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Week of Love: Mother 3 and A Loving Family
So, this week at Leviathyn we’re talking about love. Don’t worry, we’re still doing the video game stuff that you’re here for.
Love in video games is a topic usually handled clumsily, and that’s no real fault of the writers. Love is a complicated thing that relies on so many little details and interactions between a couple. I’m in a relationship myself, but I wouldn’t say I know a lot about love.
So let’s talk about a different kind of love – not the romantic kind, but something I hope is more universal. It’s a love that we all come into existence experiencing, although I know it isn’t always the case. I’m talking about familial love, something as important as romantic love, even on a day like Valentine’s Day.
In 2013, The Last of Us showed us a well written father and daughter relationship that most of us have either played or heard about. The game garnered critical acclaim, and it showed off how to do a meaningful character relationship in a game that didn’t revolve around romance or friendship.
So, here I am to tell you about a game that did a meaningful family relationship a whole seven years before The Last of Us ever touched the subject.
While Mother 3 never got a release outside of Japan, we’re lucky enough to have an English fanbase devoted enough to fully translate the game. It took a little over two years, but the English patch came out in late 2008. I won’t go into deep spoilers, but the game’s been out long enough and it’s easy to get hold of, so I won’t tiptoe around important information.
One of the major themes of Mother 3 is the family. When the game begins, we meet Lucas and Claus, the two central characters in the story. They’re visiting their grandfather, Alec, with their mother Hinawa. The father, Flint, tends the home while they’re gone. This is a happy family, living a calm life on the Nowhere Islands.
Now we all know that has to change – it’s a video game, after all. The first chapter of the game pulls no punches, and by the end, the family is torn apart. Hinawa is dead, Claus is missing, Flint is an emotional wreck, and Lucas is too young to even grasp the hardships that have happened.
When a family is as tightly knit as this one, even the tiniest disaster can be a trauma. When I was in middle school, I almost lost my mother in a car accident. Obviously, this put a lot of strain on my family, but we made it through.
Mother 3 did an excellent job of exploring the effects of the loss of a mother and son from a once-vibrant family. As mentioned, Flint becomes a wreck – he spends years not only grieving the loss of his wife, but searching for his missing son. Flint’s visceral reaction to the death of his wife is one of the most powerful scenes ever played out with sprite art. Lucas, mostly ignored by his father, has to fend for himself in a world that’s growing more hostile.
As you approach the end of the game, Lucas has been tasked with saving the Nowhere Islands and by extension, the entire world. Over the course of the young boy’s adventure, the game has dropped hints that Claus may not be missing after all – rather, he has become the tool of the enemy. Flint is still out looking everyday for Claus – he has thrown away his life to find his son. Mother 3 is a tragedy, but manages to be heartwarming at the same time – and it approaches the tragedy of losing family members who you love deeply in an incredibly mature way for a Game Boy Advance role-playing game.
While I’m not going to delve deep into the ending of Mother 3, I feel like the value of a family is thoroughly explored by the end of it, and it certainly made me appreciate the family I have. So, while love is in the air today, remember – you’ve got a family that loves you too. I’ve heard stories about how Valentine’s Day can make single people painfully aware of that fact – I’ve been there, trust me. What you ought to do is remember that you’ve got a family, and they’re just as deserving of your love.
Be happy for what you’ve got.