The quirky, whimsical Mother franchise has more than a few faithful followers, and while skeptical at first, I joined that group not long ago by playing (and thoroughly enjoying) Earthbound. What I didn’t realize at the time was how fantastic the soundtrack is. Upon hearing it again, I have come to love Keiichi Suzuki’s work along with contributors like Hiroshi Kanazu. Thankfully, the Mother 1+2 original soundtrack contains selections from both the first and second titles in the series. The music from the original is surprisingly stronger than that of its sequel, but that’s not to say Mother 2’s soundtrack is to be ignored. Both make up one of the most memorable and entertaining video game soundtracks I’ve heard in years.
The Mother 1 side of the album starts out safe with a sweet little melody called “Mother Earth,” but soon reaches its full potential with the danceable and cheery “Pollyanna.” If for no other reason than to raise my spirits if I ever find myself distressed, I’ll keep the Mother 1+2 soundtrack around. Listening to songs like “Pollyanna,” “Bein’ Friend,” or, my favorite, “The Paradise Line,” puts an immediate smile on my face and a tap in my foot. Not only are the songs uplifting, but they’re well composed, too. Others are quirky enough, but not quite as strong; they seem to sacrifice a bit of listening pleasure for a sufficiently strange sound that most likely works better in game. These “gimmick” tracks, such as “Humoresque of a Little Dog” aren’t the best, but they’re still above what one might hear in the average JRPG. This side concludes with a slower, more somber tune that eventually builds to something grander, fitting for the conclusion to something one doesn’t want to end.
The Mother 2 side is slightly less impressive, as it contains a couple more “gimmick” tracks, but they’re still unique, fun, and well done overall. Three town themes open the Mother 2 side, and they’re a bright and playful beginning. Of course, there are wacky tracks like “Saturn Valley’s Theme” that undoubtedly evoke the image of a dozen strange little creatures running amok in those that are familiar with the game. Unfortunately, the track may do little else, and whether that is effective or not is up to the listener. While this side offers less electrically charged tracks, there are some wonderful mellow songs such as “Light of Life,” “Because I Love You,” and the very snowy “Winter’s Theme.” The album finishes with the longest track, “Smiles and Tears,” a roller coaster of pitch, volume, and instrument.
Expecting a fully entertaining, but somewhat annoyingly strange soundtrack from Mother 1+2, I was surprised at what I heard instead: a quality collection of uplifting, passionate songs. Suzuki worked alone on most of Mother 1, and it may have been for the better, as his solo work seems to be slightly stronger than his joint efforts, but both are worthy of acclaim. Fans of either Mother 1 or 2 (or both) will undoubtedly enjoy the soundtrack. Suzuki and friends have given us something truly unique in its ability to make one feel as no other music can.