Mother 3i :: Review by Cruise Elroy
Mother 3i is chock full of music. While its sister soundtrack Mother 3+ presents one theme from the game at a time, most of the tracks on Mother 3i combine multiple themes together into mini-medleys and the album is twice as long to boot. Purists may balk at the medleys, but I think they're a win-win: not only do we get more pieces out of them, but they prevent the single-theme fatigue that too often plagues game soundtracks. Music that is designed to repeat inoffensively may not sustain interest during close listening, but if the themes are strong enough they can be reconstituted to do so. Happily, Mother 3's music is up to the task.
Most of the album tracks are either medleys of battle themes ("Twist and Battle," "Mambo and Battle," "Oh, Buta-Mask") or medleys of themes that are narratively linked ("The Castle of OSOHE," "Memory of Tatsumairi," "Flowers"). What's most surprising about these combinations is how often they work: "Twist and Battle," for example, blends a Batman-inspired theme with another that's straight out of 50s rock and roll. However, since all medleys aren't based around similar musical features, they don't always mesh as well as they could; "OSOHE," for example, abruptly crossfades an upbeat saloon piano into a spooky string section.
Such awkward transitions are rare, though, and the lion's share of the music here is wonderfully done. The energetic "Theme of Bad Boy" stirs together nearly a dozen battle themes with aplomb while "Gentle Rain" and "Flowers" weave some of Mother 3's most peaceful music into surprisingly affecting pieces (though the "Love" theme, which dominates the Mother 3+ soundtrack, is conspicuously absent). "Theme of Duster," a rare non-medley piece, leans heavily on its one theme but fades away just as it overstays its welcome. These feel like full-fledged pieces, not loops that have been arbitrarily extended.
Audio fidelity has been improved across the board on this album. The drums are crisper, pianos are fuller, the sax riff in the "Magypsy" theme no longer has laughable pitch bend artifacts. I have some quibbles with some individual patches there is the occasional echoey bass or goofball orchestral hit but they're never worse than the originals, and often quite a bit better. I already thought the GBA soundtrack was a pleasure to listen to, so I was thrilled by the improvements on this one.
Though it's missing the iconic "Love" theme and perennial series favorites like "Pollyanna," I found Mother 3i to be the superior soundtrack. With more engaging arrangements, less cloying sentimentality, and a wider variety of themes, it's the next best thing to the in-game music player. Even though it was exclusively released on iTunes, it is recommended for Mother fans and curious music lovers alike.
Overall Score: 9/10