Mother 3 Preview

While Earthbound for the Super NES wasn't a huge hit in the U.S., the Japanese series, Mother, from which it came, is.

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While Earthbound for the Super NES wasn't a huge hit in the U.S., the Japanese series, Mother, from which it came, is. Mother 3 was announced a few years ago alongside the 64DD's initial announcement. Since then, the game has shifted from being a DD title to being a cartridge game. At Space World '99, Nintendo showed off a special show-only demo of the game reported to be about 50 percent complete. According to Nintendo's translations, the full title is Earthbound 3: The Final Days of the Pig King. The release date is currently set for May 2000.

There are four main characters in the game so far: Flint (the father of our story), Ryuka and Krause (his two sons) and their dog Boney. The game is split into chapters, with you taking control of one of the main characters in each. As you go through the game you'll live through different parts experiencing each event differently depending on which character you are currently acting as (in the same style as Sonic Adventure).

The Space World build sets you in a town, apparently cut off from the rest of the world-- where you can enter various areas that will be available in the final game. Graphically, Mother 3 looks very much like the clay character models that were in the hint book/instructions for Earthbound. Nothing to shout about, but a game like this is more about story development and gameplay than graphics.

The first level we entered was a sample dungeon, including snakes and other enemies. Battles are set up simply and intuitively. One interesting feature, which was in Earthbound as well, is that you can talk to your enemies if you so choose. Maybe you can reason with them and stop them from attacking? Not that that'll work on every enemy, of course. You attack enemies by bashing into them, hopefully knocking them unconscious in the process.

After the battle came a small cutscene was a small cutscene where you watched a band perform at a concert hall. This display looked interesting and really brought out the game's music. According to the Space World Official Guide, the music in Mother 3 will range "from orthodox to odd." If the demo's any indication, the guide's right. The game's story goes like this: Flint's family lives in a small town in the sticks. A UFO appears nearby, wreaking havoc and creating weird sounds that come out of the forest. So Flint, in order to protect his family and the town, tries to find out what's going on; that's where everything begins.

To us, perhaps the most memorable scene watched while standing in line waiting to play was the one with Krause and Ryuka riding in an out of control mine cart. It moved so fast and looked so good that for a minute we forgot it was on the N64. The track disappeared underneath the two protagonists as they went through, making for an interesting sight.

We enjoyed Earthbound a lot and this one looks interesting, but it'll really take sitting down with a final game so you can see the beginning. This demo, however, with its variety of levels makes it look promising. Hopefully Shigesato Itoi and his team will deliver the game, as planned, next May.

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