The Zero Hour

Reviews, rants and oddities on video game and film culture.

The Surprisingly Deep Nature Of Character Naming In Mother 3

BIG BIG SPOILERS AHEAD

I love Mother 3, I’ve said I love it so many times that it’s boring now, but I digress. RPG’s and some adventure games have this neat option, that I’ve always liked. Basically, whilst most games have protagonists with fully fleshed out personalities, some games like Zelda and Pokemon allow you to name your playable character. Now this obviously makes the game that little bit more personal. You ARE that character, on Pokemon, I’m never “Red with a psuedonym” I’m Alex, a rookie trainer kicking all kinds of ass with a Blastoise. However, Pokemon’s the exception and usually I choose the default name, like Link in Zelda.

Mother 3 however is an interesting spin on this, the game not only allows you to name the main character Lucas whatever you want, but his twin brother Claus, his mother and father, Hinawa and Flint, their dog Boney and his friends Duster and Kumatora. All these characters can be renamed and you’re encouraged to name them after your own family (the creator, Shigesato Itoi, said this in an interview shortly after release)

Of course, as we know, this doesn’t end well. Hinawa and Claus both die in Chapter 1. Lucas becomes wracked with guilt and sadness and Flint spends the rest of the game hunting for Claus, who he doesn’t know is dead. Or if you name them after your family…Your mother and brother die, you spend the game wracked with sadness and guilt, your dad becomes distant searching for someone he can never truly find and eventually, your undead brother has to be killed by you.

So anyway, I started a new playthrough on Mother 3 a while back, naming all my characters after those in a Sci-fi book I wrote a draft of, which Mother 3 was an influence on. Then I realised that you can’t name Porky Minch, the main antagonist who pulls all the strings and I was a bit disappointed. Now, I was playing the game earlier and thought about that again, then came to the conclusion that in actual fact. This was a relief.

Think about it. Judging by the way you’re encouraged to name the protagonists after people you love, wouldn’t you be encouraged to name Porky after someone you hate? Imagine if you were encouraged to name him after, say your school bully or someone who made your life unbearable. Now, look at it this way;

The Bully sets up the machines and twists nature that kill your mother and your brother. He then brings an army into your home town and subsequently changes and warps it, turning the townspeople against you. Your father’s distant, you barely see him and your only friend is your dog and eventually 2 others who you meet on the way. Eventually you get the courage to stand up to the bully, who’s built himself a utopia in his image. You fight him, but you can never win. He will live forever, he’s trapped, but he can never die. And he leaves you. Against your own brother, who’s been rebuilt from machines, who doesn’t know you and tries to kill you AND then nearly kills your father, eventually realising who he is, your brother will kill himself. In front of you. All whilst you have to end the world…

And that’s just adding one more piece of yourself into the game. It’s potentially one of the saddest and most terrifying things I think you can put in a game and I do believe you’ll probably get a more meaningful and deep experience than if you call the dog Boney and the dad Flint. It’s just funny how just naming a character in a game can change the way you think about it.

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One response to “The Surprisingly Deep Nature Of Character Naming In Mother 3

  1. Pingback: 7 years of Mother 3 | The Zero Hour

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