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Tropes A to G | Tropes H To M | Tropes N to S | Tropes T to Z

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  • Halloweentown: Threed. Ghosts, zombies, dim light, spooky puppets... Even after you take care of those problems the color scheme is still muted and there is still a huge graveyard.
  • Haute Cuisine Is Weird: Trout yoghurt is popular among the wealthy residents of Fourside.
  • Healing Loop: In the Clumsy Robot boss fight, it will occasionally eat a bologna sandwich, healing itself to full. It's a lie. Despite what the text says, its HP don't recover, and the scene where the Runaway Five save you is triggered by the boss's HP falling to zero.
  • The Heartless: Many of the enemies in the game are influenced to fight Ness through Giygas's control over their inherent evil. Right before Ness gets charged with a great deal of power, he has to fight Giygas's influence over the evil in his mind via a boss battle.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Porky seems to like trying to pretend he's ready to repent of his misdeeds for just long enough to make a getaway. And boy, does he ever run fast for a little fat kid.
  • Hell Hotel: The hotel in Threed will briefly become this as soon as you get there.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: In addition to naming all four playable characters at the beginning of the game, a player also names the main character's dog, favorite food, and "favorite thing," which is used as the name of the main character's signature spell. About halfway through the game, the player is also asked to input their own name, which comes up when the player prays for the characters' safety when fighting the final boss.
  • Heroic Mime: Whoever the player is controlling at the time. As soon as they meet up with the main group, they start talking and introduce themselves. The only exception is at two points in the game, where a special wall displays Ness's thoughts, and where Ness talks to himself telling him where he needs to go next near the end of the game.
  • Hitodama Light: The Zombie Possessor inflicts hitodama as a status ailment.
  • A Homeowner Is You: You can buy a "house" (or rather, a hovel) in Onett for $7,500. It contains a photographer location, so you'll need it for 100% Completion. But more importantly, there's the hilarious magazine excerpt...
  • Hope Spot: During Ness's time in Magicant, Porky is seemingly determined to make peace with him despite enough tension between them throughout half the adventure. Then the endgame comes and everything is suddenly ruined.
  • Iconic Item: Ness' red baseball cap. In-game it's his first head equip, and it shows up again in Magicant near the end of the game. Its stats are long since obsoleted, but not its sentimental value...
  • I Know Kung-Faux: Onett police force Capt. Strong uses Super Ultra Mambo-Tango-Foxtrot Martial Arts.
  • Improbable Weapon User: From yo-yos to frying pans.
  • Impossibly Delicious Food: Delisauce is an impossibly delicious condiment, which goes with all foods and maxes out their recovery potential.
  • Incompatible Orientation: This seems to be the case with Tony toward Jeff. Unless Jeff himself is gay or bi, which there is absolutely no evidence for or against.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Tough Guys in Summers sometimes drop chicks (as in picking up chicks).
  • Indecisive Parody: The game constantly rocks back and forth between a humorous romp and a serious drama. Unlike most examples, it works.
  • Infinity -1 Sword:
    • The Legendary Bat for Ness.
    • A gadget for Jeff is the Heavy Bazooka, which is like a reusable Bomb that can deal up to 400 damage to the target.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The Gutsy Bat for Ness.
  • Infinity +1 Element: PSI Rockin, or whatever you named your favorite thing. Non-elemental and targets all, so it'll hit the entire enemy formation like a truck. Balanced only by its comparatively exorbitant PP cost, and belonging to Ness (who doesn't have the best PP pool to begin with).
  • In-Game Banking Services: ATMs let you store your money in a bank account, where it is safe in the case of a game over. Half your pocket money is lost at a game over. It's also how the game plays with the use of Money Spiders: when defeating enemies, instead of cash immediately going to your party's inventory, Ness's dad deposits money to your account.
  • Innocent Aliens: The goofy Mr. Saturns.
  • Innocence Lost: Giygas both symbolizes and embodies this.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Dragons!: The bag of dragonite, which turns the player into a dragon temporarily, has no explanation where it comes from or how it is made. Although a monkey wonders, "is it really made by dragons?"
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence:
    • Parodied - at one point your path is blocked by a statue of a pencil. In the original Japanese, it was of an octopus.
    • Later on, is another parody, where the blockade is an eraser statue. Originally, it was a statue of a type of doll (the item to remove it forms a play on words in Japanese). The English version retains that sort of pun—the pencil statues are removed using a Pencil Eraser. No prizes for guessing what removes the eraser statue.
  • Instakill Mook: A few enemies can cast Diamondization, which acts identically to Petrification from EarthBound Beginnings. That is, they're an instant-KO that can only be healed with PSI Healing γ or Ω, or via blue-haired healers; as a reminder, a Diamondized party member will drag behind their teammates on the overworld as a static, anthropomorphic gemstone. Unlike Beginnings, however, Diamondization can be inflicted on enemies as well as party members, either by confusing an enemy capable of casting Diamondization or by using Poo's Mirror ability. A confused enemy capable of Diamondization can end up casting the effect on a cohort or even themselves, and since the spell is basically an insta-kill, it's possible to win a battle by reducing a fight down to the Diamondizing enemy and forcing them to Diamondize themselves. Since a Diamondized enemy stays on the battlefield despite being considered dead, this can lead to amusing sights such as this, in which the game displays the standard victory text while still leaving the enemy on-screen.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: A pretty epic one.
  • Interface Screw:
    • In Moonside, yes means no, and no means yes.
    • Also, if any player character gets mushroomized, the game's interpretation of D-pad inputs will rotate 90 degrees clockwise every thirty seconds. This can only be cured by the healer in the hospital, and you will have a hard time getting there.
  • Item Amplifier: Using the right condiment with the appropriate food increases the healing power of the latter.
  • It's Going Down: The Sky Runner on more than one occasion.
  • Jerkass: Porky and his father.
    • Some of the townspeople as well.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Everdred, boss of Burglin Park. Apparently he is some sort of criminal, and he does briefly fight you, but after that he is nothing but helpful. And he really wanted Paula to be rescued.
  • Joke Character: The Worthless Protoplasm, Fobbies, and Foppies are joke enemies, and Porky amounts to a joke ally for the short time he travels with you.
  • Joke Item:
    • The Insignificant Item, among others.
    • Ruler: "It can be used in battle! Can be used many times." Ditto the Protracter.
    • The Super Orange Machine, or Suporma for short. It plays an "Ode to Orange Kid" and immediately breaks down after that.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: After collecting all of the 8 Melodies, you will be transported to Magicant, the realm of Ness's mind.
  • Karma Houdini: Porky. Naturally, he returns as the Big Bad in Mother 3.
  • Kid Hero: All the main cast. And in Ness's case he randomly suffers homesickness as a status effect. This is cured by calling or visiting his mom.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Porky is a rotten kid who antagonizes you through the game, eventually allying himself with Giygas.
  • The Klan: The Happy Happyists, who wear robes and pointy hats not unlike the Real Life Klan, except they're blue instead of white. The English localization softened this by putting a puffball on the end of their hoods and removing the letters "HH" from their foreheadsnote .
  • Kleptomaniac Hero:
    • Parodied, when the protagonist Ness can get items from trash cans. And this includes food items, which he can then eat with absolutely no consequences. He also gets the chance to properly steal food items, but will be attacked for it.
    • There is also an NPC (in Summers, if memory serves) that lampshades the use of this trope in "other" games.
    • In a case of Video Game Cruelty Potential, Jeff can steal the cookies that were intended for Tony's birthday coming up the next day, and the person who made them even says he made them all himself and frosted them with extra care. Though talk to him after you steal them, he gives a What the Hell, Hero?
  • Kraken and Leviathan: The Kraken, found in the way from Summers to Scaraba, which is fought as a boss battle, and looks like a sea serpent rather than a squid; Later you find it again as a regular enemy in Magicant. It has a more powerful variant in the form of the Bionic Kraken, found in the final area of the game.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Everywhere.
  • Last Chance Hit Point: Done in two ways:
    • If you take "mortal damage", you don't die right away. Your health ticks down at a steady rate (just under 20 per second or so) and you don't actually die until it reaches zero.
    • Every time you take damage that's greater than your remaining health, the game runs a random check. At random, that damage will change from "attack dealt mortal damage" to "attack dealt (current HP - 1) damage". The higher your Guts stat, the more often this will happen.
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail: Violating it is one of the most basic ways this game plays with the player's expectations.
    • Items such as the Protractor and Ruler have literally no purpose (other than vendor trash), but not only will Jeff start with them in his inventory, the New-Age Retro Hippie will try to use one in battle! The Suporma, a rarely seen item given to you if you choose to invest money in Orange Kid's inventions then return later, not only does nothing, it breaks after a single use.
    • Speaking of which, enemies frequently do things to waste turns. A significant fraction of the game's battle scripts are actions such as "knitting one's brow" that essentially cause the enemy to skip a turn, and maybe make the player laugh.
    • Entire areas of the world map hold nothing of real interest or value, other than to create atmosphere and make the world feel expansive.
    • Many, maybe most, NPCs have nothing useful to say, though most of them make up for this with amusing dialogue instead.
    • The famous coffee breaks likewise do nothing to advance the game, but force the player to relax and reflect on the game so far.
    • The entire food system. There are dozens of food items and a handful of condiments that can be combined with them, but most of them have limited practical use. The impressive variety of dining options evidently exists largely for flavor.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: In the American version, Lucky and Gorgeous were changed from their Blues Brothers outfits to somewhat resemble Mario and Luigi (though the thing about The Runaway Five being a Blues Brothers parody is still made very clear).
  • Leitmotif:
    • The Runaway Five, Porky, and Paula all have theme music - the latter's doesn't play all that often, though.
    • Paula's theme is actually a Shout-Out of the theme of Easter, a place where only children live because all of the parents were abducted by Giygas. So it's saying that she's tied down to a place with no adults to guide her and she's scared, helpless. It's heard in Paula's cell, Polestar Preschool while she's missing, and when found in Fourside. Get why now?
    • There's a highly prominent one that's hard to miss, but it's very odd as it's entirely made of dramatic portamentos (pitch-bent notes), and is sometimes described as "UFO sounds", but it's actually a distinct, recurring melody. It has no clearly specific association, but tends to appear in eerie and unsettling tracks, and may be thought of as the theme of Giygas's influence. It notably appears in "Onett Night" 1 and 2, the beginning of "Otherworldly Foe", "Battle Against A weak Opponent", and "Dangerous Caves".
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: During the brief period where the player directly controls Jeff, he saves his game by calling Maxwell. Maxwell notes that he'll make a record of Jeff's progress, and notes it's like saving in a video game.
  • Lethal Joke Character:
    • You wouldn't think that the mystical record or that animate cup of coffee wouldn't be that deadly, would you?
    • The Smilin' Sphere!!
    • Yeah, they're all over the place. Floating lips, electric guitars, phonograph records, angry ladies, hippies, surfer dudes...
    • Territorial Oaks...
    • Porky is a useless party member and runs away every other time you meet him until the end of the game when he's in an alien mech and fights alongside Giygas.
  • Lethal Lava Land: The last Your Sanctuary is Fire Spring, an active volcano. The boss is a firey dog named Carbon Dog who eventually hardens into Diamond Dog.
  • Let's Play:
  • Life Drain: Jeff's HP-sucker and Hungry HP-sucker machines do this to enemies, though both have a chance of failure each time they're used.
  • Lighter and Softer: The story is taken with less seriousness than in EarthBound Beginnings, and it often becomes simply for humor's sake... until the end, when it's just horrifying.
  • Live Item: Keeping an egg in your inventory will eventually hatch it into a chick, which can provide a bit of relief from Ness's recurring homesickness. This stops once it grows into a chicken, which can then be sold for some cash.
  • Living Drawing: In the Pyramid, some of the enemies encountered include Lethal Asp Hieroglyphs and Guardian Hieroglyphs, which are sentient drawings in the shape of snakes and anthropomorphic canines resembling the god Anubis, respectively.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Ness was likely this to Porky. See the third entry in Lost in Translation below.
  • Long-Lasting Last Words: Buzz Buzz gives a decent speech about what you should do next as he is dying. And he offers to repeat it.
  • Look What I Can Do Now!: Poo returns from training to demonstrate his new power on a boss, obliterating it with PK Starstorm.
  • Loss of Identity: Poo's Mu Training involves his ancestor, in a ritual non-corporeal sense, taking bits of his body until there's nothing left but his mind, which he also plans to take.
  • Lost in Translation: Several puns make more sense in Japanese.
    • As is commonly known by now, thanks to the Mother 3 fan translation and Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Porky Minch's name was erroneously translated as Pokey Minch. Some fans have reached the compromise solution (as seen here, on MOTHER 3 fan translator Clyde "Tomato" Mandelinnote 's EarthBound website) to call him "Pokey" when referring to EarthBound, and "Porky" when referring to anything else.
    • The Apple of Enlightenment, mentioned several times throughout the game, is revealed towards the end to be a future-telling machine used by the evil forces. In the English translation, this line was removed for some reason, and as a result fans speculated for years about what the Apple was meant to be.
    • Also, Porky's motive. After rescuing Paula the first time in the English Version, Porky says "Let's be friends again. Just kidding!" and is pretty much the bad guy for the rest of the game and the next game. In the original Japanese version, it wasn't because Porky was a jerk, but because Ness was. Porky asked Ness if they could be friends again, but Ness refused to answer, causing Porky to storm off angrily. So canonically, Ness indirectly helped to cause the entirety of the events of Mother 3, including the deaths of Hinawa and Claus. Good job Ness.
  • Lost World: Aptly named the Lost Underworld, an enormous underground cave filled to the brim with bloodthirsty dinosaurs. Not to mention that your party's sprites minimized just to compare the sizes of your enemies.
  • Lucky Translation: A sign in Threed advertising a hint shop features a pun based on the cry of a horse that works in both English and Japanese. One of the locals in Onett also tells you a pun on "Alps no Shoujo ___ji" (Hai/Iie) in the Japanese version, or "A Beatles Song, ___terday" (Yes/No) in the English version.
  • MacGuffin Location: "Your Sanctuary" Locations. You have to find them all!
  • Made of Explodium: Several enemies explode when you defeat them causing massive damage:
    • Trees!
    • The Smilin' Sphere!!
    • Nuclear Reactor Robots too.
  • Madness Mantra:
    Giygas: “Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness.....”
  • Magic by Any Other Name: PSI, just like its predecessor and its successor.
  • Magic Meteor: The meteor that starts Ness's adventure. Not only was the time traveler Buzz Buzz riding in it, but the meteor contains a material needed for time travel.
  • Magic Is Rare, Health Is Cheap: PP-restoring items are hard to come by, especially in the early game. If you want the best of them, the Magic Truffle, be prepared to root through the Deep Darkness with the Piggy Nose for a long time (and there are only so many). Late game, however, you can buy the (mediocre) Magic Tart and the (better, especially for Poo) Brain Food Lunch.
  • Malt Shop: The burger stops you see throughout your adventure have this kind of style implemented.
  • Mana Drain: PSI Magnet steals PP from enemies to add to the user's reserves.
  • Mascot Mook: The iconic Starmen, with a Final Starman being featured in the North-american boxart.
  • Mayor Pain:
    • Mr. Monotoli. Or so it seems at first.
    • As well as B.H. Pirkle.
  • The Maze: By far the largest maze in the game is the one inside of Dungeon Man, but that's not to say that Moonside is not a maze in itself.
  • Mechanistic Alien Culture: The Starmen. They're visibly metallic and they have Robo Speak, but they're able to cast spells, and apparently come back as ghosts, something one would not expect from robots. Their Japanese names also suggest a biological relation with the models.
  • Mental World: Magicant is a representation of Ness' mind after collecting all of the Plot Coupons.
  • Mercy Kill: Killing Giygas feels like this, given he has become a formless, insane blob of hate and insanity by his psychic powers backfiring on him. There is no sense of triumph after defeating him in the end.
  • Metal Slime: Criminal Caterpillars and Master Criminal Worms are extremely rare enemies with a very low spawn rate. They're fast, they have a high dodge rate, and they spam PSI Fire α (and β in the Master Criminal Worm's case) to obliterate the party quickly. On the flipside, their HP is abysmal to the point where getting a Back Attack will defeat them instantly, and they give massive amounts of EXP.
  • Mini-Dungeon: The Brick Road dungeon is placed just before the cave leading to Rainy Circle, which contains one of the Eight Melodies.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: The Japanese boxart, which is just the MOTHER 2 logo on top of a plain red background. Averted with the English EarthBound boxart, with a Final Starman towering meanacingly over a psychedelic background similar to the game's in-battle backgrounds.
  • Mirror Boss: Ness's Nightmare, which has access to Lifeup, PSI Rockin, and PSI Flash, just like Ness.
  • Mirror World: Moonside is one to Fourside.
  • Money Spider: Averted. As with the previous game, money is not dropped by monsters, but is instead received through transactions with your father. However, enemies will still drop... odd items at times. This is only true in a story capacity, though. Defeating enemies still causes money to appear in your account. It's simply explained by way of your father.
  • Mood Whiplash: One of the most memorable examples in gaming. It's nowhere near as sudden as many assume and there's a good deal of buildup to it, but it's there.
  • Mooks: Giygas's henchmen, which include Starmen, Octobots, unidentified flying objects, and...Mooks?
  • Mouth of Sauron: The Mani Mani Statue and Porky, alternatively.
  • Muck Monster: Master Belch, Master Barf, and the Big Pile of Puke. There's also the Slimy and Even Slimier Little Piles!
  • Multinational Team: Four kids from three continents.
  • Muscle Beach Bum: The Tough Guy, randomly encountered on Summers beach.
  • Mushroom Samba: Poked fun at, but canonically averted. The player gets to Moonside by "talking" to a wall full of alcoho- sorry, "coffee".
  • Musical Pastiche and Sampling: It's used so frequently that the resulting legal muck was the most common theory behind why this game would not see an international release - that said, since it did eventually happen with no changes needed, it seems to be false. This video shows the nearly insane amount of sampling that's gone into the soundtrack. Most notably:
    • The almost surely lawsuit-inducing Beatles Suspiciously Similar Song version (the Saturn Valley music is supposedly inspired by "Wild Honey Pie", the "waking up in a hotel theme" starts with a short quote from "Good Morning, Good Morning", and the shop theme resembles "When I'm Sixty-Four") and samples (the Dungeon Man theme samples the beats from "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)", entering Giygas's lair gives a short sample from the opening Marseillaise bit of "All You Need Is Love").
    • The "Sky Runner" theme uncomfortably resembling the opening synth from The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again", one of the battle themes being an outright rip from The Champs' 1956 hit "Tequila", "Moonside Swing" sampling from Ric Ocasek's song "Keep On Laughing".
    • The Jackie's Cafe song sampling the Our Gang theme and interpolating "The Star-Spangled Banner"
    • The Runaway Five's final performance resembling The Doors' "The Changeling". The Chaos Theater's music overlaps between this and Suspiciously Similar Song by being very, very similar to the bass and guitar portions of "Cars Hiss by My Window" by the same band.
    • One of the most widely-remembered ones is the passing resemblance the Frank / New-Age Retro Hippie theme bears to Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode", but they're not even close to identical as so many assume
    • The Cave of the Past is made entirely out of manipulating the opening to The Beach Boys' Diedre.
  • My Future Self and Me: A younger Ness appears in Magicant, and asks his older self if he's still interested in comics and games when spoken to.


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