It's been nearly two years since the only-in-Japan sequel to Nintendo's EarthBound, Mother 3 for the Game Boy Advance, was translated into English by a group of hard-working fans. Still, in all that time, some secrets went undiscovered. For instance, the translators added a secret Hard Mode to Mother 3 that gives enemies an energy boost to make things more challenging and unforgiving. Want to know how it's done and just what's changed? EarthBound Central explains it all:
[T]o access the hard mode, you just have to call yourself (you, the player) HARD MODE when you’re asked at the forest temple in Chapter 1 or at the clay mine in Chapter 4. Type it in all caps. This has the most obvious effect of doubling enemies’ HP, but it also increases other less-noticeable states, like Speed and some other stuff I can’t remember offhand. Basically, it makes them tougher AND a little more aggressive. I actually didn’t test it as much as I should have, so the difficulty curve isn’t as steep in the later chapters, but it’s still a neat little challenge.
My hope with all these little extra inclusions was to give the fans more ways to enjoy the game. In terms of this hard mode, my goal was for players to fully master fighting tactics, use items in creative ways, and to just try and see new things they probably wouldn’t come across normally.
The translation team really did think of everything. I still have to finish Mother 3 on its standard difficulty level and even that's been a long time coming. I doubt I'll have the time or the patience to tackle Hard Mode too, but I love to know that it's there. Considering that this is likely the final EarthBound any of us — domestic or international — will ever play, it's nice to see there's an extra challenge waiting to keep hungry fans busy for years to come.