Sunday, December 07, 2008

A few more words about Mother 3 that I couldn't seem to fit in the main text

As concerns the game's connections to Earthbound: I really had no problem in that regard. The attempts of Chrono Cross to tie in with Chrono Trigger didn't work because they felt awkward, forced, and fundamentally disrespectful. I have no such problems with Mother 3. Okay okay, so we have Pokey--but why not? It seems appropriate to me (he DID say he'd be back, after all), and the game doesn't try to push the connection too hard. Sure, the return of the Mr. Saturns feels a little gratuitous, and sure, it's not clear what Dr. Andonuts is doing here. But none of that affected my enjoyment of the game as a whole in the slightest.


Anonymous Anonymous pontificated to the effect that...

I get what you're saying, but I felt like what you wrote about the critique of capitalism was something the game _could_ have done -- and even laid the groundwork for doing -- but never actually _did_. The part where Fassad distributes the Happy Boxes is very ominous...but it never really leads anywhere. I didn't notice such a big change in the characters of the townspeople -- there was a little bit at first where they tried to pressure Lucas into getting a Happy Box, but that, again, was sort of swept under the rug almost immediately. After that, you never really need to spend much time in the town. It sometimes feels like a MacGuffin for driving the plot along, rather than like a serious emotional point.

Sure, the townspeople start working in factories to be able to afford material goods, but that also feels like more of a side note -- after you visit the factory one time to do that Clayman-repair event, you never really come back to it, it's more like a plot device that lets you go to the concert and find Duster again (granted, "Shimmy Zmizz" is a kick-ass name). And after you do find him, the town plays a very small role in the story. Chapter 7 has some amazing parts, but it feels like the part in Chrono Cross where you run around visiting elemental dragons, i.e. a big fetch quest. Although, granted, the psychedelic part in the jungle was spectacular.

Same thing with New Pork City -- it would, perhaps, have been more impressive if you could spend some time there doing interesting things. But the way it is, Fourside/Moonside from Earthbound gives a better impression of metropolitan size and corruption, in my opinion. (And, while I'm at it, I really wish they hadn't changed "Pokey" to "Porky," because I'm just sentimental like that.)

I also didn't really like Leder's big revelation at the end -- I thought all the stuff about the remnants of an advanced civilisation and the dragon and so on was unnecessarily tacked on (much like the "humans are actually all just spare parts for god" bit in Xenogears). I think it would have been fine to just focus on a story about an idyllic town that gets insidiously changed by outside forces, without making it so that Kumatora was 'programmed' with the memories of a princess, or whatever it was.


5:41 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. pontificated to the effect that...

Could they have done it better? Probably. This is kind of uncharted territory. But I think you're underestimating what they DO do a bit. Maybe it would be more accurate to describe the society as becoming colder/more bureaucratic than "less nice," per se. Think of the mayor and his unpleasant family. Think of Bud and Lou no longer being able to practice their alleged "comedy" act. Think of Scamp dying and the sign simply saying "Notice: Scamp has died. That is all." Think of the nursing home, and Wess, Alec, and guy-whose-name-I-forget being forced to live there. Think of the irritable policemen. And of course think of the presence of the pigmasks and the fact that anyone who tries to resist the new order gets his/her house struck by lightning. I think it would be fair to read that as being further representative of the town's new character.

New Pork City (but if they'd stuck with "Pokey," the pun wouldn't work) also probably could have been more expansive. Certainly, the game as a whole feels more tightly-wound than Earthbound did. But I still think the relentless, Vegas-like gaudiness got the point across pretty well. Also note the way a lot of the people become barely-articulate, only spouting two-word bits of nonsense. I think that's relevant.

So anyway, what I'm trying to say is, sure, the game could have spelt out what it was trying to do more clearly, even if I'm not entirely sure it's necessary. But in spite of its flaws, it's STILL smarter than pretty much any other RPG I've played, so I'm willing to give it some leeway.

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous pontificated to the effect that...

Well, they could have kept all the "pork" stuff while translating him as "Pokey." Then it would just refer to his porcine nature, instead of being a half-assed pun.

Regarding the things you mention -- yes, the nursing home was one of the more powerful moments in the game, and is definitely an example of the "change" wrought by the introduction of money. But that, again, reaches its peak early on, along with the lightning strikes and Happy Boxes. You mentioned the introduction of crime into the village, but actually I didn't notice any _crime_ -- the only time was when Fassad steals the kid's money, and the kid blames Duster for it, which again was early on. That's what I meant -- Chapters 1-3 lay the groundwork for a great story, but then it just sort of dissipates while you go running around pulling magical needles.

If anything, I think that the fun-house atmosphere of NPC actually goes against the ominous changes in the beginning. I mean, first it seems like they're supposed to work in the factory to be able to buy stuff, but then they just get to move to the city for free. It's true that the incoherent babbling of the city people is kind of scary, but I feel like you didn't spend enough time in the city to really do anything.

One thing I liked about Xenogears (I don't want to get into an argument about which game is "better," it's just one thing I liked about it) was how you returned to the Aveh/Nisan subplot repeatedly during Disc 1, and really spent a lot of time with that region and its history. It felt like an integral part of the story, as opposed to a plot point that could be used once and discarded. I thought that it might have been better to do something similar with Tazmily Village, to give the player some reason to do stuff there in the long later chapters, rather than to sort of sweep the ominous changes under the rug after Ch. 3 or so.

Surely, the game does a lot of things brilliantly -- when I review it for RPGC, I'll probably rate it 4/5, which is very high on my scale. I just thought that their reach sort of exceeded their grasp after Ch. 3.


4:40 PM  

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