Chapter 8: All Things… (Part 3)
The fight between the twin boys remains one of the most visceral, heart-wrenching experiences one can have while playing a Nintendo game. Hundreds of fans of Mother 3 have openly expressed that this battle, and the scene after it, has made them weep openly, and yet this makes them even fonder of the game as a whole. The emotional attachment players feel begins at the concept of the fight itself: Twin brothers Lucas and Claus must battle over the Seventh Needle, but Claus has lost his identity after being brainwashed by the sociopathic Porky. He remembers nothing of himself, his parents, his hometown, or his twin brother Lucas, with whom he shared the womb. Claus has already led the Pigmask Army through a rampage in the Nowhere Islands, causing pain and humiliation to the people and animals who dwell there. He is, in essence, only a robot.
Still, as the rounds pass in this battle, players who attempt to use Lucas’ offensive moves find that he cannot touch his brother. Attempting to use the “Bash” action causes the following to scroll across the screen: “Lucas couldn’t attack.” And yet, while he is paralyzed with guilt and anguish over this duel with his flesh and blood, Claus only sees him as an enemy and deals blow after blow without mercy. In fact, Claus is able to strike twice in his turns. He fires lasers at Lucas, and eventually launches the devastating PK Love Ω, which deals mortal damage to the blond twin. But even though Lucas suffers unimaginable pain from Claus, he still cannot attack. He continues to guard himself, reducing the rate at which damage accumulates, and heals himself.
Eventually, Lucas’ vision darkens and everything pauses as a strange calm descends upon the battlefield. Text slowly crawls across the screen, indicating that a quiet voice is making itself heard in Lucas’ (and hopefully Claus’) minds, “Lucas…”
The moment passes and the battle rages on. If Lucas attempts to cast a shield around himself, Claus uses his Shield Killer to quickly disperse it. All Lucas can do is heal himself after his twin brother deals significant damage that could endanger his life. It takes another several rounds of the one-sided fight to pass before darkness once again descends upon the blond boy’s vision, and the voice says, “Claus…”
It is still not clear whether this voice is able to penetrate the Masked Man’s subconscious mind; if he is able to hear the voice, he gives no indication of it. He continues to fight like the brainwashed robot he is, with no recognition of his brother and no consideration of his own safety. He is programmed to kill anything standing in the way of the Seventh Needle, and this is the only thing of which he is aware. Even though Porky is now sealed away for the rest of eternity, Claus is under his control. This proves that whatever techniques Porky and his soldiers used, they are permanent and horrifying.
The voice subtly identifies itself a short while later, interrupting the twins’ brawl as it says quietly, “Claus…You and Lucas are brothers!” It is Hinawa, calling out to her twin sons from the afterlife.
Hinawa’s presence in the final battle is the element that brings players to tears. She has spent the entire game as an absent figure, whose lack of presence causes grief for those she has left behind. The game’s title, Mother 3, fits very closely with the storyline because Hinawa is a central part of the plot and the characters’ identities. Shigesato Itoi’s previous two games in the series have certainly emphasized the importance of mothers and the impact they have on the playable characters, but never this deeply. Hinawa cannot rest in peace until she knows that both of her boys are safe and back together again.
Even though Lucas can hear her words, Claus gives no indication that he has. He continues to fire lasers at his twin brother, focused only on ending his life and pulling the Seventh Needle. Hinawa, however, isn’t giving up. She begins to direct her attention solely on him, and she tells him, “Can you hear me? You’re Claus. Your name is Claus!” She knows, probably better than anyone else, that he is deaf and blind to the outside world and will remain so until the spell can be broken. Lucas cannot attack, and so Hinawa is the only one who may be able to reach what is left of Claus.
“Please…Remember! Lucas…Claus…” Although no tears are being shed, it is clear that Hinawa is in a great deal of anguish in the afterlife as she watches her sons fight over the fate of the universe. Her words finally trigger a flashback, and the screen (most likely Lucas’ vision) goes white.
The music changes to a quiet version of the game’s theme song, reminiscent of a music box, and we see a small room holding two baby bassinets. Words appear below the scene, indicating a conversation between Flint and Hinawa.
“To think that we would be blessed with two children at once…”
“I bet they’ll accomplish things together that they couldn’t alone.”
“I’m sure they’ll argue a lot, too.”
“And I can see them helping each other out when they need it.”
“Claus…and Lucas. I bet we’ll mix them up a lot until they get bigger.”
“Claus and Lucas, huh…How do you want them to grow up to be?”
“To be kind, just like you.”
“Oh. I was just going to say…to be kind, just like YOU.”
“Great. Then it’s decided.”
“Make us proud.”
When the scene ends, the music playing in the background of the twins’ battle has changed to the theme song of the game, playing with a ghostly echoing sound to it. No matter if Lucas tries to attack, guard, or heal himself, the battle text indicates that he is struggling. “Lucas isn’t sure what to do anymore.”
Chimerism isn’t blatantly present in this final fight between the twin brothers, but Claus’ split personalities embody the most hurtful type of chimerism in the game. Even though he is entirely made of flesh, he is half-human, half-robot, brainwashed to the point where his humanity has been wiped away intentionally by Porky. He has been reprogrammed to destroy anything and everything remaining of his humanity, including his twin brother. Essentially, he is now a tool to put an end to the human race, and will ultimately destroy himself in the process. Claus’ family is the only thing standing between him and this destruction.
Curiously, Claus is still referred to as “The Masked Man” throughout the final stages of his battle with Lucas, signaling the struggle still raging within his memory. Everyone knows who he really is except for him. His memories begin to resurface, and he shuts his eyes when he attacks Lucas. When he hurts his twin brother, he gazes at him afterward, as if he can feel the blow in his own body.
Even if Lucas tries to attack, chooses to guard, or heals himself, the text on the screen reads, “Lucas wanted to cry.” The player cannot make Lucas hurt his own flesh and blood anymore, emphasizing the enormous level of emotional torment experienced by the twins. Essentially, the game has taken on a life of its own and the player is as helpless as Lucas’ friends who have been knocked unconscious.
When it seems as if nothing will work, Lucas’ vision goes white and Hinawa calls down again. Her words are chilling: “Claus…Claus…Claus…Come to your mother. You must be so exhausted. Come here, Claus.”
She is calling him home.
Claus looks around, as if he is looking for something he cannot find. And then, simply and without theatrics, he removes his helmet. His small face looks at Lucas for the first time since he went missing, and it is like looking into a mirror. The moment passes, and suddenly Claus calls down an intense bolt of lightning to strike Lucas. This is the same way the battle began, and it had reflected off Lucas’ Franklin Badge. Claus knows this, and fires anyway.
The lightning hits Lucas’ Franklin Badge. Claus suffers mortal damage.
Unable to fight any longer, Claus stumbles toward his twin brother and is caught in his arms. Even though years have passed between the twins, Lucas holds his brother and remembers the way he smells. As his heart begins to fail, Claus tells his brother, “I’m sorry it turned out like this. I’m really happy you could be with me just before the end…Thanks. Dad. I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you. I’m going to where Mom is now. Lucas. I hope we meet again someday. Bye. Thank you.
“I’m sorry. I’m sure we’ll meet again.”
With his soul finally at peace, Claus exhales one final time and slips away, surrounded by his family. It is one of the rawest, most emotional moments of any Nintendo game ever made, and it is not unusual at all for players to be in the midst of heart-wrenching sobs by this point. Mother 3 is not a brief game, and so players have developed an emotional connection to each of the characters, focusing their efforts on finally uniting the twin boys. Their reunion was so brief, and then Claus committed suicide once he realized that he had no other way out.
Claus’ suicide is a hotly debated issue in Mother 3. Why would Hinawa call one of her sons to kill himself and join her in the afterlife? How could a young boy even understand what he was doing to himself? Why didn’t Lucas stop him? Certainly the scene was alarming, but let us stop to think about what must have been going through Claus’ mind. His mother’s voice from beyond the grave has finally broken the spell he was under, and he immediately remembers who he had been before, everything he had done while in command of the Pigmask Army, and all the pain he has caused to those he loves. Claus believes he is responsible for Hinawa’s death, but she does not condemn him. Even though she calls him home to her, her voice is gentle and she understands the unimaginable suffering he has endured.
Claus does not commit suicide because he is guilty for hurting those he loves. He commits suicide because he believes it is the only way he can help his twin brother Lucas save the universe from Porky’s destruction. Claus’ action is not motivated by depression, panic, or immense guilt. He is not “talked into” taking his own life by his mother, who calls him to join her. Rather, Hinawa was able to see into Claus’ soul when even he had no idea who he really was, and she saw that it was his destiny to sacrifice himself to aid Lucas.
Shigesato Itoi’s characters are often “chosen” by the universe to carry out monumental, seemingly impossible tasks. Ness in EarthBound is the chosen boy who must do battle with Giygas and prevent him from annihilating all life in existence, as was predicted by the great Apple of Enlightenment. Lucas is the chosen boy in Mother 3 who must accept the PSI power of the Magypsies and pass his heart onto the Dark Dragon to save the world from utter destruction a second time, as detailed in Leder’s tale. Even though Claus is not mentioned in the tale, the fact that he is Lucas’ twin brother plays an important role, because then there are two chosen boys.
Claus’ destiny was not to be the Commander of the Pigmask Army. In being captured by Porky and brainwashed, the events of the world were disrupted, and thus Porky was able to get several of the Needles and cloud the heart of the Dark Dragon with evil. Claus becomes aware that removing himself from the Seventh Needle, no matter whether his heart is truly evil or benevolent, will aid his brother in pulling it from the crust of the earth and awakening the Dark Dragon.
One may wonder how a young boy even understands the concept of suicide. The majority of Mother 3 is certainly filled with battles, but as previously mentioned, enemies typically “become tame” or “faint” once they are defeated. Claus willingly and knowingly calls down a bolt of lightning to reflect off Lucas’ Franklin Badge and end his life. How could someone so young have the knowledge to do such a thing? Hinawa called him home to her, but she did not tell him what to do or how to do it. Claus automatically knew that he must kill himself. How?
When Claus’ memory comes back just before his suicide, the knowledge of the things he has done and assisted does not leave his mind. He is fully aware of the things he did while acting as the Masked Man, as well as the things he did when he was still Claus. We can only imagine the horrors he witnessed—and partook in—while he was leading the Pigmask Army, and so it is not hard to consider that he knows full well how to commit suicide.
Another question to consider is why, after years of separation and torment, Claus would kill himself after being reunited with his twin brother. Their reunion only lasted mere moments before he breathed his final breath, leaving Lucas and Flint to mourn him for a second time. This may seem incredibly selfish and cruel, but Claus did not take his own life in order to hurt them or desert them. He removed himself from the world to prevent any possibility of tainting the Dark Dragon’s heart and causing anymore pain to those he loves. And while he certainly breaks the hearts of his father and his twin brother, Claus understands that he will be with Hinawa, so that she will no longer be alone.
In a tear-jerking moment after Claus dies, Flint tells his only remaining son, “Lucas…Thank you. Claus was just hasty, that’s all. You’ll forgive your hasty brother, won’t you?” Flint may have understood that Claus’ suicide was inevitable, that he would remove himself from the world sooner or later. Knowing that his son stopped at nothing to find his mother, he believes that Claus would have taken his own life one way or another in order to be with Hinawa. Claus, who was brainwashed before he learned of his mother’s death, did not become aware that she was departed until she began to call to him. Once he learned who he was, he realized that his mother was dead. Flint believed that Claus would end his own life once he realized Hinawa was dead, and thus is not surprised or heartbroken to lay his son to rest.
Flint instructs Lucas to pull the Dragon’s final Needle. The time has come. Both Claus and Hinawa have put their faith in Lucas, and it is now time for Lucas to do right by them. The Dark Dragon will be a friend to the people of the world, and nothing will ever need to be sealed away again.
Lucas stands before the final Needle, understanding that the lives of everyone he loves are depending on him. He is putting absolutely everything at risk for them.
He pulls the final Needle.
A beam of light emerges from the ground momentarily, and then disappears. Everything begins to quake violently, and a great rumbling fills the ears of Lucas and his friends. Multicolored lights flash around them, seeming to come from the abyss below, and then a great plume of smoke erupts from the spot where the Needle had stood.
Blinding white light takes away everyone’s vision, and a moment later, the player is able to see the events unfolding on the surface of the world. The ground underneath the feet of everyone across the world begins to quake, frightening wild chimeras out grazing and the scientists tending them. Great meteors, or perhaps chunks of debris from the crumbling mountains, rain down onto the forests. And then, the scene pans out and player looks down upon a great expanse of area in the Nowhere Islands, where unimaginable destruction spreads.
A volcano in the distance spews lava down its slope, setting the nearby forest on fire. At the same time, waterspouts churn the waters of the nearby ocean as debris continues to rain down from the sky. The music that plays is not dramatic, but emphatic of widespread lamentation for the world that once was, but never shall be again. Great fissures open up across the surface of the world, swallowing up bridges and homes while the dedicated Claymen continue to work.
After standing through the end of the world once before, Osohe Castle crumbles into the ground. As it falls, a great zeppelin rises from the burning forest, its speakers blaring the song of Porky’s Army. Before it can escape, a chunk of debris rains down and destroys its rotors.
Where the Nowhere Islands had once risen out of the depths of the ocean, suddenly a great silhouette of what appears to be a mountain rises up. The waterspouts continue to rage, and the mountain pauses for a moment, as if contemplating something. And then, a great earthquake shakes the crust of the entire world, and everything is enveloped in white light.
The game is over.
Shigesato Itoi chooses not to show the aftermath of the Dark Dragon’s awakening. What happens afterward is irrelevant. Lucas has fulfilled his destiny and has saved the world from destruction at the hands of Porky and his Pigmask Army. Even though it appears that the world has been annihilated due to the widespread earthquakes, waterspouts, and volcanic eruptions, the prophecy has been fulfilled and the universe has been spared from catastrophe.
Given the details in Leder’s story, the likely outcome of the Dark Dragon’s awakening is not widespread death and destruction of the human race, but a thinning of the population is possible. The natural disasters that were stemmed from the Dark Dragon’s awakening were certainly alarming, but were possibly due to the removal of several of the Needles by Claus’ hand. The Dragon’s heart may not be completely benevolent, but is certainly not completely evil either. A compromise may have been the result of having some needles pulled by Claus and the rest by Lucas.
If this is the case, the Dark Dragon is a chimera in its own way. This creature was sealed away by the Magypsies to be called upon only when the universe was threatened by the ultimate evil, and is thus the most neutral power in existence. Its nature is molded by the intentions of the one who pulls the Needles from the crust of the world. Lucas and Claus mimicked the experiments of the Pigmask Army to an extent, and the result was not a laboratory hybrid, but a Dark Dragon with a heart partially tainted with the misanthropic hatred of Porky Minch.
The fate of the world is unknown. Mother 3 ends with a black screen displaying white letters that only way “End?” No certainty is present at the end of Shigesato Itoi’s games, because nothing ever ends. Porky Minch did not succeed in turning the universe into his sick playground, and so the Magypsies have managed to emerge victorious after fighting against insurmountable odds.
One of the overall messages in Mother 3 is the importance of letting nature exist as it is, without deliberately tampering with it in order to spread pain and misery. There is nothing wrong with civilization, similar to Tazmily Village, in which people live in harmony and appreciate what the world has given them. It is when people abuse the natural world with the intention to destroy that evil and sadism spread. Such sinister intentions will not succeed; the natural world is more resilient to the powers of evil than it may seem.
To sum it up, Mother Earth will not listen to the whims of any spoiled child who thinks he is in charge.
Itoi, Shigesato. Mother 3. Nintendo: Japan. 20 April 2006. Game Boy Advance.