Having finished the first chapter, I can safely say the biggest secret about Mother 3 is that the sprite work and animation is actually the most impressive thing about it. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve found the battle system to be fun (rare for an RPG these days) and the story both emotional and hilarious, so consider just how good this game has to look to trump both of those things. Somehow, Brownie Brown managed to make the game simultaneously look like its predecessor and completely surpass just about every other 2D game ever. (Considering EarthBound was originally panned for looking too simplistic, this is quite a feat.)
I remember when Final Fantasy X and Metal Gear Solid 2 came out the same holiday season that it really highlighted how important animation, rather than raw graphics, were to making something look good. The idea is apt here, too. Mother 3 is a GBA game, meaning it’s SNES-quality graphics at best. That’s fine; I’m inclined to like those anyway. The reason it’s such a treat to look at, even in a modern world of HD remakes, is the same (and apparently only) reason Wario Land: Shake It! was so exciting: the gorgeous animation.
[[image: ar_102708_mother3_01.jpg:You really need to see this scene unfold. Seriously.:center:0]]
Each character, whether they’re an NPC or a member of your party, animate in a way that makes each one a unique entity. It’s almost as if, somehow, against all odds, the designers noticed that you don’t need dialogue to give something personality. Sometimes the littlest visual “tells” — Flint’s tendency to tip his hat, for example — immediately communicate the same depth of character, with no readin’ necessary. This, more than anything else, indicates it’s a Nintendo game, since Nintendo has always understood how the tiniest of details can produce an immeasurable amount of personality.
So yes, it’s a shame this never officially came here, but miraculously, it’s the graphics in this two-and-a-half-year-old GBA game that I most regret more people can’t see. Static images don’t do it justice; it really, truly must be played. Unfortunately, I’m roughly in the same boat as Parish when it comes to emulation, so I can’t force myself to play any more Mother 3 until my flash cart arrives; with any luck, I’ll get it this week, but until then, I hope I can find something to play. It’s been kind of a slow month for games, so we’ll see.