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The Mother 3 Continuity Discussion - by Giampi

The Mother 3 Continuity Discussion

One of, if not the biggest topics of discussion concerning the fate of the as-of-yet unreleased Mother 3 is whether or not the story and characters of the previous game in the series, Mother 2, will carry over to the next installment. The discussion has been running for years now, almost since the announcement of Mother 3 itself. However, there have been no real clues, either from the media of the defunct EarthBound 64 or from the creator himself, to help us decipher this mystery. I don’t plan on trying to settle the argument anytime soon—I’d rather let the game speak for itself when it comes out—but I would like to clarify a couple of things that have made this already trite argument even more tiresome than it already is. Please note, however, that I am not picking a side; I’m going to fill both arguments with holes, as I do not wish play favorites.

Those who argue in favor of the direct continuation of Mother 2’s storyline often base their arguments on two points: the first is that the supposed main character of the story, Flint, is unfit to be an important character in Mother 3, and thus should be replaced with Ness, the main character of Mother 2. The second is that Mother 3 needs to continue its predecessor’s storyline because to do otherwise would be to ‘break the tradition’ or ‘betray the original’.

There are several fundamental flaws to these arguments, and I’ll explain them one by one. The first and most glaring flaw is that, contrary to what others might say, Mother 2/EarthBound is not the original game of the series. The ‘2’ in ‘Mother 2’ is there for a reason. Those of you who argue that Mother 3 should be more like the original are saying that it should be more like Mother/EarthBound Zero. If you want to correct that argument then change it to reflect that you want Mother 3 to emulate Mother 2, but don’t think that Mother 3 should be like Mother 2 because it is the original. It isn’t.

The second hole that I’ve found in the pro-continuity side of the debate is that, to have Mother 3 follow a different storyline i.e. one that is not directly linked to Mother 2, would be to go against the tradition of the entire series. Why is this wrong? Simple: the Mother series is only two games. A couple of games released several years apart do not make a tradition of any sort. Furthermore, those that think that M3’s storyline should ‘follow the tradition’ by continuing Mother 2 need only consider the fact that the previous games do not link to each other, save for the fact that they share the same main enemy. As a matter of fact, the events of Mother aren’t even indirectly referred to in Mother 2. If Mother does not connect directly to Mother 2, then why should Mother 3?

The next point pro-continuity fans use to try and get their point across is that, at the end of Mother 2, Pokey threatens to seek out revenge on Ness for foiling his plans. Many, including myself, will argue that the Pig King, from Mother 3’s subtitle, Fall of the Pig King/Last Days of the Pig King, is Pokey trying to implement his revenge plan. While this theory is feasible, it does not mean that the characters of Mother 2 will or should make appearances in Mother 3. One of the first pieces of storyline information given to the public concerning Mother 3 was that the story would span multiple chapters across multiple times and settings. Therefore, even though Pokey might make an appearance under the guise of the Pig King, which is possible but not likely, it will not necessarily be in a scenario where the stars of Mother 3 will surface. Oddly enough, this very argument can be used against the anti-continuity fans, as we shall see later.

The final point is that Mother 3 ‘should’ have Ness as a main, or at least important, character because Flint, who was been revealed as the main character in M3, is a ‘hick’ or a ‘dirty cowboy’, and is thus an unsuitable character. This is probably the weakest argument of them all. A character’s appearance is not what dictates his or her importance or relevance to a story. If that were the case, then we’d have several Japanese Mother fans that went crazy because the fourth character in Mother 2 was an oriental prince and not a gangster. Yes, we know that Flint is not a kid in a red baseball cap with a name that references Nintendo, we know he doesn’t have a yellow-and-blue-striped shirt. We know all this, but it’s not the main characters’ appearance that characterizes the Mother games. If you don’t believe me, then check out most game sites that describe Mother 2/EarthBound; they won’t list it as “a game about a kid with a baseball cap”.

Now that I’ve finished with that side of the debate, I’ll turn over to the other: the one that dictates that Mother 3 should not follow the story of Mother 2. The main points for this are the fact that the setting and characters of Mother 3 look completely different from those of Mother 2, and the fact that it is possible for Mother 3 to be disconnected from Mother 2, just like Mother 2 was from Mother.

Those who say that the setting and characters of Mother 3 are completely different from those of Mother 2 are, to put it plainly, dead wrong. Don’t believe me? Check out the pictures of the N64 version. There you will find pictures of Ness, Dr. Andonuts, Mr. Saturn, and Onett, although the last one seems to be in ruins. That is proof that the world and characters of Mother 2 will at least make appearances in the sequel—although, as I’ve said, that does not mean that they will be the focus of the story. The biggest way anti-continuity fans combat this is by saying that those pictures are merely placeholders—that is, they only used characters and places from Mother 2 while they came up with the ‘real’ characters for Mother 3. This is wrong as well; to say this is true would be to say that Itoi and his team were coming up with this game as they went along, which is just not true, not to mention a bad choice when it comes to game design.

The next point is the very same I used against the pro-continuity fans before: the existence of Pokey’s revenge letter. This alone opens up the possibility of Pokey being the main antagonist of Mother 3 which, coupled with the pictures of Onett, Mr. Saturn, Dr. Andonuts, and Ness, indicates a connection between Mother 2 and 3. Once again, I will reiterate that this is merely a possibility, and not fact.

It is vital to remember that just because the games’ storylines can be independent from one another does not mean they should be. Absolutely everything I’ve said thus far can be countered because it is based on speculation using a small amount of hard facts. It is possible for Ness to be an important character in Mother 3, just as it is possible for him to be completely absent from it. The fact that two games do not make a tradition does not eliminate the possibility that Mother 3 will continue the few trends set by Mother and Mother 2. In the end it is Shigesato Itoi who decides what to do.

If I were forced to say which of the two theories presented here I think is correct, I would say neither. Right now both can be correct or incorrect, true or false. My objective with this essay was not to say what Mother 3 will be like. Rather, I wanted to communicate the opinion that we’d be better off arguing what can and can’t be, instead of what should and shouldn’t be. Feel free to discuss possibilities, but please don’t start saying that Ness should be the main character of Mother 3, or that Shigesato Itoi should make Mother 3 a completely different game from its predecessors. If we look at this discussion from the point of view of our theories and not our wishes we’ll be much happier.

Other Submissions by Giampi

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