Mother 3, the last of the fabled and cult-classic Mother series created by Shigesato Itoi, was released for the Gameboy Advance in 2006. This game has a long development history behind, originally being developed during the Super Nintendo days, as it was planned, but delays caused the game to change for the N64 and/or the N64 DD. Unfortunately, after even more delays to the game it pushed back, once again, and finally released for the GBA. Mother 3 brings us the character we all know from Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros Brawl, Lucas, as well as a very powerful and dark story, compared to that of the earlier games. If you have played any of the former games in the series, the core gameplay stays the same, but few changes were added to enhance the experience.
Platform: GBA/Genre: Japanese Role Playing Game
Developer: Nintendo, HAL Laboratory / Publisher: Nintendo
Mother 3 is set in the area of the Nowhere Islands and roughly thousands of years after the events of Earthbound. The story begins with Lucas, his twin brother Claus, and their mother Hinawa who are visiting Hinawa’s father, Alec. After they depart from Alec’s house, the forest catches fire and the scene changes perspective to that of Lucas’ father, Flint. The town and Flint worry as not only as the forest has caught fire, but Flint’s family is still lost in the woods. Upon saving the forest and attacking wild monsters, who are now running amok the once friendly forest, you find Claus and Lucas without their mother,*SPOILER*learning she died violently from a Drago. This was caused due to these mysterious Pig-masked fellow causing mishap in the forest. Hinawa’s death leads to Claus going to exact his revenge the next day on the Mecha-Drago, Flint to break into a rage, and Lucas crying for many days.
Flint learns of Claus’ goal and goes to stop him with Alec, only to be confronted by said murderous-Drago. Flint defeats the Drago, not killing it as its baby comes to protect its Mother. Unfortunately, Claus was nowhere to be found after the Drago’s defeat, with only his shoes left behind.
Meanwhile, Duster and his father, Wess, the village thief and thief-in-training, are tasked to go recover this mysterious ‘Hummingbird Egg’ from Oshoe Castle. Here they meet Kumatora, the princess of Oshoe Castle, and one of the game’s primary antagonist’s Fassad. Once the egg is recovered, you discover that it was originally booby-trapped and Kumatora and Wess are washed ashore, as Duster goes missing along with the Hummingbird Egg. Now, the story gets rolling as Fassad starts selling these “Happy Boxes” to the village, creates the idea of currency, and changes the entire demanor of the world.
Three years pass after these events and you take control of Lucas who has become a young man. Here you see the changes that have become of the town, with Pigmasks creating army bases, everyone less-friendly, and Fassad being praised as a good man. Now your journey can begin, as you experience this tragedy of a story dealing with death and the effects of consumerism on people’s hearts and society.
If you have played any of the Mother series games you will realize the core gameplay has stayed the same, although it is still a unique approach to RPG-genre. If you have not played any Mother game know that like all RPG’s there are two types of gameplay: over-world and combat/battle. The over-world is played from a top-down perspective, like that of Pokemon, where you can move around, talk, solve occasional puzzles and of course, encounter enemies. Enemies are displayed on the real-world map, so you have the option to avoid battle, if you are not detected by the enemy. Approaching an enemy from behind will give you a preemptive strike when you start your battle, and vice versa, as the same rules apply for the enemy. If you “out-level” an enemy, the enemy will try to avoid/run the other direction. A new feature in the over-world gameplay is that of the “Dash” ability. With dashing, you can sprint around the overworld map and sometimes crash into things, causing an event to happen. The dash is also the way to destroy lower-class enemies when you “out-level” them. Unfortunately, this feature is the only way to destroy weaker enemies and it does NOT give you EXP. In Earthbound, while there was no dash, if you were stronger than an enemy (by tons) they enemy would automatically die and you would get the exp and a possible item. The last of the overworld gameplay has to do with currency, which is not used until later in the game (of course) and that of save spots being known as Save Frogs. These Frogs are virtually found everywhere and are used as respawn points.
Combat gameplay stays familiar to that of the Mother series with non-animated sprites and a static moving background. Once again, each character has their own special abiltiies in which they can perform in battle, like Lucas with his PSI techniques, Boney (your Dog) with the Sniff, etc. Mother 3 has a unique way of attacking enemies, called a musical combo system. This system is used by tapping the A in beat/rhythm with the background music to do a combination of attacks; you can max press 16 times. Every enemy has their own theme, so the speeds vary. If you cannot do it with the music, you can also lure enemies asleep and use their heartbeat as the tempo for combination attacks. Of course, Mother 3 features the signature “Rolling Health” system. With this system, when you are mortally damaged the health rolls down, rather than you losing it immediately, giving you time to attack, heal, or even end the battle which would end the decrease of health.
If you were looking for a game with, not only catchy tunes, but unique music at every turn then Mother 3 fits the bill. From great themed songs, to catchy enemy tunes, in addition to music being a FACTOR OF GAMEPLAY, Mother 3 is a game you never want to play without sound. My favorite tracks go from DCMC songs to El Mariachi.
Considering Mother 3 is an RPG and they do not necessarily contain the greatest replay-value, I would rate this game is a moderate-low. The game has a fantastic story which truly is a great experience and some of the plot-twists are fantastic, but may not mean as much the second time around. The difficulty of Mother 3 I found to be a little easier than that of Earthbound, but is a game people shouldn’t take lightly.
Mother 3 is another fantastic entry into the Mother series and RPG’s in general. From its heart-wrenching story, to memorable characters, catchy music, and addictive gameplay all fans RPG will love this game. On a personal side note, I loved the fact that your Dog (official name Boney) travels with your main party the entire game. I love when animals are used as an important part of gameplay, as a pet-owner its great to have a animal companion who is a major character. (not to mention the funny jokes that Lucas and Boney go through).
- Great combat system
- Amazing story
- Clean, crisp visuals
- Catchy Tunes
- You will cry, unless you’re evil
Michael Troina writes features and reviews Nintendo games for Analog Addiciton. When he’s not writing or playing games or sports, he’s out at his job at the Daily Bugle taking pictures as the web-slinger we all have come to love…either that or he’s getting sandwich saving one world at a time. Find him anywhere with this flavors.me/michaeltroina