Chapter 5: Tower of Thunder
With the group together once again, Lucas and his friends set off to find the Egg of Light, which they hope will jog Duster’s memory. Their search leads them to a broken-down Clayman hidden in the grassy knolls near Club Titiboo, and suddenly Duster remembers hiding the treasure within the useless being. Just as the Egg of Light is about to be reclaimed, a great bolt of lightning streaks through the air and hits the Clayman, miraculously bringing it back to “life.” Recharged, it takes off running away from Lucas and his friends.
They follow the Clayman to the base of the Thunder Tower, an enormous structure which generates bolts of electricity that strike upon the earth. For what reason the tower stands, nobody yet knows. As Lucas and his friends step inside the factory within, Pigmask soldiers immediately snap to attention.
“Sir! What are you doing in those clothes?” a soldier asks, sweating visibly. Before Lucas and his friends can even think about what is going on, the soldiers have retrieved three sets of Pigmask armor, and a heavy brown officer’s jacket for Lucas. They don the strange uniforms, and the soldiers treat them as senior officers within the army. Suddenly, the factory is entirely open to exploration.
Speaking to the various Pigmask soldiers reveals that the defective Clayman is probably heading to the dump, and so Lucas and his friends chase a garbage truck to locate it. Sure enough, the Clayman sits at the bottom of a pit, looking worn and sad. It finally seems to have run out of energy.
As Lucas reaches for the Egg of Light, the Clayman shudders and then attacks. It turns out to be the area’s miniboss, the Forlorn Junk Heap. This sad beast fits its description perfectly: It is a Clayman which also served as a dumping ground for the Pigmask soldiers’ unwanted tools. Once it became too worn to be useful, the soldiers seemed to have carelessly tossed any old broken item onto its body, resulting in a strange and disturbing chimera which is both created intentionally and unintentionally. Its drooping face looks hauntingly at the player, as if it wants to cry out in pain but has forgotten how to do so. Its attacks are clumsy and often consist of pulling large chunks of clay or garbage from its body, and then hurling them at Lucas and his party. Essentially, the Forlorn Junk Heap is destroying itself while it seeks to destroy others.
This may be the first instance within Mother 3 which hints at the subject of self-destruction or suicide. The Forlorn Junk heap seems conscious and sentient enough to initiate a fight, and so it cannot be dumb enough to have no comprehension of its actions. That being said, the beast must know that by pulling off large parts of its own body, it is doing damage to itself. It was engineered by the Pigmask soldiers to work without complaint, and then to serve as a dumping ground for unwanted trash. Even as it faces final death, the Forlorn Junk Heap acts only as an automaton for the soldiers who never cared for it in the first place.
Putting the Forlorn Junk Heap out of its misery allows Duster to reclaim the Egg of Light, which instantly causes his memory to come flooding back to him. Jubilation is cut short, however, when a Pigmask soldier appears at the dump and frantically asks Lucas why he isn’t at the Thunder Tower, where he is needed. It seems that the soldiers think Lucas is some sort of high-ranking official, and in order to keep up the charade, he allows himself and his friends to be transported to the strange tower.
The tower itself is a series of inter-locking corridors which lead to a central chamber that opens up into an outside staircase. Reaching the end of the corridors leads the party to the Fearsome Pigmask, an enormous soldier who sees through the costumes and attacks. This behemoth can be distracted with DCMC merchandise, and is eventually defeated by Lucas and his friends. Their battle has caused enough noise to attract Fassad onto the scene, who sounds the alarm. Lucas and his party have no choice but to start the long trek upward.
The Thunder Tower’s scaffolding is full of strange mechanical enemies which attack in pairs or trios, and they offer some valuable experience points when beaten. They continue upward and enter a huge circular room filled with…toys.
Yes, the top of the Thunder Tower is filled with toys. Lucas and his friends find bouncy balls, rubber ducks, racecars, yo-yos, teddy bears, wrapped gift boxes, balloons, toy blimps, and in the center, a star-shaped hot tub. Whimsical, childish music plays, transporting the group to a much more innocent and carefree era. The hot tub heals the party, and a girl-shaped robot walks around the room, dressed in a maid outfit.
Talking to this robot reveals that her name is Li’l Miss Marshmallow. She seems to be the overseer of this strange room, but does not appear hostile. Someone high up in the Pigmask Army must have specifically built her to guard this room, and her childlike appearance fits right in. Lucas and his friends spot a display case holding a Friend’s Yo-Yo, which is a wonderful tribute to EarthBound. As they peer in the display case, the option to take the yo-yo appears.
When Lucas tries to take the yo-yo, all illusions of peace and childish innocence are shattered. Li’l Miss Marshmallow immediately charges toward the group, ready to fight to the death to protect the yo-yo. During this battle, it is clear that she is another chimera within the game, bizarrely engineered to be mechanical and yet childlike, but with a switch that turns her into a vicious killing machine. Her attacks are merciless, and it takes every ounce of the party’s strength to do any damage at all.
Halfway through the battle, Li’l Miss Marshmallow sustains enough damage to flip into “Super Ticked Off Mode.” Lucas and his friends watch as horrific spikes jut out from her head and her hands, and she gains a second wind of sorts. This is a critically dangerous moment for the group, and they must throw everything they have at this terrifying death machine disguised as a little girl.
Eventually, Li’l Miss Marshmallow submits. Her defeat causes a wave of discomfort to hit the player, as the realization hits that someone in this army created a robotic little girl, and now she is dead. Why go through the specifics of giving her blonde pigtails and a maid’s outfit if she is nothing but a guardian? Was it to cause hesitation in any trespassers, who would instantly feel guilty for harming a child? Is she some sort of representation of a little sister of someone high up in the Pigmask Army? The answers are unclear.
Lucas and his friends continue their climb to the top of the tower, where they face stray jolts of lightning buzzing around without restraint. Finally, they reach the generator room and the exit. As they attempt to cross the chamber, a large mechanical voice rings out another alarm. Lucas and his party watch in horror as the generator itself opens up, and a humanoid robot emerges to do battle.
Mr. Genetor is the boss of this chapter. Immediately, we take notice that he has a name, just like Li’l Miss Marshmallow, and also a gender. He is crafted with a human shape (head, neck, arms, torso, and face), and is entirely sentient. Even though he is entirely mechanical, he has been deliberately created with the ability to recognize human trespassers and prevent them from escaping the tower. He attacks with high-voltage electric strikes, causing widespread damage to the group. Mr. Genetor has been given one purpose, and does anything and everything in order to fulfill it.
The morality of the Pigmask soldiers and their leaders is once again called into question. Why couldn’t they have simply set up barriers, traps, or locked doors to keep out intruders? Why did they go through the trouble of creating humanoid guardians to target unwelcome visitors? There is some sort of deep psychological reasoning behind these mechanical enemies within the chapter, and it is becoming clearer that the Pigmasks are not only trying to defeat Lucas and his friends physically, but emotionally. They have found a way to combine technology with human shapes to create deeply disturbing chimeras that only become more so as the story continues.
At the top of Thunder Tower, Fassad corners the group and laughs in their faces. He tells them that the tower is no longer needed by the army, and will be blown up momentarily. He eats a banana as he gloats, carelessly tossing the peel nearby. Fassad then calls in his Pork Ship to take him away before the tower explodes, but just as the ship arrives, an enormous tremor shakes the entire structure upon which they stand. Fassad stumbles, steps on the banana peel, and falls off the tower, plummeting hundreds of feet to the ground below.
Before they can register that Fassad is now dead, Lucas and his friends act quickly to escape. Duster pulls out their trusty companion, the Rope Snake, from his gear, and uses him to latch onto the ladder hanging out of the Pork Ship. Rope Snake serves as a tether to which Duster and the group cling, and they are lifted from the exploding tower just in time. The pilot of the ship obviously has no idea of Fassad’s demise, and flies away.
Soon, though, the hatch of the ship opens and a man wearing a thick brown jacket, military pants, and a mask looks down. He spots the group hanging onto the ladder, and within seconds the ship begins to shake wildly, attempting to make them fall. Rope Snake’s jaw begins to weaken, and as the ship heaves, he cries out and loses the last of his strength.
Lucas and his friends fall.
Itoi, Shigesato. Mother 3. Nintendo: Japan. 20 April 2006. Game Boy Advance.