By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use. Close

Number 3

Mother 3

Do you know what art is? Art is the power that we have to make each other feel, to reach into the depths of the human spirit and drag out memories and triumphs and heartaches that we never realized we had experienced and maybe never wanted to. Art is our ability to evoke fear and courage and nostalgia, to make us look at the person next to us and say "I love you" because we realize, in that moment, that we do, even if we have said it a thousand thousand thousand times before.

Mother 3 did a lot of things that I thought Gameboy Advance games were incapable of. In the first hour you are presented with scenarios and scenes that reach out and shake you with how jarring they are, how simple but how profound they are, casting aside the light-hearted horror of EarthBound for the more visceral and equally real reactions we have to tragedy. Shigesato Itoi is the creator of the Mother series, and in many ways he understands people better than anyone else on this list. Mother 3 was something of a gaming swan song, wherein he invested all the things that reached out and throttled me so fantastically.

Mother 3 is an excellent piece of craft, and I believe that craft can be art, too. THis game takes the best elements of EarthBound and builds on them, increasing the importance of the rolling HP meter and the Defend command, taking the Dragon Quest-esque battle system and invigorating it with rhythm-based combos that vary based on the song that plays for every battle(!). Mechanically it is so simple but so sublime, a design philosophy that has been carried through in every part.

It's beautiful and has wonderful music and excellent gameplay and writing that's out of this world, challenging your assumptions about JRPGs, RPGs, and your very reactions to these genres, calling into question how you see games and how you ought to.

But that is not where Mother 3's power lies.

Mother 3's power lies in how it makes the player consider themselves, how the elements that it presents echo the heartaches and loves that every person has alternatively felt. It makes us recall a time when the people who raised us were good and strong and perfect, when the world was inherently good - and then how all of it falls away, and we are left with an awareness of oruselves, how we changed in reaction to the world around us. We are made to miss those days when the world was good, and in its events Mother 3 makes us look at the world as it was and the world as it is, at the things we have lost, and how we have toiled to recover our own happiness.