Retro Review – MOTHER (Earthbound Beginnings)

Mother is a game that I have a hard time writing about, which is weird because I tend to ramble on about everything. It has many downsides: It’s long, it’s very grindy, and the mechanics are outdated (like your characters not changing targets when someone else kills the thing they were attacking). But I actually like it a lot despite that. The basic premise of the game is simple: get 8 melodies and fight a boss. But the game world is interesting, the characters all have a lot of personality, and things like magicant and the unusual enemies and atmosphere give the game a lot of draw for me.

Mother is interesting because it’s both stereotypical for its time but also unique for its time. The plot is very well written, and the jokes are good and the world in general is very strong. The quirky nature of the game is something that was not typical for the time and still kind of isn’t. But at the same time it is very influenced by Dragon Quest (which in turn was influenced by Wizardry) and has many of the stiff old RPG hallmarks.

Many times in the game you will need to grind to get to the next part of the story, and then instantly hit another grinding wall. The harshest part of the game of all is in Mt. Itoi, where you meet an enemy that can easily knock out anyone who hasn’t been grinding their party members to a ridiculous level in one shot since it will outspeed your party and hits twice for lots of damage. I had to save while avoiding them and grind on the other enemies and reset when I got that specific one until I leveled up everyone’s speed. But still, I think the game has a lot to offer and it may be one of the best NES RPGs out there. If Nintendo released this again with a fixed exp curve (maybe even like triple or quadruple exp) I think it would be one of the best RPGs out there, but it is very hard to recommend for the average person without the willingness to deal with the tedium and keep going even though the story is very interesting. It’s a good game, but with major caveats and not for the faint of heart.

Score: 7/10

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