Arts & Entertainment - Review: Mother Series

The Mother series is an underrated trilogy of role playing games created by Shigesato Itoi, a notable cultural figure in Japan. The gameplay is similar to the first person viewpoint, turn based style of the classic RPG. Despite not being well known, it has achieved a strong and devoted cult following.
The story of this series is very notable and can be described as unorthodox, humorous and ambiguous. Another notable element is the music, which includes a huge variety that draws from many cultural influences. One of the most unique aspects of this series is the setting. The story takes place in a world that is an obvious mockup of modern America. Most RPG’s back then favored the fantasy setting, so this change was very unique for its time.
The first game, simply titled Mother, was released for Nintendo only in Japan until it was translated by the fans and made available through emulation. Its unofficial American name is Earthbound Zero. This game has a very deep and complex storyline and had a massive world to explore that wasn’t strictly linear.
It does suffer from some drawbacks, mainly the difficulty and the level grinding. There have been downloadable patches made to balance these issues, making it a less frustrating experience. This entry was an excellent start and is like watching an old movie; it’s a great piece of nostalgia you’ll come to appreciate.
The second game, titled Mother 2, was released for the Super Nintendo. This is the only entry released in America, under the title Earthbound, making it the most well known. This game is humorous, has a balanced level of difficulty, is more linear, and is the first entry in the series to do away with the random battle system.
Another good thing this installment added was the auto win system, which helps save time by letting the player automatically win a fight with a much weaker enemy. This entry is my personal favorite of the series and it really stands the test of time.
The third and final game, titled Mother 3, was released for the Gameboy Advance in Japan, but was never given a new name after being fan translated. The combat in this game improved with a new feature called sound battling. When normally attacking an enemy, if you tap the correct button rhythmically to the music’s tempo, you can create a musical combo and cause more damage. This new idea is easy to pick up but hard to perfect.
One downside is the auto win system does not return in this entry. The final installment has the most mature, developed, and heartrending narratives in the entire series. The story is so powerful that it stays with you after you beat the game.
The bottom line is, if you like classic RPG’s but want something slightly different, this series is for you. Emulation is the best way to play these games, and I recommend starting with Earthbound because it’s the easiest to get into.
Grade: A

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