Written by GameMaster on May 21, 2018 @ 8:39 pm
Way back in 1995, Earthbound was released by Nintendo for the SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System). It took a different approach on the classic RPG. Rather than using witches, monks, and dragons, it wielded modern characters and designs. You were a teenager all-American boy with a girl, a nerd and a martial artist tagging along. Instead of swords and shields, you could grab a baseball bat, a yo-yo, psychic powers or a frying pan and whack aliens upside their sorry heads. It did conform somewhat to the classic RPG, using objects to regain health as you traveled. However, instead of potions, you got cookies, pizza, and hamburgers. The game, while sold in America, did horribly in sales, possibly due to the bad campaigning system that they tried to use (such as horrifying smells and the catchphrase "This game stinks!") It slid into obsolescence, but left a "cult-like devotion of a fanbase" behind it. Ten years later, Mother 3 made way onto the scene.
Mother 3 was only released in Japan. Nintendo made no efforts to bring it west, despite the constant wishes of the fans that were located there. A group of fans took it upon themselves to translate the entire work, and did it well. Out came a fully translated, with few mistakes and a lot of hard work, English patch for the game.
Right upon inspection, Mother 3 is shown to be similar to Earthbound in many ways. The graphics are similar, and the setting is modern. The battles are conducted upon interacting with a moving sprite of the enemy. If you happen to sneak up on it, you may move first, and then again when it turns to face you. If it sneaks up on you, it will get the first attack, and another when you face it. Meeting face to face will simply trigger the battle normally. Similarly to Earthbound, you can replenish HP (Health Points) using psychic powers or objects in your inventory.
Another similarity is the perspective. You will not always play from one side. Each part is broken up into chapters where you sometimes play as different characters. At the very beginning, you play as Lucas, a timid 9 year old. Next, you'll play as his worried father searching in the mountains, then a thief in a ghostly castle, and even an abused monkey. Finally, the chapters revert back to Lucas, after 3 years have passed, and stays that way.
It is also an upgrade, for the battle system had improved. The player could attack, and upon attacking to the rhythm of the music, continue to attack as they press A, performing up to 16 combos and a lot more damage. Putting an enemy to sleep will allow you to hear their heartbeat, which is also the rhythm the player must tap the A button to for a combo. However, many enemies have different beats, and the music can also have ridiculously difficult time signatures that will throw you off. Mother 3 also introduced the scrolling health. If an enemy attacks you and you have 30 HP left, and it does 40 damage, your player will take "Mortal Damage". However, it doesn't simply drop down quickly. It goes down slowly through each digit, giving you time to save yourself with an object or power before you can hit 0 and become useless.
Several parts of the game can be seen as clever. At the beginning, up to a certain chapter (out of the 8 chapters and prologue), there is no currency in the game. You wander around and open gift boxes or receive items from other characters within the game. Only when Dragon Points, the game's currency, is introduced do you have to buy things.
Hot springs are the new way of healing. At occasional points through out the game, the character frequently finds a hot spring. Stepping in for several seconds will heal the player completely. To save, the player must find a Save Frog. Interacting with these frogs can trigger a humorous dialogue or a small conversation. You may save, and later complete bank transactions with the frogs.
The precision to detail in Mother 3 is astounding. The game is also enjoyable, as well, with humor and sadness both mixed in heavily. At one point, the player becomes covered in soot and is colored pitch black. If the player chooses to heal in the hot spring on the way back, upon stepping out of the spring, they will find their body cleaned of the soot. However, their head is still pitch black.
The memorable moments are often surprising and unexpected, providing a little spice to the game and adding fun for everyone. The player can encounter a man with 'slightly unclean cookies', talk to animals, fight bugs with an attitude, a ghost drinking 'the water of life' (wine), and dress the dog, Boney, as a human to get him into a club. There's even a point where you have to walk the ocean floor, and for oxygen, you're forced to kiss crossdressing mermen. These types of moments create warm feelings and attachment to characters and the game.
In terms of sound, the music is amazing. Each note provokes emotion, happiness, sadness, and can strike up intense feelings inside the player. Music can add to the anxiety, happiness, sadness, or nostalgia of a scene in the game. Every song has its own way of being catchy and finding its way into the player's heart. It really captures the raw emotion.
The story itself must be the greatest part. The story revolves around the Nowhere Islands, in which the Pigmask Army is slowly destroying and corrupting. The main town, Tazmily, is pure and has no currency. As time goes on, things change. The army spoken of is not normal, as they set forest fires and "reconstruct" animals so that they are partially cyborgs.
The main focus of the story is a family of five, including their beloved dog, Boney. Hinawa and Flint are the mother and father of twins, younger Lucas and the slightly older Claus. In the beginning, all is happy until everything takes a turn for the worse when the mother and children are returning home from a grandparent's house. Not only was the forest on fire at the time, but after, a search party is unable to locate them. We later learn that Hinawa has been killed by a Drago, a very friendly creature, while trying to protect the twins. This results in a lot of grief already in a short time. Claus, the bolder of the twins, tries to avenge his mother by killing the drago, only to be killed/knocked unconscious and was not found by his family. The father spends most of his time searching in the mountains for his lost son, neglecting Lucas. Three years later, you embark on a journey to either save or destroy the world.
The thing about this is that it is a race to 'pull the most needles' and awaken the dragon, which determines whether or not the world is destroyed or reborn. We learn that the antagonist is going for these needles, and that he wants to gather the world for a huge New Year Doomsday celebration, essentially. Only select people can pull these seven needles, however. It just so happens the mysterious commander (the Masked Man) of the Pigmask Army and Lucas both have this strange ability. This ties in a lot of anxiety as well as suspicion for a player who is coming to a conclusion on who the mysterious masked commander is.
The story overall is very heartrending and dark. The game is so beautifully orchestrated. It's dark, and empty feeling with pastel colors of childlike parts pasted onto a scary and horrible theme of love and death, and far worse, essentially. It has a light and gentle side, but unlike Earthbound, the dark parts are heavily implied and incorporated, whereas in Earthbound there were simply dark undertones.
By the time you reach the end, there is an intense part that will thrill any Earthbound fan. It wraps up to a beautiful finale that moves everyone to tears as they will most likely cry over the losses. The masked man was the player's twin brother, Claus (turned into a slave-like cyborg by the Pigmask army) who realizes what he has done, and commits suicide, dying in your arms, joining his mother. What the true ending could be is left up to the player, whether the world was recreated, the dead were revived, or the world was destroyed.
Given the twist of a story and the burden of an ending that the player will never truly know, this game is a masterpiece that can make you cry and laugh. It's truly amazing, despite looking so simple. Inside is a complicated story with a stunning finale.
Best Gaming Storyline of all time by far, nothing comes close. Easiest 10/10 i will ever give, near flawless masterpiece
Story Rating: 10
Graphics & Visuals Rating: 10
Sound Rating: 10
Overall Rating: 10
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- Nintendo Gameboy Advance
- Brownie Brown, HAL Laboratory
- JP Release Date
- April 20, 2006
- CERO Rating
- MVGL User Score
- Shogo Sakai
- Official Website