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Experience Points .23: Mother 3

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Monkey business
My favorite character in Mother 3 doesn’t remain a party
member for very long, but he uses his short amount of time to really
shine. Chapter 3 introduces a cute little monkey named Salsa, who is
being led around by a horrible man named Fassad. Fassad forces Salsa to
perform for him with a device which electrocutes the poor monkey for
disobeying. He has also kidnapped Salsa’s girlfriend and threatens to
harm her if Salsa doesn’t do what he says. Fassad is a rather despicable
man.
Eventually, Fassad drags Salsa to the quiet town of Tazmily, hoping
to trick the citizens into buying his “Happy Boxes” (which are basically
televisions or computers) by charming them with Salsa’s dance moves. He
then forces Salsa to deliver the heavy electronics to each of the
customers, which means he’s free to walk around town without Fassad
following him around for a while. Even though he’s under strict orders
to deliver the Happy Boxes in a timely manner, he can still pretty much
do what he pleases.
This is one of the most powerful moments in the game to me. A little
chime plays each time Salsa picks up a Happy Box, but it’s definitely
not a happy chime. It’s more of an apprehensive tune, which foreshadows
the eventual downfall of Tazmily due to the Happy Box catalysts. And
poor Salsa is the one being forced to deliver these evil boxes against
his will, probably unaware of what he’s about to cause. The music for
this section, “Monkey’s Delivery Service,”
is one of my favorite tracks. It almost sounds happy at first, but
there’s this subtle mournful tone to the music which starts to creep in
once the player becomes aware of what’s happening. It’s quite brilliant.
Chatting with the local townsfolk of Tazmily while he’s supposed to
be delivering boxes, Salsa will get a lot of comments about how sad he
looks. Makes sense, given his current predicament and the horrible
treatment he’s been getting. Also, if he looks in the mirror at Lucas’
house, he’ll think to himself, “What does a smile look like again?” It
almost broke my heart the first time I noticed this. But thankfully,
Salsa is eventually redeemed, freed from Fassad’s evil clutches, and
reunited with his girlfriend. It’s a good thing he got a happy ending,
because I don’t know how much more sadness I could have taken. I just
wish he could have stayed with Lucas and friends for a while longer!
Freaks of nature
The enemies in Mother 3 are just amazing. Along with the usual wacky foes, such as living trees, walking musical instruments, and baked yams, Mother 3
also introduces chimeras into the mix. And these aren’t your typical
chimeras; these jumbled up monsters are all sorts of unexpected and
terrifying!
Some of the tamer chimeras include the Muttshroom and the Pigtunia,
mixing animals and plants to horrific (possibly humorous) effect. But
then things start getting crazy when Lucas and friends encounter such
bizarre beasts as the Batangutan, an orangutan head with bat wings; the
Ostrelephant, an elephant with ostrich legs and an ostrich head for a
trunk; and the Parental Kangashark, a hammerhead shark with kangaroo
legs and a pouch holding a baby Kangashark. The scariest chimera of all,
however, is the Horsantula,
a horrible hybrid of horse and tarantula, with eight horse legs, a
tarantula torso, and a frightened-looking horse head (*shiver*). A
real-life horsantula would probably make me shit my pants… that thing
is truly the stuff of nightmares!
And then, of course, there is the Ultimate Chimera, which appears to
be some kind of demonic creature with a baby chick attached to its head.
This foe is practically invincible. It actually cannot be fought in
typical combat, and in fact, if it catches Lucas then it’s automatically
game over! The party’s only hope for survival is to run for their lives
and hope they’re fast enough to escape. But there is a secret which
temporarily leaves the Ultimate Chimera incapacitated…
Snake charmer
Mother 3 took the series’ trademark ridiculous inventory
items to a whole new level by introducing the Rope Snake, an item that
actually becomes a character in the story (and one of my favorite
characters at that!).
Duster first purchases the Rope Snake from the ghosts in Osohe Castle
to help him cross pits as a sort of adorable grappling hook device.
Duster also uses the Rope Snake to try and grab hold of an escaping
Pigmask airship, with Lucas, Kumatora, and Boney hitching a ride as
well. At this point, Rope Snake proudly announces that he’s now a major
character in the story (and breaks the fourth wall in the process). But
unfortunately for everyone else, he also announces that he’s unable to
support the weight of three people and a dog. His jaw gives out and they
all fall from the sky.
Later on, Rope Snake gets a second chance and tries to redeem himself
by grappling onto a flying bird cage with the party in tow, but his jaw
gives out again and everyone falls out of the sky for the second time.
His pride shattered from letting his friends down twice, poor Rope Snake
leaves the party to go hide in a hole and feel sorry for himself. I’ve
never felt so bad for a snake before as I did for Rope Snake. I just
wanted Lucas to give him a hug and tell him that they still believed in
him, but instead they just let him go. It’s okay, Rope Snake! You tried
your hardest!
Eventually, the gang meets back up with Rope Snake in New Pork City.
He excitedly tells the party that he’s close to becoming a behemoth of a
snake and wishes them a happy new year, but it seems like Lucas and
company are trying to avoid him. It’s like they don’t even care about
their reptilian friend’s feelings, the jerks! Oh well. You’ll always be
cool to me, Rope Snake!
Mother 3: The Musical
Mother 3 introduced an awesome new mechanic to the
turn-based battle system where the player could keep an attack going by
repeatedly pressing the button to the rhythm of the music. It’s pretty
difficult to get the timing just right, and it changes depending on the
battle theme, but once you get the hang of it, it’s extremely satisfying
to pull off. A single attack can turn into a string of several more
smaller attacks, stacking up the damage to quickly take down foes.
I always enjoy when turn-based JRPGs add interesting mechanics like
this to make the combat feel more action-oriented. Games like Super Mario RPG and Paper Mario
were really good at this too, keeping players on their toes by allowing
them to do extra damage or defense with a well-timed button press. Mother 3‘s
rhythmic combat is possibly my favorite system, simply because of how
fun it is to tap along to the music and watch the damage numbers
steadily increase and bounce off the enemy.
I like to imagine these attacks playing out with Lucas and friends
circling around the enemy and bashing them to a rhythm, kind of like that scene from Shaun of the Dead
where Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” suddenly starts playing on the
jukebox. It’s like a fully choreographed dance for every fight!
I pity the fool who tries to throw his life away
One of my favorite things about the Mother series are all
the crazy NPCs. It’s one of the few games where talking to every NPC I
come across is almost always a rewarding decision. Everyone seems to
have something interesting, funny, or completely random to say.
Mother 3 happens to have my favorite NPC in the series. He
doesn’t have a name, and he can’t be found wandering around on his own.
Instead, he seems to appear out of nowhere whenever Lucas tries to walk
on the railroad tracks leading out of Tazmily. If Lucas tries to enter
the cave on the tracks, a man will shout, “Hold it!” and run on screen
to grab Lucas and pull him off the tracks. He’ll then go on about how
dangerous that was, urging Lucas not to just throw away his life, and to
forget they ever talked. After he walks away, a message pops up saying,
“Your life was saved.” The gravity of the conversation was so
unexpected that I couldn’t help but laugh.
Even better, the man will continue to save Lucas’ life each and every
time he tries to enter the cave. He has different dialogue each time,
growing more and more impatient and exasperated with Lucas until
eventually he gives up trying to convince him not to throw away his life
and just rescues him quietly with nothing more to say.
The man also bears a striking resemblance to Mr. T, which just makes
the whole scene so much more entertaining. Thanks for saving my life,
Mr. T!
Lucas be trippin’
When Lucas and friends find themselves washed ashore on a seemingly
deserted island with all of their items missing, they must go foraging
for food. The only thing to be found, however, is a group of
brightly-colored mushrooms. Lucas’ dog Boney steps back as Lucas,
Duster, and Kumatora consume the fungi for sustenance. At first, the
mushrooms seem to be all right. That is, until they start to take effect
and the party falls to the ground, the worlds turns bright pink and
purple, and everything starts shifting and swirling. Maybe eating these
strange shrooms wasn’t the best idea after all… oops!
Suddenly, the party springs back to life with the message, “Lucas and
company felt just dandy!” But the island looks totally different now,
and is strangely populated by… people you know? While running through
the jungle, the party will encounter friends and family members who
shouldn’t be there. They’re all saying really strange things, but
they’re just illusions. They can even be battled and destroyed,
revealing that they were actually enemies shrouded in disguise.
The jungle is also strangely littered with mailboxes, and these
mailboxes are filled with some of the most insane things you can
imagine. Among the many mailboxes Lucas comes across, some of my
favorites include the following contents: “Inside the mailbox was the
sound of yourself crying,” “Inside the mailbox was absolutely nothing.
Nothing after nothing came bursting out,” “Someone looked back at you
from inside the mailbox! …Or so it seemed, but you were the one
looking from the other side, too,” and my personal favorite, “There’s
nothing in the mailbox. Except for the 1000 rat corpses.” Man, those
mushrooms were no joke!
Eventually, the party arrives at the house of Mixolydia, the local
Magypsy, who notices that they’re all hopped up on shrooms and kindly
knocks them back to their senses. So ends Lucas’ crazy, drugged-out
adventure through the psychedelic island jungle full of horrific,
mind-blowing discoveries. It’s just too bad they didn’t run into
Mixolydia before they decided to take a dip in a nice, relaxing hot
spring which actually turned out to be a disgusting sewage dump…
blech!
The saddest man in the world
Mother 3 has some awesome boss fights, but there’s one
optional boss that really stands out from the rest. Granted, he’s not
really boss material per se, but he does get the “Strong One” boss music, so I think he technically counts as a boss. I’m talking, of course, about Negative Man.
Lucas finds Negative Man hunched over on all fours, alone and
unmoving in the middle of a cave. If the party decides to battle him,
they had better be prepared for the easiest fight of their lives! It’s
so easy, in fact, that I actually feel pretty bad for the guy.
Negative Man very rarely attacks, and when he does, he can only
manage to dish out a measly single point of damage. Mostly, he’ll just
be pathetic and feel sorry for himself. Instead of attacking, he’ll use
up his turns muttering things like, “There’s just no way I can win…”
or, “Just get rid of me now…” or even, “I’m nothing but a worthless
protoplasm…”
Meanwhile, Lucas and company just keep mercilessly beating the crap
out of him until he’s defeated. Poor guy… I almost want to just let
him win so that he might feel a little better about himself. But let’s
be real, that could take ages and I don’t want to wait that long. Sorry,
Negative Man, but today’s not your day!
Open Sesame Tofu
The Mother series is at its finest whenever it’s trying to
be funny, which is admittedly almost all the time. One of the funniest
moments hands down happens in Mother 3 when Wess must open a secret door in Osohe Castle. And what better way to open a secret door than by… dancing in front of it?
For a bit of background, Wess is an elderly gentleman with a rather
serious disposition who spends most of his time scolding his son,
Duster. The last thing I’d expect someone like Wess to do would be to
let loose and start acting silly. But when the father-son duo finds
themselves blocked by a grim-looking door, Wess does the unexpected. He
urges Duster to turn around because he’s about to do something
embarrassing. And then, out of nowhere, some upbeat, goofy music begins
playing and Wess starts shaking his butt and performs just about the
silliest dance I can imagine, causing the door to crack a huge smile and
open. It might just be my absolute favorite moment in the Mother series, just because it’s Wess of all people. For an old guy, he can really shake it!
Later in the game, Salsa also gets to perform the dance to open the
door. It’s a lot more adorable when Salsa does it, but also a lot less
shocking and hilarious because he’s not an old man. Video games could
really do with more old folks dancing, in my opinion.
Past Experience Points
Level 1: .01 – .20
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