Stellar Squad Series – Mother 3

They say you can’t choose your family. But sometimes – say, when your mom’s brutally murdered by a reconstructed cyber-animal, your brother goes missing in an attempt to avenge her, and your dad just can’t deal – you may have to cobble a new one together on your own.

And even if they en’t perfect, they’re your homies through the best and worst of it – whether that be chasing down a clayman to retrieve a memory egg, or accidentally ingesting hallucinatory mushrooms while marooned on a tropical island.

(It’s all about context; just go with it.)

Mother 3’s team may be my favorite team ever. I grant you, there’s a sea of games I have yet to play, and many characters and parties I have yet to meet through the experiences those games lend – but I’m telling you: these quirky little nuggets will never be dethroned.

Want to get to know them? I kneeeeeeeeew you’d enthusiastically say yes!

Lucas

Once notorious as a coddled crybaby, he’s determined to reinvent himself as strong and capable after his family fell apart. Gotta love that cowlick in his hair.

 

Boney

A dog. But more than that, he’s Lucas’s constant companion and even gives sensible advice – if you can interpret his barks, at any rate.

Kumatora

Your resident tomboy princess (or IS she?). A bit crass, and she’s got a mouth, but she’d go to any lengths for her friends. If she requests you take a shower, be careful declining her wishes…

 

Duster

Looks like a bum, walks with a limp, sleeps all day – also plays a mean upright bass (LITERALLY). Past the bad breath and slightly unkempt look, Duster harbors a helping heart. My favorite of the team, I’m not even gonna hide it. He even has his own post.

 


So, why is this team so great? Well, attempting to set aside my fangirl ravings and approach this from a level-headed, storytelling perspective *calming breath* – each of these characters is a misfit in some fashion (maybe discounting Boney; a dog can only carry so much of a stigma). They come out of hurts, imperfections, and unconventionality to form a bond and stand against a power you wouldn’t think four oddballs had a chance to beat.

Remember how we talked about the relatability of a character in our last video game post? We linked it to personal experience and to quirks/struggles the audience might share with each character. Well, Mother 3 takes that idea and adds the strongest sense of kinship this trilogy has to offer. You get to know each character individually; you get to walk in their shoes for a period of time and understand their life. Maybe you empathize with them. You see their need for love and friendship, so that when they become a team you KNOW the bonds are important to them.

This is relatability cubed. Think of your own idiosyncrasies – what makes you weird and out there . Now think of the people who came into your life with their own oddities and chose to walk your road with you. How deep do those bonds go? How strong is your trust? Would you face a totalitarian pigmask army together with these friends?

That’s what Mother 3‘s team evokes. The theme throughout the series, after all, is love, so what better way to close the trilogy than with camaraderie between unconventional friends? Gets me all warm and fuzzy for my own crazy troupe of amigos. Group hug, y’all!

 

Mother 3 is the property of Nintendo & Shigesato Itoi and has no English language release. You can, however, emulate the game in Japanese and use this translation patch by Tomato. If you choose this route, please support the developers by investing in their other games and merchandise.

Don’t Settle for the Stud: Why Duster Has My Heart – Bad Breath, Limp, and All

[Currently listening to: Unfounded Revenge/Smashing Song of PraiseFOREVER.]

It’s easy to swoon for a pretty face, right? Even the gamer ladies aren’t immune; we’ve got our pick of fictional gentlemen – from spiky-haired JRPG leads to inarticulate Hyrulean swordsmen.

While we may love the attractive characters for personality as well, it certainly doesn’t hurt their fan following that they’re easy on the eyes. They’re a gimmick that’s been around since the dawn of Jane Austen books (okay, probably from before her, but you get my meaning), and when something ain’t broke, why fix it?

But ladies: what if a story – game or otherwise – could get you to fall for the completely average-looking, slightly unkempt, absolutely non-studly guy?

Our shining example for this post:

Mother 3 - Clay Duster
Hubba hubba.

Duster, from Mother 3, leaves no possibility for studly misconceptions when introduced. Other characters comment on his bad breath and mistake him for a hobo or a drunk due to his pronounced limp. His very appearance gives off anti-hunk vibes: unkempt hair with a widow’s peak, drowsy eyes, magnificently huge nose.

He quickly became my favorite Earthbound/Mother series character.

Because here’s the thing: at the same time we’re assured he’s got no looks, we’re shown how incredibly kind-hearted this guy is. He’s the first person to offer condolences after tragedy hits Flint’s family; before that he willingly helps Flint find Lucas and Claus lost in the woods, even politely excusing his handicap and saying he’ll do his best regardless.

Oh, Duster, I loved you even before I found out you could flip enemies around in battle and get a free attack.

Duster1

It was Shigesato Itoi’s intention, after all, to create characters you wouldn’t normally befriend and make them an integral part of your team. Other RPGs have done this to a degree, of course, but Itoi has a gift for bringing a real sense of humanity to his cast. With Duster, I’m more able to associate his mix of imperfections and good qualities with people I know in reality – as opposed to, say, the way I feel about Quina from Final Fantasy IX, who’s also a weird outcast but gives me little to work with beyond that.

Quina
Man, if I had a nickel for every time someone who looked like this came into the library…

I also just like the flipped stereotype: Duster isn’t a beautiful and brooding male heartthrob. His looks aren’t the “in” that make you love him; you have to get to know him past what’s initially off-putting before you can make a judgement call.

The beautiful/brooding boy is of course common fare in the book industry as well, YA fiction in particular. I get it: we want to live vicariously through our stories, and it’s easy to play on the girlish fantasy of meeting and wooing a hunk.

But I challenge you: get your audience to love the atypical guy. Maybe we can start a revolution.

 

Mother 3 is the property of Nintendo & Shigesato Itoi and has no English language release. You can, however, emulate the game in Japanese and use this translation patch by Tomato. If you choose this route, please support the developers by investing in their other games and merchandise.

(Oh, and I don’t own Legend of Zelda or Final Fantasy either.)