Mother 3 is a role-playing video game for the Game Boy Advance handheld game console, developed by HAL Laboratory and Brownie Brown, published by Nintendo. It is the third video game in the Mother series of video games. It was announced in June 2003 during a Mother 1 + 2 television commercial, though details of its development were kept secret. Up until its release, the game remained near the top of Famitsus most wanted games list. Immediately before its release, Mother 3 was the most wanted game in Japan according to Weekly Famitsu.
According to Shigesato Itoi, the lead designer of the Mother series, there are no plans to create a Mother 4.
Mother 3 starts out very differently from the first two Mother games. The game is set up into eight different chapters, much like Dragon Quest IV. Instead of focusing on a group of children, it chronicles the story and adventures of Lucas and his family, and the story switches perspective during each chapter. (For example, the first portion of the game are led by Flint, Duster and Salsa (for the first, second and third chapters, respectively), but the rest of the game is led by Lucas.) Nowhere Island also changes dramatically due to the influence of the Pig Mask Army, transforming from a simple low-tech rural society to a more modern 21st Century infrastructure that's similar to the first two Mother games (hence the game's theme of nature vs. technology). The game also features a more traditional top-down RPG perspective, instead of the oblique projection used in the first two games.
Once again, the game retains the Dragon Quest-style battle system Mother and EarthBound had (although this time at a much quicker pace), but Mother 3 adds an extra twist in the form of the Music combo system. Depending on how well the player presses the A Button in-sync to the lead enemy's "theme" (each enemy has their own respective beat, some even possessing variable tempos), he or she can perform up to 16 hits of damaging combos on the game's enemies. (The game also has an option of letting the player practice Music combos on enemies they have already fought, once they gain a certain item. Tempos can also be more easily heard in the form of a "heartbeat" when the enemy is asleep.) Enemies are still visible on the field, and can still be approached from behind for a surprise attack (along with the extra added detail of seeing behind an enemy.) The game also retains the rolling HP/PP odometers from the previous game, enabling the player to heal before the counter rolls to 0. In Mother 3, the HP odometer scrolls more slowly than the previous game and can be slowed further by defending — however, unlike Mother 2, the player will still be technically 'dead' if the HP odometer scrolls to zero. A returning addition from the original Mother is the ability to run, by holding and releasing the B Button the player can not only reach areas quicker, but also smash into breakable objects and also stun enemies significantly weaker than the party, replacing the previous game's ability to instantly defeat weak enemies without entering battle. Mother 3 also abandons saving the game by phone in favor of Save Frogs, which are abundant and appear at various areas in the game. Currency (which doesn't come into play until Chapter 4) comes in the form of DP (Dragon Power), which the player can deposit/transfer from Save Frogs.
True to the game's slogan "Strange, Funny and Heartrending," Mother 3 sheds the more lighthearted and quirky plot lines of the previous games in favor of a far darker and more emotional story. The plot involves many tragic and saddening events. However, the game still retains many humorous and bizarre elements that are common to the series, balancing the tragedy against Itoi's trademark humor and optimism.
Mother 3 is set in the Nowhere Islands. Chaos ensues after an invasion by the Pig Mask Army, named after the uniforms, which resemble pigs, and its leader the "Pig King". They slowly construct a police state, while experimenting on the land's flora and fauna, and introducing new technology and infrastructure to the islands. The various chapters record the life of a boy named Lucas and his family and friends, banding together to rid the Nowhere Islands of the Pig Mask Army.
The story shifts to another resident of Tazmilly Village named Duster. His father, Wes, has sent him to obtain the Hummingbird’s Egg from Osohe Castle. Duster is driven from the castle, losing his memory and the egg in the process. He then joins the rock group DCMC.
Around this time, the Pig Mask Army moves into Tazmilly Village and begins efforts to modernize it. Within three years, the village is turned into a totalitarian city, in which those who do not approve of the new government are sent to jail or struck by lightning from the Thunder Tower.
Three years after the takeover, Wes finds out what happened to Duster, and asks Lucas to find him. Duster is persuaded to join Lucas, and together with Lucas’ dog, Boney, and Kumatora, a friend of Duster’s, they set off for Thunder Tower to find Duster’s memory and the Hummingbird Egg. After they recover the Egg and his memory, they are pursued by the Pig Mask Army to the roof of the tower, where they destroy the lightning generator. The tower then collapses, while Lucas and his friends escape on board a helicopter.
After their escape, Lucas learns from the Magypsy Ionia, who taught him to use PK powers, about the Seven Needles. The Seven Needles hold intact a seal on a dragon hidden under the island. If pulled by a good person, the dragon will awaken and bring peace to the island; if pulled by an evil person, it could destroy the island. The party sets out to pull the Needles before the Pig Mask Army can.
Their quest ultimately leads them to New Pork City, where the last of the Needles is located. As they are about to pull it, they are confronted by the Masked Man, General of the Pig Mask Army. It is revealed that the Masked Man is, in fact, Lucas’ brother Claus, killed at the beginning of the game and raised by the Pig Mask Army to be their general. After a one-on-one battle between the Masked Man and Lucas, the Masked Man is defeated; as he lies dying, he regains his senses and utters his last words. Lucas then pulls the final Needle.
The project was revived in 2003 on the Game Boy Advance, and it was eventually released on April 20, 2006. A limited edition version of Mother 3 was sold in Japan in addition to the basic title. The "Deluxe Box" included a special edition Game Boy Micro and a Franklin Badge. Due to unexpected demand, only a small fraction of the Deluxe Boxes were shipped by the release date of the game.
Mother 3 sold 205,914 copies in its first 3 days on sale, and 338,382 copies were sold from April 20 to June 25 in Japan.