Mother 3 is a role-playing video game developed by Brownie Brown and HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy Advance. The final entry in the Mother series, it was released in Japan on April 20, 2006. The game follows Lucas, a young boy with psychic abilities, and a party of characters as they attempt to prevent a mysterious invading army from corrupting and destroying the world.
Like previous entries, Mother 3 focuses on exploring the game world from a top-down perspective and engaging in turn-based combat with enemies. Its development spanned twelve years and four consoles, beginning in 1994 for the Super Famicom and then transitioning to the Nintendo 64 and its 64DD add-on. It was initially canceled in 2000, but development was restarted in 2003 for the Game Boy Advance.
Mother 3 was a critical and commercial success, and received critical praise for its character development, stylized graphics, music, story, and more mature and dramatic tone than its previous installments; however, some believed its gameplay offered few innovations to the role-playing genre. The game was never released outside Japan, though it has generated a cult following. An unofficial English fan translation was released by the Starmen.net internet community in 2008, and received over 100,000 downloads within a week. Mother 3 was re-released for the Wii U Virtual Console in Japan in 2016.
Mother 3 is a single-player role playing video game similar to previous games in the Mother series. The player controls a party of playable characters who explore the game’s two-dimensional fictional world, primarily shown from a top-down perspective. While navigating the overworld, the player may converse with non-player characters, obtain items, or encounter enemies. Winning battles against enemies awards experience points to the party, which is required for leveling up. Leveling up a character permanently enhances its individual attributes such as maximum hit points (HP), power points (PP), offense, and defense. Weapons, armor, or accessories can be equipped on a character to increase certain attributes. The player can restore their characters’ HP and PP or heal various status ailments by visiting hot springs which are abundant in the game world, and the player can save the game by talking to frogs. Currency is introduced in the later half of the game as Dragon Points (DP), earned by winning battles and used to purchase items. The player can deposit or withdraw DP from frogs.
In a battle sequence, the player can perform combo attacks by repeatedly striking to the beat of the background music
Mother 3 retains the turn-based battle system featured in EarthBound. When the player comes into contact with an enemy in the overworld, the game transitions to a battle screen. Battles are viewed from a presumed first-person perspective, showing the enemies against a distorted, animated background. The player can assign each character in their party to perform an action, such as attacking an enemy or using items to restore HP or PP. Some characters can utilize psychic-based abilities referred to as PSI, which includes stronger attacks and healing abilities, and require PP to execute. Like EarthBound, combat uses a “rolling health” system: when one of the player’s characters is injured, its HP will gradually “roll” down, similar to an odometer, rather than immediately decremented. This allows a mortally wounded character to perform actions like attacking or healing themselves, as long as the player acts quickly enough. If a character loses all HP, it will become unconscious and cannot participate unless revived by another character. The player loses a battle if all characters become unconscious; the player will then be given the option to continue play from the nearest save point, but with half the DP on their person.
Combat in Mother 3 includes a unique musical combo system not seen in previous Mother games. When one of the player’s characters directly attacks an enemy with a weapon, they can repeatedly attack the enemy by pressing the button in time with the beat of the background music, with each enemy possessing a musical theme with different rhythms. Using this system, the player can attack the enemy up to sixteen times in a row. When the correct beat is not apparent, the player can put the enemy to sleep to isolate the beat from the music.