They may not be chart-toppers - indeed, the third game has never even been officially released in the West - but the Mother/Earthbound series of role-playing games are some of the most revered and cherished of all Nintendo games (at least among certain clicks).
There's a very good reason why this is. And it has little to do with the actual games.
Of course, they're wonderful titles. Each manages something few games can: to evoke genuine emotion in players beyond the standard "excited" and "afraid". The Mother games can be funny. Charming. Touching. And, at their very best, genuinely tragic.
In accomplishing this, they're visibly unique amongst not just Nintendo games, but games in general. And that's all due, I think, to the men who made them.
Video games are generally made by men (and women) who do nothing but make video games. Seems obvious, but it also partly explains why so many games are similar/derivative of each other, and why so few are able to break free of established genres and video game tropes and really challenge us.
The Mother games, on the other hand, are a little different. Because some of its most important contributors have better things to do than just sit around making games all day.
So, like Suzuki, he comes at games from the perspective of an outsider. Someone whose creative energies aren't continually focused on the act of making games. Indeed, aside from the Mother games he's done little else in development aside from a...fishing game. Which means he's coming at games from the outside, as a man with a story he wants to tell through a game, not a man who is making a game with a story attached.
Again, this isn't to say Itoi's work is any better than someone who spends their entire career designing games and/or game stories. Indeed, going by the series' sales - which are low enough for Nintendo to swear on a Bible to never release Mother 3 in the West - there's an argument to the contrary.
Yet here we are, all these years later, still talking about Mother. And there will be plenty of you reading this who adore the games, who played Earthbound on the SNES and have played the official Mother 3 fan translation, who will always have a special place in their heart for the series which looked like a kid's RPG but could tell a more adult story than a thousand games with brown polygons put together.
So there's something to be said for the approach of getting dudes who don't normally make games to make a game. It may not set any sales charts on fire, but in an age where games are consumed and forgotten about in six-month cycles, to still cherish titles that are 21/16/5 years old respectively is an achievement few other franchises can boast.