Hit points (abbreviated as HP) are the value of damage a character in the Mother series (playable or opposing) can withstand before they are knocked unconscious. Playable characters can replenish this value by eating food or utilizing appropriate PSI (e.g. Lifeup, Refresh) to recover.
Unique to EarthBound and Mother 3 is that playable characters's hit points are represented by a rolling meter not unlike an odometer. This means that if a character who has 75 HP is inflicted with 75 or more points of damage, their HP will not immediately drop to 0 and knock them unconscious. Instead, the player can utilize the time it takes for their HP meter to roll down to 0 to try to heal the threatened character, or end the fight by either fleeing from the battle or defeating all enemies in the time that remains for the character. If a player is not healed or the fight is not ended by the time the player's HP drops to 0, that player will be rendered unconscious before the next character takes their move.
Healing also uses the rolling meter, albeit in reverse. However, if a player is damaged by more than the amount pending to be healed, the meter will reverse direction immediately. This means that it is most beneficial to enter commands rapidly when characters are in danger of dying, and to sit and wait while characters are healing. Also, the meter rolls at a constant speed independent of character level, meaning that the rolling effect is too fast to exploit at low levels, but at high levels it becomes an important strategic point.
In rare cases, players will survive with 1 HP, even after a seemingly mortal blow. The chance of this happening is increased with a high Guts stat. This means Refresh in Mother 3 is actually much more useful than it first seems, since it will also save a mortally wounded character from death by healing them when their turn comes around.
Initial gameplay features that creator Shigesato Itoi had in mind involved an unconventional hit points system of hit point boxes made like pachinko balls that would fall off the screen whenever a character was damaged. However, this was later changed to the odometer counter because the pachinko balls did not work very well when characters had large amounts of hit points.
- ↑ http://yomuka.wordpress.com/2009/06/21/weekly-famitsu-september-9-1994/ A translated interview with Shigesato Itoi, held by Weekly Famitsu on September 9, 1994