the end of EarthBound, after winning an epic, emotional, and
unforgettable final battle against the evil Master Giygas, the
hero, Ness, returns home only to receive a mysterious letter from
Pokey, the game's secondary villain who escaped during the final battle.
Ending on a cliffhanger, players across the world naturally anticipated
EarthBound’s sequel, MOTHER 3 from the moment they beat the
The third title in Shigesato Itoi’s oddball MOTHER series,
3 was first announced in 1996 as a title for the upcoming Nintendo 64.
As the new system was capable of rendering expansive 3-D worlds and
much better sound and graphics than the Super NES, the possibilities
for MOTHER 3 made fans giddy as they waited. And waited, and waited,
on MOTHER 3 dragged on and encountered problem after problem. After six
years of development nightmares, the project was deemed unsalvageable
and canceled in mid 2000. Even after it’s cancelation, MOTHER
topped most wanted lists in Japan and America for years.
In 2003, Itoi and Brownie Brown quietly began work on a new version of
MOTHER 3 for the Game Boy Advance, and released the first of
screenshots only two months before MOTHER 3 was finally released in
April 2006, a full decade after it was first announced.
The first mother MOTHER 3 details alienated fans who were anticipating
the direct sequel EarthBound’s ending hinted at. The
pre-pubescent heroes and contemporary suburban locales that were
previously the series’ calling card were nowhere to be found,
instead the screenshots depicted a world reminiscent of the
American Old West.
only is the setting deliberately unfamiliar, but the opening chapter
revolves not around children, but a balding cowboy with a wife and two
children of his own. Oh, and don’t worry about spending too
money, since nobody in town has even heard of the stuff before.
In fact, MOTHER 3’s setting and characters are not only
non-sequitur to MOTHER 2, but are so discordant and random that they
appear to lack any independent context with which to stand on.
Despite this unexpected twist, MOTHER 3 fits right in with
predecessor in terms of gameplay. MOTHER 3 carries over the psychedelic
turn-based battles of EarthBound with two significant improvements that
helped make the 20 year old MOTHER battle system fresh and engaging in
the age of motion sensors and high definition.
for the first time in the series, your characters actually appear on
screen while attacking during battle, which despite being a purely
cosmetic upgrade, goes a long way to keep the game from looking dated.
Secondly, and more importantly, is the addition of the new sound battle
system. While mentioned only once during the game, timing your attacks
with the background music is essential to getting the most out of
MOTHER 3, and is almost a game within itself.
Basically, when one of your party members is ready to attack, the game
gives you a prompt at which you tap the A button in time with the beat,
with each successful beat building up an up to 16 hit combo.
possible to play though the entire game without realizing that this
combo system is in place, yet mastering it can easily mean the
difference between winning and losing a battle.
addition of the sound battle system has two warmly welcome side
effects. To accommodate the combo system, your character’s
rolling HP meter now ticks down at nearly half the speed it did in
Best of all, to keep the sound battles interesting and entertaining,
MOTHER 3 features 60
DIFFERENT BATTLE THEMES!
For those who can’t appreciate how astonishing that is, keep
mind that even fully “up to date” RPGs on a modern
like the XBox 360 or Wii typically only have between three and five
different battle themes.
MOTHER 3’s battle themes cover almost every genre imaginable,
include rock, techno, piano etudes, classical medleys, heavy metal,
sambas, drum solos, creepy ambiances, dramatic overtures, and an
awesome NES influenced chiptune jam, just to name a few.
3’s soundtrack, boasting a total of over 250 tracks, is not
an impressive feat for the relatively primitive GameBoy Advance, but is
also genuinely well written and thoughtfully produced music. The score
makes excellent use of motif, and accompanies the action and settings
perfectly, invoking tension, excitement, wonder, dread, and sadness
right when the story calls for it.
Don’t let the colorful graphics fool you into thinking this
kid’s game. While there is relatively little on screen
the emotional storyline places MOTHER 3 among darker titles
in Nintendo's library. Even so, MOTHER 3 still holds true to the
EarthBound spirit, and is quirky and unique throughout; a worthy,
rewarding and satisfying final installment in the MOTHER trilogy.
Unfortunately, Nintendo has shown absolutely no interest in releasing
MOTHER 3 outside of Japan, but luckily, the icon based menu and battle
system, and the option to name your characters in English make the game
playable even if you can’t speak and read Japanese, and with
beautifully translated game script available online, it’s
for anyone to fully enjoy MOTHER 3’s storyline.
MOTHER 3 from Play-Asia
Non Japanese Player’s Guide to MOTHER 3
3 Downloadable Soundtrack
coverage of the canceled MOTHER 3 for Nintendo 64
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