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The Guns of Navarro: Say Hi to Your Mother Brain for Me

On this most precious day for mothers everywhere, Alex runs down some of the video game moms that have left a lasting impression.

Everybody's supposed to love their mother. But what if your mother is a massive, soul-sucking alien demon witch hellbent on your destruction?

If you go through the list of mother figures introduced to gamers over the last few decades, you'll find more than your share of deeply screwed-up characters. Some are merely troubled, others are downright homicidal, and a few are even literally monsters. Looking at the makeup of the industry's created maternal figures, it appears that many game creators may have some serious mommy issues.

It being Mother's Day, I thought it might be fun to take a look back at some of the more memorable mother figures I've come across in games. This is most certainly not an all-encompassing list, as there are plenty of games with famous moms that I've simply never experienced for myself (I'm looking at you, entire Final Fantasy series). Still, whether protective or destructive, loving or deranged, beautiful or monstrous, these are the "mothers" of video games that have left the strongest impression on me over my many years of gaming. Years I'd never have been able to spend without the support of my own wonderful mother. Where other moms might've told me to go outside or read a book, my mom supported my burgeoning gaming habit, while also making sure it wasn't the only thing I was doing with my free time as a kid. You're the best, mom.

The Boss - Metal Gear Solid 3

Among all the motherly women of gaming, few are more resolutely badass than The Boss. Both a literal mother (purportedly to Revolver Ocelot) and a figurative one (she earned the nickname "Mother of the Special Forces"), Boss' most intense motherly act may have been her giving birth on the battlefield at the Battle of Normandy in World War II. Shot in the stomach and forced to endure a c-section right there in the heat of an invasion, she's left with a snake-shaped scar on her stomach, which is maybe a little bit too perfect, as symbolism goes.

Boss might not have been the most attentive mother--by all accounts, her existence was all but entirely dedicated to her military work--but when it comes to kick-ass birth stories, she wins by a country mile.

Mom - The Binding of Isaac

The Binding of Isaac is a pretty messed-up game for any number of reasons, but not the least of them is the central premise, which sees the baby boy Isaac on the run from his deranged mother. She believes God is speaking to her, and telling her to kill her son, so she tries to do that, primarily by stomping and squashing with her giant feet and hands.

Plenty of interesting things have been written about The Binding of Isaac and its deeply fucked up themes, but to this feature's end, Mom is simply one of the more omnipresently nightmarish figures of motherhood to appear in a video game. Your own mother wants you dead because she is out of her mind, and you have no choice but to kill her to survive. Maybe don't play this one around your mom, unless you want to field some deeply uncomfortable questions.

Mother Brain - Metroid Series

Okay, so I'm definitely stretching the definition of "mother" here, but she's most certainly one of the most memorable mothers I've ever encountered in my video gaming history. One of the most enduring, too!

Essentially a giant, hideous supercomputer programmed with a vaguely female personality, Mother Brain's control over the vile space pirates and the planet Zebes, not to mention her insatiable desire to produce ever more Metroid to destroy the universe, makes her a particularly dangerous foe. Of course, in most of her game appearances she's either just a gigantic brain, or some manner of hideous, skeletal-looking monster. Personality isn't really her most memorable trait, so much as her grotesque appearance, and status as the primary big bad in the main Metroid games.

Truth be told, Samus Aran herself is arguably more of a motherly figure than Mother Brain ever was, especially when she let that poor, defenseless baby Metroid live after it imprinted on her in Metroid II. That said Metroid is destroyed by a vengeful Mother Brain in Super Metroid is one of the more tragic story turns ever seen in a Metroid game.

Dr. Brigid Tenenbaum / Lady Comstock - BioShock/BioShock Infinite

Every BioShock game is deeply fraught with tragic parental figures. Ken Levine clearly has a thing for problematic relationships between parents and their children/wards, and that fascination has resulted in some truly demented mother figures throughout the series.

First and foremost, there was Dr. Tenenbaum in BioShock. The creator of the Little Sisters, Dr. Tenenbaum's willingness to experiment on her adopted little girls speaks to the greater society of Rapture's insistence on progress over all else. Eventually she dedicates herself to saving the poor girls, so she's not entirely unredeemable. Unfortunately, even as she works toward rescuing them, she's probably still killing them with all the second-hand smoke that seems to follow her around.

More shrill and horrifying was the late Lady Comstock of Columbia. Presented as the saintly deceased "mother" of the city (as well as Elizabeth), she appears in the game as a vengeful spirit you end up having to fight multiple times. Her rage comes from a mixture of Elizabeth's own hatred toward her, and the fact that Elizabeth was not her biological daughter (at least, not in that universe), and fighting her is maybe one of the most obnoxiously difficult sections of the entire game. God, I hated her.

Sarah Kerrigan - Starcraft

Once a psychic Terran warrior, Kerrigan goes full-on evil mom once she's captured and twisted into the human/Zerg hybrid known as the Queen of Blades. Once she takes over for the Zerg Overmind, her thirst for power inspires her to send all her little Zerglings off to horrible deaths. In this regard, she is perhaps most immediately comparable to the Borg Queen of Star Trek fame, albeit with far cooler hair.

Though Starcraft has never been my bag, Kerrigan's presence as one of the more insidious mother figures of gaming has endured for so long, that there was no way I couldn't include her. This one's for you, Brad.

Dahlia Gillespie - Silent Hill

Oof, now here's a particularly wretched woman. Basically, just about every horrible thing that has ever happened in a Silent Hill game can be traced back to this woman's dark religious obsession. A leader of a dark cult, Dahlia used spells to impregnate her own daughter with the essence of her God, and ended up disfiguring the poor girl in a house fire.

The character made it into the Silent Hill film, albeit in a less outwardly evil incarnation (the evil cult leader was split into another character entirely), and she makes an appearance in Silent Hill: Origins, as well. Still, the Dahlia I know and remember was the one who kept feeding hints to Harry Mason as he fumbled his way around the horrors of Silent Hill. Definitely one truly terrible mother.

Sindel - Mortal Kombat

Oh, poor Sindel. Despite being a crazed, shrieking demon lady when first introduced in Mortal Kombat 3, she wasn't always that way. Once, she was the peaceful ruler of the realm of Edenia. She had a husband, and a loving daughter (series protagonist Kitana). All of that was essentially taken away from her by Shao Kahn, who killed the King, kidnapped Kitana, and forcibly impregnated her with Mileena. At that point, she killed herself to get away from the whole terrible mess, only to find herself resurrected as a brainwashed slave to Shao Kahn by Shang Tsung.

In most MK storylines (such as they are), Sindel eventually turns good again, but not before quite a bit of battling with her daughter and her Earth realm friends. She never does quite get around to fixing that crazy zombie queen hairstyle of hers, though.

Your Mother - Animal Crossing

Though you never actually see her in the game, there are few more memorable presences in Animal Crossing than your mom. At least part of that comes from the fact that her various letters sent to you, the player, closely resemble the cheerful, barely-informative updates on life at home that my own mother sends me on a fairly regular basis. More to the point, your mom is a sweet lady who obviously misses you and likes sending you gifts, which might make her the most normal mom of any mom ever to appear in a video game.

Typing all of this has suddenly reminded me of this particularly tearjerking story about an actual person and his Animal Crossing-playing mother. And now I just want to cry forever.

Other Noteworthy Mothers of Gaming

Now, I put it to you to talk about all the various mothers, both good and bad, that have left an impression on us. List your mommies dearest in the comments section, especially any ones I forgot, of which I imagine there are plenty.

--A

Alex Navarro on Google+
86 Comments
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Edited by XeroxedmessiaH

Good stuff

Edited by Hassun

The Boss will forever stand as one of the ultimate badass women in video games.

Also, Alma from FEAR... That escalated quickly.

Posted by TheOtherBelmont
Posted by Alex
Staff
Posted by Rapid

No Love for Cooking Mama =P

Heart-felt article =)

Edited by RuthLoose
Edited by Abendlaender

Ermm...Father-Mother is not gender neutral, it is clearly stated that HE is male. Geez Alex, how about a little research before you write! Pah! PAH I say!

(I hope it is clear that I'm NOT serious, though Mother-Father really is a male :P)

Posted by Frump

Mom from Pokemon came to mind for me first. I guess I am part of that gaming generation. Chrono's mom from Chrono Trigger too, who you have to visit for one of the side quests.

Posted by Alex

@ruthloose: You're right! I did! And I fixed it.

Thanks for being my de facto QA people, everyone.

Staff
Edited by TheHT

Online
Posted by happymeowmeow

Oddly the first thing that comes to mind is the Maiden in Black from Demon's Souls. She is the one who brings you into this world, after all.

Other parellels in her character to motherhood can also be drawn, depending how complex your mother issues are.

Edited by dudeglove

Your mom plays video games.

Posted by talljack

There's always Mom from Earthbound! I could never decide if she was a good parent or not, being oblivious to many of the things her son was doing throughout the game, but she was always supportive of Ness, and ready to make your favorite food whenever you wanted.

Also I guess the original name for the series is "Mother" as well, so that has to count for something.

Edited by FLStyle

@alex: Sindel has nothing to do with Mileena, Mileena's a half Edenian, half Tarkatan clone of Kitana created by Shang Tsung.

Posted by csl316

Oh, Sindel. That MK9 cutscene made me shake my head in disappointment.

Jun Kazama in Tekken was a pretty cool mom, I should point out. But unfortunately, she danced with the devil.

Posted by blueinferno

@frump said:

Mom from Pokemon came to mind for me first. I guess I am part of that gaming generation. Chrono's mom from Chrono Trigger too, who you have to visit for one of the side quests.

Don't you mean...PokeMom???

Edited by BoOzak
Edited by Cheesebob

I just read that comic and it actually made me cry. Not a single man tear made of bullets and broken glass, I mean actual floods of tears. Jesus. I'll never make fun of my mum again.

Posted by MistaSparkle

This was an awesome article, Alex. Moms are the best.

Edited by Daneian
Posted by Video_Game_King

@talljack:

If we're going with mother figures from Mother, why not the mother from Mother 3? (Man, what a confusing sentence.) And as long as we're talking mom figures in video games...

There's no avoiding Yukari and her mommy issues.

Edited by BaconGames

How could I have forget! Flemeth from Dragon Age is a particularly wry and all around great supporting character in that universe. Out of anyone I can think of she would have been the most memorable and worthy of being included. A close second is Katjaa from The Walking Dead. Actually kind of surprised given how that was one of Alex's favorite games last year.

I guess along the lines of parential strain I would include Sophia Lamb from BioShock 2. Speaking of villainous mothers, Liara's mother Benezia from Mass Effect is another example.

While not much was developed concerning the mother per se, the mother/daughter sequence in Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Athena was particularly heartwrenching to watch.

Edited by Yummylee

Some really good picks up there, most especially The Boss! Definitely one of MGS' best; bit of a shame her voice actress isn't especially great. She's not all that bad or anything, but such a character deserved a much more talented voice actress, and not the lady who's best known for voicing Diane in Family Guy.

Really surprised to see that you never mentioned Samara from Mass Effect! Her relationship with her daughters is definitely one of the most interesting that first springs to mind for me. Claire Redfield in RE2 is another as well, though that's probably more so because I've never not got classic RE on the brain and not because she's an exceptionally great motherly figure...

Oh, but in terms of really bad mothers, Annette Birkin is another solid choice, too.

Posted by Hailinel

On the subject of Chrono Trigger mothers, Queen Zeal is a real piece of work. Batshit crazy and totally OK with her kids dying so she can have a millennia-long fling with Lavos. Happy Mother's Day, indeed.

Posted by BD_Mr_Bubbles

This was an awesome article, Alex. Moms are the best.

Edited by Undeadpool

@talljack said:

There's always Mom from Earthbound! I could never decide if she was a good parent or not, being oblivious to many of the things her son was doing throughout the game, but she was always supportive of Ness, and ready to make your favorite food whenever you wanted.

Also I guess the original name for the series is "Mother" as well, so that has to count for something.

I always thought she was a GREAT mom! She never struck me as "oblivious," just absolutely, 100% supportive. And she cures homesickness!

Edited by Pop

hmm, this made me do some checking and noticed that since 2010 mother's day is a official holiday in Romania the first sunday of may and today was father's day which I didn't know either.

We usually celebrate it on the 8th of march but idk why, I think it's a religious thing.

Posted by bondfish

your mom in the pokemon games should be on here

Posted by steelerzfan101

@bondfish said:

your mom in the pokemon games should be on here

I second that! I always remember beating the Elite Four and she was the one that was there for you when you came back!

Edited by talljack

@undeadpool:

It's been a while since I played Earthbound so I am no doubt passing unfair judgement on Mom. I guess it's more Ness didn't really give her specifics on what he was actually doing (beating up stray dogs with a bat, assisting blues-men, transferring his soul into a robot) so she would never get worried.

Also, for being a entry in the Mother series, Earthbound probably has the best Dad in any game. But maybe we'll talk more about that in June.

@video_game_king:

I've never played Mother one or three so I couldn't really speak on their Mom-itude, but yeah, moms probably play a pretty big role in those.

Posted by Video_Game_King
Edited by RetroVirus

Moms are tough.

Posted by Y2Ken

Always be thankful for mums. They go through a lot.

Edited by Ketchupp

No Pokemon? Surely the Pokemon mom would be on the top of the GamesRadar list.

Edited by bjorno

NICE FUCKING TOP TEN LIST, ALEX. I ONLY COME TO GIANT BOMB TO GET GAMESRADAR STYLE COVERAGE.

THE CAPS ARE HERE TO SHOW MY SARCASM.

Edited by crusader8463

Dragon Age 2 Spoilers.

While over all I hated the game as a game, the story arch where your mom dies left me in tears babbling like a baby. The death scene itself didn't do anything for me, but it ends with a cut away to you being back in your house and if you walk into a side room you find a note that your mom left for you to find. It was nothing profound, but it was basically just her saying how much she loves you and how proud she is of you. It hit me really hard because my mother had died not long before and the way it was worded was exactly how my mom would talk to me and it felt like I was reading a note from my mom written to me. I just sat there in front of my monitor weeping for a good three to four minutes.

Posted by Brackynews

@talljack: I've read some treatises about Ness's "dad" on the phone, always at work... on whether or not his constant positive reinforcement and role as a save break meant that they had a better relationship than with his mom.

Also, as often happens, I tried and failed to make a good impression on my mum today. We have a very one sided relationship, sadly.

Posted by Brendan

Mom from Golden Sun :). There's a nice little side story with her if you go back to Vale to pick up a Djinn later in the game.

Posted by Killerfridge

When did Giant Bomb turn into Gamesradar? I kid, I kid.

Posted by Alex

@bjorno: I didn't even pick ten different characters. =(

Staff
Edited by Dalai

@talljack said:

There's always Mom from Earthbound! I could never decide if she was a good parent or not, being oblivious to many of the things her son was doing throughout the game, but she was always supportive of Ness, and ready to make your favorite food whenever you wanted.

Also I guess the original name for the series is "Mother" as well, so that has to count for something.

Of course it does count for something. I mean, this is a nice piece by Alex, but how did you forget Ness's mom? You have to call her when you get homesick. Ness's mom is always there for you.

I guess you could argue Ness's dad is more important since he's nearly bankrupting the family to support Ness's mission.

Posted by McGhee

Since you say you've never experienced Final Fantasy. I'd pick the one that came to my mind and that is Edea.

Edited by falling_fast

I gotta admit, I came in here looking to see if Father Mother was on this list. yay Alex. now I can enjoy the article properly

Posted by talljack

Moms are tough.

Nice shout out. As corny as most of FF XIII was parts of it really hit home with me.

Edited by BlackLagoon
Posted by machinerebel

Ugh, people in Call of Duty keeping fucking my mother :(

Posted by GalacticPunt

Ah, this talk makes me think of Lucca's mother in Chrono Trigger, and the tragedy the whole family goes through in Mother 3. It gets me right in the "feels" as the kids say.

DISCLAIMER: Giant Bomb is a No Feels Zone.

Edited by PoisonJam7

Aw, I was hoping for a write-up on Father Mother, but at least you mentioned him/her.

Posted by RuthLoose

Ah, this talk makes me think of Lucca's mother in Chrono Trigger, and the tragedy the whole family goes through in Mother 3. It gets me right in the "feels" as the kids say.

DISCLAIMER: Giant Bomb is a No Feels Zone.

L A R A

Posted by Angouri

@brendan said:

Mom from Golden Sun :). There's a nice little side story with her if you go back to Vale to pick up a Djinn later in the game.

Yeah! Man, Golden Sun had some awesome parents. Lara (Lucca's mom) from Chrono Trigger was pretty great, too. But Flemeth from Dragon Age is the best. Her relationship with Morrigan is amazing. Also, she's a dragon.

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