RPG Series Review: Earthbound/Undertale (PART 3)

xandermartin98 RPG Series Review: Earthbound/Undertale (PART 3)

"Strange, funny and heartrending." Yes, these are all words that describe MOTHER 3, the long-awaited, Japan-only, CONSIDERABLY darker and edgier handheld sequel to Earthbound perfectly, but are it and Undertale really the saddest, most emotionally driven games ever made like everyone claims? Well...yes and no.

(Before I start the review, special thanks goes to the game's fan translators as well, by the way.)

Long story short, Mother 3 is many things. It's "strange, funny and heartrending", it's very much a blatant retread of Earthbound (just like EB was of EB Zero before it) with barely anything about EB's formula actually being improved in the process, it's irritatingly pretentious and predictable...so anyway, all of those things aside, how does it hold up today? Let's find out!

STORY: (MAJOR SPOILER WARNING EVEN THOUGH EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS GAME, AS I ALREADY MENTIONED ABOVE, IS OBNOXIOUSLY PREDICTABLE AND CLICHÉD) Basically, as I said, the plot, much like the game itself is really just a darker and edgier version of Earthbound, with considerably more than its fair share of Star Wars, Final Fantasy VII and the Holocaust thrown in for good measure. Make of that what you will, but trust me when I say that it is nowhere NEAR as interesting as it sounds. At least, not when you reach the back half of the game, that is. While it certainly IS a lot darker than Earthbound at any rate, as it deals with themes like the tearing apart of families by military oppression and the tragic reconstruction of animals by Nazi pig-suit Stormtrooper scientists (led by a fat kid named Porky, who knew), it really only has a few moments that come even close to justifying its "saddest game of all time" label in my opinion, and those moments are extremely few and far between if you ask me.

SOUND: Sweet ever-loving JESUS, where to start with this one...while the actual sound design is obviously not QUITE as good as Earthbound's, the fact that such wonderfully authentic instrumental noises and sound effects are coming from something with a sound chip as horridly awful as that of the Game Boy Advance is a simply jaw-dropping achievement in and of itself. As for the actual music itself, calling it a treat for the ears doesn't even begin to describe it; while most of it still isn't quite Undertale level as far as I can tell, it fits the game perfectly, invokes all of the right emotions at EXACTLY the right times, and best of all, it even allows you to rhythmically tap the A button to the beat of it during combat in order to maximize the overall damage output from your party members' attacks! I mean, sure it's a pretty game-breaking mechanic, all things considered, but seriously, how flipping cool IS that?!

GRAPHICS: Basically just a remade version of Earthbound; looks amazing though. The overall spritework has been improved a daunting amount compared to EB's, and battles just generally feel way more dynamic than before.

GAMEPLAY: Ehh...MOTHER 3, while definitely being the best of the series in said department by a landslide, is still quite a mixed bag when it comes to gameplay, in all honesty. While the rhythmic attack-comboing system is easily one of the coolest gameplay gimmicks to ever exist in a role-playing game (cough, besides manual attack dodging, cough), most of the combat against standard enemies is still vastly too easy (with PSI attacks being rendered largely useless during the mid-to-lategame due to how much damage your standard attacks already deal) and the difficulty for boss battles is just plain all-over-the-place, ranging from pathetically easy (Reconstructed Caribou, Mecha-Drago, Porky, Masked Man 2nd Encounter and Mr. Genetor, for example, provided you know what you're supposed to do in order to beat them) to outright nightmarishly difficult and frustrating (New/Miracle Fassad, Jealous Bass, Steel Mechorilla, etc) on a whim with absolutely no warning whatsoever. That being said, it's still a lot of fun for the most part. Just be prepared, because you never even get to play as a character that actually knows how to use PSI (not counting Kumatora) up until Chapter 4 out of 8. Again, have fun...

OVERALL: MOTHER 3, much like Undertale, is a very difficult game to score; however, without giving away too much about it, I can pretty confidently say that it is a game that THOROUGHLY deserves its praise (well, at least, as an EXPERIENCE, anyway) and that every true Nintendo fan with self-respect should download both it and the rest of the Earthbound series (and Undertale) on their computers and play them. That being said, 9/10


"Moments that justify its Saddest Game Ever label"

Earthbound fans should know what I'm talking about

(cough, certain scene involving Flint and a campfire, cough) - xandermartin98