All my life, I've been an avid fan of Nintendo. Ever since owning a Nintendo 64 as a kid, I've always loved the worlds Nintendo let me take an adventure with. Whether it be in space with Fox, in Hyrule with Link, in the Mushroom Kingdom with Mario, or the wondrous world of Pokemon, Nintendo has never let me down... Well, almost never. That's for another blog post, though.
There has been one world of Nintendo's that escaped me. A world that is not unlike our own, but alas a world that Nintendo themselves have chosen to forget. Shigesato Itoi's world of Mother.
I decided after being bored with the games I own for my consoles and my steam account, that I would delve into Itoi's Mother trilogy, and I thought it was a good idea to sort of log my impressions of the 3 games on my blog, and hopefully the rest of Destructoid would like to read what I have to say.
Mother is an NES RPG released in 1989 that turned all of the fantasy RPG tropes on their head. Instead of knights in shining armor armed with swords of legend, we have a boy named Ninten that whacks his ridiculous enemies with a baseball bat. Instead of mana and mystical magic mumbo-jumbo, we have psychic children that can just make shit burst into flames. I absolutely adore this aspect of the game, the concept was undoubtedly fresh at the time, and it's still relatively fresh now.
The story is also pretty good as well. Ninten's story starts when he discovers his PSI powers as a result from an attack initiated by, what else, a lamp. After our hero dispatches of the baddie, he immediately sets off on an adventure to find out what exactly is going on, and collect the 8 melodies of his ancestors. He meets some very colorful characters in the sprites of Loid, the bullied nerd who specializes in rockets, Ana, A girl who wants to find her mother, and the very masculine Teddy, a gang leader who wants to avenge his parents. These characters will take you on their journey through the world of Mother and will leave you genuinely touched by their 8-bit personalities.
Overall, the gameplay is very fun and reminiscent of Dragon Quest. The battles are in first-person and the moves are turn based. The game is pretty enjoyable, except for one small thing...
The game's only real gripe is the sheer amount of grinding you must endure to advance in the game. The very beginning of the game can be punishing and very fluctuating in nature. You will constantly endure difficulty spikes and forced to grind. What makes this worse is that Loid and Ana start at level 1. (Teddy starts at level 18) Mother is even referred to by fans of the series as the grind-fest.
The game also has one of the most ridiculous random encounter rates I have ever seen. There are many times where you will be walking to a nearby town and take only one step between battles. It gets incredibly frustrating when you are low on health and desperately need a life-up cream.
In terms of pacing, the story is slightly intriguing at the beginning and kind of trails off near the middle, at this point all you're doing is getting your team together and grinding between cities to get Loid and Ana even close to Ninten's levels. At this point in the game, I started to get tired of it. The game then hits a continuous peak when you meet Teddy in Ellay.
What happens here is a series of challenges and plot twists. This results in a couple of party changes and genuine surprises. At a point in the game, Ninten and the gang actually befriend a monstrous robot capable of destroying most of the enemies. Seriously, this robot is kickass. Soon after, you have all 8 melodies you are able to face the final boss.
By the end of the credits after the very cinematic and emotional final boss, my jaw dropped. I couldn't have ever imagined feeling an emotional attachment to an NES game. Mother opened my eyes and absolutely impressed. After finishing this almost trial of a game, I decided to embark on a journey across all 3 games. Mother was a fantastic game, and I am glad to have played it.
If you would like to experience Mother, you'll have to emulate it, sadly. Unless you are of course, Japanese. The game is in English under the name Earthbound Zero on assorted NES roms.
This game is a real treat, and a refreshing and fun RPG for the NES. I really recommend playing it somehow. I hope my impressions/review swayed you to give it a try. Constructive criticism would be much appreciated and if you liked it, please let me know!
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Kyle MacGregor Burleson 1