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October 24th, 2012 | MOTHER 3

Over on the Game Career Guide site they recently posted an article about emotional storytelling in games, and in this particular case MOTHER 3 is the game in question. If you’re a fan of analyzing thematic elements of games, you’ll probably like this!

Thanks to Kyo for letting me know about this 😀


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11 Comments to Emotional Storytelling in MOTHER 3

Earth Saturn said on Oct. 24, 2012

While the story of Mother 3 is probably the most depressing ever in a video game, I never cried while watching LP’s of it.

I really don’t understand why I never cry during sad moments in video games. I just….don’t.

Chopo Rarru said on Oct. 24, 2012

That was a fantastic article, as it made me appreciate Mother 3 even more than I had previously. And I already loved the game too, but wow. Now I really want to play the game again and ruminate on those themes.

Leeaux said on Oct. 24, 2012

Great read!

PkLoveTheme said on Oct. 24, 2012

“A black screen displaying “The End?” appears, but the player remains in control of Lucas and can walk around in the dark to speak with other characters from the game, who seem to believe that things will turn out alright.”

Wait, wait… I thought you are in control of… Well, yourself. Is this just a mistake?

Also, loved every moment of reading this article. Awesome.
No, awesomeness.

TheNessEB said on Oct. 24, 2012

PKLoveTheme, you are correct. The player is in control of himself. You play as you during the end scene.

Jungyin said on Oct. 24, 2012

This felt a little familiar as a read it, particularly at the part where it said the game was less a battle of good vs. evil and more about coming to terms with a world where both exist. I think this was originally on a blog somewhere? Possibly one I was linked to from here, even?

Mato said on Oct. 24, 2012

It’s very possible – I’ve done so many updates I can’t keep them all in my head anymore. But at the very least it didn’t seem like an article I posted before. Could be wrong, though.

edgethelucas said on Oct. 24, 2012

Yeah, this is exactly the same analysis on Mother 3 you posted on May 25–it’s even in the “Other Related Posts” below this update, called “Mother 3 Analysis at GDC”

Nevertheless, it’s always been a good one, and I’m happy that it’s going around the web for those who missed out on the Game Developer Conference. Ever since I played Mother 3, it has always felt like an incredibly profound experience to me and it’s been one of the biggest reasons I try my best to think and judge others fairly. More than any other game to date (though I’m only 16 and have not played too many), this game changed me.

Man, I sure wish Nintendo would legally release this masterpiece in other territories. It’s funny, really, that the ones who proved stories in games could happen don’t feel like getting Itoi to do a re-release on one of their consoles for the convenience of an international release, simply because it wouldn’t be profitable. In the meantime, I’m stuck with a Mother 3 cartridge I bought off Amazon for $70, no less, all in Japanese, just to play this life-changing literary work legally in English-translated, emulated form. Itoi wasn’t in this for the money, so I wonder how he’d feel reading this…

Maybe this last remark is unneeded, but I don’t think that game developers are really sitting through a game’s experience and thinking to themselves, “How can I do something with these video game tools to make players feel different, like movies and books have been doing for a long time?” Mother 3 seems to me the only game where someone answered in a concise, easy-to-understand way. Other RPGs just tell a story, but Mother 3 uses its story to discuss humanitarian values and societal influence in a very mature manner that can only be expressed in video game format. In other words, Mother 3 not only has a mature, well thought out moral to teach, but dozens of them, cleverly tied into the fabric on the game experience.

Kyosuke said on Oct. 25, 2012

Sorry, I thought the article was new since it was dated as Tuesday, early this week.

MotherFan said on Oct. 27, 2012

I’m sorry but this guy just made too much mistakes. Like Boney is the only one that accompanies Lucas and when in the dark you can walk around as Lucas.
I mean has this guy played the game before or did he just watch videos?

Strawberry Tofu said on Oct. 29, 2012

^The final scene is pretty ambiguous, IMO. (And if you want to get super-literal, if you turn off a sprite layer in an emulator during that part, you can see that you ARE controlling Lucas, but I don’t think that has any narrative meaning, just a technical thing.)


“Near the end of the game, several major plot twists are revealed. One of the most significant is Leder’s story, which describes the current inhabitants of the Nowhere Islands as having escaped from the destruction of another world on a ‘White Ship.’ Upon arriving at the islands, they decided to erase their memories of this journey and the old world in order to live out their ideal lives. […] Upon learning of this, many of the game’s events can be seen in a very different light, particularly those touching on deception and social order. For these subjects, the message of Mother 3 suddenly becomes far more complex than it initially appears, going from something like ‘consumerism instills artificial values’ to the somewhat more disquieting ‘society in general relies upon artificial values.'”

I am very, very happy that someone’s addressed this — it’s what gives MOTHER 3 staying power for me. A lot of megafans seem to be focused more on character drama than the greater social commentary the game provides. It’s why I’m a bit disappointed when I see people talking about how ~perfect~ Tazmily is, or how the game is an anti-modernist parable.

Come to think of it, I used to be disappointed that this particular aspect of the narrative wasn’t more prominent (since again, a lot of people ignore that aspect of the game to talk about character deaths or Porky or whatever), but now I’m starting to think it wouldn’t really fit with the tone of the game. One of the things I love about MOTHER 3 is its ability to deliver serious messages in a way that’s totally free of pretentiousness. Even the final battle with the Masked Man is sort of deliberately corny; the whole “horrible, horrible thing narrated in RPG battle text format” is cloying and jarring enough to produce this unsettling feeling that adds to the experience.

…Can you tell I’ve always wanted to write about this? Even though I’m not a writer? At all?


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