|Platform||Game Boy Advance|
|Genre||Rhythm-based Family-style RPG|
|MtAMinutes to Action||11|
|Score||8 Gameplay: 7
Fun Factor: 7
Mother 3 is the 2006 sequel to Earthbound that was only released in Japan. However, last month a fan translation was released and now I can play Mother 3 without referring to my Japanese dictionary every ten minutes. The translation is supposedly really good, even for a series that is chock full of humor and puns that take a lot of effort to translate from one language, and culture, to another.
One of the questions on many minds is why wasn't this game officially translated and released outside of Japan? I've been mind boggled about this for two years now and my respect for Nintendo of America definitely went down because of this. Gamers have seen this before with Sin and Punishment, Star Ocean, and even Final Fantasy V, but all of these games eventually saw a translated release. But from everything Nintendo says, Mother 3 will only officially ever be released in Japan. We all scream "why?" because Earthbound was so popular (which, of course, is Mother 2, with Mother never being released outside of Japan either). I think I finally got my answer the other day, when I read this absolutely great review on Mother 3. The reviewer described the game as poetry and that attempting to translate Mother 3 would mean losing so much. The rhythm is gone. The original meaning is lost.
But alas, Mother 3 has been translated, and the first hour beckons. For those unaware, Mother 3 is a role-playing game for the Game Boy Advance. And this is actually the first review I've done where I've already reviewed a game in the same series. Earthbound was the second review I ever wrote. Well, let's go.
(minutes are in bold)
00 - I select New Game and the first hour of Mother 3 begins. As in a lot of RPGs, the first thing to do is name the main character. He's described as the younger twin brother, a gentle boy. I'll name him Greg. Now for the energetic older brother... How about Grant. Oh, the father too? I forgot in Earthbound you did everything right away.
01 - The dad is Gus, now the mother Amy and the dog Jack. My favorite homemade food? Cheesecake! Crap, doesn't quite fit. All right, pizza.
02 - Favorite thing? Games! I set the text speed and window color and double check everything... looks good!
03 - Welcome to the world of Mother 3! How personal. Wow, there's like rock music playing. We're panning over Nowhere Islands. And Tazmily Village, interesting name. Beyond the Sunshine Forest. Is this all one location?
04 - Just saw a log cabin with a bunch of farm animals out front. Is that my house? Ah, home of Alec, the mom's father.
05 - Knock knock knock! And there's Greg sleeping away. Grant yells for me.
06 - I get control and head downstairs. This is a rather rustic house. And just like Earthbound, can't leave the house until I change out of my pajamas.
07 - Grandpa Alec says we're heading home today. I chase some chickens around the yard.
08 - I'm wandering south, but the game won't let me proceed because I might step on some ants! A frog philosophizes about memories and then offers to save my game.
09 - Holy crap? Grant is fighting some giant dinosaurs! Ah, it's the Drago family. Odd. Grant tells me to ram into them.
10 - Ah, a lesson in dashing (hold the B button). I also successfully knock one of the Dragos over. That wasn't very nice though.
11 - A mole cricket shows up and challenges Grant and I to battle! I bash him a couple of rounds and we win! It was just a friendly battle though so he runs off.
13 - Mom shows up and tells us pizza is on the table. Grandpa breaks the fourth wall and tells me to talk to frogs to save! You're behind the times old man!
14 - Mom then walks outside and starts monologuing about the kids to her husband. Greg still seems coddled she says, but they love playing. What kid doesn't love playing?
15 - As the text crawls by, it almost seems like she was talking to him directly... are they psychic? Ah, never mind, she lets loose a carrier pigeon a moment later.
16 - Suddenly the music gets warped and something mysterious flies overhead. The Mother 3 title screen appears. Some boisterous orchestral music is playing. I should mention now that the music so far has been very, very good.
17 - We get a view of a forest and suddenly explosions are rocking it! A man runs out of a house with a little boy in tow. The music is highly energized!
18 - The animals are running out of the forest but then some weird alien guys show up and toss a grenade! What is going on?? The forest is on fire! We pan across a town, everyone is going crazy.
19 - Chapter 1 - Night of the Funeral. A fireman runs to Gus's house and pounds on the door. I get control of Gus.
20 - The fireman begs for his help, I give in. Thomas joined my party.
21 - I find a stick in Jack's doghouse and equip it. I also try to recruit Jack... but no dice. I start dashing (very useful! you don't even have to dash in a straight line like some games) and run into a frog. Time to save my game again.
23 - We run through town to the forest, but right when we're about to leave, Thomas says we need to get a map. From Mapson. Well, Mapson is just right south of me, he gives me a map and tells me to press the R button to bring it up. Nice!
24 - Geez, there sure are a lot of people out and about. I'm not sure if I want to talk to them or not... I mostly skip them. I run into some large stone building. Some cathedral like music begins playing.
25 - It's some kind of forest shrine. I kneel to pray and the game asks me for my name. Yes, MY name. And another frog to save at.
26 - I'm in the forest now, some loser gives me a nut cookie because his throat is too sensitive to proceed.
27 - My first real battle! Against a bat. The Batman theme begins playing! Seriously. Wow, Gus is strong! He whoops down the bat and sends him flying! Thomas never bothered fighting... The bat left some nut bread.
29 - Another bat, another battle. Gus can use Brute Force attacks, nice variation, but they're not very accurate. Some guy with a huge afro is banging on someone's door. I find an Aries Bracelet in a present box. Defense +3.
31 - I discover a hot spring... It has refilled my HP. Nice. I attempt a Power Smash on a bat but it misses. Next time I just attack and manage to pull off a two hit combo! Now if only I knew how I did that...
33 - We head deeper into the forest and catch one of those bad guys doing some evil stuff! He opened some kind of box and released a few insects... weird. Then he runs off through some fire. I encounter a Yammonster and quickly do a two hit combo on him.
34 - Gus levels up to level 8! Wow, it's kind of cool he doesn't start at 1. Why would a grown man start at one anyway?
35 - WOW! A 12 hit combo! I was pressing the A button to the beat of the music and it just kept going! Next turn I can't even manage hits.
36 - Oh, you can walk through the fire but you get hurt. Gotta watch my health, down to 52 hit points. I decide to eat the cookie and recover 15 HP.
37 - We find some guy named Lighter on the ground. He was trying to beat up a fire-starting bug. I pick up Lighter's Lumber and equip it over my stick. Time to find his friend Fuel.
38 - But first, the three bugs attack! Crap, they're really tag teaming me. I also can't figure out the beat to combo these guys.
40 - One left... Well, it took two nut breads and I'm down to 19 health, but I beat them.
41 - I find a frog in a barrel, he recommends I save, good idea. Woah, a little kid is trapped inside a house! I eat two more nut breads before heading inside.
42 - A flying mouse is doing its thing inside the house and then attacks me! Looks creepy! I manage a three hit combo but it's a good thing I ate those nut breads because I'm down to 18 health! Gus does level up to 9 though.
43 - I use my last two nut breads... Something big might be coming. I bash through a fallen support beam and approach the child. Fuel joins my care.
44 - We head downstairs, but then the house starts rumbling. We leave and the house crumbles behind us! Doesn't actually show it falling though. Haha, the two of us looked charred.
46 - We're out of the forest now, I avoided fighting any bad guys, don't want to mess with them right now. Someone tells me that Lighter was brought to the sanctuary so we head there.
47 - Lighter is laid out on a table, his leg is broken. But at least he isn't covered in soot.
48 - The heavens open and it begins to rain.
50 - The game's pace has slowed, we're in some building called Yado now. Lighter is on a bed, he asks me if I saw the bad guys in pig masks in the forest. Gus is a silent protagonist though.
52 - I save my game and stay the night in the inn. I leave the inn and Isaac approaches me, he asks me if I saw Amy and the kids. He says he heard some screams in the mountains and thinks it might have been my family!
54 - I guess I should head back into the forest and look for them. Isaac stops me though and tells me to head home. The map is definitely useful for getting around.
55 - The homing pigeon is in front of the house. Gus reads the note from Amy. The text does the slow scroll again.
57 - Isaac comes by and sees the family is not back yet, he says we should all go look for them. Jack the dog wants to join me this time!
59 - The afro guy tells me everyone is at the forest sanctuary. I'm heading there. Woah, there's some super tall guy next to a giant bell. Is this a real person?
60 - I make it to the sanctuary, no one is here, they're already out looking. And that's the end of Mother 3's first hour. Not bad!
Time for some scores out of 10.
Minutes to Action: 11
It's still basic Earthbound gameplay but things have improved over the last decade. The fights seem more balanced, the actual battles are much deeper now with the rhythm based battling, and you can run! That right there cures the plodding problem of the first game. And no more do you get into a fight and just tap A, there's some actual strategy present!
Fun Factor: 7
Mother 3 is funny, has an improved battle system, and gets the ball rolling quickly. It's definitely a fun first hour. It doesn't force you to walk around and level up, and bad guys don't appear from no where when you walk away for a second. A solid improvement and a solid score here. Can't complain too much.
Graphics and Sound: 8
The graphics are pretty similar to its predecessor, but Mother 3 throws in a few new tricks that keep things fresh. First of all, the graphics are really detailed, especially for a handheld game. The burning forest featured dark red tones and you could almost feel the heat. The characters are also classic Earthbound sprites. The battles are still your basic Dragon Warrior style fights, but I liked how when the enemy was defeated, they were blasted off into the distance instead of just fading away.
Can't go on without mentioning the music, which was simply superb. Every area had its own soundtrack, the cutscenes sounded great, and each enemy had its own battle song. And none of these were just tunes thrown in for no reason, you can tell the team hired some real professionals to work on Mother 3.
Mother 3 does an excellent job introducing itself. We have a family of four who are separated by the forest. The forest catches on fire while the mom and children might have been in it! It is dad's job to head into the forest and rescue a child and then head back in to rescue his own family. Way too many RPGs forget the family and instead have the main character orphaned or just without a family all together. I like the dynamics Mother 3 is setting up.
Also no problems with the fan translation, thanks guy! You did an awesome job!
Well, for those that remember, Earthbound was the second review I ever wrote, and I gave it (deservingly) the below average score of a 4. Mother 3's first hour is a LOT better. A monumental improvement at that. It still starts off a bit slow but things pick up quickly and the game is actually fun! Now this is an RPG I can recommend to anyone, give it a try, then you can claim you have played a fan translated game too. And a good one at that.