Despite a change in composers, the Mother 3 arranged album retains the same quirky, but thoughtful feel so well captured by the previous entries in the series. Containing ten selections, Mother 3+ combines classic themes with new ones to create a real fan-pleaser. Shogo Sakai orchestrates most of the tracks, with Taeko Onuki and Satoshi Kadokura credited for the “We Miss You” vocal and instrumental tracks that surround Sakai’s work. Overall, the soundtrack is a worthy addition to the Mother musical canon.
The album opens with a vocal version of “We Miss You.” The song has a uniquely gentle nature and the vocal quality is great. The following four tracks are all similar to one another, each accompanied by audience noise, as if performed live. It all starts with the Mother 3 band DCMC’s theme, a mix of drums, organs, electric guitars, and other instruments. Then follows the salsa-like “Samba de Cambo” and the slower “Bon Voyage, Amigo.” The final “live” track is “Mr. Great’s Theme,” a guitar-heavy tune with a background of catchy brass. Oddly enough, although these four tracks employ more “real” instruments than the others, they’re not the best on the album. Some of the Mother charm is lost in the slick guitar solos, and melody takes an unnecessary break.
The second half of Mother 3+ contains some classics reimagined in wonderful ways. Here the Mother charm is in full effect, and the music puts the listener in that surreal trance long ago established by Keiichi Suzuki. “Time Passage” starts off the nostalgia slowly and sweetly, but the Mother 3+ version of the favorite “Pollyanna” is a synth blast of fun. “Snowman” may be the best on the soundtrack with its ability to capture an entire season so fully. The final Shogo Sakai track, “16 Melodies,” is a broad-sounding piece with a variety of instruments and a climactic ending. The final track is an instrumental version of the first track. Its emotionally evocative nature lends itself well to the conclusion, but strangely enough, there are some vocal arias included. It’s not so instrumental after all.
Despite a slightly weak first half, with some exceptions, Mother 3+ stands out as an excellent arranged album for a beloved series. With “Snowman” at its center, Mother 3+ has a particularly wintry feel about it, and as I look out the window to see the season’s first snowflakes falling to the ground, I believe it couldn’t be more appropriate. A perfect album to venerate the winter season and a lovely addition to any video game music library, Mother 3+ continues the legacy of beautiful Mother sounds.