[Currently listening to: the Shovel Knight OST. Oh yeah. You know we gonn’ talk about that game soon.]
*There are so many spoilers in this post, I can’t guarantee I won’t ruin your life if you plan to play Mother 3. Read at your own risk.
In our previous post about Porky as a villain we covered certain aspects of creating a complex antagonist – looking at the character’s origin, relationships, and reactions to circumstances. Now we move into Mother 3, where Porky makes his return.
What’s unique about Mother 3 is that, while our protagonists don’t meet Porky until near the very end of the game, he has a hand in everything they encounter, and we can see the sort of person he is just by the results of his influence. There’s plenty to learn from this story as well, which you knooooooow we’re going to cover in gloriously obsessive detail.
What sort of character-development does Mother 3‘s Porky teach us to observe? Let’s look at important aspects with the tried and true “three bullet point” method.
Everyone – protagonist or antagonist – will have a skewed view of the world. It’s the nature of experience. Typically, a villain will have a view that causes trouble for the heroes – if not an even larger scope of characters.
Perspective can be boiled down to one idea: how does the character think s/he should serve the world? Or how does the character think the world should serve him/her? For Porky, the world of Mother 3 is his playground. He sees everything – even human life – as a toy for his personal entertainment.
Despite his age, Porky is still acting on little boy impulses. In his mind, people and nature should serve him according to his selfish wants, which means that perspective and its consequential behavior must be closely tied to –
It’s obvious that a moral code should shape the actions of a villain, but the spectrum in which their morals could lie can be broad. Typically, the classic villain operates on an immoral code: he knows his actions are evil but is still willing (and sometimes even gleeful) to commit wicked deeds. But can there be villains who operate on a moral code? I leave you to speculate on who could fall into that category. *Jeopardy music*
Porky operates on an amoral code, which might be as common as the immoral code in regards to fictional antagonistic behavior, but – in my opinion – allows for more character development.
Why does Porky hold to his morals (or lack thereof)? His loveless upbringing has something to do with it, no doubt. That sort of emptiness, coupled with his immortality – it’s a sure-fire recipe for ambivalence.
Amorality can be even more frightening than immorality: There is NO ground on which to reason with an amoral character. To them, the notion of ethics is completely foreign and unnecessary. For Porky, whatever satisfies him in the moment is his driving force.
Morals are a cornerstone for any character – hero, villain, or anything in between. Once those have been established we’re naturally led to –
What does it all boil down to? What does our villain want? Sometimes it can be something noble – or at least harmless – but the way the villain goes about obtaining it is immoral and damaging. This is maybe where Porky was at the start of his own story (in Earthbound): He wanted acceptance, but never found a way to fill that hole.
By Mother 3 Porky’s continuous poor choices have led him to a dire ultimatum:
Everything leads up to this point. Porky brainwashes people to like him, destroys their belongings if they don’t, takes the people who are most precious to the protagonist Lucas and uses one of them for his own personal gain. They’re the typical responses of a spoiled child, only magnified by the amount of power Porky has been able to amass.
And when none of that satisfies? When nothing combats the boredom and emptiness? Remove the offending party – in this case, everyone.
So if you need a complex villain for your story, don’t forget: They need just as much love and attention as your protagonists. But not too much love and attention. Otherwise they might stop being so deliciously bad.
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.