Friday, 10 October 2014

Take A Melody, Simple As Can Be (Mother In Super Smash Brothers)

So that new Super Smash Brothers game came out for the 3DS last week. I got my copy a few days ago, and from what I've played... it's not half-bad. A bit different to control, since I don't have the Gamecube controller I've been playing these games with for ten years. Maybe the Wii U version will be easier to adapt to. I don't know. We've never talked about Smash Bros before. Mostly because it's not an NES game. Still, though, it's steeped in the history of Nintendo. That does mean NES. It means all sorts of things, but it means NES on the side. NES, coincidentally enough, is one letter removed from Ness.

I could make this whole post a spiel about how much I love the Mother series, but I'll try and keep it to a paragraph. I love the Mother series. I've linked Phil's original Nintendo Project post on Earthbound Zero a million times already, but here it is again. It's a small miracle that he even did it; I guess he just happened to have the PERFECTLY LEGAL GAME CARTRIDGE on hand when he got to the letter E. It was the basis for the whole "Japan as nonexistant land" thing that I co-opted. You know, along with the entire idea of this blog. I'm glad he did, though. Earthbound Zero, or Mother, whatever you like to call it... is brilliant. It's Dragon Quest with the heart and soul and wide world of adventure jacked up to 11. It's aged about as well as the NES Dragon Quest games (which is to say poorly) but the GBA translation patch fixes this. There's an Easy Ring which makes the whole "grind out three levels in an hour" malarkey nonexistant. With this, Mother becomes a light RPG where you don't need to worry about party wipes and overlevelling, and you can just experience the goddamn world and love every second of it. This is how I played the last time I beat the game, and I zipped through it in one wonderful weekend. Amazing.

Of course, then there are the sequels. Earthbound for the SNES was a random file I downloaded during my early days as a file bandit. Something about it sang to me, and I adored it. For years, owning a legitimate copy was a holy grail dream of mine. I achieved it last year, thanks to a generous friend who cut me a deal. Mine even came with the guidebook, and that's a pretty thing. As for Mother 3? I owe my everything to that game, because it was the first Let's Play I ever watched. In 2007. Before the translation. Summarized by a French man. It drew me in, and a year later I was making my own idiotic videos and making friends and creating connections. Not bad for a twilight gem for the GBA. All of this relates to Smash Bros, of course. Even if the Mother trilogy is an obscure thing only loved by anoraks. The video game equivalent of Doctor Who in the 1990s. It's gotten representation in Smash Bros, of course. Ness has been a mainstay for every game. Mother 3's protagonist was in Brawl, and he ended up being the first character I used. My little tribute to the girl who introduced me to that Mother 3 Let's Play. He ended up becoming one of my mains, along with Mr. Game and Watch. Even if Brawl casually ended up spoiling the final boss of Mother 3 for America.

So let's talk stages, because this is what I'm building up to. There have only been a few. Melee had Onett and Fourside from Earthbound, and they were okay to play on. Brawl added Mother 3's New Pork City, a gigantic sprawling mess of a level that I'm not fond of. Smash 4's addition is representation from the original game. The mystical, dreamlike land of Magicant is playable. It's beautiful. A nice fellow named Pitchfork once wrote a huge manifesto about how good Mother was, and he paid special attention to Magicant:

"Magicant is to MOTHER what Zeal is to Chrono Trigger: it's the most important place in the game and the heart of the story. This is the point where the hero/player tumbles into the rabbit hole, where Ninten catches a glimpse of the true nature of his quest. Magicant is not located on any map and can only be accessed through the XX stones in certain remote caves or by using the Onyx Hook. It's a seriously bizarre place ? and its introduction comes as an especial shock, as it introduces inexplicable magical forces into what has thus far been a game that purposefully removes the fantastic from a genre dominated by fantasy worlds."

Ninten being Mother's protagonist. The childlike embodiment of the red and white box? We could have a field day with that. Magicant is something else entirely. It's pink and cotton-like and filled with the power of dreams and imagination. It is everything that a nonsense word like "Valya" is meant to represent. The stage? Perfect. There's plenty of series iconography, but the real draw is the background. Every so often, it flashes glimpses of past Mother games. We see Earthbound, but we also see the original Mother. After 25 years of being stuck at the terminal, a Mehran Karimi Nasseri of the video game age... it's made it. In dream form, but I'll take it. Millions will play this level, and see that footage... and wonder where it's from. For the lucky few who delve deeper, they will discover a true gem. One that might resonate with them for the rest of their lives.

Oh, and the music is pretty, too.