|Designer(s)||Shigesato Itoi (director, designer)|
Satoru Iwata (executive producer)
Shōgo Sakai (composer)
|Resolution||240 × 160 pixels|
|Platform(s)||Game Boy Advance|
|Genre||Console role-playing game|
|Rating(s)||CERO: All Ages|
|Media||256 megabit cartridge|
Mother 3 (MOTHER3マザースリー Mazā Suri) known as EarthBound 2 to American fans, is the third, and allegedly final installment in the Mother video game series. It was developed by HAL Laboratory, Inc., Nintendo, and Brownie Brown and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy Advance on April 20, 2006. It has currently been released only in Japan. It was designed and directed by Shigesato Itoi, with music by Shōgo Sakai. Mother 3 tells the story of Lucas, a young boy, and his friends who journey the Nowhere Islands to save the islands from an invading army and its leader, introducing new technology and infrastructure to the islands.
Up until its release, the game remained near the top of Famitsu's most wanted games list. Immediately before its release, Mother 3 was the most wanted game in Japan according to Weekly Famitsu.
The title began as a project titled "EarthBound 64", a direct sequel to the Mother series' second installment, EarthBound, for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. EarthBound 64 was in development for many years before the project was finally terminated on August 21, 2000, partially because of the Nintendo 64 Disk Drive's commercial failure. Mother 3 was announced in June 2003 during a Mother 1 + 2 television commercial. Although details of its development were kept secret, it has since been made known that EarthBound 64 was reworked into Mother 3.
In 2006, Mother creator, Shigesato Itoi, declared that there were no plans for further installments in the Mother series, and because no official English version has been announced, a fan translation was developed and released on October 17, 2008. Throughout the progress made on the project, Tomato and Jeffman were firm in stating that if Nintendo announced an official localization of Mother 3, they would immediately cease their work, indicating that their sole goal was to ensure that the game was translated to English. The president of Brownie Brown, Shinichi Kameoka, has stated that if they were requested to make a port of Mother 3 for worldwide audiences, they would happily do so.
Mother 3 starts out very differently from the first two Mother games as is it divided up into eight different chapters, similar to Dragon Quest IV. Instead of focusing on a group of children, it chronicles the story and adventures of Lucas and his family, and the story switches perspective during each chapter. For example, the first half of the game is played as Flint, Duster, and Salsa, but the rest of the game is played as Lucas. The Nowhere Islands also change dramatically because of the influence of the Pigmask Army, transforming from a simple low-tech rural society to a more modern twenty-first century infrastructure that's similar to the first two Mother games (hence the game's theme of nature vs. technology). The game also features a more traditional top-down RPG perspective, instead of the oblique projection used in the first two games.
Once again, the game retains the Dragon Quest-style battle system Mother and EarthBound had (although this time at a much quicker pace), but Mother 3 adds an extra twist in the form of the music combo system. Depending on how well the player presses the A button in-sync to the lead enemy's "theme" (each enemy has their own respective beat, some even possessing variable tempos), he or she can perform up to 16 hits of damaging combos on the game's enemies. The game also has an option of letting the player practice music combos on enemies they have already fought, once they gain a certain item. Tempos can also be more easily heard in the form of a "heartbeat" when the enemy is asleep. Enemies are still visible on the field, and can still be approached from behind for a surprise attack (along with the extra added detail of seeing behind an enemy). The game also retains the rolling hit point (abbreviated as HP) and psychic point (abbreviated as PP) odometers from the previous game, enabling the player to heal before the counter rolls to zero. In Mother 3, the hit point odometer scrolls more slowly than the previous game and can be slowed further by defending — however, unlike EarthBound, characters will still collapse if their hit point odometer scrolls to zero. Another new addition is the ability to run, by holding and releasing the B button the player can not only reach areas quicker, but also smash into breakable objects and also stun enemies significantly weaker than the party, replacing the previous game's ability to instantly defeat weak enemies without entering battle. Mother 3 also abandons saving the game by phone in favor of Save Frogs, which are abundant and appear at various areas in the game. Currency, which does not come into play until Chapter 4, comes in the form of Dragon Power (abbreviated as DP), which the player can deposit or transfer from Save Frogs.
- Main article: List of characters in Mother 3
Unlike the first two games, the focus is no longer on a group of children. Some chapters put completely different characters in the protagonist role. In one chapter the player controls a limping thief named Duster, in another chapter the main character is Salsa, a monkey who is constantly suffering abuse by a rich traveling merchant named Fassad. The only child character the player gets to control is Lucas, who is about nine to ten years old in the first three chapters and twelve to thirteen years for the remainder of the game. Further controllable characters include Kumatora, a tomboyish princess, Flint, a strange middle-aged cowboy and Lucas's father, and Lucas's dog, Boney.
Mother 3 is set in the Nowhere Islands, some unknown amount of years after EarthBound. Chaos ensues after an invasion by the Pigmask Army, named after the uniforms, which resemble pigs, and its leader, Porky Minch, the "Pig King". They slowly construct a police state, while experimenting on the land's flora and fauna, and introducing new technology and infrastructure to the islands. The various chapters record the life of a boy named Lucas and his family and friends, banding together to rid the Nowhere Islands of the Pigmask Army.
The game opens with Flint, who, after a fire in the forest, finds out that his wife Hinawa and his sons Lucas and Claus haven't come back to the village yet. He then sets out to look for them with the help of his dog, Boney and the town's residential thief, Duster. He soon finds out his wife has died, leaving him to raise their sons. After Claus goes missing to kill the Drago that killed his mother, Flint, with the help of Alec, Hinawa's father, goes looking for him. Claus ultimately lost the battle and, presumably, was killed. Flint could not find the body.
From here, Duster is drafted to go to the haunted Osohe Castle by his father Wess to find the Egg of Light. Duster purchases the Rope Snake to help him cross gaps in the castle. Along the way, Duster and Wess meet Kumatora. After they stop several Pigmasks, the trio is flushed out of the castle and Duster loses his memory. He joins the musical group DCMC as their bassist.
In Duster's absence, the Pigmask Army moves into Tazmily Village and, with the help of Fassad and his abused monkey Salsa, they help modernize the town with new infrastructure and "Happy Boxes," which are like TV's. They use the happiness boxes primarily to corrupt the residents of Tazmily and make their job of establishing authority easier. Salsa is ultimately rescued by Kumatora, Wess, and Lucas.
Wess eventually gets wind of Duster's whereabouts and asks Lucas to confirm the rumors that he has joined DCMC and to respond via homing pigeon. With the help of Kumatora (disguised as a waitress), Lucas and Boney find Duster and the four set off together to Thunder Tower.
After shutting down the tower, Fassad appears to try to stop them, but falls from the tower. Shortly after, an aircraft comes with the Masked Man inside. Duster grabs the craft with the Rope Snake and the party clings for dear life as the ship flies away. The Rope Snake cannot hold forever though, and the party falls from the aircraft.
Lucas awakes in a field full of sunflowers. After finding Boney, he sees figments of his mother, Hinawa. After chasing her off the edge of a cliff, he falls back down to Tazmily Village, where Wess and Alec bring him home and help him get well. After rescuing the Magypsy Ionia, Lucas and Boney find out about the Seven Needles. Pulling the Seven Needles will release a seal on the Dark Dragon, a being that rests below the islands, which inherently possesses massive power. In the wrong hands it could destroy the islands, while it could heal the world in good hands. The party races against the Pigmask Army to activate the needles. Lucas and Boney soon find themselves in a genetic-engineering laboratory where Dr. Andonuts and other scientists work. However, the most dangerous of their creations, the Ultimate Chimera, has been set loose. After fleeing from the beast, they discover Salsa and his girlfriend Samba trying to escape the lab. Salsa, remembering how Lucas helped save him from Fassad, deactivates the Ultimate Chimera, and helps him escape. The party heads to the home of one of the Magypsy and encounters Kumatora, who rejoins the party. With the help of Dr. Andonuts, Lucas drains the lake and pulls the needle. Upon leaving the area, Lucas and co. encounter Okera, the mole cricket from the prologue of the game. He challenges Lucas to another match, and leads the party down into the lair where the mole crickets live. After an easy battle, the party is allowed to travel through the maze-like caves that lead up into a tall mountain. After traveling up the mountain, the group meets the next Magypsy, who has allowed a captured Pork Colonel-turned-good to rest in the house. Before Lucas gets a chance to pull the needle behind the Magypsy's house, the Masked Man arrives and pulls the needle. After a battle with the Mecha-Gorilla, the party ramps off the mountains in a refrigerator and crashes in Tazmily Village's cemetary.
The party then finds a series of notes with strange handwriting that ask for help, and they are led through a new route on the Pork Highway atop a strange vehicle. They arrive at their destination, which is an occupied Saturn Valley where the Mr. Saturns, Duster, and Rope Snake are being interrogated by the Pigmask Army on the whereabouts of the nearby Needle. After freeing the village, Duster rejoins the party. The Mr. Saturns help the group enter the volcano, where another Needle is guarded by a rebuilt Fassad, now sporting trumpets as weaponry. After defeating him, Lucas pulls the needle and the reunited party returns to Saturn Valley. With the help of the Mr. Saturns, the party uses a flock of birds to return to Tazmily Village and enter the ocean.
After emerging, Lucas, Boney, Duster, and Kumatora are low on energy and decide to eat some strange-looking mushrooms. Boney opts out, leaving the human party members to experience a drug-induced hallucination in the jungle. − − Eventually the party makes its way to the next Magypsy, Mixolydia ("Missy" for short), and the 5th Needle, which was pulled by the Masked Man, and are ferried back to Tazmily Village on the back of an Ochu, Missy's octopus friend. Using the Jar of Yummy Pickles Missy left them, Lucas and friends get to Ionia's house where they acquire the Waters of Time so they can get into the temple nearby. At the temple, they meet the Masked Man. He is defeated and flies away, leaving Lucas to pull the next Needle as Ionia disappears. As they exit the temple, a limousine pulls up, inviting them to New Pork City.
In New Pork City, Lucas and friends go to the movie theater, which shows some of the Pig King's past adversaries (including Ness, Paula, Jeff, and Poo from EarthBound). A stinkbug gets the attention of Boney, and the party chases him into the sewers. Once there, they follow Boney's barks to find Leder, the bell ringer from Tazmily Village. He tells them the long history of their world and the Pig King, including the fact that their islands are a post-apocalyptic utopia and that it exists on the back of a giant sleeping dragon, which is kept asleep by the Needles. The Magypsy were put in place to guard them. On the way out of the sewers, Fassad attacks again, and is defeated.
As the group climbs the Empire Porky Building, which is the tallest building in New Pork City, they discover a Magypsy house. Upon entering, they find items that prove that Fassad is the final Magypsy, which include a turban like Fassad's, a pair of trumpets like the ones Fassad has after being rebuilt, many crates filled with luxury bananas, which Fassad ate throughout the game, and banana peels lazily tossed on the floor like Fassad did.
When the party makes its way up the final floor, they discover a robot that resembles Porky. They compete with the robot in a few mini-games before moving on to Porky himself.
On top of the tower, they find the Hall of Memories, showcasing many items from EarthBound, which include the Runaway Five's tour bus, Tessie, the helicopter that Porky flew away from the Monotoli building in, the submarine which Ness and co. used to enter Deep Darkness swamp, the black and white sesames from the desert between Threed and Fourside, and Porky's original spider-mech from the battle with Giygas, before ending up in a long hallway leading to Porky. In Porky's room they are attacked by more complete Porky robots, which are soon destroyed by Duster's ex-bandmates of DCMC. After the townspeople of Tazmily Village enter the room with Dr. Andonuts and Flint, Porky descends from the vines on the roof to speak to the party. He reveals that the last Needle has been found and challenges Lucas and friend to beat him to it via the express elevator. Lucas, Boney, Kumatora, Duster, and Flint rapidly descend the elevator shaft to a mine-like environment.
Flint goes ahead and soon tells Lucas that the Masked Man is actually his brother Claus, who has been changed by the Pigmask Army. They have been using him because he is the only other one besides Lucas who is capable of pulling the Needles and awakening the dragon.
Porky soon confronts them in a large spider-mech. When he sees he is to be defeated, he calls upon the Absolutely Safe Capsule and climbs inside. It seals Porky inside, and being true to its name, it protects Porky from all harm. However, Porky finds that he cannot harm the heroes, either. When the battle ends, Dr. Andonuts reveals that he built the Absolutely Safe Capsule with the specifications that once someone is inside, the machine cannot be opened by anyone, including the person inside of it, and while Porky is "absolutely safe", he is trapped in the machine forever.
Before reaching the final Needle, the Masked Man attacks again in a one-on-one battle with Lucas, who stays safe from his lightning attack thanks to the Franklin Badge. Hinawa pleads with Claus from beyond the grave, trying to get him to stop attacking Lucas, while Flint blocks the effects of the PK Love attack. Eventually, the Masked Man removes his helmet revealing himself as Claus, and regaining his own will, he sends a final bolt of lightning at Lucas so that it would reflect back at him and end the fight. After Claus collapses, he regains his sense of self and utters a few parting words. Lucas pulls the final needle, and the player is shown a grim outlook of what appears to be the end of the Nowhere Islands. A secret on the final screen of the game, in which the word 'End?' appears, will actually reveal that everybody survives the attack and thank the player for all their help. As the residents of the Nowhere Islands give their thanks, the player finds a Doorknob, likely the doorknob that was pulled off Flint's door in Chapter 1.
True to the game's slogan "Strange, Funny and Heartrending", Mother 3 sheds the more lighthearted and quirky plot lines of the previous games in favor of a far darker and more emotional story. The plot involves quite a few tragic and saddening events. However, the game still retains many humorous and bizarre elements that are common to the series.
Connections to Mother and EarthBoundEdit
- Many enemies are references to or appear directly from the other games in the Mother series.
- The Mr. Batty (known in Mother as Mr. Bat) enemy appears with a significantly changed sprite.
- The Mother enemies such as the Scrapper (as the Scrapped Robot), Armor (as the Ghost Armor) and Titanee (as the Titany) return.
- The Violent Roach, Filthy Attack Roach, Ramblin' Evil Mushroom (as the Ramblin' Mushroom), and Putrid Moldymen from EarthBound appear in Osohe Castle, Saturn Valley, Tazmily Village's train station (in Chapter 4 and onwards), and the sewers of New Pork City, respectively.
- Stinky Ghosts also appear in Osohe Castle, but with a complete redesign, now looking more like generic ghosts.
- The Return of Octobot appears, referencing the Octobots of EarthBound, specifically the Ultimate Octobot.
- While Starmen do not make an appearance since Giygas is defeated in EarthBound, the pose of the Mecha-Porkies distinctly resembles the series's flagship enemy.
- The Minerali's overworld sprite is likely a reference to how Giygas's elite troops, specifically robonic enemies, all of the enemies in the invaded Onett, and all of the enemies in the Cave of the Past used a diamond as their overworld sprite, regardless of their appearance in-battle. Likewise, the Fenomeno references how Sanctuary Guardians and several enemies in Pink Cloud and Lumine Hall would appear in the overworld as shimmering sparks.
- The penultimate boss fought is the same as EarthBound's: Porky Minch, in a spider-like mech that attacks for him. He also has indescribable attacks, similar to Giygas's appearance in both Mother and EarthBound.
- At one point in the game, Lucas and co. visit a Saturn Valley inhabited by Mr. Saturns.
- Kumatora (in disguise as Violet) addresses Lucas as "Poo" to allow him access to Club Titiboo.
- Dr. Andonuts appears in the game, being forced to create Chimeras for the Pigmask Army.
- Late in the game, the player visits areas in New Pork City that contain many references to EarthBound. A theater shows a movie chronicling Ness and his friends's adventures, and the Hall of Memories displays many recognizable things from EarthBound.
- Several songs contain many recognizable melodies from Mother and EarthBound, such as Pollyanna and both Mother and EarthBound's versions of the Eight Melodies.
- Some screenshots of the canceled EarthBound 64 may have hinted at Ness's appearance; one in particular depicts a devastated Onett and what appears to be Fourside.
- The Franklin Badge from Mother and EarthBound reprises its appearance.
- Inside one of the rooms in the Chimera Laboratory, two bookshelves contain references to EarthBound; one contains Overcoming Shyness, used to cure the Tendas of being shy, and another being a magazine opened to a page entitled My Secret Life, Chapter 3, which talks about a man who tries to use the excuse that his wife is giving birth to a demon child to avoid a speeding ticket; in EarthBound, this appears in a cabin Ness can buy west of Onett.
Mother 3 was originally announced in 1996 for the Nintendo 64. Development soon moved to the Nintendo 64DD, where it was to be a launch title, but after many delays caused by the inexperience of the development team with the hardware and 3D graphics, it was canceled in August 2000. The project was revived in 2003, now with 2D graphics on the Game Boy Advance.
EarthBound 64 was a canceled game that was going to be released for the Nintendo 64 and then on the Nintendo 64DD. Several years later it was revealed that the project had started up again for the Game Boy Advance under the form of Mother 3. Much of the story seems to be based on the information known about EarthBound 64, including the four main characters, and a plot involving a Pigmask Army, but it is unknown how close its plot is to that of Mother 3 as little is known of the game. EarthBound 64 was going to be released for the Nintendo 64DD. Developer Benimaru Itoh remarked at E3's 1997 convention that the game would probably utilize the Rumble Pak in battle sequences, but worried that the controller would become too cumbersome for players given the time-consuming nature of role-playing games. Itoh also aimed to allow players to pick several character faces or create new visages with Mario Artist. Shigesato Itoi's team ran into some trouble while developing this game, primarly because of their inexperience with 3D games and the difficulty of developing for Nintendo 64 hardware. The final nail in the coffin, Nintendo 64DD's failure, destroyed all hope for the game. On August 21, 2000, Itoi officially confirmed the game's cancellation.
Mother 3 Deluxe BoxEdit
A limited release version of Mother 3 version was sold in Japan in addition to the basic title. This "Deluxe Box" included a copy of Mother 3 for the Game Boy Advance, a Special Edition Game Boy Micro and a Franklin Badge for ¥18,000. Pre-orders began on March 1, 2006, continuing until the release of the game on April 20 of that year. Upon meeting an unexpected demand, only a small fraction of the Deluxe Boxes were shipped by the release date of the game.
Beginning in February 2006, lead designer Shigesato Itoi initiated a systematic divulgence of Mother 3 information on the official Mother 3 website. The additions are documented below:
- On the week of February 7, the Mother 3 slogan and theme song, "Strange, Funny, Heartrending" and "We miss you ~Love Theme~" respectively, were revealed.
- On the week of February 14, the first screenshots of the title were revealed and a special ringtone of the Mother 3 theme song was offered. It is only available in Japan.
- On the week of February 21, three additional screenshots were revealed along with the Mother 3 Deluxe Box.
- On the week of February 28, screenshots featuring a dungeon area and a typical battle screen were revealed. Itoi also stated that, like the first two Mother games, it would be a typical RPG with traditional RPG elements, but with an unique world and story. Two character names were also revealed to be Flint and Boney.
- On the week of March 7, a rendition of the world map was revealed.
- On the week of March 14, two more main characters were revealed to be Lucas and Claus, Lucas being the younger twin brother and Claus being the older. Itoi also released Mother 3-themed cell phone backgrounds, but only for those with Japanese phones.
- On the week of March 21, Lucas and Claus's family were revealed to be their father Flint, their mother Hinawa, and their dog Boney.
- On the week of March 28, the sprites of 14 enemies were presented, and two computer wallpapers, one with the world map and another with Boney the dog walking through a grass background.
- On the week of April 4, various screenshots of many locations were revealed.
- On the week of April 10, along with 12 new screenshots, the game is revealed to be setup into different chapters.
- On the week of April 18, two days before Mother 3 was released, Itoi released a final message about the game.
This information, which was rationed out on a weekly basis until the April 20 release date, can be found at the official Mother 3 website.
Demand for an international releaseEdit
Since the original, scrapped, Nintendo 64 version's announcement in 1996, many fans of the Mother series have been pleading for Mother 3 to be given a global release. A cult following has formed around the franchise, and many petitions and demands have been made towards Nintendo of America; however, there do not appear to be any plans to release Mother 3 in North America.
Rumors in the August 2006 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly suggested the possibility that Nintendo may compile all three Mother titles onto one Nintendo DS cartridge, and could possibly be released in North America and Europe.
In November of 2006, NintendoWorldReport.com interviewed Nate Bihldorff, the Nintendo of America Localization Producer/Manager, about the localization process he and his team must go through for a video game. When NintendoWorldReport.com mentioned Mother 3, Bihldorff stated that he and his team were not working on Mother 3. However, he does mention some of his writers are not under him, so discussions of the game may be going on. He also mentions that he does not plan on working on it in the immediate future.
- "No, me personally, I'm not working on Mother 3. I don't have all the writers under me, so there may be other people in discussions going on with it, but I wouldn't look forward to it in the immediate future, no. Sorry, I know! There's a big Mother fanbase, there is. At least everyone can go back and play Melee to get your Ness on."
Because no official translation has been announced, a fan translation was developed over the course of roughly two years, and released on October 17, 2008. When this translation "patch" is applied to a Japanese ROM of Mother 3, it converts all of the Japanese text on the ROM to English. Throughout the progress made on the project, lead developers Tomato and Jeffman were firm in stating that if Nintendo announced an official localization of Mother 3, they would immediately cease their work, indicating that their sole goal was to ensure that the game was translated to English.
Mother 3 has spawned two soundtrack releases. The first, MOTHER3+, was released in Japan on November 2, 2006, consisting of arranged songs by the Crazy Ken Band as DCMC, and a vocal track by Taeko Onuki, as well as some songs from previous installments of the series. It was later released in the iTunes Music Store in North America on April 1, 2007, featuring an additional bonus track unavailable on the CD release. MOTHER3+ is no longer available for purchase in North America
The second soundtrack, MOTHER3i, was released on the February 6, 2007 in the iTunes Music Store and Napster in Japan, as well as a few other online music services. MOTHER3i, like MOTHER3+ is no longer available in North America for unknown reasons. It contains a different selection of music from the game. It was composed by Shōgo Sakai and contains a different selection of music from the game than the MOTHER3+. Songs from the album also appear in Super Smash Bros. Brawl in their original or remixed form.
In late 2012 an Brandon, Manitoba based musician under the pseudonym Sludge released an album titled Indutech In an online interview with Bombflex Indiemuzik she claimed her album as, "a Mother series inspired collection." In 2013 the album was made publicly available for free on her Bandcamp page.
Famitsu scored Mother 3 with a 35/40 (one point higher than EarthBound), providing the first public review of the game. Australian publication Hyper Magazine gave it 92/100, and the "Hyper Big Rubber Stamp of Approval" (awarded to all games with a score over ninety), and was said to be "One of the best RPG's ever made." Destructoid, a general gaming site, named it the third best game of the decade, declaring that "Mother 3 may have the most complex, mature, and heart-wrenching story of any videogame of the last decade."
Mother 3 sold 205,914 copies in its first 3 days on sale, and 338,382 copies were sold from April 20 to June 25 in Japan.
- The "Okay desu ka" heard during the character naming sequence of Mother 3 is the voice of director Shigesato Itoi, which was secretly recorded during the development of EarthBound by Hirokazu Tanaka, who was one of two composers for the game's soundtrack.  It appears in the Sound Player as Voice 1101.
- There is a piece of unused music in Mother 3 referred to by fans as "Lucas's Nightmare", since it contains disturbing voice clips and strange background music. However, if it is sped up, then it is clear that it is a loop from the intro of one of the numbers played by the band DCMC. Its soundtrack number is 790 and can only be heard by using a Sound Player cheat.
- There are numerous references throughout the game to bands other games and music. Examples: A poster in front of the Sheriff's building states "Wanted!-My Generation!-(It appears to be an old concert poster put up by someone...but who)", referencing the song "My Generation" by The Who".
- However, the game has the most references to the Star Wars franchise. Lucas is a derivative of Luke, Duster and Han Solo take on similar professions, as do Kumatora and Princess Leia, King P and The Masked Man are similer to Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader, respectively, and the Pigmasks resemble Stormtroopers strikingly.
- Mother 3 is the only game in the entire Mother series that lacks an official English translation; however the first game's official translation was rife with errors. This was common among RPGs at the time.