibit coming up at one of my city’s newest art galleries, the River Art Emporium. This guy has quite the way with words and it’s all right off the cuff. As a writer, I choose my words carefully, read and reread my articles and agonize over sentence structure long after the word processor is shut down. But today, as I sat in my office’s conference room with my rinky-dink tape recorder and my cell phone on speaker, there was Castro, talking to me as if he were a cross between Maya Angelou and Dr. Seuss.

“My colors are really intense,” he said. “I use a lot of things, like sequins and beads and rhinestones and shells and jingle bells and ribbons and they drag sometimes to the floor.”

Castro, left, standing outside his art shop, Newburgh Art Supply


Castro’s new exhibit is called Romancing the Gods. As the name implies, it’s all about religion. But like Castro himself, the gallery is anything but run-of-the-mill.

“The idea of romancing; when you romance something, it means you do things to entrance; you do things to seduce, things to captivate,” said Castro. “So the idea of romancing the gods has a lot to do with painting and doing these art objects in which I’m almost trying to make THEM fall in love with ME. It’s like I’m almost trying to seduce them into believing in me instead of the other way around.”

It only hit me an hour or two later when I was while writing the article that we, as Earthbound fans and patrons of, are “romancing a god” with the current, biggest and possibly final EB Siege. We’re trying to get a video-juggernaut that, in the end, only cares about money, to believe in love, passion and something that’s not Pokemon Fuchsia or Mario Party 37 for once. We’re trying to get them to believe in us, a bunch of average human beings who have a very unaverage commitment to our favorite video game. We’re all a little like Ness and his friends – we’re fighting against what seems to be insurmountable odds, but there’s defiantly a way for us to triumph – and it’s going to take all of us to do it.

David vs. Goliath
All the pieces are in place for a typical David and Goliath comparison, only we’re not trying to kill the Big N, we’re trying to get it to go to the prom with us. (Though if it gets that far, I’m not going to be the one to dance with Nintendo; that would be weird.) And like Castro implied, that’s a pretty hard thing to do. But it has happened before. For example, in Greek mythology, Poseidon, god of the sea, fell in love with Cleito, a young human girl from Atlantis. Okay, so he essentially fell for her because she was totally hot and all, but still, it happened. Now if only it were that easy for us.

Last time I checked, I wasn’t exactly the hottest dude in Atlantis (probably if I were a little taller though), so it looks like we’ll have to do this the old fashioned way: by deluging NoA with our MOTHER 3/Earthbound demands via e-mails, snail mails, voice mails, text messages, smoke signals, wooden carvings, etc. But if anyone can make a dent in Nintendo of America’s seemingly impenetrable anti-Earthbound armor, it’s us. Who knows how many of us there are and how many are taking part in the Siege, but like the time nearly 10 years ago that NeoDemiforce scraped together the money to purchase and dump the Earthbound Zero prototype, it only takes a few persistent people to make a difference. This time, though, we’ve got a whole BUNCH of persistent people.

Thankfully, it finally looks like the gods at Nintendo are starting to pay attention to our pleas. They know how much we love the MOTHER series; in fact, when I called NoA the first week of PK Call’N, a very nice customer rep by the name of Josh said as much.

“Earthbound fans love the game as if Ness were their own child,” he said. He wasn’t being sarcastic or degrading. He really meant it.

PK Call'N's logo.

And this was only the first week of the Siege. Nintendo knew of our unparalleled devotion even BEFORE we started the latest campaign. Weeks later we started hearing reports on the forms that customer reps are taking callers’ names, and today I read that Nintendo is starting to ask what gaming platform callers would like to see Earthbound/MOTHER 3 on.

The god, it seems, is finally starting to fall for us.

Stalone as "Rocky"
Do you remember that nobody boxer from Philadelphia who took on the champion and beat the living snot out of him? I’m talking about Rocky Balboa, Sylvester Stalone’s character in the Rocky series of films. Even against Apollo Creed, who was clearly faster and much more skilled, Rocky didn’t give up – and neither will we. If EB Siege 2007-08 doesn’t work and the Big N refuses to translate MOTHER 3 into English or release Earthbound on the Wii’s Virtual Console, I’ll accept it, albeit begrudgingly, because we, the Earthbound community, did everything we could have instead of sulking in front of our respective computers and starting endless “oh man MOTHER 3 would be so awesome” topics on the forms. Like Rocky Balboa at the end of his first film, we all went the distance against the Nintendo juggernaut, and even if we don’t “win,” we let them know that we mean business. And like Rocky, it looks like we’ve got the once-skeptical crowd on our side, judging from some of the outside press we’ve been receiving – another case of romancing a god, this time the god that is public opinion.

However, this Siege could be the knockout punch we needed. Once again, Rocky was able to captivate the crowd in Rocky II, and that time, he took down the god-like Apollo Creed. Maybe those other sieges were all leading up to this one. Maybe we can get the Nintendo gods to fall in love with us and finally give us what we want.
By the time I had hung up the phone after speaking to Gerardo Castro, he had managed to romance me into believing in him and his art. I’ve become jaded after working at my paper for so long and I can honestly say that I don’t really care about 99 percent of the events I cover. But Castro managed to get me excited about his work in less than ten minutes on a day where everything was going wrong and my stress level was though the roof. My encounter with him gave me renewed hope that maybe we can do the same with Nintendo.

It’s going to take a lot more than a phone call or even flowers and candy to woo this god, but I’m starting to think it can be done. Like Castro, Poseidon and Rocky, we just have to be persistent, confident, careful and good at what we do.

Original EB Siege art of the Chosen Four


  1. Where did you hear this news? Please- give me hope!

  2. Sorry my friend; I know you probabbly missed it in your excitement (check the first few sentences before the break), but this essay is two years old. MOTHER 3 in the USA is all but dead, aside from Tomato's excellent translation. It is now up to fans like us to keep the MOTHER series alive!

  3. Wow... I went back and reread it, and it's still not that obvious ;). The concept is way too exciting. Yes, I took part in the seige (from here in Aus) and still write commentaries on Mother 3, despite having finished it 4 times through. It's the only series with which I've ever got involved in any real activities of fandom (fan art, essays, etc.) and it's almost the sole thematic entity through which I work on my artistic skills (I'm still rather rubbish).

    Thanks for taking the time to point out my mistake. Carry on, you Mother lover ;).

  4. "I went back and reread it, and it's still not that obvious." Yeah, I see what you mean now. This is why writing and vodka do not mix.

    Obviously I'm kidding.

    It was gin.