A turn-based JRPG and sequel to EarthBound (1994) in which a tragedy surrounding a family in the primitive yet joyful village of Tazmily incites the coming-of-age story of Lucas, the family's younger son, who goes on perilous adventures along with his friends in order to find his missing brother and stop a group of masked men from bringing about the end of the world.
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Beaten: Dec 16 2021
Time: 22 Hours
Platform: GBA (Emulated)
I don’t even know what to say. I’m just staring at this page thinking of all the ways I could start this review and they all seem inadequate, ESPECIALLY this way. Mother 3 deserves so much more than I could ever say about it, but I’ll try my best as it is. Mother 3 pushes JRPGs beyond their influences, beelining straight for the narrative aspirations of the genre, while tweaking the battle system from the previous games to the point where it’s actually good and really fun now. It’s paced perfectly, and never makes figuring out what to do next terribly difficult. Yet somehow, it opens up in ways Earthbound never did.
Now Earthbound is a fantastic game, don’t get me wrong, but around the halfway point I felt it dragging for me. Shuttling from city to city, watching the scope build and the path forward muddle, I just had to chip away at it until I broke through. Mother 3 doesn’t have anything like that. It’s separated into chapters, each one being about 3 hours long (with an extra long one near the end), and each one has a clear goal and endpoint to keep you going. Somehow it doesn’t feel too even though? The stakes ramp up, the pace quickens, and every twist hits like a brick.
Speaking of twists…. This is probably the best narrative I’ve ever experienced in a video game. It’s got the flexibility of a novel, switching character perspectives whenever it feels like it and sprinkling in character details for details sake. Duster, one of the main cast, walks with a limp. Why does he walk with a limp? They never really say. Why is it in the game? Because it just adds something to him. Duster feels like a person, a human that you can empathize with, from the first scene he’s in, just from the way he walks, and the way people talk to him. He doesn’t get a line until nearly halfway through the game, but by then you could probably write him yourself. Every character in the game is like this. Not just the main cast, but every person in Tazmily Village (the main town of most of the game), and every other person with the smallest impact on the story. And the character writing isn’t even the best part! The actual narrative is fantastic, flowing from emotion to emotion, event to event, with an expert’s confidence. Mother 3’s opening is famously dark as hell, but the game isn’t a dirge. It gets lighthearted, as funny (or funnier!) than Earthbound in places, but that opening hangs over the game the entire time, paying off in small ways throughout, and massively at the end. I don’t want to get into spoilers here, but I’ll say this game says more about grief and loss and love than all but the most deftly executed novels. Also, it got me to tear up. By default that means it’s somewhere in the top all time for me.
Uh so yeah, if you wanna play a JRPG that burns the conventions of its genre to the ground and will make you cry, play Mother 3. If that doesn’t sound cool to you, I don’t care, play it anyways. Play the whole series. Read everything Shigesato Itoi’s ever written. Go absolutely nuts. It’s deserved.
Jesus, this game made me cry like a bitch! Oh man, the story is so fantastic and heartbreaking at times. There’s a reason why everybody wants a port of this game still to this day, gameplay is great. Character dialogue still remains as great as the 2nd game. The battle system is hard but satisfying when you understand the rhythm , overall. Fantastic game, and really fantastic bosses.