Important Importables Review: Mother 3 for GBA

February 18, 2012 - 3:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports Review: Mother 3 for GBA

Title: Mother 3
Price: A copy will probably cost you at least $35
System(s): GBA
Release Date: April 20, 2006
Publisher (Developer): Nintendo (Brownie Brown, HAL Laboratory and Nintendo)
ESRB Rating: N/A, Cero A for All Ages.
Pros: Same kitchy graphical appearance as previous entries, interesting story with lots of humorous bits, social commentary and drama, it’s fairly challenging, players get to see different characters’ sides of the story as they progress and a fantastic fan translation is available. The soundtrack is also amazing.
Cons: Ties to other entries in the series aren’t immediately evident. It’s a bit darker than Mother and Earthbound/Mother 2, which may surprise some fans.
Overall Score: 10/10

Earthbound, aka Mother 2, is an undisputed SNES classic. People around the world love it for its whimsicle story and appearance, as well as its surprising amount of depth and overall optimistic message. It’s a mandatory requirement that anyone who ever owned an SNES has to have played that game.

Which makes it all the sadder that Mother 3, a game that surpasses both of its predecessors’ excellence, remains trapped in Japan. Nintendo never took a chance on its localization. As a result, the best entry in the series is a Japan-exclusive. Fortunately, the Game Boy Advance was region-free and fans took up the monumental task of translating this exceptional RPG.

Revenge, salvation and the Pigmask Army.

The Nowhere Islands have been invaded by a mysterious force known as the Pigmask Army. They’re fearsome bullies dressed as pigs who are disrupting nature in favor of completely overrunning everything with the latest, polluting technology and creating a police state.

This is most evident in Tazmily Village, where Mother 3‘s story begins. Lucas, his twin brother Claus, his mother Hinawa and his father Flint are there visiting Hinawa’s father. The trip to the peaceful village, where people even barter rather than use money, goes horribly wrong. The Pigmask Army has corrupted the gentle wildlife, making them murderous with cybernetic experiments. The family is torn apart.

The rest of the game follows Lucas, Boney the dog, Kumatora the princess, Duster the thief, Salsa the monkey and Flint as they develop PSI abilities and attempt to topple the Pigmask Army’s regime.

Something old and something new mashed-up into a perfect, turn-based RPG

Mother 3 is full of surprises. When the adventure first begins, the only similarities to the previous Mother games are the music, graphics and battle system. All three games possessed wonderful soundtrack with unique tracks that perfectly fit every situation, cartoonish graphics that portrayed real-world animals, people and generic locations and a turn-based battle system were enemy sprites are static and the backgrounds are brightly colored and moving. Eventually, other ties to Mother and Mother 2 show up, but for the most part the game stands on its own as a full, fantastic entry which can be enjoyed with no other knowledge of the series.

The biggest shocks come from the story’s content and presentation. The adventure is organized into chapters and even though Lucas is our hero, other heroes and heroines have their own chapters to provide a better understanding of the Pigmask Army and the challenges each character faces. This is a good thing, even though it may seem like it could stifle the player and prevent him or her from going anywhere at any time. It gives each character a chance to shine and also helps the player focus on what’s going on with the story. There are side-quests, but the overall story is so strong that this chapter system helps keep you organized and involved in the character’s struggles.

Mother 3 is also much darker than the original two games. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but people do die in the game. People you normally would never expect to die. It will happen suddenly and will provide motivation for characters throughout the entire game. It’s very unexpected, as are some other choices like the chimera creatures made up of multiple, genetically engineered animals that act as enemies. I believe that it helps show how the series has matured as grown, as it is able to address and include these kinds of serious issues while still maintaining the humorous tone and script the Mother series is known for. So things will be dramatic and serious, offering suggestions as to what experimentation, consumerism and unchecked government could destroy a peaceful society, you also find funny little insights about cows, ghosts and fight enemies like giant, spineless lobsters.

Nintendo’s biggest mistake wasn’t the Virtual Boy, it was not releasing Mother 3 worldwide.

Mother 3 is just amazing. It perfectly caps off the series by offering a slightly more mature story, which is appropriate since fans of the original Mother and Mother 2 are now grown. It also offers multiple morals in such a way that players are able to absorb and understand them without feeling they they are being preached to. The graphics are also a perfect callback to Mother 2 and the overall experience is simple, yet complex. It’s the perfect GBA RPG and the gaming world is worse-off for it never having received an official English release.

Now, while I don’t condone piracy, the team has put together a perfect Mother 3 fan translation patch that can be applied to Japanese Mother 3 roms. It maintains the feel of the series while also making it perfectly accessible to newcomers. It’s nice to know it’s there as it shows just how much love there is for this cult classic. Just know that downloading the game without owning it is 100% wrong.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Hot Japanese Imports talks about the Love Plus series.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Hot Japanese Imports looked at the Ace Attorney series

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