Video Game / MOTHER 4

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Truancy, adventure and an aversion to business suits!

Shortly after the release of MOTHER 3 in 2006, Shigesato Itoi revealed that there would not be a successor. Instead, he openly welcomed other people to contribute to the series, stating that he'd rather be the player this time. Cue the undying determination of the fanbase...

MOTHER 4 is the previous title of a fan-made game continuing the MOTHER saga, in development by Azure Studios. The game has since shifted focus to be a Spiritual Successor to the MOTHER series, but its new title has yet to be revealed. It started development in 2009 and has gained recognition as one of the most ambitious fangame projects ever.

The game will mainly take place in Pleiades in the year 197X, following a young boy named Travis, the leader of a biker gang named Leo, a fortune-telling girl named Meryl, and a charming boy named Floyd. An enigmatic group known as the Modern Men have shown up, and the mysteries surrounding them only continue to pile up...

Overall, the gameplay so far seems to stay true to the MOTHER experience, with a few minor tweaks. Notably, while it is generally turn-based, with you selecting the characters actions before the battle phase and having them play out accordingly, there's also an addition of a cool-down system. During the battle phase, the characters' status bars will slowly fill up with each successful attack and combo attack they do, and if the status bar fills up completely during it, they will be able to perform an additional attack during it, allowing for more strategy than the MOTHER games.

For more information, including character profiles, screenshots, and samples of the soundtrack, go here. A teaser trailer can be found here. A gameplay trailer can be viewed here. The game was slated for a late 2014 release but was pushed back to sometime in 2016. The team had aimed for release in June of 2015, but stated then that, due to needing help, they will not be announcing any more prospective release dates until the game is finished to be fair to people waiting.

On March 1, 2017, the dev team announced that the game will be rebranding itself into an original IP, as to not encounter the legal issues faced by other Nintendo fan games. This was done via an AMA on Reddit which can be found here. Notable changes include removing the series mascot Mr. Saturn, changing the user interface to less directly resemble the MOTHER games, and replacing the series staple Psychic Powers with an original power called VOX.


This work contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Ambiguous Time Period: The game is set in the year 197X. This is inspired by EarthBound Beginnings and EarthBound, whch take place in 198X and 199X respectively.
  • Action Commands: The rhythm-based combo system for MOTHER 3 has been implemented.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: An Autumn Leaf to mops with eyes and arms are only a few of the bizarre baddies that can be encountered.
  • Art Evolution:
  • Attack Reflector: When equipped with a bat, Travis has a random chance to hit enemies' projectiles back at them. This is a reference to an ability Ness and Lucas have in Super Smash Bros..
  • Attract Mode: In homage to EarthBound, the game has this.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: The Modern Mind wears a suit that's dotted with stars, similar to a cosmic body. In a gameplay trailer, he's shown to be still going strong, while the main party have severely depleted HP and PP. He's only defeated by one of his own attacks, which Travis hits back at him.
  • Bears are Bad News: In the Attract Mode trailer, the party encounters a grizzly bear atop of some railroad tracks, which no doubt leads into a battle.
  • Befriending the Enemy: One of the effects of Floyd's "Talk" command can lead to enemies wasting turns by chatting with him.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: One of the areas in the game is a graveyard, in the style of Halloweentown.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Meryl's home town, La Folia (formerly named Citrus Hills), is a Spanish term meaning "madness", "folly", or "empty-headedness".
  • Blue Is Heroic:
    • Meryl, one of the main characters, was featured on the official MOTHER 4 website with an indigo blue background.
    • Zack wears blue clothes in all of his designs, and is the Cool Big Bro to Travis.
  • The Bus Came Back: Elements from EarthBound Beginnings, such as PK Beam, the gamebreakingly sweet 4th-D slip, and Telepathy were set to appear in MOTHER 4. We also saw the return of three PSI users like EarthBound with the Muggle getting their own special ability to use in combat. However, the rebranding of the game to disassociate itself with the MOTHER series means these powers will no longer appear in their original form, and instead be adapted to fit the new theme.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": Done In-Universe, as fits the series's penchant for Lampshade Hanging. As shown in the September 16, 2015 blog update, at least one NPC thinks HP means "hemopoppers."
  • Celestial Body: The Modern Mind enemy has a glowing ball of energy for a head and has stars dotted throughout its humanoid form.
  • The City: The developers have stated that they have a Fourside equivalent.
  • Color Motif: The Modern Men seem to have a sickly lime green as their Color Motif. It's shown up on many of their structures and graffiti, and the title screen depicts a world colored green that looks like it's being drained dry.
  • Cool Bike: Leo has a motorcycle (a Harley-Davidson cruiser) you can actually ride in-game, much like Ness could with a regular bicycle in EarthBound.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • Earlier in development it was stated that this game would be darker than MOTHER 3. And considering how dark that game was...
    • It was later stated in a Q&A that the story will mainly have a tone similar to Earthbound Beginnings, which had a more subtle, dark atmosphere than Mother 3.
    • The teaser trailer has disturbing music. It starts calm and with people laughing in the background and slowly gets louder and more ominous and the people in the background keep laughing, with the laughter turning into screaming laughs in the manner of a maniac, then ending off with a music tone that is creepy and foreboding.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Implied with Leo. In MOTHER 4's earliest development stages, he was a homeless Street Urchin with psychic powers. During the game's first revamp, his backstory was changed to that of being a former businessman-turned-criminal. After the second revamp, Leo was turned into a Greaser Delinquent who is constantly hounded by police and was implied to have been involved in very shady activity. An unused (now deleted) song appropriately titled "Leo's Lament" plays with this trope further.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Leo's "Smoking Is Cool" part of his characterization is mostly to play up his idealized 1950's-style Greaser vibe, even though most people nowadays would agree that smoking is anything but such.
  • Delinquent Hair: In keeping with the Greasers tradition, Leo and possibly his biker gang have pompadours. In the Attract Mode trailer, at least one other biker was shown with a pompadour.
    • Two enemies, the Punk Assassin and Punk Enforcer, wear mohawks.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: When you defeat a Melty Robot, you get this:
    "The Melty Robot melted into nothingness."
  • Desperation Attack: A game element called the "Final Stand" feature will be implimented, causing a character's stats to dramatically increase while their health is rolling down toward zero. Similarly, when your special points are rolling down, you can still use VOX for a cost as high as the number the meter indicates as it slowly decreases.
  • Does Not Like Spam: According to Word of God, Leo distrusts foreign food, and thinks they're only good for hangovers and jet lag.
  • Down on the Farm: Pennyburg seems to be this sort of place, complete with wooden fences, wheat fields, cows, and pickup trucks.
  • Eagle Land: Just like Earthbound, MOTHER 4 is planned to have an American-like setting. The world of Pleiades will be mostly intact throughout the rebranding.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Possibly hinted as the Modern Men's goal, as the Earth (similar to the mechanized planet in MOTHER 3's logo) features a teardrop, as if being drained or leaking out of the Earth itself.
  • Energy Beings: The Modern Mind has a glowing energy ball for a head. It's likely that the rest of his body is space energy as well.
  • Expy: The main characters echo the protagonists of the MOTHER franchise:
    • Travis wears a striped shirt, similarly to Ninten, Ness, and Lucas, and gets his love for baseball and using a baseball bat as a choice of weapon from the former two. His calm and kind personality comes from Lucas, and also has a brother like he did.
    • Meryl being the only girl in her group comes from Paula, while her love for books and studying comes from Jeff. Her unusual purple hair color and reckless confidence concerning her powers has shades of Kumatora.
    • Leo leads his own gang just like Teddy did. His powerful, mixed offense/defense powers, and his serious disposition comes from Poo. He also slightly resembles Duster appearance-wise.
    • Zack echoes Lucas' brother Claus, having a similar hairstyle and being a brother to the main protagonist. Unlike Claus, he has no VOX powers and continues to live in a loving family with his brother.
  • Extra Turn: When it fills, the "GROOVY!" meter allows a character to immediately take an extra turn. Doing damage and eating food increases it, while suffering damage, status effects, and bad food lowers it.
  • The Faceless: The Modern Mind has a glowing ball of energy for a head, with no facial features.
  • Fan Sequel: Quite possibly one of the most promising ones on the internet. Not only does the overall style stay faithful to the Mother series as a whole (the sprites taking cue from MOTHER 3, but being set more in EarthBound's and EarthBound Beginnings's 'modern' urban setting), but even the music doesn't sound far off from something that would be made for an 'official' Mother game. As of March 1st 2017, the fan sequel concept has been dropped, in favor of an original game inspired by the MOTHER series. This was done to allow the team to explore more original concepts and avoid legal issues with Nintendo.
  • Finger Snap Lighter: Leo uses fire-based VOX to light his cigarettes.
  • Foil: Goes both ways in the main party.
    • The calm, introverted, and daydreaming Travis contrasts the hotheaded and smooth-talking Floyd. Travis also contrasts the reckless Meryl, who also possesses more offensive-oriented powers compared to Travis' supportive and healing abilities.
    • Leo contrasts both Floyd and Meryl in being calmer, older, and more cautious compared to their young impulsiveness. Floyd contrasts him the most, being a charming loudmouth with no VOX-based powers to speak of.
    • Floyd could also be seen to MOTHER characters such as Lloyd and Jeff, who are both Gadgeteer Geniuses who use guns and bazookas. Floyd has none of their intelligence, fights with a rake, a melee weapon, and has the option to talk his way out of battles.
  • Foreshadowing: In the gameplay trailer, there's a scene where Travis in his pajamas walks across a bridge, only to see an odd green object floating rather haphazardly through the starry sky... Only time will tell if it's anything significant.
  • Fungus Humongous: In one of the teaser gifs they posted, they showed off an area with mushrooms that are almost as big as Travis himself.
  • Greaser Delinquents: Fitting of the game's 'idealized' America setting, Leo and his biker gang are based on the '50s greasers, right down to the leather jackets and greaser-style hair.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Zack's pre-2012 sprites used to depict him with dirty blonde hair.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: As mentioned above, Leo and his biker gang wear leather jackets, as per Greaser tradition.
  • Hot-Blooded: Floyd is a loudmouthed kid who says whatever's on his mind. Meryl counts, too; with her clairvoyant abilities, she thinks she can take on anything. And while usually cool and soft-spoken, Leo has been described in a few of his bios as "impatient".
  • Humanoid Abomination: We don't know exactly what the Modern Mind is; he's a space energy being that looks like an adult human male wearing a spiffy suit, save for the energy ball for a head.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: Time passes between day and night (if you so choose it) when staying in a hotel, with a number of different tasks and events available only at certain times of the day, or with specific character combinations.
  • Knife Nut: The Punk Assassin enemy attacks with a knife. The battle text described it as "brandishing a knife".
  • Leitmotif: As in MOTHER 3, everyone has their own battle sound effects. Unlike the 3rd game, they have their own level up jingles as well. See Variable Mix below.
  • Life Drain: According to some extremely early leaks and from the looks of things, this is what the mechanical spires are doing to the planet, draining it of its life energy for some purpose.
  • Lovable Jock: Zack is a talented athlete, with several trophies and accomplishments under his belt, but he's a really nice guy and never picks on his brother Travis.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Leo's name is latin for "lion", which indicates a noble and heroic character (despite him being a biker and gang leader).
    • Part of Floyd's name comes from Lloyd, which means "gray". It could reference Floyd's Guile Hero tendencies, how he uses "gray" methods such as talking/bribing enemies instead of outright fighting them.
  • Mundane Utility: In the video showing the WIP attract mode, at 0:56 Leo can be seen using PK Fire to light a cigarette, apparently as an Idle Animation. The team has confirmed that Leo will still do this with fire based VOX after the rebranding.
  • Musical Nod: They've remixed the MOTHER title theme, "Humoresque of a Little Dog" (and called it "Dog Humor"), the hotel theme from MOTHER 2, and the Yado Hotel's theme from MOTHER 3. They've also combined and remixed "Battle Against a Dangerous Foe" (from EarthBound Beginnings) and "Sanctuary Guardian" (from EarthBound). "Dog Humor" also contains a tiny nod to "Because I Love You" (AKA Fourside's theme) from EarthBound (which is really a nod to the Super Smash Bros. Brawl version of "Humoresque of a Little Dog.") And it probably doesn't stop there. Unfortunately, since the game is rebranding, these remixed tracks will likely go unused in the final game.
  • Mythology Gag: Travis's ability to reflect projectiles with his bat is derived from Ness and Lucas's appearances in Super Smash Bros., where they have the ability to do so with their respective bat and stick moves.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Unlike MOTHER games, characters who get KO'd in combat don't become ghosts. Rather, they're dragged along the ground while passed out behind the current conscious party members.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    "The Stickat started sweating generously!"
  • Original Flavour: You'd have sworn it was an official MOTHER game if you didn't know it was made by fans. It ass even apparent with the music. For example, "The Green Run" sounds just like the Onett theme, right down to the instrumentation, the beginning bass line, and the trumpet duets. With the game rebranding, it's likely that the final version will look and feel less like the MOTHER series than its earlier incarnations.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: A given, considering how the Mother series had odd enemies abound. The current crowner though seems to be this odd yellow vase shaped... things with green tongues and eye stalks. The trailer showing them off said you can 'run from these things', which seems to imply they may be a very powerful enemy.
  • People Jars: Although nothing official has been said yet, some early concept art shows that, in continuing the grand MOTHER tradition, this may happen at some point to a large portion of people, with the stuff they're floating in looking eerily similar to the green blobs the spires are generating.
  • Pipe Pain: The Punk Enforcer's weapon is a lead pipe.
  • Poison Mushroom: Eating nasty food will decrease a character's "GROOVY!" meter, rather than increase it.
  • Police Are Useless: Possibly. In the gameplay trailer, the enemy roster seems to have included a police officer.
  • Power-Up Food: The Ultimate Vitamin. Having a character take it in battle gives them guaranteed Critical Hits on their turn, including all the combos in their combo attack!
  • Psychic Powers: Word of God revealed that PSI will be renamed "VOX", a shorthand for Voice Operated Switch, and will be centered around the theme of radio broadcasts. Would-be psychokinetics like Travis, Meryl, and Leo are renamed "Transmitters", while telepaths like Travis are called "Receivers". VOX is described as the broadcaster's voice switching the ambient "nothing" to "something", like fire or electricity. Floyd will be the only Muggle in the main party.
  • Punny Name: Belring. Get it?
  • Railroad Tracks of Doom: The characters can walk along railroad tracks at some point in the game. Considering what can happen to Lucas and Boney when they do so in MOTHER 3...
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Eating bad food will negatively affect how the main party will fare in battle as well as decrease their GROOVY! meter, much like eating bad food in real life can cause health problems.
    • Travis and Zack's father works in a city far away from his family, with little time and opportunity to be with them, which will presumably impact his sons.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Enraged Flamingo. It has red eyes, and is an enemy the main party will fight.
  • Red Is Heroic: Leo, one of the main characters, was featured on the official MOTHER 4 website with a red background.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Floyd's the Red Oni, in contrast to Travis' Blue Oni.
  • Retraux: Shares the overall GBA design of MOTHER 3, with some minor anti-aliasing to make the shading of the sprites look smoother. Averted with the music, though, which uses a completely original sound font that sounds way more advanced than anything the GBA or SNES could do, Outside of the Sampling example below, of course.
  • Revisiting the Roots: This game appears to be far more in the style of EarthBound Beginnings and EarthBound, despite having a similar graphical style to MOTHER 3. In addition to being set in 'modern' times as opposed to the fantasy setting of 3, enemy designs are more in the style of EarthBound, and the dev team has said the plot is more along the lines of 1 in tone.
  • Sampling: One of the battle themes sampled several sounds from EarthBound. Fittingly, the theme's name is "Battle Against a Familiar Foe". It's unknown if this track will appear in the post-rebrand version.
  • Scenery Porn:
    • The sprite work so far is amazing, as seen on their site, and all of it was made in various versions of MS Paint. Not only that, but there's a lot of attention to detail with it, with several NPCs in the game having their own idling sprites when not walking around, a few occasional birds flying in the background of certain areas, and even being able to see the insides of buildings through their windows. All this results in a game world that feels very lively, despite being a purely 2D game.
    • If what the dev who works on the games area designs is to be believed, a lot of areas in the game have tiles completely unique to them, even if it's an unimportant area. All this is to make the world feel more lively and lived in, similar to MOTHER 3
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Both Travis and his older brother Zack closely resemble their mother and father, respectively, even sharing their parents' hairstyles. However, their hair colors (mother has light brown hair, father has dark brown hair) are switched around.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: One of the effects of Floyd's "Talk" command, he bribes the enemy to take some of the party's own cash and make them leave the battle.
  • Sharp Dressed Man: The Modern Mind's sprite is shown to be wearing a dark suit that is also dotted with stars.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps:
    • The Punk Enforcer enemy wears a leather jacket with the sleeves torn off.
    • Zack's pre-2012 character design wore a blue undershirt with a white horizontal stripe around the waist.
  • Slice of Life: Emphasis is being placed on character relationships and interactivity with towns and cities beyond using them as a means to continue your adventure.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: One of the areas of the game is a town blanketed by snow, complete with transparent falling snow.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Presumably Leo. Seen in the video link above, Leo is a smoker. And given the nature of most playable characters in the Mother series, if there will be smoking, then they'll look cool doing it.
  • Spiritual Successor: Has officially become one to the Mother series after the rebranding.
  • Status-Buff Dispel: Word of God revealed a VOX-related ability: the "Radio Filter", which can remove special effects from battle such as increases/decreases to stats, shields, etc.
  • Sweet Home Alabama: Pennyburg, an area in the game and Floyd's hometown, is a rather rural looking town, with pickup trucks occasionally driving by.
  • Talking Animal: Like MOTHER games, the heroes can use VOX abilities to talk to animals like dogs.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: According to Word of God, Travis likes rotini, Floyd likes chicken fried steak, Meryl likes crepes, and Leo likes lobster.
  • Trauma Inn: Hotels serve this purpose, like in the MOTHER series.. Stay in a low-quality hotel, however, and you might get bitten by a mosquito and not regain all of your HP.
  • Under the Sea: One of the areas in the game seems to take place in either a vast lake or an ocean, with what appears to be an underwater lab in the middle of it.
  • Vague Age: Unlike Travis, Meryl, and Floyd, whose are explicitly stated to be in their early teens (13, 14, 14), no information has been given about Zack or Leo's exact age, with Leo's biography even saying "Buzz off". However, as of this update, it has been stated by Word of God that Leo is in his thirties.
  • Variable Mix: Instead of a singular level up jingle like in Mother titles, every character will level up with their own leitmotif (Travis's is a retooled version of the original level up tune). These will seamlessly overlap with one another when two or more characters level up simultaneously.
  • What a Drag: A non-fatal version occurs where fallen party members can be dragged with you as you travel. This is apparent in the gameplay trailer, where it's called "Be a drag".
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: Travis and Zack's father works in The City far off from their town, and frequently has to sleep in hotels there while only seeing the family on occasion. According to the dev team, this will be important to the plot.
  • Year X: The game is said to take place in 197X.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Meryl's hair is dark purple. The Punk Assassin enemy has a pink mohawk.

Don't be nervous, you can do it!

Alternative Title(s): Mother 4

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/Mother4?from=Main.Mother4