Tuesday, 18 May 2010

On holiday with Mother 3

The only great thing about going on holiday with a self imposed ban on all “new” games and game systems means I’m forced to experience some RPG called Mother 3. Yes, it’s that time in every ‘I want to write meaningfully about videogames bloggers life’ to scrawl something about this un-translated work. Un-translated by official means that is. I won’t try to pull a righteous than thou attitude and say I bought the original cartridge or some shit – I torrented the ROM and downloaded the fan-made patch just like 99.8% of the player base.

After only three hours I can’t really say much about the story only that its first chapter does everything you’d want a sprite-based RPG to do. Children, family, happiness and light turning to death and despair, strange stuff going on, feelings that the world is changing – all essential RPG primer for a potentially epic tale.

What I love so far are the character sprites. There’s something so basic yet beautifully expressive about the way all the characters have been drawn in this game. And this is just the NPCs we’re talking about. Every one of them is so unique and individual that it puts every other sprite-based RPG to shame.

As good as these look on my crappy Game King screen (complete with three dead pixels ithankyou) it’s the manner with which they’re animated that makes them come alive. When Flint gets his bad news the stop motion animation makes it so easy to see exactly what he’s doing and what he’s feeling.

One of the most bizarre moments of the first few hours which proves you can still do epic on a handheld is the appearance of the massive character just outside of town. At the moment he’s seems to serve no purpose and only lifts his hat courteously when approached. But just seeing this tall man, four times the size of every other character scared the life out of me for some reason. It’s an odd inclusion that may or may not become clear later, but it’s a quirky bullet point that ticks the right box for me.

What I’m a little unsure of is the translation and the dialogue. By Thorin’s left testicle I’ve no idea how fans managed to take the raw Japanese and translate this entire game – and patch it back up to work. It’s a feat that transgresses the limits of my pitiful mind quite easily. Yet I’m not sure if the game itself was actually trying to be that dippy or if the translation team were. For the most part it seems to work fine but on other occasions, the moment when Flint receives his good news/bad news for instance, it feels a little cold and out of place. It’ll become clear after dozen hours and I could be ignoring a massive style of the Mother games due to my criminal ignorance. Yeah, it’s probably the latter. I guess I’ll shut up.

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