- "...The transfer means that your spirit will go with the robot, while the body is left behind. I cannot promise that your spirit will come back after the battle in the past. Yet, you must understand that the four of you are the chosen ones. Do you still wish to face Giygas by travelling to the past?"
- — Dr. Andonuts, elaborating on the Point of No Return.
- "...Hmmm ...you accept this while knowing that you may not be able to return to your current form, right?"
- — Dr. Andonuts' Final Warning.
Within the Mother series of games, there is a certain point in which the protagonists are not allowed to go back once it is crossed. This mechanic is known as the Point of No Return, and is present within all three Mother games.
How it works
The Point of No Return is usually a device within RPGs, such as the Mother games, in which after the protagonists go over that specific point, they cannot go back to a previous place. As such, it is impossible to go back and do things such as buy weaponry and armor if the player has not gotten it before crossing the point. This usually takes place within the final dungeon of the game's story. Final battles in RPGs also serve as points of no return more often than not, as the game locks the player in combat, making fleeing impossible by any means, and usually jumps to the ending following the final boss's defeat, without saving the game.
Point of No Return in EarthBound Beginnings
In EarthBound Beginnings, the Point of No Return applies to Magicant, as in, when Ninten and his friends restore the memories of Queen Mary via singing to her the Eight Melodies in its entirety, Queen Mary will recall the time she spent raising Giygas, and she will vanish on the wind's breath to join her departed husband afterward, revealing that Magicant was nothing more than an illusion. After this event occurs, the party finds themselves on Mt. Itoi's peak, right at the XX Stone and re-entry to Magicant will be denied, making the Onyx Hook's existence inconsequential.
Point of No Return in EarthBound
In EarthBound, the Point of No Return is crossed when Ness, Paula, Jeff, and Poo enter the Phase Distorter II, and is stressed upon by Dr. Andonuts after Ness gives the doctor the rare Zexonyte in the form of a meteorite shard in order to power up the Phase Distorter II. The party will arrive at the previously unreachable cave located within the Lost Underworld, where Apple Kid and Andonuts are awaiting Ness and his friends. Teleportation will be disabled, preventing the party from leaving the cave.
When Dr. Andonuts is talked to a second time, he says to them that Giygas is attacking from the past, at the same spot they are currently standing on. Unfortunately for them, the only way to warp to the past is for Ness and his friends to become robots, as the Phase Distorter III will either demolish the party or rapidly age their bodies, in the manner of Pokey Minch who has abused time-travelling. Andonuts stresses that he cannot guarantee that the spirits of the party will return to their bodies after Giygas has been defeated. They accept anyway, and after transplanting their consciousness inside robot bodies, they are shipped off to the past. The party cannot return to the present day until they have defeated Giygas by having Paula pray unless the Exit Mouse is used in Giygas' Lair.
Stonehenge Base also serves as a point of no return of sorts, as the player cannot encounter any enemies in the area, following the defeat of Starman Deluxe, preventing the player from fighting Starmen Supers and therefore cannot obtain the Sword of Kings.
Point of No Return in Mother 3
In Mother 3, the first Point of No Return happens when Lucas, Boney, Duster, and Kumatora defeat the Pigmask Colonel and his two Pigmask Majors, then the Masked Man at Chupichupyoi Temple, spray the Waters of Time on the vines that barricade the Temple, and pull the sixth needle within the temple shortly after. In other words, anything that is needed to be done by the player before pulling the sixth needle out of the pedestal, or even before fighting the Masked Man as the game prevents you from going back to the crossroads, it is advisable that it be done. Because once Lucas pulls the needle out, going back is not an option, as the final chapter will begin. Shortly after exiting Chupichupyoi Temple, a man in a flying limo will appear to take Lucas and Co. to New Pork City at Porky's request. Once Lucas and Co. arrive there, it is impossible to go back to Nowhere Islands.
The second Point of No Return occurs after the fall of the Mecha-Porky squad, and Lucas and the party fall down a ridiculously long elevator shaft. The party cannot go back up and leave the tower after this point. The only way to proceed at that point is to defeat Porky and the Masked Man. Flint will also go with the party past this point, having realized that the Masked Man is Claus.
It has been argued that the end of Chapters 3, 5, and 6 also house a form of this: They all close off an area permanently. (Chapter 3 closes off Death Desert, 5 closes off Thunder Tower, 6 closes off the entire chapter location, as there was only one spot to have been in Chapter 6, which was Sunflower Fields.) The prologue and Chapter 1 also remove a playable character permanently (Claus and Flint, respectively. Salsa temporarily re-appears during Chapter 7.) Also, various points in Chapters 1 and 4 replace certain enemies for new ones like the Yammonster being replaced with the Baked Yammonster after the forest fire and the chimeras replacing other animals at the beginning of Chapter 4.