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Mother 3+ :: Review by Cruise Elroy

Mother 3+ Album Title: Mother 3+
Record Label: Tokyo Itoi Shigesato Office
Catalog No.: HOBO-0004 (Physical); iTunes (Digital)
Release Date: October 2, 2006; February 7, 2007
Purchase: Buy at VGM World

Overview

Music is central to the Mother games, and Mother 3 is in many ways a culmination of that focus. The Mother 3+ soundtrack includes a few of the popular themes from the series along with some new "live" cuts, but all in all it's a bit of a mixed bag. This was originally released as a physical album unlike its Mother 3i counterpart. However, a digital release complete with a bonus track was released later.

Body

If you bought sister soundtrack Mother 3i and were saddened by the missing "Love" theme, you'll be happy to know that Mother 3+ includes it three times over. There's "We Miss You - Theme of Love," which features Taeko Onuki on vocals, a karaoke version of the same track, and, exclusively in the iTunes release, the curiously punctuated "MOTHER3 - theme of LOVE-", an instrumental arrangement. Mother music doesn't shy away from sentimentality, and the "Love" theme is no exception. Even so, I thought Onuki's breathless vocals were a bit too cloying for this piece; the instrumental version, though also schmaltzy, was more listenable. I also couldn't help thinking that dedicating over a quarter of a soundtrack album to one song seems excessive, main theme or no.

I was largely disappointed by the four tracks attributed to D.C.M.C., Mother 3's in-game rock band. A few obvious loops ruin the illusion of live performance. "Theme of D.C.M.C" is chock full of cheesy guitar solos. "Sambo de Cambo" is fun, but strays far enough from the source material that the theme itself is lost. "Bon Voyage Amigo" comes dangerously close to Kenny G territory. "Theme of the King P," meanwhile, is an inspired twin-guitar-and-horns rendition of Porky's leitmotif and an album highlight. Criticisms aside, these tracks were a neat experiment, and are certainly more ambitious than a straight audio rip.

The remaining tracks — "Time Passage," "Pollyanna," "Snowman," and "16 Melodies (Beginning)" — make up an extended nostalgia trip. All four have themes that hearken back to the original Mother and were present but not prominent in Mother 3. Unfortunately, the quality of the arrangements is uneven. "16 Melodies" sounds strangely overwrought with its sappy strings and pop-song drums, while "Pollyanna" tries in vain to vary its one theme with different instrument patches. "Snowman" is the best of the bunch, and that's largely because its arrangement is unchanged.

Summary

All told, this is a very small sampling of Mother 3's music — only nine or ten distinct themes from a pool of perhaps one hundred viable choices. And quality notwithstanding, these themes are by design short and repetitive; I'm not convinced that they each stand on their own as three-minute pieces. By the time the intro hook in "Pollyanna" kicks in for the third time, I'm already reaching for the skip button. If you're only going to get one of the Mother 3 soundtracks, I'd have to recommend Mother 3i. Still, there is good stuff to be heard here if you can swallow the arrangements. Series fans will probably like Mother 3+, but more casual listeners may want to pass.

Overall Score: 5/10