Paul Kuliniewicz » mother 3 After all, it could only cost you your life, and you got that for free. Mon, 28 Jan 2013 03:25:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 You cannot grasp the true form of Mother 3 spoilers Mon, 09 Feb 2009 02:22:01 +0000 Seriously now, major Mother 3 spoilers ahead. I’m going to discuss major plot points in the game. I’m even putting everything behind a cut, to prevent you from reading anything accidentally. OK?


Last chance to turn back. I’m going to tell you things like how Pokey Porky is the primary antagonist, leader of the Pigmask Army, and the penultimate boss. What, you say you learned that from the background of New Pork City and the Ruined Zoo stage in Brawl? Well, what if I tell you that Hinawa dies in the first chapter? And that everyone in Tazmily Village had their minds erased so they wouldn’t remember fleeing the destruction of the rest of the world? And that Fassad is really the seventh Magypsy?

Like I said, spoilers.

One thing I wonder about after having played Mother 3 is Porky’s apparent nostalgia for the events in EarthBound. This is first hinted at by the Friend’s Yo-Yo item in the Playroom near the top of Thunder Tower — yo-yos were one of the types of weapon Ness used — and how Porky’s robotic maid flies into a rage if you try to take it. It becomes much more apparent, however, once you reach New Pork City. The movie playing in the theater is EarthBound, and apparently showing the heroes of that game positively. Then, of course, there’s the boat ride near the top of the Empire Porky building, which seems to be Porky’s museum of EarthBound artifacts:

So why in (what’s left of) the world would Porky have fond memories of how he was stopped from helping Giygas destroy the universe? It’s hardly as though he’s reformed or anything.

I propose that it’s because he sees the world as nothing but a toy for him to play with and, ultimately, smash into pieces. Throughout the assault on the Empire Porky building, Porky repeatedly alternates between inviting Lucas and friends up to the 100th floor and mocking them for being in the wrong place, when he’s the one controlling the elevators. To finally get to the 100th floor Lucas is forced to play a series of minigames against the Mini Porky robot — in particular, to play them and narrowly lose. He’s only interested in tormenting Lucas, and once he loses interest, goes ahead and tries to kill him. Otherwise, why bring Lucas to New Pork City in the first place? He had no way of getting there on his own, and without being able to reach the seventh needle hidden beneath it, there would be no way for him to stop Porky from waking the dragon and destroying the world.

Likewise, Porky’s probably convinced himself that he let Ness beat him in EarthBound, and even that he and Ness had been friends all along. In EarthBound, Porky does indeed make several insincere offers to be friends with Ness, only to turn against him seconds later. And in Mother 3, Porky’s plan seems to be to gather everyone who likes him into New Pork City (where “liking Porky” is pretty much synonymous with “being brainwashed”) and destroy everything else.

Of course, it’s probably dangerous to read too much into the mental stability of a thousands-year-old time traveling overgrown man-child whose little fantasy world includes a restaurant entirely staffed by robot copies of his mother.

I mentioned earlier that the storyline of Mother 3 is much more depressing than EarthBound. In EarthBound, Ness and friends journey across the world, fighting Giygas’s henchmen town by town until ultimately confronting him in the past and defeating him for good. With one exception (Onett falling under siege late in the game when you return for a meteorite piece), liberated towns stay liberated, until everyone is free of Giygas’s influence.

Mother 3 instead centers around everyone’s home town of Tazmily. The heroes are originally motivated to fight the Pigmask Army’s assault on the adjacent areas like Sunshine Forest and Osohe Castle and their influence on Tazmily itself. However, the Pigmask Army is successful against Tazmily. They win over most of the townsfolk’s hearts and minds by giving them Happy Boxes. The few who resist have their homes destroyed by lightning, but no one else even seems to care. The town is ultimately abandoned as people decide to leave for the (presumed) excitement of New Pork City.

Final battle

And then there’s the final battle against Lucas’s reanimated twin brother Claus. Lucas can’t bring himself to attack even if you try, so all you can do is defend and heal. Meanwhile, Claus attacks relentlessly, while the spirit of their dead mother Hinawa pleads with them to stop fighting. All this while a distorted heartbeat plays as the background music. Eventually, Claus starts to come to his senses, but instead of surrendering, he removes his armor and fires lightning at Lucas, knowing full well that Lucas’s Franklin Badge will reflect it back at him. Claus dies in Lucas’s arms.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, then there’s the ending. Lucas pulls the final needle, awakening the dragon and beginning the process of remaking the world. But instead of seeing a new world reflecting Lucas’s heart, the player is only shown the destruction of the Nowhere Islands, culminating with a black screen with nothing but the word “END?” on it. Trying to walk around will result in you bumping into various characters from the game, who thank you the player for what you’ve done and insist that everything is better now.

Granted, after how the final battle plays out, I’m not sure how a happy ending could possibly play out, aside from pushing the reset button and making a world where Porky and the Pigmask Army never existed, and thus one where Tazmily is once again peaceful and where Hinawa and Claus are still alive. But the fact that the player just has to take the characters’ word for it that everything is OK now is somewhat unsettling — one could read in to it that they’re happier with nonexistence than with how the world wound up once Porky took over.

It’s a surprisingly bleak and ambiguous ending for a Mother game.

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Aahh, doorknob! I mean, Mother 3! Sun, 08 Feb 2009 03:35:01 +0000 Mother 3 title screen

Mother 3 is better than EarthBound (a.k.a. Mother 2).

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, Mother 3 is the game where Lucas and the New Pork City stage in Brawl come from. (Tip: if you want to avoid Mother 3 spoilers, don’t play Brawl.)

Mother 3 delivers the same style of humor as its predecessor, despite having a more serious, even depressing, storyline. And manages to pull it off, no less. To avoid spoilers, I’ll save further discussion and speculation on that for a separate post, but suffice it to say I’m still trying to figure out whether or not I liked the ending. (And EarthBound’s cast list at the end blows Mother 3′s out of the water, but never mind that.)

Graphically, it has the same cartoony 16-bit sprite style of EarthBound, but larger and with much more detail. Whereas EarthBound gave you a two-frame walk animation, Mother 3 has sprite animation like this:

The battle system is much the same as in EarthBound, including the rolling HP meter. Fighting in Mother 3 relies on more exploitation on that mechanic, however; there are plenty of enemies that do lots of damage, but beating them quickly lets you exit battle before most of the HP drop occurs. Likewise, which characters you rely on to heal makes a difference, since the longer you wait, the closer everyone else could come to death. There’s also a new combo mechanic, where tapping the button in time with the rhythm of the background music deals more damage. Together, they keep battles fast-paced, despite being rooted in an archaic choose-everyone’s-action-at-the-start-of-the-turn system.

Even better, the final battle doesn’t depend on spamming a command that is either only available in the final battle (Sing in the original Mother) or is largely useless until the final battle (Pray in EarthBound). Instead, the final battle in Mother 3 is… something else entirely. But enough about that, without getting into spoilers.

Hippo Launcher

Like EarthBound, the enemies you fight skew strongly towards the goofy. In particular, the villains in Mother 3 spend a lot of time making chimeras, so when you aren’t fighting the Pigmask army you’ll be facing off against kangasharks (kangaroo + shark, complete with a joey + shark in its pouch), cattlesnakes (not a cat + rattlesnake, but cattle + snake), and hippo launchers (which do not launch hippos, but rather are a hippopotamus + rocket launcher, and are just as dangerous as you’d expect).

I’d say that the Pigmask army’s geneticists have too much free time, but their orders come from the top. Normal animals are boring, after all.

The music in Mother 3 is very good, and there’s plenty of it. The sound player accessible from the title screen has no fewer than 250 songs in it. In particular, there’s a lot of variety in the music that plays during battle, which prevents the tap-in-time-to-the-rhythm mechanic from being too easy, especially since some songs don’t have a steady beat to them. My only complaint musically is that the villain’s leitmotif is very heavily represented throughout the soundtrack, so if you don’t like it, that’s going to pose a bit of a problem.


While the “dungeon”-type areas you fight through are generally good, a few in particular stand out. Tanetane Island is wonderfully creepy and disturbing, and the boss at the end was indeed magnificent. The tower in Chapter 8, whose name I won’t mention due to it being a spoiler, is quite possibly the greatest final dungeon I have ever seen in an RPG. At the very least, it has the best use of toilets in a video game, period.

Although having experienced EarthBound isn’t strictly necessary to understand Mother 3, I’d recommend it. Not just because I’d recommend playing EarthBound in general, mind you, even though I would. There are connections to be found between the two games, which I’ll probably ramble on about at great length in the spoilery companion to this post. Maybe someday EarthBound will finally be released on Virtual Console.

Finally, I must say that the Mother 3 translation is very well done. The project’s blog goes into great detail about all the challenges involved in making it, and the end result shows a lot of polish and attention to detail. It wasn’t just a matter of replacing Japanese text with English text; there were lots of technical problems that had to be hacked through along the way, all without anything to go off of except the binary code of the game.

So stop reading this and go play Mother 3.

[Image credit:]

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Mother! Mother! Mother! Sun, 19 Oct 2008 03:15:17 +0000 For all you Brawl players out there wondering where Lucas came from, you may be interested to know that the unofficial English translation of Mother 3 (i.e., the GBA sequel to EarthBound) is now out.

I’d be playing it right now, but I’m currently working through Super Paper Mario, and I don’t like playing more than one game at once. (Though I am willing to make an exception if the game is sufficiently awesome.)

This has been a public service announcement.

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