Thanks to two years of fan-translation efforts I finally had a chance to play Mother 3. After putting a handful of hours in, I’m amazed that no one at Nintendo wants to give the English-speaking world a chance to play this charming RPG.
Without giving too much of the story away, the game is about the inhabitants of a sleepy little town where something strange has been happening. The animals have been acting hostile and sightings of pig-masked men have popped up.
The pixel-art style of the game that is distinctive to the Mother (or Earthbound) series returns in full force and looks fantastic. It’s good to see artists still willing to create fantastic 2D worlds when 3D is so rampant these days. The colors are vibrant and characters are distinctive and sometimes hilarious.
The battle system of Mother 3 is my favorite part of the game. It’s turn-based, so RPG players will be familiar with it, but there are also some differences. There’s a rhythm aspect to fighting: if you hit the attack button to the rhythm of the monster’s battle music, you can string along a maximum of 16 hits for a combo. Monsters have different battle music; to deal maximum damage, players need to master all of the rhythms. A tip is to put the monster to sleep in order to hear its music rhythm better.
Then there’s the rolling HP aspect of battles. When a player or teammate is hit, the HP counter counts down instead of immediately deducting the damage from the character’s HP. This comes in handy when the player gets hit with a very damaging attack. While the HP counter counts down, players can still attack and hopefully land a killing blow to the enemy. When the enemy gets knocked out, the HP counter stops, even if it hasn’t count down the full amount yet. Taking advantage of this is key to fighting a lot of the bosses.
After playing this game, I’m puzzled at why Nintendo won’t bring this over to the US. There’s nothing distinctively Japanese about the game and character names can always be changed to Westernized ones. There’s a child-like charm to this game that matches Nintendo’s image and it’s fun enough that even veteran RPG players can enjoy it. But since it looks like we won’t be getting an official translation soon, I’m glad that fans are passionate enough about the game to provide one for us.
Images courtesy of Nintendo.