Frog #12: Father and Father Away

After last week’s novel of a post, you might be surprised at Frog #12’s length. This is not another two-parter, nor even a three-parter. We’re kicking it back into low gear, folks. We’ll be out of here in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. We’re cruising through this one.

Or, strolling, I guess. The main action of the day involves Flint and Alec, father and father-in-law, taking a nice and easy walk through the mountains. Who would have thought that Mother 3, the final game in the series, would break new ground by letting the players control not one, but two fathers at a time?

Different tastes in hats, but still a good team.

One thing is for sure: the dads aren’t phoning it in anymore in this series.

In a way, I feel rewarded for the journey of last week’s post. The follow-up is more relaxing, and more straight forward, than I could have hoped for. Actually, maybe even more straightforward than I’d want in the first place. Mother 3 reaches all new levels of linearity this week with cute, arrow-shaped lizards, who will literally point you in the right direction at all times.

We’ll get to that.

But for now, I think we should enjoy our brief respite on Alec’s farm. As usual, the animals have some unique perspectives and thoughts to share, and it’s nice to see that Alec’s house is intact, despite the Pigmasks’ assault on Tazmily. Unless Alec is secretly a Pigmask sympathizer or something. How much do we really know about this old coot?

With nowhere to go but deeper into the mountains, you’ll be spending a good chunk of time with Alec whether you like him or not. I’ve always enjoyed Alec, especially during his travels with Flint, because he’s a consistent source of levity (and great puns). Who knows, that’s probably where Hinawa got her sense of humor, which I’ve never realized before. And, though Claus gets all that action-oriented determination from his dad, he probably still gets his humor from his mother.

So, as much as I want to say that you should sit back, relax, and enjoy the fathers of Mother, I shouldn’t be lulled into a Tazmilian sense of security too easily. Claus is still out here, somewhere, and we have to find him.

Poor Flint will never catch a break.

Back at the Ranch

Even though we’re back at Alec’s farm, which in the Prologue was carefree and safe, I don’t feel great. Maybe it’s because “Going Alone” is playing again. I still don’t know what it is about this song. It makes me so anxious and forlorn-feelin’, you know what I mean? I mean, yes, it really is a great song, but it just makes me feel like I’m slowly deflating.

And there’s really nothing to be anxious about yet! Yes, Claus is missing, but there are all these lovely animals around. Chickens, pigs, and a wise old cow, who confirms that cows everywhere, wherever they are, still go “Moo.” (And still drool)

The pigs, as they did before, steal the show. The pig on the right says, “I wanna see the ocean.”

And the pig on the left says,” I wanna see a pig seeing the ocean.”

These two pigs! What are we going to do with them? If only they knew they were such a perfect match!

There’s also a little mouse scampering around near the trash can, who says it’s a very commendable to not waste food, but that it makes his life of scavenging quite a bit more difficult. While I can’t say that I’m going to start leaving more food in my trashcan for the mice of the world (I had a mouse sprinting through my kitchen enough last winter to want more of its kind around my trashcan), I do feel sorry this little mouse. I wonder if he’s the same one from Lighter’s burnt down cabin–just a little wayward mouse, making his way in the world.

The poor little guy is so hungry that he starts to speak in squeaky morse code (mouse morse code): SOS. If I could, I would take this mouse into my party and feed him as many pieces of nut bread or beef jerky as he wants! Unfortunately, those are the only two food items I have in my inventory, but I assume he’s familiar with eating whatever’s left lying around.

As a sidenote, I love how consistently mice appear as NPCs in the Mother series. I’ve recently been playing the original Mother, and I think I’ve already run into three different mice. Their dialogue in Mother isn’t as good as the material from Mother 3, but it’s still fun to come across them every now and again, especially in the world of Mother, which sometimes feels a little emptier than the later games in the series. I know Itoi has no intentions of returning to the Mother series, but maybe he could make a Mouse video game, or something. I know it’s a cheesy idea, but mice eat that stuff up.

I also learned that you can actually talk to the chickens, instead of just chasing them around and scaring the feathers off of them. When I was on Alec’s farm as Lucas, I guess I didn’t try hard enough to chat with the chickens, but like I always say: I’m still learning how to play around more, to not stay on track so much. And this time, I did talk to the chickens, so I think I’m playing in the right direction.

I’ll be a chicken chaser ’til the day I die!

All the chickens say, though, is that you really shouldn’t chase them, but the only way to learn this from the chickens is to talk to them, which, of course, requires you to chase them.

Oh, well. This is why Flint is a sheep farmer! Chickens are such drama queens! Though really, “Please don’t chase after me. Please don’t chase birds,” sounds like dialogue from one fed-up chicken. My guess is that Lucas and Claus chased it around so much that it can’t stand to chased for one more clucking second!

Anyway, Alec doesn’t have the most robust set of farm animals or anything, so before long, it’s time to head inside and see what the plan is. Before any strategizing, though, I decide to look around the house. It feels so different not being here as Lucas, not being here as a little kid. The size of the pillows on Lucas and Claus’s bed are so much smaller than Hinawa’s pillow!

Claus, don’t you understand that you’re too young to be out here alone!!

As usual.

Poor Claus. It’s not fun to think of him out there in the mountains. Surprisingly, Alec isn’t too freaked out or anything, though how could he be upset when he gets to listen to “Alec’s Log Cabin” all the time? Back when we listened to this song in the Prologue, it sounded like the most perfect, sweetest song to begin a colorful, lively game like Mother 3. Now, it sounds like a shelter against everything else going on in The Nowhere Islands. I feel like I’m allowed to rest, here, even though we have so much ahead of us.

Like I said, Alec isn’t too worried (or just isn’t showing it), but he admits that the Sunshine Forest has gotten more dangerous. Like Abbey and Abbot, he even got bit on the head by one of the flying mice! I’m sorry to hear about Alec’s injuries, but I’m happy Flint isn’t the only Tazmilian who has to deal with those little jerks. It can get lonely, you know, feeling like the only cowboy in town who gives a damn!

Alec seems to have a good idea of where Claus might be, and he’s confident that if we work quickly and efficiently, we’ll be able to find him. I always liked how confident Alec is at this section of the game, and how he seems to have fun walking around the mountains with Flint. Maybe he’s masking his fear and nervousness with humor, or maybe Alec still somehow knows in a fourth-wall-breaking sense that this is all just a game. Speaking of which…

Alec claims that through his “froggy intelligence” he knows Claus may be at his friend’s house. He understand Flint’s skepticism about the term “froggy intelligence,” but he assures him that frogs work for his friend as messengers, purveyors of information.

Indeed, Alec. I did think, “Whaaaaat?”

Of course, this development is of huge interest to the Frog by Frog Blog. Frog messengers? Froggy intelligence? Whaaaat?

If you recall from Frog #1, Alec himself told me, the player of the game, how to save with save frogs. He even broke the fourth wall in another instance, teaching Lucas to dash by imagining something called a “B” button. If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, I think Alec might have something he’s not telling us. A supernatural connection, maybe? What’s been going on up in these mountains, Alec? You haven’t gone and gotten yourself enlightened have you?

Whatever. Alec can keep his secrets! Let’s go find Claus.

Back in the Saddle

Well, whether we’re following the directions of an inter-connected frog network, or if Alec is just a crazy old man, it’s time to hit the road once again. You know, this is the first time I’ve ever thought of this, but Flint and Alec look a lot like Indiana Jones and his father in The Last Crusade. Maybe I’m just reading in to things, but even the different choice in hats is noticeable…

Fashion and Film Friday: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade / Va ...

Though, Indiana Jones’ father, played by Sean Connery, definitely dresses a bit better than Alec… not by much! But he does. Maybe Henry Jones Sr. would look exactly like Alec if he also retired into the mountains.

Either way, here we are in Mother 3, playing as two fathers. One of them is a father-in-law, and the other a son-in-law. Alec, also, is both a father, and a grandfather. Who would’ve thought that the Mother series would kill off the mother in Chapter 1, and make us play as fathers for the rest of time? Is Itoi trying to tell us something about the world of Mother 3?

Alec talks a lot during this part of the game, but he never mentions his daughter. At a first glance of reactions alone, I’d imagine Flint is more heartbroken than Alec, but it’s not really a matter of more or less. They both lost Hinawa. Alec either hides his emotions with his humor or understands that grief, and mourning, is complex. Even though it sounds dark, there will be more than enough time time to grieve. There will not be more time to find Claus. Though if you ever find yourself in Tazmily, pay a visit to Alec and ask him how he’s doing. We have a word for people who lose their partners: widowed. We don’t have a word for parents who lose their children.

Anyway, like I’ve mentioned before, Flint and Alec are the final party combination of Chapter 1, which I’ve always enjoyed. Even though I think Flint should have asked Lighter for help, or someone else in Tazmily like Duster, Alec holds the most important quality of all in a party companion: humor.

As Flint and Alec travel through the mountains, you can always count on Alec to diffuse the tension, to try to tell a joke when he doesn’t know what else to say. When I was younger, I never quite understood Alec as a character. I thought he was silly, and he had some amazing puns, but I didn’t quite get it. How could this man, whose daughter has just died, be so cheerful?

As I get older, though, I understand Alec a little better. For one, I think Itoi likely had some fun writing an older, male character–a character that might have mirrored Itoi’s own sensibilities at the time. The previous Mother games feel more childlike than Mother 3, and though many humorous, adult characters could be found in the previous two games, the player never got to spend much time with them. The first two Mother games, despite the fact they can be enjoyed by people of any age, definitely play out like a child’s adventure, like something that four friends would come up with together in shared make-believe. Maybe writing Alec’s dialogue was a fun way for Itoi to play, to insert himself into the experience. I’m sure Itoi will always have contact with his inner child, but it has to be nice to write a character more similar to yourself every now and again. Seeing as Alec often breaks the fourth wall to share information in the player, I wouldn’t be surprised if this really is the case. Alec fires off jokes and puns at the same rate as EarthBound NPCs, so I’m sure we’re getting an unfiltered connection to Itoi’s off-the-cuff observations and jokes.

I also think, on a narrative level, that Alec, though deeply saddened, has the wisdom and perspective of age. He knows that he’ll grieve Hinawa in time, but, for now, Claus needs to be the main priority. Also, how many father-in-laws and son-in-laws have a totally non-awkward rapport? We already know Alec is a goofball, so maybe he relies on humor to interact with Flint. Maybe Flint and Alec don’t share enough common ground to have any other kind of conversation in these circumstances. Alec likely also understands that, to get the best out of Flint, he needs to help keep the cowboy calm. And Flint doesn’t really seem like the type to fire back with a good bit, so Alec gets left hanging (as far as we can see–maybe Flint is responding to everything! I wonder what he’s saying…)

I could also see how my thoughts on Alec get dangerously close to over-analysis. I try to avoid this as much as I can when I write about Mother 3, but I also like to wonder, to guess, to conjecture. The internet is definitely a place where game theories and head canons run rampant, but I think that’s okay. And besides, with Mother 3, I always feel like I have free license to go there, by which I mean, the game itself kills off the main character’s mother right off the bat, to which multiple characters have intense emotional reactions. I think it’s okay for me to wonder about Flint and Alec’s emotional states, given that the game opens the characters up to interpretation in that exact way.

And there you have it–a pretty interesting party to finish out the chapter, isn’t it? Alec doesn’t do much in combat or anything, other than the occasional attack that, aimed at the right enemy, can deal an impressive amount of damage. Against a Crag Lizard, he can do about 1 damage point, but we won’t blame him for that. I can’t remember if he offers any healing to Flint, but we’ll have to see as time goes on. There’s still a lot of fighting to get through.

Except you might not expect the road ahead to be all that difficult, at least at first. if you noticed in the picture of Alec and Flint, there’s a little red lizard on the ground, in the shape of an arrow.

I’m not sure where these lizards came from, or if they’re all Mapson’s pets or something, but we’re going to have to talk about them. Any time you speak to an Arrow Lizard, it spins around and around and around, until finally pointing in a single direction, which is the direction you need to go. To be honest, I’ve never understood why these are here. In all of the signposting of Chapter 1, the Arrow Lizards are probably the most blatant example.

And, as usual, I don’t hate the Arrow Lizards or anything. I think they’re a charming idea, which totally could have legitimate necessity or even creativity in the right circumstances. It could be fun to rely on the Arrow Lizards during an intense fog, or a storm of some kind, or who knows–any scenario where the player’s vision and sense of direction are obscured. The cute little Lizards would become important allies, in the same way that the most unsuspecting characters often become your most helpful friends in the first two Mother games.

I just don’t really get why they show up at this part of the game, especially when there’s really nowhere else for Flint and Alec to go. The Argilla Pass is inaccessible, because of ants, and it’s almost impossible to miss Aeolia’s house by simple walking south. I guess I’m just not sure what these add, or why they are here, especially because Alec is such a chatty party member. Alec speaks so often during the walk, offering additional descriptions of the Magicantians, that it would totally make sense for him to just say, “There–just up ahead, there’s Aeolia’s house,” and, I don’t know, throw in a pun or two.

Again, I still feel like the Arrow Lizards are very Mother-esque, I just don’t think their inclusion here is all that great. This area of the game starts to feel a little over-crowded with them around, what with Crag Lizards, Moles, and Alec afoot.

Speaking with the Arrow Lizards is optional, of course, and you can find your way around just as well without them. Maybe Itoi just wanted to put them in the game for accessibility, so that the game could maintain its pacing. The death of many turn-based RPGs, even some of the greats, begins when the pacing slows down. I know I’ve talked about this before, but I feel like if turn-based RPGs don’t consistently interweave their stories with gameplay to make turn-based combat encounters feel meaningful or exciting, things can start to slow down pretty fast. I love JRPGs, and I have no problem with turn-based encounters, but many people don’t feel the same way. Personally, many Final Fantasy games lose me at about the 60% mark, when the intrigue of the story starts to wear off and the encounters lose their immediacy.

A more relevant reason I don’t like the Arrow Lizards, however, is that they kind of hurt the tone of this section, for me. As you walk around with Alec, the track “With My Father-in-Law” plays, which has a serious, march-like sound to it. The song is light-hearted enough to ease some of the tension of the story, and also serious enough to feel like part of an adventure. It fits this part of the game so well, even if it doesn’t initially sound like the most impressive song.

I like how this song accompanies Alec’s comments about the Magicantians, which brings them into both increasing clarity and increasing obfuscation. Alec says the Magicantians have been protecting something here for a very long time, and that they are neither man nor woman. As a man who lives in the mountains beyond Tazmily, it makes sense for Alec to be acquainted with the denizens of the north, but still: the Magicantians and the mystery surrounding them is unexpected.

I can still remember playing this section for the first time and having no preconception of the characters I would soon meet, though we can talk more about them next frog. For now, I just love the slow build-up we get, even though it is interspersed with Arrow Lizards telling us where to go. I like how Alec doles out information bit by bit. You can tell he’s just saying things as they come to him, which feels natural from a dialogue perspective. So often in RPGs, characters unload their dialogue then repeat the most significant line until you’ve progressed in the game. Alec talks, thinks, and muses just like a regular old guy walking around in the mountains. He presents a fun contrast to the silent protagonist; just because the main character isn’t talking doesn’t mean someone else can’t take the stage and talk as much as they want. I wish Alec would intermittently comment on things no matter where you walk with him. That would be a fun, unique quirk to having him in your party.

Bringing things back around to lizards, I talked a little bit about the Crag Lizards last time, who disguise themselves as rocks, but I didn’t talk much about their battle song, “Astonishing March.” Rambunctious and boisterous, this song portrays the Crag Lizard, and other loud, monstrous enemies, perfectly. The Crag Lizard is one of my favorite enemies who use this track because their attack sound effect, a harsh electric guitar, sounds suitably intimidating.

I changed my menu color to “Strawberry” to keep things fresh.

As for other combat encounters around here, you might run into the little Mischevious Moles again, but nothing totally new other than that. In fact, this whole encounter area is just a short backtracking trip to where Flint’s breakdown at the campfire took place. Just a little bit to the east, it turns out, the Magicantians were close by.

However, one “enemy” I’d like to bring up again is the Walking Bushie, who I mentioned in Part 2 of Frog #11. Compared to the Arrow Lizards, I think the Walking Bushies are a perfect mix of holding the player’s hand, and letting the player figure out the world for themselves. The Walking Bushies are both a creative encounter that some players might accidentally defeat, and an opportunity for the player to heal themselves, as the Walking Bushie will cast Life Up a on the player.

Seeing as the Walking Bushie’s encounter area is a little over halfway between Tazmily and Alec’s house, the placement is a smart idea to help out any players who might have found themselves heavily damaged around this spot, which actually happened to me. The difference in my case was that a Mighty Bitey Snake had also poisoned me, so I had to run all the way back to the hot spring to stay alive. I still appreciate the Walking Bushie, though.

Compared to some of EarthBound’s difficult encounter areas, Mother 3‘s are definitely easier, but one thing I’ve always liked about the Mother games is that the early-game combat can get dicey pretty quick for the player, which is what happened to me when I revisited the forest. The Mother series has always been excellent at making additional party members feel valuable, and Mother 3 is no exception. As we all know, Going Alone is never as easy as Bein’ Friends.

There are some truly iconic parties in the history of RPGs. I could go on and on about the cast of Chrono Trigger, or Final Fantasy VI, or one of my more recent favorite games, Lisa. However, for my money, few series consistently capture the significance of real friendship and companionship quite like the Mother series. Sometimes this is established through gameplay, like the difficult early sections of the first two games, and other times it is established through narrative circumstances, like Flint and Alec being brought together. Mother 3 definitely assembles its various party configurations in memorable ways, though I also appreciate what the older games do, too. When you finally recruit Paula to your cause in EarthBound, or Loid (or Pippi) to your party in Mother, it’s such a relief to not have to be alone anymore, to have a friend by your side.

Personally, I feel a similar thing going on with Flint and Alec, even though the gameplay (Alec’s limited functionality in battle) doesn’t provide the same relief. These two characters feel brought together by the necessity of the narrative, and, for me, it works. Alec possesses much needed levity, and even vague mysticism (or maybe just witticism), as we approach Aeolia’s house.

Nothing looks the same in the light.

Maybe you could argue, then, that in Mother 3, Itoi experiments less with storytelling-through-gameplay, like he seemed inspired to do in the first two games of the series. Personally, I don’t think Itoi experiments less; I think his experiments are just different.

Looking at Chapter 1 specifically, the varying party configurations allow for so many characters to participate in the story in a way that feels organic. As a result, the early-game is easier, but the player gets to connect with more characters. Hmmm… I’m not satisfied with that explanation. What do I mean by this?

Take EarthBound’s early-game, for instance. Ness fights a few regular bosses, and one Sanctuary Guardian, all entirely on his own before befriending and rescuing Paula. Because of Ness being the sole party member, EarthBound’s early-game is both difficult and impactful. A narrative forms around Ness being alone and facing these challenges by himself. The player identifies with Ness’s difficulties because they play through them. A role-playing story begins to write itself in the player’s mind: is Ness brave? Is Ness scared? What kind of kid is Ness? The player has ample opportunities to characterize Ness in their head because they spend so much time with him in this way; it’s the magic of a single player role-playing game.

Like I said above, the game instantly changes tone when Paula joins you. There’s a sense of relief and hope now, which is communicated through combat encounters becoming a little bit easier (once Paula gains some levels) and the visual indication of Paula walking alongside you. Again, a story starts to write itself. There’s power in numbers, and it seems like Paula and Ness even have an innocent childhood crush in the making… or maybe not! The casts of the first two games allow the player to make those connections and interpretations at their own speed, because the story itself isn’t as immediate as Mother 3’s. Maybe for some players, Ness falls in battle, so Paula has to narrowly save the day. Or maybe Paula falls in battle, and Ness carries her to safety with his PSI powers. EarthBound has a few scripted moments of drama, sure, like when Paula gets kidnapped in Fourside, but for the most part, the story is written as the player plays the game. Everyone’s journey through EarthBound might be similar, but they’re never going to be the same.

Does that make sense?

Okay, I was making a point here…

So, in Mother 3’s case, Duster and Boney join Flint before he fights the first boss of the game, which would have been a much more difficult fight without them. The priority in this scenario is not to characterize Flint, or to put the player in a position where they will role-play the story in their own way. The priority here is to 1) ensure the player has enough party members to defeat the boss, 2) keep up the pacing of the story, so that the player doesn’t get stuck, and 3) introduce Duster to the story, and Boney, to an extent. The parallels of the bosses themselves are weirdly similar: the first boss fight in EarthBound and the first boss fight Mother 3 include enemies who combust steam to damage the player. Coincidence?

Anyway, what I’m getting at is, if Flint would have fought this boss fight alone, we’d have a weaker sense of Tazmily as a community. If Duster wouldn’t have joined in this fight, we wouldn’t see that he, too, has a stake in what’s going on in this town, so when he becomes the focal character in Chapter 2, we bond to him even more strongly. Yes, The Reconstructed Caribou is much easier than the early EarthBound bosses, but Itoi, then, is able to communicate different things to the player because of it. I even think it’s significant that Boney fights the Reconstructed Caribou–Boney will, eventually, become a permanent party member, so it’s nice to see him earn his stripes as a young pup.

As usual, all of this is to say that I think Mother 3 certainly gets a lot of credit where it counts, but sometimes I think it deserves extra credit, is all I’m saying. Mother 3 is not the same as EarthBound, but each play to their strengths for what they seek to accomplish. EarthBound puts the player in a variety of open-ended scenarios that allow for personal role-playing. Mother 3 puts the player in more linear, scripted scenarios that allows the world and the characters to develop more deeply. Maybe in EarthBound, Itoi’s experiment was: how do I make the player connect with these four main characters? And in Mother 3, as we know, it was something like: how do I show a single place, and the people in it, significantly change over time?

I’ve gotten the impression over the years that some players expected Mother 3 to be another contemporary RPG, maybe set in the early 2000s instead of the 90s, and, because it’s not that, assume that there’s less interesting experimentation happening on Itoi’s end. I think there’s inspiration all over the place, personally! I’m not totally satisfied with the way I explained what I’m trying to say, but I’m sure I’ll revisit this idea again at another time. Chapters 2 and 3 both will give me a few opportunities to talk about this, so if you think I sounded like a rambling mad man, give me a little more time! I can’t make sense every day of my life. Every now and again it’s all just word vomit.

Well, how’s that for a Frog by Frog digression for you? Just because I say the post is going to be short doesn’t mean I can’t cram more info into it. Mother 3 is very serious business! This is a game we’re talking about, here!

FRG 101: Studies in Froggy Intelligence

For a minute there, I was certain Alec was leading me nowhere, and that I’d unwittingly become the victim of an old man’s whims. After all his jabbering, we stood at an ostensible dead end: a river, with no bridge. How am I supposed to get across? An Arrow Lizard? A Rope Snake?

But I was wrong. Two little blue frogs sit side by side, not far from last night’s campfire. If you talk to the frog on the left, it says, “Wrong. I am the wrong frog.”

If you talk to the frog on the right, it says: “Right!! The right frog!!”

As we can see here, Alec has taken us to two truly intelligent frogs, proving that he is indeed connected to networks of Froggy Intelligence. After talking to this smart little cookie of a frog, four bigger frogs, all of them green like our standard frogs on Earth, appear in the water, forming themselves into a bridge and making the river traversable.

I’ll admit: the first time I played this part of Mother 3, I expected frogs to factor even more heavily into the game’s world. We’ve got save frogs, we’ve got bridge frogs, we’ve got right frogs, and we’ve got wrong frogs, and we’ve got blue frogs! All of the major frogs groups are represented so far, so I thought, surely, Itoi is going to push his frog usage to the next level.

Ah, crisp, blue water!

However, from what I recall, the game’s frog’s technology does not progress much further from here. We still have a bunch of save frogs to meet, and some of them bring something unique to the table, but Alec’s network of Froggy Intelligence only stretches so far.

There’s another blue frog to talk to on the other side of the river, who says, “Ribbit ribbit. Rabbit rabbit,” and after that froggy philosopher, the action of the day is basically over. There’s an advice Sparrow, but other than saying, “Achirpa chirp chirp,” he doesn’t add much new information to the table. I guess the animals on this side of the pond just like to hear themselves making noises.

If you ask me, this would have been a good spot to include a more difficult enemy encounter area, akin to Peaceful Rest Valley from EarthBound, which everyone knows is neither peaceful nor restful, but one of the most difficult spots of the game. The geography is similar enough for it to work as a callback, and it would allow us to spend a little more time with Flint before the chapter winds down.

Also, it just seems weird to me that Flint wouldn’t know about Aeolia’s house, considering its so close to Tazmily. Does Flint have a reason to know much about the northern area, around the mountains? Not really, no, but the fact that he doesn’t know about a house that’s not even very far from Alec’s house–I don’t know, I hate bringing this up, but it does break some of the illusion for me. It’s hard to suspend my disbelief! Though maybe Flint really just doesn’t get out much. And it’s also kind of funny that Flint wouldn’t know the house is over there. And maybe I’m also underestimating how difficult it is to cross a river without a bridge!

Can anyone else hear that?

Not that I want to end the post on a negative note, but there are some areas, like the above image, where I feel like I’d be able to walk farther if I were playing EarthBound. I want to see what’s over there! I want to explore! Let me walk just a little more! I bet there are some great gift boxes over there…

But I guess I have to keep walking where the path, or the Arrow Lizard, leads me, right?

Though, to argue against myself, having a heavy combat area wouldn’t really make sense, especially if we’re to believe that Claus made it through here alone (not that the little guy isn’t tough). Maybe I’m already missing those longer gameplay sessions again, and that’s why I want more enemies to fight. But to be honest, I don’t have another Frog #11 in me any time soon. I think what I’m really saying is, I wish we could’ve walked down some cool river trail to Aeolia’s house, or for the house to be more well-hidden in some kind of cool river nook.

But look, we really are back to normal here on Frog by Frog: I’m getting ahead of myself again! We don’t even know what Aeolia’s house look like yet, so what do I have to complain about?

Look at that beautiful grass.

Today’s little frog friend can be found near a cliffside, no longer ghostly in the day-time. The forest is a beautiful area, and seeing this frog fills me back up with hope. Maybe it’s the cow nearby. Maybe it’s the pleasant bubbling of the river. Or maybe that song Itoi wrote was right after all: things never seem as bad when a frog is around. You can always find the strength to keep going, something to laugh at. People have the power to forget, and people have the power to laugh.

Take care of yourself out there.

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