Word to Mother

So I guess NCS isn’t so keen on Mother 3, which is kind of weird because I’m totally digging it. I get the impression a certain contingent of people had it in their minds that the game would be… something. Which it’s not, necessarily. There’s no junior pipsqueak out to save the world by smacking cultists with a baseball bat; it’s more a standard RPG in a lot of senses. So, yeah, boo hoo. It’s not exactly the same as Earthbound.

In fact, it’s quite a bit more fun, thanks in large part to the battle system which somehow manages to turn the bog-standard Dragon Quest format into something completely great. The best part is that this whole transformation comes about through the integration of three elements which were already present in Earthbound: continuous hits, musical sampling and the wide variety of battle themes.

Every physical attack you perform in Mother 3 is accompanied by a musical tone, and each character has a different “voice” — Flint is a saxophone, Duster is a slap bass, Boney the dog sounds like, uh, a dog. Et cetera. By tapping the A button in time to the beat of the battle theme, you create a sort of musical counterpoint that also, handily, serves as an added damage bonus chain (up to 16 hits total).

The tricky part is that nearly every enemy has its own theme, and they vary wildly in tempo. When you’re up against a monster with a driving 4/4 beat, it’s a simple matter to keep time and rack up a huge bonus. But some enemies are accompanied by more complex time signatures, or piano themes with no easily-determined beat, or even anthems with shifting tempos. So there’s this added element to the action, since you need to find the proper timing for each different composition… which can be tricky at times.

Of course, you don’t have to master the rhythms. You can just fight like normal and settle for standard (puny) attacks — but in some of the tougher fights, every little advantage helps. Admittedly, I find myself feeling like a total doofus nodding my head to the battle music to keep the tempo while playing on the bus, but it is so totally worth it when I can double the power of a single attack through the application of (gasp) actual skill. Sure, Legend of Dragoon and Vagrant Story have already been there/done that, but Dragoon was crap. C-R-A-P. Crapetty crap.

Oh, and for once the name “Mother” actually sort of means something, since the drama surrounding the mother/wife character Hinawa is sort of the pivot point for the entire story. How about that.

Anyway, I was pretty sure Mother 3 was a shoo-in for localization until I met the lesbian princess and stumbled across the foofy pink palace full of unshaven men in frilly dresses. So, uh, maybe not.

Edit: In case you’d actually like to see the melodic combat system in action, we’ve posted a video over where I work. Check out that totally sweet 16-hit combo I scored right at the start. I am your new king.

Doubleplus Edit: The full 1UP preview is live now as well.

22 thoughts on “Word to Mother

  1. I dunno… given that Suikoden V has a blatantly obvious lesbian prison guard, and a knight that likes to cross-dress as his sister and it got localized, that doesn’t seem so bad.

    Then again, that’s Konami and Mother is Nintendo so yeah you’re probably right.

    Shame though because if it was localized I would so totally buy it.

  2. Code Veronica was just as bad, incestuous and highly creepy cross-dressing Frenchman.

    And let’s not forget Shadow Hearts.

  3. There was some distinctly homosexual themes going on between Shion and Kos-mos in Xenosaga if I remember correctly.

  4. What do all of these games have in common with one another and not Mother 3? That’s right, they’re all third-party games on Sony systems. Well, maybe if we can get Nintendo to license the game for Ubi to publish on PSP….

  5. Well then what about Fire Emblem? The GBA games in particular feature some rather interesting relationships incuding some heavily implied incest. All first-party Nintendo too. So it’s not completely unheard of that Mother 3 could get localized…

  6. I agree with you on Legend of Dragoon; that game was terrible. I have no idea why I finished it – I think I only stuck with it out of stubborness and the fact that I almost fell over laughing at the voice acting every time Dart did his “blazing dynamo”. Vagrant Story was a fantastic game, though. It did have a bit of a learning curve, but landing a 21 hit combo was its own reward.

  7. I heard that there was also an Arabic character who is depicted as a terrorist or working for the pig army or something, is this true?

  8. I can play imported GBA games on my U.S. ds, right? So once the translation appears on gamefaqs, i’m probably just better off importing it? /sigh

    I guess it’s time to cross the final (nerd) frontier….

  9. Wow, this sounds awesome. (I hadn’t been following the game too closely, so I wasn’t aware of the music battle system.) In my shameless nerdom, I’ve long thought that an RPG battle system combined with a rhythm game (PaRappa RPG?) would have a lot of fun ideas and it looks like it’s finally happening. Thanks for the update.

  10. If the game makes it over here will we also see the Mother Battle Ally? A third party peripheral that vibrates in time to the attack opportunity rhythms, for the musically disinclined.

    …okay I stole the idea from Rez’s trance vibrator….

  11. “I am your new king.”

    Having good rythm skills and being able to inflict some über-damage to some enemies in videogames is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some 3/4-timed combo.

  12. I was gonna say “emperor” but it seemed too ambitious. Also, there’s actually no need for a rhythm peripheral since at least one character has a skill that makes it easier to hear the beat. And Fritz, I don’t think anyone knew about the music aspect until the game actually arrived.

  13. Your 1up preview has an error about Mother 3’s history. The game didn’t go off the radar between the N64 version’s cancellation and last year. It was first confirmed for GBA at the end of an April 2003 Japanese TV commercial that also announced Mother 1 & 2:
    After that, it went completely off the radar for two and a half years, until Itoi started talking about the game again last fall. Otherwise, it’s a great preview. And actually, I’m not even that big a Mother fan; I just have a pretty good memory for when games are first shown/announced.

  14. Psh. Nintendo shouldn’t need to allow its property to be localized by a 3rd party. You’d think with Nintendo’s shady resourcefulness they’d pull a Doki Doki Panic and replace all the offending sprites with Luigi, Mario, Toad, and the Princess… That way they could slap “super mario” on the title and sell more copies.

  15. Any ascendence to monarchy you might have had from the totally sweet 16-hit combo is annulled by the mole sneaking up on you in the first place.

  16. Wow, the fight system alone makes it ten times more interesting than Final Fantasy XII! I’m dying to play this one. Is Visual Boy Advance still updated? Who’s translating this? I need to re download all the necesary GBA emulation stuffs if this thing wont be released in the west.

  17. “You’d think with Nintendo’s shady resourcefulness they’d pull a Doki Doki Panic”
    Miyamoto created Doki. Miyamoto did not work on “Super Mario Bros. 2 (Japan)” Please PLEASE give this baseless anger a rest, everyone.

    All Tomorrow–they have this crazy thing called “importing” now which totally lets you play foreign games legally.

    Anyway, now that I’ve had a chance to play the game, I must say that not localizing this game wouldn’t make any sense. It is sooooo good, from a gameplay perspective.

  18. I don’t understand how people can stand to go ahead and play the game without understanding the dialogue. I bought the game on the 20th, and I’m still only at the 4th save-frog, because I feel the need to look up every single word I don’t understand, and that makes playing the game very tiring. I suppose it will get a little better once I start actually fighting battles.

  19. Tomm: actually I was just throwing out a suggestion Nintendo could use for the game if lesbian princesses and transvestites conflicted with Nintendo’s canon for decency standards for bringing it to the US. I wasn’t taking an angry swipe at Miyamoto… At least, not on purpose.

    Besides, I don’t even think its his fault. I thought the doki doki conspiracy was inspired by the Germans.

  20. I don’t read Japanese matey! So importing it without it being translated does not make any sense! ARGHHHHHHHH!

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