The fans who hold an annual vigil for an official Mother 3 localization announcement now have a new reason to be sad, as concept art for an EarthBound/Mother game for the GameCube that was never made has been revealed on Twitter.
There is a book being released in Japan called Iwata-San that collects the writings of former Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, who sadly passed away in 2015. Iwata-San will also contain recollections of Iwata written by different prominent figures from Nintendo, including Shigeru Miyamoto and Shigesato Itoi.
The upcoming release of Iwata-San has led to a collection of Twitter posts by Yasuyuki Honne, who is a prominent video game artist and has worked on games such as Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Chrono Trigger, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, and Xenoblade Chronicles. According to Nintendo Everything, Honne also worked for Namco in the past and he was once involved in a pitch meeting for a new EarthBound/Mother game on the Nintendo GameCube.
According to Honne's Twitter posts, there was interest in a collaboration between Namco and Nintendo on a new EarthBound/Mother title. Honne met with both Shigesato Itoi and Satoru Iwata to discuss the idea, but Itoi didn't seem interested, with the exception of the unique art style of the game. Honne has shared some of the concept art for his vision of a new EarthBound/Mother title and the intention was for the character models and enemies to appear as if they were made out of felt. Nintendo would later use a similar idea with wool in entries in the Kirby and Yoshi series.
Honne said in his Twitter post that the meeting happened in 2003, but nothing came of it. 2003 was also the year when Mother 3 for the Game Boy Advance was first announced, so it's possible that the plans to restart development of Mother 3 on a new system resulted in the demise of Namco's project. The tumultuous development of Mother 3 up until that point may also have influenced the decision not to pursue a GameCube iteration of the series.
There will likely never be an official Mother 4, but the spirit of the series lives on in other games. The EarthBound/Mother series was held back by bad luck throughout its run and Honne's concept art offers a bittersweet look at what could have been in a world that was kinder to off-beat RPGs.