Mother 3 is a role-playing video game developed by Brownie Brown and HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo. It was first released in April 20, 2006 for the Game Boy Advance, and was later released for the Wii U's virtual console.
It is the third and, unfortunately, the final game of the Mother/EarthBound series. It was officially confirmed that there are no plans for Mother 4.
Unfortunately, this game is available only in Japan (both GBA and Wii U versions). By Nintendo of America and Europe refusing to localize the game, the speculated reason was probably the fact that the Nintendo DS was already released in the market (the PlayStation Portable and even the Xbox 360 were also released). But later an Eurogamer article revealed that the localization refusal was likely due to some of the game's possibly offensive content.
The game is set over 100 years after the events of EarthBound.
At the Nowhere Islands, there is the Tazmily Village. The place where everybody is always with a smile in the face; the criminality is practically non-existing and the peace is "eternal". At the very north, there is the Mt. Oriander. A very clean and fresh place with many animals, this is where Lucas, Claus and Hinawa live.
However, a very strange group with pig masks appeared from nowhere. What they have done? They literally devastated the Sunshine Forest and attempted to destroy the whole fauna existing there! The dwellers of Tazmily became extremely shocked after that, being possibly the first ever disaster happened so far.
Many tragedies happened, but none of them are more outrageous and sadder than something that would change the village's fate forever, specially for the affected family. And so, a confusing novel has just begun...
Mother 3 is known to be one of the worst examples of Development Hell and Vapourware. Just to have an idea, Mother 3's release date is almost 12 years apart from EarthBound, and the game was released for the Game Boy Advance (no overall graphical changes compared to SNES), instead of the Nintendo 64, Nintendo GameCube or the Nintendo DS.
The development started soon after the release of its predecessor. While initially planned still for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, it was canned in favor of the Nintendo 64, because it's a later console and is better in every aspect (3D graphics, for example). However, the console still relied on cartridges (while both PlayStation and Sega Saturn uses CD-ROM), which are more expensive and have less capacity than the optical disc. Making an RPG for the Nintendo 64 is extremely hard because of this.
So, the development shifted to the Nintendo 64DD add-on. Better data capacity and other stuff. However, due to the said's commercial flop, the game was cancelled. Yes, the developers didn't even bother to shift the game to the GameCube, for some reason.
But fortunately, it was announced that the development returned after the release of MOTHER 1+2 in 2003, also for the Game Boy Advance and, yet, only in Japan. And finally, the development of this "new" version (downgraded, compared to what was promised earlier) finished in 2006, and was released in April 20th of the same year.
Why It Rocks
- The game's plot and characters are clearly different from the two previous games, instead of being a simple spiritual successor or redesign ("defeat an universal cosmic destroyer"). The story is also played by chapters.
- The main characters are well-developed and likable, mostly Lucas, Kumatora, Duster, and Boney.
- The plot is split into different chapters with a different viewpoint character which is a homage to Dragon Quest IV.
- The plot is way more complex than the previous games and is more likely to touch in themes and subjects that are way too hard to discuss in an unbiased manner. Some of these include human physiology, renewal, moral fungibility, and dualisms such as nature and technology, and feudalism and capitalism.
- Explore a real world setting, such as travelling to different cities, visit malls, hotels, parks, etc.
- Instead of constantly holding B to run, you just need to hold and release. The character will still run, even without the button pressed.
- Unlike many JRPGs and just like its predecessor, the enemies appears on the field, making the combat optional (but recommended). Rather than the annoying random encounter.
- You can get advantages by hitting the enemies' back, making them immobilized for one turn (green-color transition). The inverse can also happen (red-color transition).
- If you're leveled up enough, you can defeat the enemy without even entering into a battle by simply running (B button) over them!
- When a character (same for the enemies) attacks, musical instruments sound effects will play. Which is part of the game's humor. Oh, and speaking of which...
- Sound Battles. Enough said.
- Perform a (up to) 16-hit combo attack by following the music's beat! Requires some of trial-and-error, unfortunately.
- You can practice them at the Battle Memory. A section that can be unlocked by finding a key item inside the Osohe Castle.
- If a character takes damage, the HP number slowly scrolls down, rather than directly subtracting. That is good, because you have the opportunity of... for example, when a character takes mortal damage (damage higher than the current HP), you have to do something to recover your life very fast to avoid fainting.
- Instead of directly learning a PSI by leveling up, Lucas and Kumatora starts to feel feverish for some time soon after a battle. After the "fever effect", the new PSI will be learned.
- One of the very few games with a "food spoiling" system, which is a very good detail. For example:
- When you get a Fresh Milk from the cow, it will eventually become Rotten Milk.
- When you get an Egg from the chicken, it will eventually hatch and become a Chick.
- If you enter into the Hot Springs with the Egg in your Goods, it will suddenly become a Boiled Egg.
- While the graphics are still on par with a 16-bit (SNES / MD / TG-16) title, the graphics' improvement are pretty affordable. Now the characters don't walk in a "sprite flipping" way anymore (if you think the walking animations in South Park are weird, think again!) and there is more other logics and seriousness.
- While it doesn't push the GBA's hardware to its limits, the cutscenes and feelings are pretty cinematic. It even occupies 32 MB, the GBA cartridge's maximum capacity. Yet, there are lots unused content hidden inside the game's files.
- A very emotional final boss and ending.
- The game is infamously known for having never being released outside of Japan, not even digitally rereleased via Virtual Console.
- Neither a Post-Game Scenario nor a New Game Plus exists here. Probably because of the game's ending.
- You cannot see the enemies' health bars. This means you don't know if an enemy (specially a boss) is going to die soon and you should keep casting PK Ω moves like crazy constantly.
- The soundtrack mostly consists of the segments seen in His Highness's Theme, which end up being repetitive. This is worse for those people who didn't like it.
- The sound battle feature is basically impossible if you play the game via emulator due to input lag.
- By noticing some coincidences, it's pretty easy to know who the Masked Man is way before he revealing himself. (Warning: Spoilers! Do not see them if you haven't played the game yet!)
- The Chapter 3 The Suspicious Peddler mainly consists of torture/animal abuse, and can piss off some people very easy. Fassad (the punisher) itself is extremely unlikable in many ways, not only by electrifying Salsa (the skilled monkey) constantly.
- The "Osohe Dance" (done by Wess) is cringeworthy.
- Oh and speaking of Wess, he is very unlikable in Chapter 2, as he almost always calls Duster a moron and is the reason why Duster's leg has a handicap.
- Although nitpicky, here is a simple question... why are Lucas and Claus both blond and redhead, respectively, but neither Hinawa nor Flint have those hair colors? This doesn't make any sense.
- And no. Lucas and Claus are not adoptive.
As said above, Mother 3 did not receive an official release outside Japan. On October 17, 2008, Starmen.net released a fan translation patch that, when applied on a copy of the Mother 3 ROM image, translates all the game's text into English.
Mother 3 was a critical and commercial success upon release. Critics generally praised the game's graphics, music, and story.
The game also received a "Platinum Hall of Fame" score of 35/40 from Japanese reviewer Weekly Famitsu. Famitsu's reviewers noted the level of detail from the game's direction, accessibility and wit of the story, unconventional art style, and conventional game mechanics. They considered the timed battles to be both useful and difficult.
- Shigesato Itoi (the writer) has officially confirmed that there are no plans for Mother 4. There was going to be a fan sequel because of this, but it was later rebranded as a totally new indie game (Oddity), likely to avoid those Nintendo's recent DMCA take downs of fan games like Pokémon Uranium, AM2R, Ocarina of Time 2D, Zelda 30 Year Tribute and a Commodore 64 port of Super Mario Bros.
- While the game was never officially released outside Japan, the protagonist Lucas still managed to appear in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Non-Japanese players reacted in the same way as when Marth of Fire Emblem fame appeared in Melee. "Huh? Who is he? Where did he come from? Never heard of him..."
- The Pigmasks are actually based on right-wing militants (fascists), as they never distribute money to literally no one. Yet, they want to start the called "money" era (they succeeded as seen at the start of Chapter 4) starting with the devastation of Sunshine Forest.
- Fenomeno, one of the enemies inside of the Empire Porky Building's underground, has a very strong resemblance to Giygas.
- Speaking of Giygas, the final boss' experience and sensation was allegedly planned to be the same to the predecessor, but wound up scrapped. The "planned but scrapped" content can be found on the game's files. (Warning: Spoilers! Do not see them if you haven't played the game yet!)