Category Archives: Tops Bloopy

Year in Review: 2016

2016… wow, what a year, am I right? I mean, I got a new hammock, and… uh…. I’m sure some other stuff happened, but I can’t really recall exactly what right now. Oh, no matter, let’s talk about some videogames.

Disappointment of the Year: Street Fighter V

Right in the kisserYou don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone…

When I was first informed (by the owner of the videogame store that was selling me the game) that Street Fighter V launched with a limited story mode that included all of two or three battles per character, I was undeterred. “I don’t play Street Fighter for the arcade mode,” I feistily boasted, “I’m here for the rad characters and cool combos. I could care less about one player content in my fighting games.”

Turns out I’m very good at lying to myself and others.

I didn’t even realize it until Street Fighter 5, but apparently “arcade mode” is the main way I experience fighting games, and, when arcade mode is missing, I very quickly lose interest. I like fighting online against randos! I swear! But that experience is very… uneven? I can’t recall the last time I fought five online opponents at the same continuous difficulty level. It’s amazing when you feel out a fighter and learn the proper footsie game that is going to guarantee your victory… but most of the time you’re either fighting “someone too good”, “someone who uses the same three moves all the time”, or “clearly a ten year old”. And the ten year old is the worst! Even when I win that fight, I feel like that one jackass from the arcade that kept hogging the Mortal Kombat machine and stealing the quarters of the good children of the mall.

… I have issues.

So, with a lack of arcade mode, Street Fighter V went from one of my most anticipated games of the year to something that just randomly gets fired up when a new character is released. I want to play this game more, but every time I do, I wind up quitting within a half hour. It’s silly, but after the 27 Street Fighter iterations of the last few decades, this game somehow winds up being the best and worst all in one box. Well, it’s actually mostly DLC at this point, so maybe it isn’t really in the box…

Uh, anyway, I just don’t want to play survival mode. Too stressful.

Reason to not let me out of the house for the Year: Disney Infinity Figures

Look, they were on sale at Toys R Us, and I always liked the character designs for Inside Out. And then I figured I’d pick up a couple of cool characters, and I always thought Brave was underrated, and wouldn’t it be cool to have a shelf of all Disney heroines, and then there was another sale… and, long story short, I shouldn’t be allowed out of the house.

HOW DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING

And, yes, the Amiibo collection grew, too. And there wasn’t even a sale on those…

Game with the absolute worst release date of the Year: World of Final Fantasy

World of Final Fantasy is a great concept for a videogame: What if Final Fantasy and Pokémon had a baby, and it was adorable? There, done, game of the year. Add in a Kingdom Hearts-esque plot about crossover characters that kinda sorta make sense in a delightful little world, and we’re all set.

But I have barely played World of Final Fantasy. Why? Because about a month after World of Final Fantasy, we had a real Pokémon game, and a real Final Fantasy game. That’s the first new, not-a-MMORPG, not-a-sequel, not-formerly-a-PSP-game Final Fantasy in, what, seven years? Seven years between Final Fantasy games, three years between Pokémon iterations… and Final Fantasy World is released a month before both. Good job, Squeenix. Way to look at a calendar.

World of Final Fantasy looks like a lot of fun, and I’ll get back to it after I devote years of my life to these other two games. Could have been a lovely Summer release, but nooooooo.

Compilation of the Year: Megaman Legacy Collection (3DS)

As long as they keep releasing this game on different systems, I’m going to keep calling it the best thing on those systems. Switch next year, guys!

Remake of the Year: Dragon Quest 7 Fragments of the Forgotten Past

Poor galI still haven’t finished any version of DQ7, but thank Yggdrasil 3DS Dragon Quest 7 exists. I’ve always told myself that I’d return to the PSX DQ7, a game I fished out of a used bin sometime after the release of DQ8, but coming back to that game after 8 was… difficult. And then we got 9, my absolute favorite adventure featuring questing dragons (weren’t they actually angels?), and it seemed very unlikely that I would ever touch 7 again. It’s so slow, guys! Like, if a turtle was trapped in a molasses spill while being menaced by a particularly curious cat slow. Bah, why do I feel like that’s probably the premise of an entire island in this game?

But DQ7:3DS (working title) is much more in line with the pacing of its DS/3DS brethren. Yes, it’s still long as hell, and it takes a slime’s age to get anywhere, but it does actually feel like you’re getting somewhere. And the translation is no longer drier than a sandslash’s armpit, so it’s even interesting to play, too. This is one of those rare, awesome remakes that improves upon the original in every conceivable way.

And, yes, you might be able to debate that statement, but that would require playing PSX DQ7, and I see now that that task is completely impossible.

Title of the Year: Nitro + Blasterz Heroines Infinite Duel

Because her name is.... nevermindHey, look everybody, it’s another anime fighting game with a ridiculous title. Will wonders never cease?

Nitro + is actually a pretty fun game. It’s got an all-female cast of mostly characters I don’t recognize (and I feel kind of bad that I immediately recognize Sonico and her supporting “other” character), and it could be just another lazy “let’s toss all these disparate characters together and feed off the nerds” affair. But it’s good! Well… it’s no Blazblue or Street Fighter (I said it was disappointing, not bad), but it’s still a fighting game that has some decent (and new!) ideas. Sonico, seemingly the headliner for this game (she sings the theme song!) attacks… with cats. Like… a lot of cats. That’s a little different from your typical Ryu. Oh, and the game actually looks like a PS4 game, and not something that could have easily worked on the SNES, like a lot of random anime battlers. Anybody play that J-Stars kinda-fighting game? For a game where Goku could punch Naruto, it was pretty damn lackluster.

System of the Year:

Nope. Moving on.

Game of the Year: Pokémon Go

GO!I’m completely serious about this: my videogame of the year is barely a videogame. And it’s on a cell phone! I don’t even know who I am anymore!

Okay, yes, Pokémon Go is kind of lousy as a game-game. Its desire to drain your pockets is obvious (boy, if you buy a bunch of incubators and walk around a lot, you’re practically saving money!), the “ball tossing” elements are about as complicated as learning to snap your fingers (… okay that took me like twelve years), and the whole “gotta catch ‘em all” setup is there to leave you crazy and wandering the streets at 3 AM hoping against hope that a porygon might show up and not immediately run away. This is not a good game, and Final Fantasy 15 or Overwatch should have this spot. Hell, even the surprisingly innovative Pokémon Sun/Moon should hold the “best Pokémon game” spot.

That said…

I’ve dex’ed 141 pokémon, captured 5,572 random beasts, evolved 419 mons, visted 5,706 Pokéstops, and walked… a whole lot. Apparently Go doesn’t have an in game clock… and that’s probably for the best.

So why is Pokémon Go my game of the year? It’s not just because I played it more than any other videogame this year (which is true and obvious), and it’s not just because my OCD compels me to play any Pokémon game (or “game”) until I have become the very best, like no one ever was. No, the reason Pokémon Go wins my vote is simply that it recontextualized reality. I’ve always been a fan of “walks”, but I got out of the habit a few years ago (usually because it becomes a might cold around these parts for a solid four months or so, and by the time that changes, I’ve rediscovered inside activities). With Pokémon Go, though, I suddenly had a reason to get out there and walk again, and maybe investigate the nooks and crannies of my local neighborhoods while I’m at it. There’s an apartment complex at the edge of town that I never noticed in three decades, but when there’s a Koffing nest on the radar, well, it’s time for some exploring. And I’m an insomniac, so a game that rewards me for playing at 4 AM on an August morning is amazing (the reward is less people around, the greatest reward of all).

Pokémon Go wasn’t the best videogame of the year, but it’s a videogame that seemed uniquely suited to my unique neuroses, so it’s my game of the year.

Now can someone tell me how to get rid of this fat guy hanging in front of my house repeating, “Isn’t technology wonderful?” over and over again?

Come to papa

Games I’m sure are great, but I haven’t played: Overwatch, Doom, Final Fantasy 15

I basically got all these games within the last month, thanks to sales or release schedules. I’ll get to them!

Games I’m sure are great, but I still haven’t played: Xenoblade Chronicles X, Undertale

I was working on other stuff!

Gogglebob.com Introspection 2016

I’m really regretting starting the site last Summer, because, had I started at the beginning of the year, I would be able to say this has been Year 2 of Gogglebob.com. Now, what, I have to say it’s been Year 1.5? Lame.

Rock outOther than terrible timing, I’m still enjoying the site, and I’m continually amazed by that. I really thought I would peter out on this thing around FGC #30 (which was actually… Rampage Through Time? Sounds about right), but here we are, looking forward to #223. What’s that robot going to choose next? Who knows! (Actually, I usually “roll” ROB for about fifteen to twenty articles in advance. I like to know what’s coming.)

I suppose a new thing this year has been the “theme weeks”, like Final Fantasy 7-palooza or even the recent Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past week (which basically happened because I couldn’t stop talking about one game I’ve played constantly… go fig), and those will likely continue to happen, because, in a weird way, a week of stability seems to work well for my mental health. It’s hard to switch gears from B.O.B. to Pinball Quest to Super Scope 6! I can only do it so much! Theme weeks let me work with some basic truth and expand it to a couple of days/articles. I think my brain likes that.

Oh, and this is the year that was practically defined by the Xenosaga LP, which is in its closing chapters as the year draws to an end. I’ll retrospect on that one a little more in its own section, but I’m amazed at how enjoyable that project has been, and that, ya know, I’m actually finishing it. That seemed impossible last year.

And here are five random articles from 2016 that I enjoyed writing/reading (and that I haven’t already mentioned):

You can mention your favorites in the comments. Or don’t, as seems to be the tradition. See if I care.

And, honestly, even though I don’t say it enough, thank you to everyone that has ever enjoyed an article, commented, and/or linked the site or commented about it on social media. It’s all very appreciated, and this blog is brought to you by viewers like you. I promise I’ll get better at Twitter, soon.

Alright, that’s it for 2016! Let’s hope next year is at least a marginal improvement!

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Lollipop Chainsaw! Okay, not what I would have picked to start out the year, but it’s still a fun game. Next year, get me a chainsaw. Please look forward to it!

One big one for the end of the year

Year in Review: 2015

I’m making a list!

Disappointment of the Year (that I actually played): Batman: Arkham Knight

I am the nightBatman: Arkham Knight is not a bad game. It’s basically Batman: Arkham City, but with a car… and that’s the problem.

See, I played Batman: Arkham City until my Playstation 3 demanded something new to read. I found every last trophy, solved every confounded riddle, and transformed the criminal underworld of Gotham into some kind of jelly substance. I flew around that city for what seemed like days on end, taking any excuse to play just a few moments more or swoop and tumble across the entire skyline again.

Batman: Arkham Knight introduced the Batmobile, which seems like something that could only add fun to the universe, but, nope, it sucks, and I literally never want to see it again. I mean, I can see why it could be fun, it’s not, like, a game of Deadly Towers every time you hop in the vehicle, but it’s the same thing every car mission (well, one of two things, a race, or a tank face-off), and there isn’t enough variety in techniques or gameplay between Batmobile events to justify the hundreds of times Bruce has to use that… that thing.

VroomSo, after I completed the main campaign of the game, I checked a FAQ to see roughly how many times I’d have to use the Batmobile again to 100% the game. The answer… didn’t thrill me. I put the game away, and haven’t touched it again since.

A real shame the game couldn’t be as fun as its older brother. It’s the Jason Todd of the Batman video game family.

Disappointment of the Year (that I played for a half hour): Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival

I have been told by reliable sources that this game improves as more complicated modes are unlocked, but I played this game straight out of the box with some friends, and, geez, Lawn Mowing Simulator 2015 might have been less boring. For a game that has to share a system and peripheral gimmick with Super Smash Bros. 4, you’d think this one would be just a teensy bit more enjoyable, but, nope, random, boring nonsense all around.

Worst of all, it will likely never see my WiiU again, but I’ll still buy all the stupid Amiibos for this game. Damn Resetti…

Reason to not let me out of the house for the Year: Amiibo

Gaze ye upon my OCD and despair!

2015 Completion

Compilation of the Year: Mega Man Legacy Collection

This category only exists because Rare Replay was a contender, but those Micro Mega Challenges are much better when the Blue Bomber is involved. If I’m being honest, Mega Man Legacy Collection was always going to be a winner, because I will take any excuse to play a Mega Man game. Unlike nearly every Mega Man collection previously released (and there’s practically been one for every console generation), this one is flawless, so no weird controller mapping or graphical “upgrades” to ruin the experience of dropping Dr. Wily. And it’s all available on “new” systems like the Playstation 4, so I’ll be able to flip over to a quick game of Mega Man 3 whenever I want for the next few years.

Honestly, if Shovel Knight (and his frenemy Plague Knight) didn’t partially steal the little metal boy’s thunder, this might have been my game of the year.

But it did inspire a nursery rhyme.

Remake of the Year: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D

I realize this is sacrilege in some places, but I’m going to say it: I don’t really like Majora’s Mask. I realize that, objectively, Majora’s Mask is a good game, and the innovations it made for the Zelda franchise and all of gaming should be recognized and applauded; but on a subjective level, I can’t stand to play the dang thing. I have a natural OCD Ugly ol' Moonabout video games, and the fact that I can’t save at any time to avert mistakes, or that I have to complete a dungeon all in one try while collecting every last fairy… it drives me insane. Couple this with ancient, blurry N64 graphics and 90 masks to use and only three buttons to use them, and I quickly grow frustrated and roll over to greener pastures.

The 3DS remake, right off the bat, corrects my biggest issue, and now I can save with impunity anytime, anywhere. No, I don’t use it to savescum all day long, but the mere fact that I can puts my mind at ease in a way that’s hard to describe. Then you’ve got the bottom screen inventory that allows for quick mask switching, updated graphics that allow for a draw distance greater than the length of Link’s sword, and various other “quality of life” improvements, and one of my most loathed Zelda games suddenly becomes my favorite.

Way to go, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D, now I can enjoy this game with everybody else.

Title of the Year: Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late

pure chaosI played all the way through that fighting game filled with forgettable characters (barring anyone from Melty Blood), and I still have no idea what that title is supposed to mean. I’m not certain a single one of those words belongs anywhere near the others. All told, though, I am looking forward to the sequel, Over Day Outside Death DMG:Early.

System of the Year: WiiU

If I was twelve and had the same taste in video games, the WiiU would be my nirvana. Nerdvana.

I am, at this point in my life, a hopeless maniac that buys new video games at the drop of the hat, whether they are digital or physical, because I’m desperately addicted to whatever endorphins get released when I “unwrap” a new game. As a result, I have a backlog that’s simply absurd, and I’ll be lucky if my grandkids ever make it through my PS2 collection alone.

That said, I still remember being a kid (say, pre-16 or so) when I only received a new video game for holidays, and that was about it. Granted, I could probably milk my different family members for a new game each, but past about April, I likely wouldn’t see a new ‘un again until Christmas. This is likely why I gravitated toward JRPGs and their hours and hours of gameplay, A moment in timeand why I initially rebuked games like Donkey Kong Country that would present the final boss inside of an afternoon.

But if I had a WiiU back then? Oh boy.

Mind you, DLC practically didn’t exist when I was a child, nor Amiibos, so I don’t know where they’d fall in the whole “no more games for months” spectrum, but assuming I was allowed a digital wallet, the WiiU’s library would have been pretty amazing for getting the most bang out of any given game’s buck.

Within this year…

  • Hyrule Warriors gained new maps and characters and Amiibo support, granting multiple reasons to return to an already huge game. The last map was released in, I believe, February, but the Ganondorf Amiibo didn’t hit stateside until September.
  • Mario Kart 8 saw new track releases in April, and its last compatible Amiibo, Olimar, was released in September.
  • Super Smash Bros 4 received DLC characters and stages all year, and will continue into 2016. Practically every (over fifty?) Amiibo released was an excuse to fire this one back up again.
  • Splatoon didn’t even require a dime for its myriad of updates, apparently still going into 2016 as well. Combine this with random Splatfests, and it’s hard not to pop that one in every week to see what’s “happening”. Gotta stay fresh.
  • Mario Maker offers infinite content, and has specifically been releasing Nintendo approved courses every week with fun new prizes.

Even though some of these games were released in 2014, there seemed to always be a reason to return to “completed” games for new and exciting content (or at least a neat costume). Compare this to some of the “big” releases of 2016 on other systems that begged you to purchase a “season pass” for maybe one new map or a handful of new characters, and you can see why I find the WiiU’s offerings so endearing.

Game of the Year: Super Mario Maker

WinnerReally, from the Nintendo World Championships on, there was no way this wasn’t going to be the victor.

Despite cursing reams of paper over the years with my own Mario level creations (and a host of unique Mario powerups best never mentioned), I was initially tepid on the concept of Mario Maker. After all, Wario Ware DIY seemed like a wonderful idea back when I purchased the game, but then I learned that I’m an adult now, and simply don’t have the time to create my own fun. Like, I’d love to sit down and design the “perfect” Wario Ware game… but I’ve got so many other things to organize, create, and vacuum… and then it’s six months later and I haven’t done a thing past the tutorial. My time is precious, and when I want to play a video game, I want to play a video game, not tax myself in pursuit of some impossibly perfect creation.

But then came the Nintendo World Championships, which I decided to watch on Youtube for no greater reason than a general boredom on a Saturday night. And there, months before the game’s release, it clicked. Yes, creating Mario courses of my own would be fun, but even more fun would be the host of Nintendo created stages, and, eventually, stages created by people who also knew what they were doing, and then, finally, there would be infinity Mario levels.

So, yes, I’ve created a number of Mario stages, and I don’t think they’re that great, just fun little obstacle courses. But that’s not what has held my attention these past few months; no, what keeps me coming back are all the amazing levels created by people so BARFmuch more innovative and imaginative than myself. I can now fly through advanced levels that require perfect Mario-manship, or saunter through a stage or two with odd, inspired mechanics (like a goomba that releases traps), or new and interesting spins on encroaching buzzsaws. And there’s something new every day, which is perfect for a play session that is ten minutes or ten hours.

There’s a reason I’ve unlocked all those amiibo costumes… and am still begging for more.

Games I’m sure are great, but I haven’t played: Xenoblade Chronicles X, Undertale

Look, I’ve been playing a lot of Xenosaga recently, and I don’t want to get entrenched in another Xeno game before that project is completed. I realize it may be a while, but I don’t want to confuse my chaos’s with my Emma’s, as that could only lead to disaster.

As for Undertale, this is literally the game that, this past December, I picked up a dedicated “gaming PC” to play. I figured that, if I’m going to write about video games, I may as well actually play some of those “third column” PC games, and Undertale seems like a wonderful start. All that said, I’m set up, the game is in my library, but I still haven’t had time to actually sit down and play the dang thing… but soon!

Gogglebob.com Introspection 2015

2015 is the year I started this site. I’ve given a thousand “reasons” that I started this thing over the last year, almost all of them valid, but it boils down to the fact that I wanted to do something Because it's 2015!“creative” with my favorite hobby, and, like a hundred posts later (combining FGC, Kingdom Hearts, and Xenosaga posts), I’m kind of amazed I haven’t lost interest or started loathing the project yet. Maybe it’s the random nature of the FGC, but I actually look forward to Random ROB’s choices, and, like with next week’s Zool 2, I enjoy the challenge of “now how am I going to get a story out of this turd?” I like writing about the games that I enjoy because I enjoy those games and want to share the experience with others (see the entire Gaming 5 series of these past weeks), and I enjoy writing about games I don’t enjoy because they offer a creative challenge to transform into an article. Famous last words, I know, but I keep waiting for this to stop being fun, and it hasn’t happened yet.

Related, it was towards the end of 2015 that I started the Xenosaga Let’s Play, and I’m downright astonished at how much I’m enjoying that project. Like, seriously, I thought it would be grueling, but it’s like I’m playing the game in an entirely different way, and, while it’s not like you are watching me play the game as I’m actually playing it, I’m playing the game with the LP in mind every step of the way, and it’s led to some of my favorite video game writing I’ve ever produced. I like me creating a Let’s Play.

All that said, here’s some favorite articles from 2015:

Christ, I’ve got five and I’m not even halfway through the list? Leave your favorite articles in the comments, I’m turning in for the day before my ego gets any bigger.

What’s Next? Random ROB chose Zool 2 a couple weeks back, so I’ll finally tackle that Atari Jaguar “Classic”. Please look forward to it!

The Gaming 5 #5 Mother 3

Note that this post contains massive spoilers for Mother 3. I’ll warn you when they’re about to get rotton, but if you want to experience the game clean, you’ve been warned.

Go fridgeWhy is it on this list?

The four preceding games are all “games” first and foremost: yes, there’s a story, heroes that grow, and villains to be defeated, but the primary focus of all of these games is the actual experience of playing the game. In a way, they are a miniscule step up from sports: you can play a game of football, but that game won’t be about something, the best you can hope for is to win, or at least to improve your own skills. Give it a few playthroughs, and nobody cares about Sigma, he’s just the last obstacle before completing the challenge.

This, of course, isn’t to say that there can’t be intricate stories hiding within even the thinnest plots. Super Metroid stars Samus Aran, a woman who, to my knowledge, only speaks “in game” during the introduction of one game out of three, and even that “dialogue” could rearrange a few pronouns to make her a complete mute. In spite of this (or perhaps because of it), even though Samus only had a total of three games between 1986 and 2002, she somehow acquired a number of apparently fan-attributed personality traits. Samus is brave and determined and solitary in her dangerous missions… uh…. like every video game character that stuck around long enough to topple the final boss. Regardless, look at the backlash against Metroid Fusion and Metroid: Other M for sullying the good name of Samus Aran… a character that had previously been little more than a player cipher. The reality is that Samus could either bulldoze everything on Zebes, or cower and never fire a shot to do anything more than defeat a boss or open a door, it was entirely up to the player.

But this is important, and it’s just as much a part of video games as jumping and shooting. More than any other medium, you are the protagonist in nearly every video game ever released. You may relate to Harry Potter, you might admire Schwarzenegger’s latest role, but it’s only in the realm of video games that you so totally inhabit a character. It’s no great surprise, really, as prior to the advent of cinema scenes, you controlled literally every movement of your digital hero for hours, so it’s only natural to feel a close bond with that tubby plumber or little metal boy you’ve been guiding all this time. Who needs virtual reality? We’ve been living it ever since the first person got into the headspace of that long, white paddle (no, it’s not just a vertical rectangle, that’s silly).

So if you get the same feeling from Super Mario Bros., why Mother 3?

Because Mother 3 knows.

For anyone that is reading this site exclusively because they like the sound of my voice in their head, and not because they like video games (hi, Mom!), Mother 3 is the sequel to Earthbound, aka Mother 2. Mother 3, like the rest of the series, was the brainchild of Shigesato Itoi, a name that Powmeans nothing to most Americans, but a fellow that has made quite a name for himself in Japan as a writer. Like… a for real writer, not someone who had to fill up a cutscene with words so “Over 40 hours of gameplay!” can be stapled onto the back of a box. Hey, I admire you, video game writers, it can’t be easy to get JRPG Protagonist #371 to prattle on about friendship for an entire scene and make it seem fresh (or at least not completely horrible); but Itoi was a writer first and foremost, which is very different from the rest of the video game industry where that skill appears to be valued somewhere below “guy who models armhair”.

Itoi started with Mother 1 (and, before I go any further, I want to be clear that I’m not claiming Itoi was solely responsible for these games, as Earthbound in particular was obviously a labor of love for other luminaries in the industry… there’s just an unmistakable tone that runs through all three games, and I find it hard to believe that kind of thing could originate from any more than one dedicated person), a game that was meant to emulate (the big in Japan) Dragon Quest series. It had its fun moments, but it was way too opaque for much of the game, and the charm that would define the following installments was buried under a crushing difficulty. Mind you, this was pretty much standard for JRPGs of the NES era, so whaddya gonna do?

Earthbound, Mother 2, still cribbed heavily from the Dragon Quest series (which, by the SNES era, was becoming about as relevant as Kabuki Quantum Fighter in the West), but anyone willing to deal with its “dated” graphics and gameplay was in for a treat. This was where the meta-elements of the Mother series really came to the forefront, and while it could all be seen as nothing more than silly jokes to a child player, a mature gamer might recognize the variety of components on display that, in their way, mocked the very concept of video games from within a video game. In order to read a sign warning of the dangers of stepping on the grass, you must stand on the grass. A city where everything is the opposite of how it should be proves how a simple switch between Cup o' Joeyes and no really means little when you understand what will happen. A village that caged itself in is convinced that their confinement is an illusion and it’s the outside world that is trapped. A statue gets you high, a stone calls to you, and a rock speaks words. I always disparage the thinking that someone “was so high” to create something creative, but the entire game feels like a trip: something just outside reality so you can return and experience life in a new way. Earthbound may reflect the real world, but it is a fantasy first and foremost, and its tone reminds you to just have fun with it.

Mother 3, though. Mother 3 is reality.

It’s amusing that Mother 3 is the Mother game most based in a fantasy world. Mother 1 & 2 were both set in a modern, suburban environment… albeit one with psychic powers, giant pencil statues, and invading aliens. Mother 3, meanwhile, is tucked into a rural village that has a few modern conveniences at the start, but there’s no reason this couldn’t be some corner of an early Final Fantasy world (or maybe Wild Arms. I do see a cowboy hat). But while the setting is absolutely important to the game, what’s more important are the characters, and, specifically, your character. Yes, you “play as” your entire party (and one mischievous monkey) at one point or another during this game, but the central protagonist, and the number one body you inhabit during this adventure is that of Lucas, a young boy with a mother, father, grandfather, and brother.

This is about where the spoilers get intense… so click to proceed.