Chapter 8: All Things… (Part 2)
It is time to leave the sewers and confront Porky once and for all. The group leaves Leder and begins the trek back up to the surface, but just as they are about to reach the ladder, bubbles ascend to the surface of the sewage. Fassad bursts from the filth, hovering with the help of a brand new jetpack and sporting a new set of horns. His interpreter follows, and explains that Fassad has been remade once again into the ultimate weapon of destruction and pain.
Miracle Fassad is the ultimate chimera of human and machine. His squat, once-weak body has been reinforced with brass, steel, and oil, and he shoots flames from two of the horns protruding from his pack. The only recognizably human feature of him left is his face, which is still partially mechanical. His new title, “Miracle Fassad,” speaks volumes to his narcissism and inflated ego; he believes he is a miracle of technological advances made by Porky’s Pigmask Army. Fassad’s interpreter is necessary because he can no longer speak using human words, only with the blares of horns, but this is merely a slight nuisance. Fassad has no need to communicate with mere mortals anyway, and even his interpreter is a mechanical chimera. He has come back from seemingly mortal wounds for a third time, and is now less human than ever. How can it be possible to defeat him for good?
The battle requires a great deal of strategy, healing, and patience. Miracle Fassad heals himself often, but packs a wicked punch when he launches offensive strikes. But, Lucas and his friends not only have the power of PSI on their side, but they are fighting for a much greater goal than a simple show of bravado. They eventually defeat Miracle Fassad, but not in the sense that they have killed him. Rather, Fassad lists awkwardly in mid-air, and his interpreter explains that Fassad is absolutely sick of fighting. “This is all just a game. You could call it Master Porky’s game. You people are still stuck inside the game. As for me, I may have been removed from it. But, I am still not sure. The flames of my life are in danger now. I do not think we will ever meet again. And not just in battle.”
Fassad falls into the sewage once more, and his interpreter—now no longer needed—departs. His final speech seems simple, and fitting to a game of this style, but a closer look reveals the presence of meta-narrative and foreshadowing. Fassad speaks of everyone being trapped within a game played—or perhaps controlled—by Porky. He hints that none of what they are fighting for really matters in any sort of big picture. Who is he addressing with the phrase, “You people are still stuck inside the game”? Is he merely speaking to Lucas and his friends, or is Fassad demonstrating the method of an author speaking to his readers?
The technique of addressing one’s readers—or players, in this case—directly is a controversial practice among writers. Some swear by it, arguing that it pulls the reader personally into a narrative and turns them into one of the characters. Others absolutely abhor the practice, calling it a cheap trick which is used when a plot is weak and authors have no other hooks. Shigesato Itoi seems to be a fan of addressing players directly, and has used it in both EarthBound and Mother 3, but in different ways. EarthBound used a more hands-on, and slightly exhilarating, method of making the player a part of the game, by using several points throughout the story to “gather information.” Tony, who is Jeff’s best friend, calls the group of four friends and asks, “And what is your name? You, the person holding the controller.” He claims that he is doing research for a project for school, and the player is prompted to enter their name onto the screen. Later on, at the very end of the game, the group of four friends seems to be losing a battle against Giygas, the ultimate universal evil. Paula, the game’s chief female protagonist, prays for help from anyone who can hear her. As she prays, the various EarthBound characters stop what they are doing and pray for the safety of the four young kids, which deals mortal damage to Giygas. When Paula can no longer think of people from whom to ask for help, she prays for help from anyone who can hear her. The following dialogue is disturbing:
“‘I can’t think of anyone else…Someone…anyone…please help us.'”
“Paula’s call was absorbed by the darkness.”
“Paula prayed from the bottom of her heart!”
“‘Someone…can you hear me?! Please, give us strength!'”
If, for example, the player’s name was Ryan, and had been inputted into the screen at the earlier points in EarthBound, the following will take place during the battle:
“Paula and her friends’ calls touched the heart of R—.”
“—n prayed for the kids, having never even met them before.”
Significant damage is dealt to Giygas.
“-y-n kept praying.”
Even more significant damage is dealt to Giygas.
“Ry-n kept praying.”
Unfathomable damage is dealt to Giygas.
“Ryan kept praying.”
Mortal damage is dealt to Giygas, and the battle is now over.
This technique is astounding, especially because it was used in a Super Nintendo game and many players had never experienced such a sense of being personally involved with a game. It demonstrates a level of maturity not commonly found in video games during the early 1990s, and Shigesato Itoi seemed to feel that he was on to something. He brought the practice back in Mother 3, though in a more subtle way.
Fassad’s speech may seem at first that it is a way for him to “remind” players that they are merely playing a game, and that none of the characters or events are real. However, the emotions it evokes are the opposite: Players feel as if they are just as emotionally invested in the events of the game, and perhaps just as helpless, as Lucas and his friends. A war to save the universe is underway, started by a bratty child who wants to manipulate life according to his sociopathic whims.
Nonetheless, Fassad is gone, and it is now time to go to the Empire Porky Building and set the stage for a final confrontation.
The true destination for the showdown with Porky is the 100th floor of the building, but the elevator only reaches the 24th floor, where a concert is being held by DCMC, the band in which Duster played while his memory was compromised. The band members ask him to join them for one more performance, and he obliges. Just as the band really starts to rock out, the music is cut short and a voice over the intercom requests Lucas and his friends to travel to the 100th floor for an important meeting.
The group steps into an elevator, hoping to finally get to the top of the enormous building, but find themselves on a floor filled with large pools of water and Hippo Launchers wading through them. The Hippo Launchers are dangerous chimeras engineered by the Pigmask Army to prevent any unwanted guests from proceeding up the Empire Porky Building, and they look like typical hippos except for the fact that they launch missiles from their enormous mouths. Unless provoked, the Hippo Launchers are docile creatures and can be pretty easily avoided. Proceeding past them allows Lucas and the group to take another elevator up.
They arrive not on the 100th floor, but in Master Porky’s throne room. Feminine robots and even a centaur greet the group, but Porky is nowhere to be found. There is nothing left to do but take another elevator up, and this one opens into a floor made up of nothing but a maze of bathrooms. Some of the doors are actually enemies in disguise, and so Lucas and the group must battle a few times before reaching an elevator.
Stepping out of this elevator reveals a Magypsy shell house, with no resident inside. However, the house is filled with wrapped gift boxes, and opening them reveals Luxury Bananas for Lucas and the group to take. This is the home of Locria, the Magypsy traitor who eventually turned into Fassad. It is somewhat disturbing to see the house inside of the Empire Porky Building; the large pink shell seems more fitting to organic locations such as the ones previously seen, but this one sits inside of a giant skyscraper. It doesn’t seem to belong there. In betraying the Magypsies as well as the human race, Locria moved her home to a great skyscraper created as a display of sociopathic whim and boasting, under Porky’s command. Locria not only sold her own soul, but sold the fates of every living creature in the universe when she chose to side with Porky. It is tragic.
Ascending another elevator brings the group to a floor that is still under construction. They must weave their way around dangerous gaps in the floor, fight mechanical enemies, and finally make it to another elevator. This one takes them to a sprawling laboratory filled with chimeras that have not yet been sent to deliver havoc and pain on the world. Defeating these beasts eventually leads to yet another elevator, this time traveling to the most bizarre floor yet.
The stage is set for a great competition, and Lucas is the lucky competitor. An announcer introduces the champion who has never been beaten, Master Mini-Porky, and drops some not-so-subtle hints about the best way to proceed to higher floors. The gist of these games is to lose to Master Mini-Porky, but just barely; he doesn’t want to think that he has been given these victories. The three activities are Whac-a-Mole, a race, and a balloon-blowing competition, and the only way to proceed is to let Master Mini-Porky win by a nose. Feeding this robot’s childish whims allows Lucas and his friends to step into an elevator that finally, finally leads to the real 100th floor.
The guardian of this floor is the horrifying Natural Killer Cyborg. This enormous, grotesque creation is all mechanical, but modeled after the most disturbing pig imaginable. Its small face is hidden in a maze of fleshy wrinkles, and it lets loose with devastating explosive attacks that can quickly cut the team down unless they dabble in stat-altering attacks to lower its offense. Kumatora uses her strongest PK Thunder attacks, Duster assists Lucas in lowering the Natural Killer Cyborg’s stats, and Boney launches his most powerful explosives at the beast.
This enemy offers a valuable look into Porky’s psyche. It is a behemoth, speaking to the possible Napoleon syndrome gripping Porky, as well as the childish assumption that bigger is always better. It looks as if an enormous pig head was stuck onto robotic components, and its great eyes blare red in a horrific bloody gaze. Its brain is visible beneath a clear glass helmet, almost as if to boast about the scientific effort it took to create the monster. The Natural Killer Cyborg is a demonstration of hubris, childish underestimation, and lack of battle tact.
Not surprisingly, the beast falls to the superior planning of Lucas and his comrades, and they can proceed to a room containing a river, a boat, and many fun displays. Riding the boat allows players to re-visit their adventures in EarthBound, and they can look at such sights as Dungeon Man, the Runaway Five’s tour bus, and the yellow submarine that brought Ness’ group to the Deep Darkness. Shigesato Itoi loves to please his fans, and this is a delightful bit of nostalgia. Reaching the end of the room, Lucas and his friends walk through a door and finally have their encounter with Master Porky.
A chubby blond boy in a bowtie stands before them and declares that he only wants to be their friend! It is quickly apparent that this is an imposter, and a battle ensues. The mechanical imposter gives way to several more, and Lucas and his friends must fight one after another in a seemingly endless battle. The situation seems dire, and after defeating seven of the robots, there is no end in sight. But suddenly, the DCMC members rush in and take care of the imposters.
With this battle finally over, another guest joins the fray. The real Porky Minch descends in his life-sustaining casket, coughing and wheezing as he clumsily makes his way down on supportive vines. He appears simultaneously young and yet ancient, a chubby boy with gray hair and declining health. Finally, we see that Porky’s chimeras were a way for him to establish himself in the world. He is a chimera himself, in that he has existed for millennia across different multiverses, but has never grown up. His constant inter-dimensional travel has wrecked his body to the point where he will never die.
Porky exists solely to destroy things, to achieve the ultimate childish thrill. He is constantly bored with the toys he has already wrecked, and is always on the hunt for new organic life to bring to an end. Porky has no respect for life, and his existence focuses only on taking away what people have worked so hard to achieve. He is a sociopath in the worst ways because he knows what he is doing, he understand the pain he causes, and he thinks it is hilarious.
How could someone become this way? Was there some event in Porky’s childhood that triggered the development of sociopathic tendencies and made him unable to care about anyone other than himself? Players of EarthBound remember that he was always spoiled by his parents, who found it easier to buy off their children with money and toys than to pay them any kind of emotional attention, and perhaps this led to the development of his sadistic whims.
Nonetheless, Porky reveals the location of the final Needle. It is hidden away far below the bustle of New Pork City, and so Lucas and his friends have no choice but to ride the sudden plummeting elevator all the way down. Lucas’ father Flint has tagged along with the group, and he insists on running ahead in case danger presents itself.
The area below New Pork City is an enormous underground cave that descends down into an even eerier expanse with winding pathways and bolts of lightning striking the ground at random. The bolts of lightning are actually enemies, and Lucas and his friends have to fell several of them as they follow the pathways toward the final Needle.
The group is alarmed to come upon Flint, who has fallen to his knees and is beyond exhausted. He tells his son, “That…That masked man…He’s Claus. Lucas…he’s your brother…Claus.” A father never forgets his son, no matter how long he’s been missing, but Flint is heartbroken to find that Claus now works for Porky. Lucas has to find a way to pull the final Needle before his brother passes his tainted heart to the Dark Dragon and damns the universe to utter destruction.
Not too far ahead, Porky makes another appearance and this time challenges the group to a final showdown. But, always the cheater, Porky makes it to a certain point in the battle before he seals himself up in an Absolutely Safe Capsule. It locks once sealed, and has no access inside or outside. The battle, by default, is over. Dr. Andonuts (Jeff’s father from EarthBound) appears and explains to the group that Porky has now sealed himself away for all eternity, and can never be hurt again. While this may sound dismal, it actually may be exactly what Porky wanted. He can never bother anyone again.
Claus still remains, however. Lucas and his friends heal themselves in a hot spring, and make the final short trek to the very last Needle. Claus stands before it, in his full military garb. He turns, takes a moment to study the group, and calls upon a bolt of lightning to strike them down. Lucas’ Franklin Badge reflects the lightning back, but his friends fall unconscious. Claus is hit with his own lightning, and the battle is on.
Itoi, Shigesato. Mother 3. Nintendo: Japan. 20 April 2006. Game Boy Advance.