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Mother 3

Developers: Brownie BrownHAL Laboratory Publisher: Nintendo
20 April 2006
Mother 3 - cover art
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4.54 / 5.0
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1,167 Ratings / 6 Reviews
#5 All-time
#1 for 2006
After a mysterious army invades the town of Tazmily and begins to corrupt the land and its inhabitants, a young boy with psychic abilities known as PSI embarks on a journey to stop the invaders with the friends he makes along the way.
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EarthBound [Mother 2 ギーグの逆襲] was always the odd-one-out in the Super Nintendo’s first-party line up. The gameplay, modeled after Japan’s beloved Dragon Quest [ドラゴンクエスト] series, was too archaic and difficult for a western audience. Not to mention, the setting and humor were too bizarre. Nevertheless, the game found its audience outside Japan and they wanted more. 12 long years later, Mother 3 is released in Japan — 2 years after that, out of an uncanny display of fan dedication, the game was translated by a group of Earthbound enthusiasts and spread throughout the net, giving fans of a decade old game a whole new journey to delve into.

There are two immediate observations the player will make upon starting Mother 3. The cast of Earthbound is nowhere to be seen, but everything else is just how you remember that 95’ classic. Shigesato Itoi, creator of the Earthbound series (or Mother as it is known in its native Japan), applied his experience as a novelist to Mother 3. Instead of being brought down a linear, epic path,

Mother 3 explores the transition that a small town and a family goes through as strange visitors with strange technology change the fate of the town of Tazmily. Where Itoi’s literary experience shines is among the game’s opening chapters. Every chapter sheds light on a different perspective of a Tazmily inhabitant, forming a rather ingenious Rashomon [羅生門]-esque structure. To say anymore would spoil the experience but know Itoi crafted a story where the player never knows what will come next but it always makes sense in the end — well, at least when put through the same logic applied to the rest of the series. Above all, Mother 3 will be remembered for its whimsical sense of humor and heartfelt story.

Mother 3 retains the first-person perspective in battles, along with other minimal design choices borrowed from the Dragon Quest series, but one crucial addition is the use of music and how it relates to your character’s attacks. Every enemy you find will have its own battle theme that you’ll have to tap the attack button in time to the beat. Many of these battle themes are shared among many enemies you’ll find throughout the 20+ hour game, but they never tire. This ultimately means that you will get an additional attack, albeit weaker then your initial one, for each button press that is in time to the beat. This is often easier said then done; coming from someone who has beaten both Rhythm Heaven [リズム天国] games, I can say that you will very rarely follow the beat all the way to the 17-hit cap. Throughout the game you will find a character with a special abilities that add a metronome to guide you with the rhythm, but even then it's difficult to pull off. The game isn't hard enough to make it essential to master, This guide just makes it easier.

Earthbound was never a graphical powerhouse in the SNES catalog, and Mother 3 doesn’t fall far from the tree in that respect. Like its SNES forebear, it applies its minimal design to deliver one of the most well-rounded experiences you’ll have on a GBA. The graphics aren't pushing the limit but the warm, stylized sprites are timeless and look great even now, a decade later. Every location you’ll find is unique, while still maintaining a connection to the rest of the Mother 3 universe. 1-UP Studio one of the 3 developers in this joint project, made noticeable improvements in the animation department. The characters, despite being limited to pixels, are emotive and their actions are very fluid. Composer Shogo Sakai helps bring the beat-driven battle themes to life while breathing new air into past series motifs that will invoke a sense of nostalgia for those who knew Ness before Super Smash Bros. [ニンテンドウオールスター! 大乱闘スマッシュブラザーズ].

An outsider to the series might glance at Mother 3 and assume it’s a quirky RPG for genre fans not so thrilled by recent, next-gen titles — they wouldn’t be wrong, but Mother 3 is more then a self-aware genre exercise. Thanks to its inspired setting and a intoxicating joie de vivre it displays, this is a game you will feel compelled to share with your friends, whether they play games or not. Its minimal design and light-hearted script accentuates the game’s themes of capitalism and loss of cultural identity via industrialization without ever feeling heavy-handed like so many other JRPGs.

It’s rare for a game to have a purpose to exist beyond making the player feel fulfilled after many hours of meaningless button presses. It makes you feel richer for having played it, not because you gained any achievement points, but because it’s a memorable experience with characters you’ll think about long after it ends.
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SUPER_Lonely_Panda 2016-04-05T02:52:17Z
2016-04-05T02:52:17Z
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Shigesato Itoi's ending to the Mother series leaves off on its strongest messages to take home. I'm of a family of brothers and sisters, but most importantly I have a twin brother of my own. That made the story around Lucas and Claus that much stronger and poignant to me, not to discredit that the writing in general isn't already incredible.

From the slow corruption of Tazmily village as it conforms into a capitalist society that comes with less pros than it does take away familial strengths and bonds within the community, to the surrealist hero's journey of the seven needles, Mother 3 fantastically paces itself out and keeps the core message of family ever so strung through the whole thing.

The characters, while not so much riveting examples of three dimensional characterization, each found their way into my heart as I played through. This is a game where, though it has its lows, had a profound effect on my life for a very long time. Even when you dig to its core, to where you find that it's simple in scope and works off of a fine tightrope of emotional beats, I still think it's a shining example of video games I've ever played. I can hum most of the soundtrack to this day.

The combat may not be riveting, it taking up a huge percentage of the time playing the game and just barely good enough thanks to some great boss design, some solid enemy encounters, and the cohesive rhythm system. But still, I never lost my engagement for a single moment. I was gripped until the credits rolled and the game came up and told me that it wants the very best of my life as I did the characters at the end. And I think, I wish everyone here the best too, and that maybe if these words find you that you also play Mother 3.
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QuilDewIvy 2021-05-13T00:25:13Z
2021-05-13T00:25:13Z
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Huge fan, looking forward to playing it one day.
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CypressPunk 2022-03-18T03:52:29Z
2022-03-18T03:52:29Z
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I love the internet. Well, I love the internet most of the time. Certain people who lack self-awareness and project their unresolved trauma make the internet insufferable at times, but that’s a discussion for another day on a completely different platform. Despite my reasons for why I love the internet, the initial purpose of it was to bring people together from all over the world and break language barriers. In the years that the internet has been steeped with a seemingly endless amount of porn and cat videos, this core tenant of the internet still holds value to this day. Emulation has always tapped into the vital essence of the internet, erecting a bridge between the west and the video game motherland of Japan for those games that didn’t quite make that journey overseas. The internet provides easy access to these games that would’ve been forgotten in time, condemned to obscurity due to lack of being internationally available. Admittedly, there are probably a metric ton of games that should’ve been left in the vaults of their Japanese homeland, but some of these games have achieved national notoriety and a second wind of popularity. I can’t think of a better example of this than Mother 3, the sequel to the cult classic game Earthbound. Through emulation, Mother 3 has not only gained more critical acclaim than its widely celebrated predecessor, but it has steadily garnered a reputation as one of the greatest video games of all time.

The amount of praise Mother 3 has received strictly through emulation is utterly baffling. I was not being the slightest bit hyperbolic when I stated that Mother 3 has been placed in the same ranks among giants of the video game medium. Every online video game outlet I’ve seen consistently places Mother 3 at the top of the charts, whether it be based on critic scores or an aggregate average. IGN even placed it at #60 in a list of the top 125 Nintendo games of all time, a mid-way compromise that at least acknowledged Mother’s 3 existence on a mainstream gaming publication. Considering all of the acclaims Mother 3 has received, it’s getting difficult to ignore. That’s the ironic thing about Mother 3’s newfound notoriety: emulation has raised it above the clouds and into the bright light of overwhelming adulation, but emulation is also what is keeping this game in the dark. Emulation is still a relatively contentious issue in the realm of gaming. Mother 3 was only released in Japan, so gamers in the west didn’t have any other choice than to resort to piracy. The stigmatization behind emulation seems to have dissipated over the years, and some industry leaders have given up trying to enforce rules against emulation. Nintendo on the other hand will get medieval on the asses of anyone who dares to infringe upon their intellectual properties. Writing a review on the contents of Mother 3 as an English-speaking westerner is in a way incriminating myself, so I plead the fifth on how I managed to play it. If you know, you know. Why then is Nintendo insisting on relegating one of their finest outings to their home country? Why are they forcing players to stoop to flirting with the thresholds of legality just to play a video game? There is no way Nintendo isn’t aware of the infamous “localize Mother 3” chant, a sentiment echoed so vociferously that even Terry fucking Crews joined in as a free celebrity endorsement. Nintendo knows there is a demand, but why aren’t they supplying? One common assessment of the situation is that Mother 3 still wouldn’t succeed in the west because the content is too “high brow” for western audiences. Earthbound initially tanked in the west, and Nintendo isn’t going to go to the trouble to reproduce another inevitable cult classic. There’s also the issue of the risque content of Mother 3 that might draw some ire in the west. With all of this in mind, perhaps it’s better to leave the game as is.

In this timeline, Mother 3 is better off as a heavily pirated cult classic than what it could’ve been. Mother 3 was initially intended to be released as an N64 game of all things. Its earliest development period saw a game with blocky graphics and a fully rendered 3D environment. Mother 3 was going to be the series leap into 3D like Mario and Zelda before it, but developing a 3D JRPG onto a cartridge-based system would be an incredibly ambitious undertaking. There’s a reason why there were only a few made during the system’s lifespan. The project depended on the success of the 64DD, an add-on to the N64 that played discs. Needless to say, the failure of this peripheral resulted in a 3D Mother game never seeing the light of day, and I say good riddance. A 3D Mother game on the N64 would’ve been a colossal bomb that would’ve killed the series on sight. Thankfully, the developers decided to continue the production of Mother 3 for the handheld GBA system. The more primitive handheld console offered pixelated graphics for Mother 3 that were only slightly more advanced than Earthbound’s were on the SNES. This however seemed to be for the game’s benefit as the more pixelated graphics better maintained Mother’s quirky charm and absurd sense of humor, becoming an idiosyncratic style for the series. One might think it’s disappointing enough that this grand title is only legally available in Japan, but I’d rather have that than Nintendo potentially murdering the series with their stubborn initiative to render everything in 3D during the N64 era.

This means that the GBA hardware makes Mother 3 all the more like Earthbound. Mother 3 carries on the same warm sprite animation, minimal combat system, and weird, absurd sense of humor under the scope of a “domestic JRPG”. Mother 3 has everything that everyone loved about Earthbound, and I’m someone who was beguiled by all of these aspects. However, I was initially apprehensive about diving into Mother 3 because of all of the things about Earthbound that I found vexing and unamusing. I am thrilled to report that while Mother 3 may resemble Earthbound in a myriad of ways, it does not feel like Earthbound, or at least made me feel as transgressed as Earthbound often did. Every aspect of Earthbound that irked me has been completely reworked in Mother 3 to make for a substantially more enjoyable experience.

One of my major grievances regarding Earthbound’s gameplay stemmed from the stiff penalty for dying and lack of convenient places to heal. After dying in Earthbound, Ness would be fully revived, but his partners would still be in a state of lifeless purgatory, floating behind Ness like a morbid reminder of his failures. Ness would have to travel to a hospital and pay to revive his teammates like a bail bond. Ness then has to stay at a hotel to replenish his PP which also costs a pretty penny. This whole process is such an ordeal that one can easily forget what they were doing or the obstacle that caused them to die in the first place. Hospitals and hotels are also generally placed in urban areas, so the travel time between the place of death and the nearest city can be the most monotonous part of the restoration process. An alternative method of healing is the “instant revitalization devices”, but I could count how many there are in the game on one hand. Earthbound probably force this circuitous escapade on the player because of the game’s emphasis on humdrum modern life and its many facets like going to a hospital when someone is ill. Without spoiling its themes or story, Mother 3 does away with the medical system of Earthbound and streamlines this whole system with a simple, traditional Japanese method of physical therapy: hot springs. All the player has to do is sit in one of these for 5-10 seconds and their health and PP are revitalized. These hot springs are also located everywhere, so the player should never feel too weary about being low on health and vigor. I’m not sure how accurate the abundance of the hot springs is because I’ve never been to Japan, but I’ll gladly take the convenience. Dying in battle will also take the player back to the last save point with all of their health and PP restored. All of these conveniences almost make me take my health for granted, and I am relieved that the developers opted for these instead of the old system from Earthbound.

Dying occurred quite often in Earthbound because the enemies were more feral than a starved timberwolf. The enemies would also tend to run in packs like the aforementioned animal. Encountering enemies in the overworld of Earthbound became so overwhelming that I dreaded combat after a while. In most JRPGs, the game will give the player an option to escape from battle. Earthbound has this option, but I swear it only worked about a fifth of the time. The other option was to run past enemies to avoid battle encounters, but this was yet another thing that the developers merely teased the player with. Ness and his friends couldn’t run, so they were defenseless sloths against the wild cheetah. The skip sandwich item lets the player move quicker, but only for a pitifully short amount of time. The slight burst of energy doesn’t even provide enough speed to bypass most enemies, and this is also considering that enemies are found in tight corners as well. Adversely, Mother 3’s combat and overworld enemies are much more manageable. Enemies will never appear in more than groups of three and they move towards the player at a less ferocious speed. There are still some enemies with frantic patterns of movement on the field, but they never dart in the player’s direction upon seeing them. Mother 3 gives the player that much-needed run option and it’s incredibly refreshing to have. It may not be quick enough to divert past everything, but it beats getting dogpiled on. Even when combat is imminent, I never grew tired of it. It’s the same minimal combat from Earthbound with the rolling health meter and lack of character movement. The main difference is the inclusion of a rhythm mechanic during battle that allows the player to earn extra hits on an enemy by pressing a button with the background song’s tempo. This can benefit the player greatly from a combat standpoint, but executing it takes quite a bit of skill and practice. I never got the hang of it as I mashed the A button like it was a double-kick drum, but I still appreciate the added level of kinetic involvement.

As for improving upon Earthbound’s godawful inventory system, Mother 3 shifts all of the items deemed “essential” like maps and one-time-use tools to a key section with an infinite amount of space. I still found myself overstocked on items among all four of my party members in Mother 3, but not to the extent of cursing the game under my breath. Item management was still comparably refreshing compared to what it was in Earthbound, and all it took was an obvious change. The player will still buy items one at a time, but there wasn’t an overly eager store clerk that would insist on asking me if I wanted to purchase the item I selected. Items descriptions are also easily found in both the store menu and in the player’s storage roster. As for the extra storage for unwanted items, the player no longer has to use a phone to call a service just to pick up three measly things. A homeless-looking man known as “Item Deposit Guy” will happily store up to at least twenty items and he can be found in most places. The whole system is wrapped up neatly and I couldn’t be happier.

Streamlining the tedious aspects of Earthbound seems to be a prevalent thing in Mother 3. Another convenience that is just as widely available in the game is save frogs. As the namesake implies, these helpful little critters will save your progress. Sometime in the middle of the game, these frogs also double as an ATM that saves money from battling enemies. The Earthbound equivalent of both of these separate aspects was Ness calling his dad to save the game and using an ATM to hold and or withdraw money. In Earthbound, I didn’t mind this so much because both phones and ATMs were both located in the general vicinity of each other. In the event where Ness and company weren’t near a town, the game would fashion a random object like a phone to call Dad so as not to inconvenience the player (and the game gets away with it because it’s Earthbound). My gripe with this feature in Earthbound had more to do with Dad’s extra commentary that followed each save that Dad never bothered to change up after a hundred goddamn saves. Fortunately, the frogs are not related to the player and won’t try to haphazardly rekindle any familial bonds via long-distance calls. They are all business and simply give their regards to the next frog the player meets. I never minded that the ATM was separate from the save feature in Earthbound, but I never knew that combining them with a series of amphibians was what the series needed. Also, the color variation of frogs the player encounters is too precious.

In my review of Earthbound, I listed off my favorite oddities in the game that had me grinning from ear to ear. I could probably do the same for Mother 3, but I feel as if doing so would be a disservice to the game’s solid narrative. Earthbound established a loose adventure arc from the beginning that never really deviated from the main course. It was a surrealistic odyssey that used its quest plot as a base while incorporating several wacky occurrences along the way. I could simply list a selection of these moments from Earthbound in no particular order because they didn’t fit along with a stark narrative structure. Mother 3’s story on the other hand is a tale of epic proportions divided by eight chapters. The game still retains a silly, absurd sense of humor, but these events are supported by a more enhanced narrative. During these eight chapters, Mother 3 explores themes of grief, loss of innocence, fascism, the toxic nature of capitalism, the birth and death of civilization, and course, motherhood. It’s interactive War and Peace being played out through a pixelated handheld console.

Those who haven’t played Mother 3 might still be familiar with the character of Lucas, mainly through his inclusion in the Super Smash Bros. franchise. One might assume that he’s the central protagonist of Mother 3, but they’d only be half correct. The player doesn’t get a chance to play as Lucas until the fourth chapter. The first three chapters of Mother 3 act as sort of a prologue that establishes the world, its characters, and the central conflict. The first three acts are also presented in a non-linear fashion that focuses on the perspectives of three different playable characters surrounding events that occurred around the same time ala Pulp Fiction.

Mother 3’s story certainly does not begin with a slow burn of exposition. It manages to establish every aspect the player is not initially familiar with like its setting and characters while providing a consistently entertaining structure. Its beginning also establishes that Mother 3 does not pull any punches with its gut-wrenching moments. The player can choose the names of a mom, dad, two sons, and their pet dog. The characters here are the pinnacle of a nuclear family dynamic, living in a cozy cottage home in the countryside to top it off. These people live simple, happy lives without any trace of dissension. Even the massive dinosaur-like creatures the Dragos peacefully coexist with these people without any inkling of carnivorous intent. The boys of this family even roughhouse with the Dragos as if they are the neighborhood kids. Everything is as ideal as can be until the night that the mother of this family encounters a strange object floating overhead. Everything changes the night the pigmasks attack. An explosion off of the mountain path causes a wildfire and the father of the family, Flint, rushes up the mountain in a panic to save his family. He gets distracted along the way and has to rescue some of his fellow villagers from burning to death in a fire. Once he saves them, the townsfolk of Tazmily aid him in rescuing his two sons, Lucas and Claus. His boys are safe and sound, but Flint receives the cataclysmic news that his wife has been slain by a Drago. Hearing this causes Flint to take out his heavy emotions on the townsfolk, resulting in him being taken into custody. When he leaves his temporary cell, he gets news that his son Claus has taken it upon himself to avenge his mother by killing a Drago. Flint and his father-in-law Alec look for Claus to stop him, but Claus is nowhere to be found.

It’s almost as if the game purposefully lulls the player into a sense of comfort to just pull the rug out from under them in Mother 3’s first chapter. The tone of the tranquil mountainside that the characters live in is so comfortable that it's almost adorable. All the player needs here is a brief, five-minute introduction to their uncomplicated lives and set up the chaos surrounding the invasion to catapult the player into the action. It’s an effective juxtaposition of tone that makes the player care for the well-being of these characters they were just introduced to. Establishing all of the supporting characters is done very cleverly in that it uses the predicament of the wildfire as a means to get all of them involved because the situation affects all of them. The setup here organically makes the town and its denizens as established characters without having the player go around and talk to them like a normal JRPG would. Regarding the reveal of Hinawa’s death; if this is the event that catalyzes the plot, then the game’s story is putting itself at some seriously high stakes. Flint’s devastation after hearing the news is palpable, and the scene where he physically lashes out at his neighbors to cope with the loss of his wife is such a visceral scene. The fact that Flint’s crisis is only prolonged by his son going missing emits such a sympathetic reaction to Flint and his entire family. This shellshock of an introduction may have run the risk of Mother 3’s narrative peaking here but fortunately, the story maintains its level of quality.

Chapter 2 is a change of pace along with a change of a playable character. The player will be in control of Duster, a thief who aided Flint in his rescue mission, as he explores the famed Oshoe Castle looking for an artifact that resides in its walls. The inhabitants of this abandoned Tazmily relic are ghosts who spend their days having parties that consist of eating fanciful food, drinking wine, and playing ragtime piano. After confronting a pompous ghost posing as a classical composer, Duster brings back what he thinks is the artifact to his elderly father and fellow thief, Wess. Wess chastises Duster for retrieving the wrong thing and accompanies him back to Osohe Castle to find the true artifact. They return to Osohe Castle to find that pigmasks have ransacked the place looking for the same artifact. Only Wess knows its true location as he wiggles his ass in a dance that unlocks the secret doorway. They find a spunky pink-haired girl named Kumatora that Wess seems to be acquainted with. All three of them recover the artifact and swim through the perilous moat around the castle to escape from the pigmasks. They wash up on the shore where Duster is accused of stealing something from one of the townspeople.

Overall, the second chapter does not deliver the same impact as the first one. This is a chapter of exposition in which the goal is to recover an item whose relevance isn’t revealed until the very last chapter. I guess the more important point of exposition in this chapter is the involvement of Duster and Kumatora, two of four central party characters in the game. Playing as Duster is nice, but it presents a gripe I have with the game. I don’t understand why the developers felt the current playable character in the front line of action needed to be silent when the player is controlling them. We’ve seen Duster speak before in the first chapter and he speaks plenty of times as a party member in the following chapters. It doesn’t make sense that Duster is silent here, especially when Wess is berating him. I can understand Boney and Salsa not speaking because they are animals, but the speechless human characters have no excuse. I could maybe understand Lucas being silent because of his central protagonist role and his timid character trait, but he even speaks before he’s playable. It’s an awkward crack in a game with some solid character foundation. The one standout point of this chapter is the rise in difficulty as Mr. Passion and the Oh-So Snake are the first roadblocks for me.

By now, the player will get an impression that the villains of Mother 3 are impeccably strong in terms of narrative. The pigmasks are imperialistic fascist scumbags who are accompanied by a bombastic theme that even resembles Ride of the Valkyries. They uproot the sleepy town of Tazmily without care and adulterate their wildlife, turning them into abominable chimeras. After the events of the first chapter, any player with a conscience will have a seething contempt for these guys. Upon talking to any of these pigmasks however, they all seem to be bumbling oafs in uniform like the Stormtroopers from Star Wars. One can assume that there must be someone of higher intellect pulling the strings, and chapter 3 introduces us to someone in charge. Fassad has become one of my favorite video game villains because he is delightfully despicable. Throughout the third chapter, he ventures through a desert to get to Tazmily with a monkey named Salsa that he’s keeping as a slave. Salsa has to comply with Fassad because the pigmasks have Salsa’s monkey girlfriend captive. That, and Fassad has implanted a remote-controlled shock collar on Salsa that he always keeps at arm's length. The player controls Salsa for the entirety of the chapter, enduring the brunt of Fassad’s cruelty. Fassad constantly berates Salsa, starves him, and shocks the living hell out of the poor monkey seemingly just for yucks. There’s a task in the middle of the chapter in which Fassad has Salsa delivering happy boxes to the people of Tazmily and warns Salsa that he’ll get shocked if he takes too long. No matter how long the player takes, Salsa will still get shocked. Fassad is such an unscrupulous bastard, and the point where Salsa is liberated from his captor at the end of the chapter is such a cathartic moment. This might be my favorite chapter.

Chapter 4 was when I started to notice a heavy emphasis on the themes of capitalism. Three years pass after the events of the first three chapters and much has changed in Tazmily. The once rustic village has transformed into an industrialized Americana town similar to something like Onett from Earthbound. The “happy boxes” Fassad has planted in everyone's homes are keeping the townspeople under a state of sedation. A good number of them have blue-collar jobs working in the mines with the Clayman, and their nightly reward is to get liquored up at Club Titiboo and listen to a live band play. All the elderly people are forced to live in a dilapidated nursing home and Fassad preaches the gospel in the center of town like the patron saint of Tazmily. Most of the people seem content with the changes in Tazmily, but there have been a suspicious number of houses of some vocal dissenters against the changes being annihilated by lightning strikes. As effective as Hinawa’s death was in the first chapter, I found myself moved by Tazmily’s transformation by the start of chapter 4. All of the capitalistic changes brought to Tazmily like the need for commerce and vapid distractions like the TVs (sorry, “happy boxes”) are quite disillusioning. Tazmily didn’t even have a method of currency before the pigmasks arrived and their jail was a glorified time-out cell because no one in town did anything that warranted anything more severe than that. Mayberry wishes it could be as ideal as Tazmilly. It’s upsetting to see such a happy community transform into a jaded mirror of modern society, and this probably wouldn’t have been as effective if the first three chapters didn’t introduce this place so efficiently. The player empathizes with the town itself as a character.

Chapter 4 is also the point where the narrative fully takes off and Lucas becomes the protagonist from here on out. He’s a little taller, wiser, and braver than before, but the tragic loss of his mother still looms over him like a dark cloud. He takes his dog Boney and ventures across town along the train tracks to assemble a squadron to take down the pigmasks. He hears of a bass player who plays at Club Titiboo who bears such a strong resemblance to Duster that it must be him. To get to Club Titiboo, Lucas and Boney both have to earn a ticket like everyone else and endure the new bureaucratic labor force of Tazmily by working in the mines. He also encounters Kumatora at Club Titiboo, disguised as a waitress named Violet. The bassist of the DCMC is an amnesiac Duster in a poofy wig who comes along with Lucas and the others despite not being sure of his past. Duster leads them to uncover the precious artifact from the second chapter which has a power that makes Duster regain his memories. The main goal of chapter 5 with all four main party members is to take down the Thunder Tower, a monumental building eclipsing Tazmily that is the cause of so many destroyed homes in Tazmily. The gang climbs the tower and dismantles the tall terror of Tazmily, causing a frantic countdown to an explosion. Fassad tries to take the only means of escaping the tower but slips off the tower by tripping on one of his banana peels. By using the trusty rope snake, Lucas and company attempt to cling onto the ladder hanging from the helicopter. The rope snake gets slippery which causes everyone to fall, but not before they get a glimpse of the true pigmask leader. The brief chapter 6 finds Lucas and Boney falling in a lovely field of sunflowers where Lucas has a fleeting apparition of Hinawa before falling further down into a haystack. Chapter 6 serves as a nice intermission between the climactic end of the fifth chapter and the two longer final chapters. Whether the field of flowers is real or a nice accompaniment to Lucas’s vision is vague enough that it can be up to self-interpretation.

Let me summarize my opinions of the fourth and fifth chapters of Mother 3 by discussing the group dynamic between Lucas, Kumatora, Duster, and Boney. By chapter 4, the player will be used to switching between a roulette of different characters. The ability to play as Lucas locks the player into a sole main, playable character. These two chapters are Lucas assembling his gang of psychic adventurers like Ness before him. The advantage that Mother 3 has over Earthbound is that the player is already familiar with all of Lucas’s party members and has gained a small amount of battle experience with each of them. It’s obvious that by the beginning that Lucas is the weakest of the four due to not having battled until this point, but the player should accumulate enough experience as Lucas and Boney on the way to Club Titiboo to contend with both Kumatora and Duster. Setting up these characters in the first three chapters is a refreshing change of pace from Ness having to grind for experience with a new partner that is at a significantly lower level than he is. Assembling these characters as a team is also much more organic than the partners of Earthbound joining Ness by happenstance. As a team in battle, the four main fighters of Mother 3 are a much more capable team than the four from Earthbound. They have the same general dynamic but are much more functional in their roles. Like Ness, Lucas has a special role as the leading party member with unique PK abilities. Kumatora is in Paula’s position as the offensive powerhouse with the elemental PK powers. Neither Duster nor Boney has PK powers, making it seem like the game has stuck the player with TWO Jeffs, but this is not the case. Duster can use his thief tools to debuff the enemy and cause status effects without the use of PP. As for Boney, he can identify the enemies' weaknesses by sniffing them, similar to Jeff’s spy ability. Boney is also the quickest of the bunch, giving him the first turn over everyone else. Because of this, it’s important to stock healing items with Boney. As for Poo, Mother 3 proved that the team didn’t need a psychic wildcard with much less experience than the others. His special Starstorm ability is shifted to Kumatora.

Chapter 7 of Mother 3 is the one most like Earthbound because it’s essentially the plot of Earthbound crammed into one long chapter. The Magypsies tell Lucas of a harrowing prophecy involving seven needles and an ancient dragon. The Magypsies tell that the world they exist in lies on the back of a dragon, and their roles in this are to protect the seven needles that keep the dragon at bay. The pigmasks are on a mission to pull those seven needles, awakening the dragon and making it their subservient puppet. This will signal the grim end of the world but alternately, a person who is pure of heart can also pull the needles and save the world. Lucas and his friends venture across the land in a race to pull the needles and keep the world from imminent destruction. Does this sound familiar? It should. It’s also the point where the narrative of Mother 3 falters a bit. I didn’t mind the loose adventure narrative in Earthbound, but it’s a shame that Mother 3’s solid story regresses as late as the second to last chapter after such a consistently strong narrative flow. As it is, chapter 7 is a long trek of humorous, madcap occurrences on their way to each needle. I felt like listing a series of highlights detailing the wackiness for Mother 3 like I did for Earthbound was inappropriate, but this chapter is an exception. Lucas and Boney make their way to the pigmask’s chimera lab where a demon with a gaping mouth and a bird on its head referred to as the “ultimate chimera” wreaks havoc on the pigmasks and the scientists. Navigating around this creature turns the game into a tense, survival horror segment. The gang will ride a horse, coffee table hybrid down to Saturn Valley (yes, that same one from Earthbound) where the pigmasks are interrogating the Mr. Saturns and Duster with a frightbot that tortures them by telling scary stories. This portion of the game was the funniest in my opinion. The gang walks underwater to get to a nearby island, making out with a series of Mermen that supply them oxygen. Once they get to the island, everyone except Boney eats a bunch of psychedelic mushrooms and hallucinates visions of their loved ones admonishing them. The surprising part about the quest for the needles is that the masked man in the helicopter from earlier gets to three of the needles before Lucas does, tying the score up and making the race to pull the last needle incredibly tense.

Chapter 7 also heavily features the main point of contention that keeps Mother 3 from being released internationally. In a game with animal cruelty and drug trips, the Magypsies are the icing on the controversy cake. The Magypsies are a group of very flamboyant beings who despite having feminine names and dressing like women look very masculine behind all that makeup and posh clothing. They also talk like Big Gay Al from South Park and their speaking text practically uses heart symbols as punctuation. It’s pretty obvious that the Magypsies are a group of trans-gendered women, and they are depicted in a less-than-savory manner here. The Magypsies are walking, talking stereotypes of the gay/trans community. They are quite literally the personification of the “fairy” slur used against gay people. Some people argue that the Magypsies are great characters because their dialogue is fun and their roles in the main story are interesting, myself included. Subtly learning that Fassad is a Magypsie that betrayed his kind was one of the most intriguing moments of the game for me. However, there is one scene in the game involving the Magypsies that even offended me. In the fourth chapter, Lucas approaches a hot spring where the Magypsy Ionia is bathing. Ionia senses a potential for psychic powers in Lucas and goes through a sort of process where the screen goes dark and Ionia is saying things like “don’t struggle!” and “just endure it for a little bit!”. Ionia is dipping Lucas’s head under the water like he’s being baptized, but my smut-addled American mind ran to different conclusions. What else am I expected to think when the screen goes black with two naked guys in a hot tub and Ionia says shit like that? The stereotype that all gay men are also pedophiles is one of the most heinous ones to uphold, and it’s no wonder why Nintendo won’t touch this game with a ten-foot pole.

The final chapter begins with an invitation by limo. Lucas and company are cordially invited to the metropolis of New Pork City by its founder of unknown origin. It’s here where we learn who is pulling the strings behind the whole pigmask operation. The Japanese players who played Earthbound might already guess who this person is judging by the pigmasks' animal uniform, but the foreshadowing will be lost on any American player due to a mistranslated typo in the American version of Earthbound. Ness’s portly, shithead neighbor Porky Minch (or Pokey if you’re not Japanese) has accomplished quite a bit since sending a braggadocious letter to Ness at the end of Earthbound. Porky has accomplished the impossible and ventured throughout time and space by stealing Dr. Andonuts’s phase distorter, making him like a lovechild of Dr. Who and Eric Cartman. Through a large part of spoken exposition from the beanstalk man who rang the Tazmily bell, Porky has settled down on the land that used to be his hometown one apocalypse ago and intends to have total dominance over everything with the dragon’s power. His biggest accomplishment thus far is the creation of New Pork City, a drab eyesore of a city that reflects Porky’s vanity-driven ego. NPC is modeled like an even gaudier version of EPCOT. At this point, everyone has vacated from Tazmily to NPC either from coercion or because their role in the town has been rendered obsolete. The cycle of turning this once pristine, uncomplicated world into a dystopian hellhole has come full circle, and everyone from Tazmily is now jaded to the point of no return. Porky is well aware of Lucas and his friends and their mission to pull the final needle. He wishes to see them at the top of his grand tower, but not before playing with them like toys. The run-up to Porky is an obstacle course of games where Porky makes up a new rule every second of the way. Finally meeting the fat fuck is a surprise, to say the least. The eons Porky has spent traveling through space and time have taken a toll on him as he is now decrepit albeit immortal old man kept in his familiar walker casing. His final brawl in the deep caverns of NPC plays out exactly like Earthbound, except this time Porky can’t be defeated. He gives up and traps himself in a sort of robotic cocoon that Dr. Andonuts made for him which he will spend for eternity. Despite being ancient, Porky is still the spoiled, bratty kid he was in Earthbound which is probably a comment on the characteristics of real-life dictators. If Mother 3 has a cyclical nature with Earthbound as a reference, Porky is now the powerful force of corruption that Giygas was.

The Masked Man is now the impressionable youth with a lust for power that Porky was in Earthbound. According to Leder, Porky couldn’t accomplish his goal alone because he cannot physically pull the needles. His pawn in this role is the Masked Man who is none other than Lucas’s long-lost twin brother Claus. One could most likely tell that it was him behind the mask, but the more intriguing question is why. Porky was lucky enough to find Claus after the events of Hinawa dying, a low and vulnerable point for Claus. Porky fed into Claus’s newfound anger and manipulated it for his gain to the point where the old Claus is long gone and is now Porky’s machine. The final battle for the needle is Lucas and Claus, mono y mono on a dark battlefield. Knowing that the Masked Man is his brother, Lucas refuses to fight. Claus on the other hand unleashes all his power on Lucas. Lucas must endure as much damage as possible while Hinawa’s distant voice tries to get through to Claus to make him stop. The fight against Giygas in Earthbound was uncomfortable because of how frantic the fight got, but the final fight here is equally as uncomfortable because of how heartbreaking it is seeing the two brothers fight. Claus even deals damage to Flint for good measure. After Hinawa’s voice gets through to Claus, he unmasks himself. He unleashes the most powerful lightning strike he can, knowing full well that Lucas will deflect it. He dies in Lucas’s arms. Lucas pulls the final needle and finds out the prophecy was wrong. The dragon awakes and causes an apocalyptic storm of meteors and earthquakes that destroys everything. A pitch-black screen with the word “end?” is the final thing the player sees before the credits. If the player moves around this screen, the characters of Mother 3 will tell the player that they survived and are all okay, but I remain skeptical.

This ending was not what I expected from Mother 3. Earthbound’s horror-inspired final boss was hectic, but his defeat resulted in a bittersweet ending that wrapped up the game nicely. Mother 3 on the other hand concludes with an ending that made me feel like I got belted in the stomach with a baseball bat. The final encounter with Claus and his death was a poetic end to his arc, but it sure was hard to sit through. It is however the only possible way the game could’ve outshined Hinawa’s death at the beginning. The ambiguous ending with the aftermath of the apocalypse was a satisfying end, but it rubbed me the wrong way due to how bleak it was. I suppose the reason for it is to highlight a cyclical theme that Mother 3 details. The world got so lost in itself with Porky’s empirical corruption that may be a violent apocalypse to start anew. Perhaps this is what happened to the people before them and there is some poetic beauty to their demise. As for the themes of motherhood that the series upholds, Mother 3 tackles these with an inversion to Earthbound. Motherhood in Earthbound was depicted as a symbol of purity that reminds every adult of where they came from and how it reflects the outside world. The themes of motherhood in Mother 3 are more overt due to Hinawa’s death being a catalyst to the arcs of both Lucas and Claus, but the themes reflect more strongly with Claus. Claus loses himself in his grief and confusion and it takes Hinawa’s motherly influence to bring him back to his senses. His unmasking and sacrifice were a means to stop himself and an apology for what he’s done. His humanity is regained through this act and motherhood is the pinnacle of humanity that helps him.


Mother 3 was everything I wanted in Earthbound and so much more. All of the strong aspects presented in Earthbound like its irreverent sense of humor and unique battle mechanics are here on full display. The huge difference is that the way Mother 3 goes about utilizing these aspects turns a game that I have a love/hate relationship with into a game that I grew to fully adore throughout my time playing it. Every tedious aspect that made Earthbound a chore to play at times is streamlined to make everything more convenient, making for a more enjoyable experience overall. The comical moments in Mother 3 are no longer random events but are organized in a story that is worthy of some video game equivalent of a Pulitzer Prize. It is somewhat unfortunate that the west still has to fight the good fight to get Nintendo to publish a localized version of their game, but it’s pretty apparent why they’d be apprehensive to do so considering some of the content. I on the other hand say fuck it and emulate Mother 3. The masses should quiet their chants and topple down their signs and just appreciate Mother 3 in its unadulterated form. The fan translation of Mother 3 is fantastic, free of charge, and is the version we’ve all come to know and love. Nintendo usually reigns down on all emulated or modded versions of their games, but this fan translation has not been attacked since its inception. Perhaps Nintendo is letting this one slip because they want everyone to experience one of their greatest achievements without explicitly saying so. Even if the first Mother and Earthbound weren’t your fancy, everyone should experience Mother 3.
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Erockthestrange 2017-07-31T19:00:07Z
2017-07-31T19:00:07Z
4.5
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I am still amazed every day that goes by and this game remains to not be officially localized for the Western audience.

Earthbound, while not an immediate hit, ended up setting itself up as one of the strongest influences of RPGs. Mother 3, while not as groundbreaking in my opinion, stands in its own right as a completely different experience even if there are rather big similarities regarding just about everything in the game. In a way, I actually kind of prefer this over Earthbound just due to the fact that I really take a big appreciation in a lot of the themes and lovely designs of every single character, enemy, and location in the game. It's just such a lovely, warm game that I can't describe as being quite like many others.

I don't personally see this as one of the best games I have ever played, but certainly one of the coolest and most intriguing ones. This game never really blew me out of the park, and at times I was even kind of frustrated and a bit confused with it. Even with the most minor of characters, I really felt different about the way this game was in comparison to others.

It will bewilder me to this day some of the decisions in this game, such as devoting an entire chapter to a character that barely shows up too much; but going to the point of practically making my heart hurt for a poor monkey that was practically unrelated to the story up until it showed up.

Nonetheless, the gameplay is beyond fantastic. I really enjoy how this game plays over Earthbound, and the fact that the music is embraced in every single part of this game; to the point of it making itself its own mechanic with the rhythm in combat. There is just so much love poured into everything, and such a dark overarching story followed after probably one of the best intros I've ever seen in any game. If you played Earthbound and haven't played this yet, you are literally crazy. If you haven't, I'd still hugely recommend this, although I'd be lying if I said it is the best place to start. Frankly, one of the coolest games I have played.
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kaibo 2020-06-25T01:19:49Z
2020-06-25T01:19:49Z
9- /10
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Mother 3 is a game I heard about before mainly due to it being linked to Earthbound, but I never played any of those games until just 3 months ago, actually I started Earthbound on New Year's day and right after I finished it I went into Mother 3, especially since at the time it was ranked the #1 game of all time on here, so I decided to finally check the hype out. Mother 3 is a lot different than Earthbound, it has a completely different setting, a different style of storytelling, a different atmosphere, and different characters. The only thing that feels like Earthbound really is the music and a similar combat system, but even the combat is a bit evolved as you now can time your attack presses to the beat of the music in the background to do more damage.

Since the gameplay isn't too different from Earthbound though and it has similar items and the usual psi abilities and attacks I'll go more into the story in this review. Now the story is good, its a lot more philosophical and dark than Earthbound. Playing Mother 3, you are constantly questioning the morality of what you are doing, what your enemies are doing, and then the game ends a bit ambiguous. The game starts off with an incredibly long prologue where you play as different characters from a small town and see the events unfold from their perspective, then the villain of the game comes in and when things go bad, the game then skips forward a few years and then the main game starts.

Mother 3 is actually a pretty slow moving game that has a rather simple story. The majority of the game you are just going to different locations and pulling out Needles that will then let you access the final area of the game and restore the balance of the World to good and stop the villains from corrupting the World. But along the way you run into various characters, some from your past who will join your party. Its not quite as bizarre as Earthbound, there really are no Runaway 5 moments or when you enter the dark version of a town.

In terms of progression, the game is broken into chapters and most chapters will have you go to a different area and part of the map to collect a needle, and the game doesn't quite have a map as open ended as Earthbound since most chapters restrict you to a certain part of the map. This game is a bit harder than Earthbound and bosses in this game are no joke and can make really quick work of you. I actually found the boss fights in this to be the best part of the game, they are challenging and fun, but also have unique design and music around them.

Outside of that the World design is okay. I didn't find the design or areas as memorable as Earthbound but it does its job. The story is decent but again, I feel like moments of this game just dragged out. It had a lot more character development than Earthbound, but after the prologue the game had very little that happened until near the end and most of the game and hardly any important events occurred between the beginning and end of the game, it was mostly just going to different areas to pull out the needles. Mother 3 wasn't bad and in fact I did enjoy many elements, the refined combat and gameplay is a step up, I liked the boss fights, and it did have a decent enough story that had many deeper elements, rather than Earthbound where the story really didn't matter and was more just in the background. But I just wish this was more open World and I felt like most of the game was just building up to the end rather than each area being super memorable like Earthbound. Mother 3 may be in my top 100 games of all time, but I wouldn't really consider it anywhere close to best game ever.
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jweber14 2018-01-13T08:26:46Z
2018-01-13T08:26:46Z
4.0
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WHATISLOSTINTHEMINES Mother 3 2022-05-23T16:28:22Z
2022-05-23T16:28:22Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
maplegotchi Mother 3 2022-05-23T15:24:08Z
2022-05-23T15:24:08Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
siixnights Mother 3 2022-05-23T14:21:11Z
GBA • JP
2022-05-23T14:21:11Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
pensiero97 Mother 3 2022-05-21T18:27:44Z
2022-05-21T18:27:44Z
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Keins Mother 3 2022-05-20T01:05:22Z
2022-05-20T01:05:22Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Fedet00 Mother 3 2022-05-19T19:03:17Z
2022-05-19T19:03:17Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
ratboygenius Mother 3 2022-05-19T04:48:33Z
2022-05-19T04:48:33Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Nagual Mother 3 2022-05-18T22:00:06Z
2022-05-18T22:00:06Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
mdct77 Mother 3 2022-05-18T07:18:59Z
2022-05-18T07:18:59Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
kafeis Mother 3 2022-05-18T01:35:49Z
2022-05-18T01:35:49Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
neonlights10 Mother 3 2022-05-16T17:33:53Z
2022-05-16T17:33:53Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
sweetboyballs Mother 3 2022-05-16T05:35:13Z
2022-05-16T05:35:13Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Content rating
CERO: All Ages
Player modes
Single-player
Media
1x Cartridge
Franchises

Comments

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  • Previous comments (96) Loading...
  • bejesus 2021-11-09 20:59:21.296141+00
    How did this drop 3 spots when it has more ratings and a higher score than disco elysium
    reply
    • SMZXW 2021-11-10 05:42:11.325082+00
      weight
    • Juanjaramillom 2022-01-07 05:57:32.471865+00
      Hasn't been updated yet, ig, cuz in this game's page says #2
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • Bakkus 2021-11-27 03:08:45.297223+00
    Over 1000 ratings now. Not bad for a game you can't play legally unless you know Japanese.
    reply
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  • jydah 2021-12-23 13:00:29.732377+00
    reply
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  • cohetesnaranjas 2022-01-05 01:05:52.978044+00
    This is so special to me. It made me believe in magic and PSI. The Mother series is peak fiction.
    reply
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • Randomico 2022-01-12 20:40:01.310038+00
    I don't think i will able to enjoy another JRPG after Earthbound and Mother 3
    reply
    • Convalescence 2022-03-17 18:38:55.406116+00
      I have straight up given up on the genre, with only a few exceptions. earthbound and M3 are just that good
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • brasscontraption 2022-01-19 15:30:56.842458+00
    it deserves all the praise. i think this might be one of the only games that deserves all the praise
    reply
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  • menges 2022-01-23 01:09:51.68289+00
    We live in a society
    reply
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • Bakumatsuroman 2022-02-15 13:53:07.529354+00
    reply
    • vagabondER 2022-04-08 08:21:26.730669+00
      hide Flagged by users
      gay
      This post was flagged by users for potentially violating community rules. It will be reviewed by a community moderator soon.
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