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Monday Mysteries: Those Wacky Mr. Saturns

Last week, our very own Tim Gruver posed an enticing question about one of Nintendo’s most enigmatic characters – the lanky man in purple, Waluigi. Just who exactly is this guy, and what exactly lies beneath the surface when it comes to Waluigi?

Today, I’m taking up the mantle and getting myself deep into another one of Nintendo’s little mysteries. My subjects are already infamous for their strange behavior and speech, and while many may not know of them, those who do can’t help but feel confused by their existence.

Of course, I am talking about the Mr. Saturns. If you’ve played Earthbound or its sequel, Mother 3, you’ve seen them for yourselves and you probably had a few questions about them. You might have come across them for the first time in either Super Smash Bros Melee or Brawl, and noted just how weird they were, only useful for breaking shields.

In a series where weird is par for the course, the Mr. Saturns are certainly the hallmark of that oddness. When you first encounter them in Saturn Valley while playing Earthbound, you find yourself stunned that they’re capable of running a competent society, and thrown off by not only their odd speech and Saturnian language, but by the strange way they write, using the English alphabet but drawn in the weirdest manner.

That leads into another topic about the Mr. Saturns, something you can draw from them at a glance. Their village, particularly with its numerous ladders and modern luxuries like an automatic teller machine or a telephone, is perfectly constructed to accommodate humans. Especially with devices like an ATM or a phone, I would wager an arm comes in handy to operate these wonderful devices.

Let’s take a look at the Mr. Saturn, hmm?

Angle #1: No arms detected.

Angle #1: No arms detected.

I’m not noticing any arms. Let’s try from a slightly different angle.

Angle #2: Yup, there are no arms here.

Angle #2: Yup, there are no arms here. And note how even the Brawl trophy entry has no idea what these guys are.

Nope, I’m not seeing any arms on these guys, so it’s quite obvious there’s something special going on. While the origins of Saturn Valley are unknown, the infrastructure matches the eccentric personalities of the race, so let’s assume they stumbled upon the valley and made their home here. How exactly did they do it?

It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Mr. Saturns are capable of the very same PSI that specially gifted humans are capable of – like Ninten, Ness or Lucas. PSI is not limited to humans – many of Giygas’ alien henchman use it and even Starmen, who are believed to be mechanical, have access to PSI. So it’s entirely possible that Mr. Saturns are using PSI to accomplish the majority of their everyday actions, including creating their homes.

Is the giant nose of each Mr. Saturn a capable PSI amplifier or is there something else to explain how they use these potential abilities? A reasonable theory rests upon their head – that red ribbon has an air of mystery about it. However, let’s analyze this hypothesis for a minute and see what we can see.

It is possible to obtain a Mr. Saturn’s ribbon as an item which Paula can wear, and while it boosts her luck significantly, Paula’s PSI abilities aren’t affected by the ribbon in the slightest. With that in mind, let’s assume that the reason for the Mr. Saturn’s potential PSI powers isn’t a physical reason, but I’ve got another theory in mind.

As evidenced by their contributions to the work of famed inventor Dr. Andonuts in both Earthbound and Mother 3, the Mr. Saturns are an incredibly intelligent race. In Earthbound, they help with the creation of a space-time travelling device known as the Phase Distorter, while in Mother 3 they help with the construction of the Absolutely Safe Capsule, a wonderful isolation capsule impervious to any sort of harm. Clearly, this kind of intellect is abnormally high, although as mentioned, not absent in humans – Dr. Andonuts, his son Jeff, and the ingenious Apple Kid are all incredibly intelligent human beings, and none of them have PSI abilities.

What I am suggesting is that intelligence, while not indicative of PSI in humans, may very well be a defining factor in utilizing it for a race of unknown, and most likely alien, origin. One thing we can almost be certain on when it comes to Mr. Saturns – they aren’t human.

However, the Mr. Saturns exhibit another strange trait, and it’s another one that leads me to believe in their alien origin. The society of the Mr. Saturns, while unlike any other society in Eagleland, does have a human touch and the Mr. Saturns are capable of providing for any human being who stumbles upon their society. They have a talented doctor, a hot spring, and other helpful things for any traveler.

Unlike nearly every other alien species in the Mother series, Mr. Saturns don’t hold any sort of ill will to humans. I’ve always found it weird that they even have a working ATM – they’re clearly wired into the Eagleland ATM system, as they access Ness’s bank account with ease. Despite the fact that Mr. Saturns don’t seem to have a legitimate use for money, they run a store and sell some of the most useful items in the entire game, and rake in the cash doing so. Clearly, they’ve got a fascination with human economics.

So, let’s go over our theories on these mysterious creatures.

  •  #1: the Mr. Saturns are clearly of alien origin, but of the odd variety in the Mother universe that don’t hate humans/are loyal to Gigyas.
  •  #2: the Mr. Saturns can use PSI abilities, a common ability among intelligent alien races, but very limited among humans.
  •  #3: Mr. Saturns are fascinated with human society, modelling their own after that of humans, and even finding ways to contribute to human society and the comfort of travelers.

The Mr. Saturns are, according to series creator Shigesato Itoi, a symbol of innocence. This makes a lot of sense with my three theories – they are a perfect counterbalance between the alien races which hate humans, and the corrupt humans who aid those invaders. The Mr. Saturns are surely capable of even greater feats than what they show, but it’s that innocent nature which Itoi suggests that keeps them as nearly passive actors within the Mother universe. We may never learn exactly what they are, but as long as “boing! zoom!” isn’t some sort of code for “kill all the humans”, I don’t think we have to worry.

And remember everyone, as we’ve been mentioning here on the Leviathyn, the Nintendo section will be releasing articles featuring our favorite game stories in a series we like to call, “Tales from the Game Shelf”.  All you have to do is leave a comment about your favorite game stories and tell us why. Do so, and you can have a chance at winning a copy of Double Fine’s game The Cave on Steam!