Everyone knows what this is. Mostly from Smash Bros., or videos with Giygas in their top spoopy list or some shit. Earthbound was the only game in the Mother series to have a western release. Originally known as Mother 2, the first game was originally going to be called Earthbound when released outside of Japan. Buuuut since Mother 2 was already on it's way out, they ditched it and began localizing that game instead which confused a lot of people.
Before the VC release on the Wii U, there were only three ways to get this game. Buying it online for some crazy price, downloading a ROM and emulator, or getting the shitty GBA port.
Guess which my family and I did? Pay almost $200 for an old cart in shaky condition and peeled labels… Yeah, it should have been a little lower. But, the game does work! I can't say the same shit for some of my Nintendo 64, Gameboy, and Gameboy Advance games which are in top-notch condition but choose to freeze up.
Originally the game came with a player's guide which included weird clay art of the characters and enemies. It can be read here. Honestly, it's not a helpful guide except for with enemies, you're better off just watching a video on YouTube maybe or talking to NPCs. At best, it's just worth looking at for art and photos.
The Mother series has an interesting separation from most RPGs. Instead of armor, battle weapons, elixers, saving points… This game has hats/ribbons, baseball bats, frying pans, yo-yos, slingshots, hamburgers/pizza, and telephones.
It also takes place somewhere based off of America, rather than a mythical era or Japan. Oh, and most of the enemies are animals, animated objects, and aliens. Are you interested yet?
No? Well how about one of the bosses being a pile of puke? Ah, I thought that would get your attention.
Giygas, the antagonist of the previous game, is invading Earth because the "Apple of Enlightenment" told him that he would be defeated by a boy named Ness and three other kids. Ness, the main protagonist, must find the three chosen companions meant to accompany him and find all of the Eight Melodies for the Sound Stone.
Why? The only reason is so that Ness can go alone to a certain area and become OP. Yeah, the Sound Stone serves no purpose other than that. The Eight Melodies and Giygas himself are explained in the first game, so with this being the only entry released in the America, the writing is not the best in this game honestly. It doesn't even matter considering Ness, and I'll explain why.
There are eight "Your Sanctuary" locations, but they are taken over usually by another being (mostly animals, one plan, and a fungus) due to Giygas influence of power over them. A lot of them are kinda pathetic except for the first one, the last one… And the plant.
Where this game lacks in story-telling makes up in characters, humor, gameplay, and… Very dark undertones.
Only gonna go over the ones who are in your party, or play a big role…
Ness: The main, plain boy with a red cap and baseball bat. He is completely silent as expected, and only will "speak" in subconscious-involved areas. He's the hard-hitting one that's bound to be overleveled in your party, as if he wasn't OP already. This is made up for in mostly only knowing recovering/assisting PSI, and only two attacks (one which is useless a lot of the time, and one that soaks up PP). Honestly, his portrayal in Smash Bros. is false advertisement. He never learns PK Fire, Freeze, Starstorm, or Thunder.
Paula: What Ness lacks in, Paula takes over. She's the one who knows most of the PSI moves that Ness somehow has in Smash Bros… She's not very defensive, and health will usually be lower than the other party members. However, she dishes out with a frying pan usually and amazingly good PSI attacks. Nine times out of ten you'll be using her PK Freeze. Also, she's the only "useful" character in the final battle, with the "Pray" option. It can also be a bit helpful in other boss battles though.
Jeff: Surprisingly, Jeff is the only character who doesn't know PSI or anything involving PP. To make up for this, he can repair and use amazing weapons depending on his IQ level. His segment is also one of the most fun to me. The Shield Killer, HP-Sucker, and Heavy Bazooka are all extremely helpful near the end of the game. His defenses are also a bit better than Paula's depending on what you do. Only problem is, some of his stuff can take up space…
Poo: I know what you're going to say, so don't. Prince Poo is the… Only non-American member of the main cast. He only has one weapon, but it's a very rare drop and not worth the trouble. Poo is a lot like Paula, but with healing moves like Ness. The only PSI I wish he had was PK Fire, but he makes up with PK Starstorm later on. Due to his segment being incredibly short, he's going to be underleveled all the time in your party, and may get knocked around a lot because of it…
King: A flea-ridden dog who lazes around. He's completely optional in the game's prologue and generally is only good if you want to grind. Compared to Boney in Mother 3, he's pretty worthless, and chickens out when you reach the meteorite.
Pokey: Ness's next-door neighbor does absolutely nothing in-battle. He does however, play a very large part in the story despite saying he doesn't want to in the prologue. If you were to ask me, this kid here has darker undertones than Giygas ever did… I'll explain why much later.
Picky: More ambitious than his older brother and King, willing to fight back when he's in your party. Sadly, after the prologue, this boy spend a majority of the game home alone…
Buzz Buzz: A bee… He is not. Buzz Buzz isn't explained much, but he's a hero of the future that became an insect of the sort during time-travel. He tells Ness about his destiny, gives him the Sound Stone, and is extremely powerful. His only weakness… Pokey's bitch of a mother, who swats him to death… He also talks a lot…
Mom: Ness's mom. She heals the party, free of charge. If Ness becomes homesick, he can phone her and feel much better. Supposedly, she may actually be Ana from Mother 1…
Dad: Saves your data, stores money in your bank account, and has no physical appearance. Supposedly he's Ninten suggested by his dialogue, but… The fact he's usually associated with phones makes me think he's actually Phone Guy. [/joking]
Tracy: This adorable little sister stores the items that take up space! Especially the Map, Broken Key Machine, Magnum Air Gun, and a few others that you won't need after a while.
Photographer: This creepy guy follows you everywhere and instantly takes photos for memories… These can have humorous results if one of your party members is knocked out, and in your party as a ghost. Say, "Fuzzy pickles!"
Apple Kid: Regarded as a fat, lazy slob by most of Twoson… He's actually much more helpful than his neighboring-popular Orange Kid who is absolutely worthless. In fact, Apple Kid serves a very large purpose near the game's ending. You can never judge books by their covers!
The Runaway Five: There's actually six members I think. They're a band that moves from town-to-town, and often gets themselves into money troubles. They repay Ness for helping them TWICE a little later on.
Dr. Andonuts: Jeff's dad who loves donuts and also plays a big role near the game's ending. He even plays a role in the sequel surprisingly. Connections involving him and Loid from the first game are debatable.
Tony: Jeff's roommate who's supposedly a homosexual. He's a total sweetie who is willing to help Jeff no matter the cost. He also asks for the player's name… This doesn't make any sense at first until near the ending.
Mr. Saturn: Zoom zoom. Boing. Arguably the mascot next to Starmen.
Bubblegum Monkey: A funny little monkey who gets distracted for a few seconds before running straight back to Jeff's position, or he can also handle a battle on his own. With bubblegum on him, he can fly over to certain places. Tessie, a lake creature, seems to love monkeys too, so you need him!
Brick Road/Dungeon Man: One of the coolest temporary partners that kicks massive ass while Poo has to leave your party temporarily. He's an ally, and a dungeon filled with items and enemies! Sadly, he gets stuck and cannot follow you, but still help.
Frank Fly: The first major boss of the game, that's younger than he appears. Although he's a misguided boss of the crime gang known as "The Sharks", he's actually nicer than the goddamn cops in the game and isn't very hostile towards Ness when he invades the hideout in the arcade. I wonder if they were trying to say something with that…
Mr. Everdred: Another thug in Twoson, that's a bit more feisty than Frank, but easier to defeat. After defeat though, it's shown that he actually is worried about Paula when she's kidnapped. Once she's safe, he gives Ness $10,000, even knowing the fact that Ness wouldn't want to become his crime partner… However, his unused sprite and strings of dialogue says that something rather dark was meant to originally happen to him.
Master Belch: One of two of Giygas' recurring henchmen. He is a pile of vomit that enslaves Mr. Saturns to make gross Fly Honey and orders zombies/ghosts to terrorize Threed. This guy is one of the best bosses simply for the fact his dialogue contains actual burping sounds. I think there's a Master Belch plushie somewhere, and I want it…
Evil Mani Mani: He's introduced in the prologue by Lier X. Agerate (who plays very little role in the game and could have been easily written out), a sentient statue that is really made to spread the influence of Giygas, debatably the second recurring "henchmen" next to Belch. It is capable of bringing out the worst in people, or creating illusions. Once it's gone… It's usually not the last time you see it.
Flying Man: Bert? Is that you? Completely optional, like King.
Giygas: The one who starts it all. He is not properly explained in-game other than being some evil alien… Giygas was an alien raised from infancy by Maria and George, who were abducted from Earth in the 1900's. George began studying PSI without the permission of the aliens, then fled back to Earth without Maria. Giygas was tasked later on to ensure that PSI never spread to Earth. At first, he's hesitant, but eventually cuts any emotional ties with Maria, his adoptive mother, and attacks her great-grandchild, Ninten.
To defeat him, Ninten sings a lullaby-- Which is actually the "Eight Melodies" that was shared between Maria and Giygas. Weakened by memories, Giygas retreats, saying he will return. While planning his next move against Earth, he finds the "Apple of Enlightenment", which tells him he'll fail. In order to prevent this, he becomes more powerful…
After his influence spreads, he becomes too powerful and cannot think rationally, thus destroying his physical being. As such, he becomes "The Embodiment of Evil". He is sealed inside of the Devil's Machine, which keeps him invincible, along with his power and mind intact.
When the Devil's Machine is turned off however… The ghostly embodiment of what Giygas (mainly his face) has turned into fills the screen, and spouts unusual lines that while one would find scary… Come off to me as unhealthily masochistic.
As I said, Earthbound's overworld functions differently than most RPGs. Enemies are often always wandering in both the overworld and dungeons for you to run into. Like some, they will chase after you-- Or if you're really strong they will run away from you. You can get a "opening attack" if you get them from behind (or sometimes it will automatically kill them), or they can get one if they catch you instead.
The battle system is very simple. You can hit an enemy with whatever weapon you have which has a chance of dealing critical damage, use PSI attack (which take up PP), or use an item. Like Final Fantasy spells, PSI attacks can get stronger versions as the game progresses… In order from weakest to strongest, the types are: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Omega.
Among the PSI aside from healing and attacks, are shields which are the most useful along with paralysis, hypnosis, blinding, freezing/solidifying, and brainshock. Of course, you can also get something that causes status ailments. Ones not related to PSI are nausea, colds, poison, possession, "shroom'd", sunstroke, and "diamondized".
Your HP can rise and drop similar to a slot machine's… Er… Slot. It's possible to take down an enemy quickly while your health is dropping down to zero because of this! This becomes very tense and really tests your reflexes… Though, you could just press "Auto Fight", which I only used on the final boss. It does exactly when it says.
Paula has the unique "Pray" option. It's only mandatory for the final boss, but it's useful in other cases. Most often for me it restores HP of party members, or lowers the defense of everyone (including the enemy). Both of these are good for more difficult boss fights that need to be weakened down.
Poo has the "Mirror" option. I… Actually went through the whole game without using it. Poo basically becomes the opponent, and uses their abilities, but there's almost no point in using it unless Poo runs out of PP. But even then, PSI Magnet exists for both Poo and Paula, which costs nothing and allows them to absorb PP from enemies that know PSI.
As stated before, Jeff can repair and use multiple items in battle as well to make up for not having any PSI. These include guns, rays, bottle rockets, and more unusual tools. Alternatively, Jeff can "Spy" on the opponent, which tells their stats and weaknesses… Or rarely, an item can be found behind them.
Items other characters can use are bombs, healing items/food (of course), and… Sometimes animals, toothbrushes, teddybears (this one is actually useful), or a "Pharaoh's Curse". However, you can only carry a certain amount of items. Better make sure you know what you don't need anymore if that time comes!
When you are thinking to buy an item to equip for a character, the clerk will ask you if you would like to equip it right there and exchange the item your holding for a few dollars. The game will also tell you if the item is better than the one you're holding by having the square border around the character's status flash.
That being said: AVOID THE CASEY BAT LIKE THE PLAUGE. It looks more powerful, but will often miss and render poor Ness useless against enemies! Also for some reason, one of Jeff's weapons obtained early cannot be sold anywhere…
Some weapons, like the only one for Poo, have a random chance of being dropped. It's very low however, and not worth it as opposed to Neptunia…
The reason "best weapons from drop rate" aren't recommended is because unlike Neptunia, this game isn't too hard. But it's not too easy like Paper Mario either. It's more around… Final Fantasy IV. You have to grind, but it ain't a fest of it! Just due a simple certain amount until you really think you're prepared!
Don't feel like fighting an enemy you ran into? Running away isn't that hard. Especially if you get an "opening attack", you're let off the leash with no other strings! The enemies you ran into will also vanish if you escape, clearing the path and giving you invincibility frames for a few seconds.
When fighting an enemy, usually a trippy background will be there… That being said, this game is not for ones with history of epileptic seizures. Especially in the title/intro screen, and the final battle.
When you reach a certain point in Fourside, you will gain PSI Teleport. A very useful move for warping to areas you've been… Problem is, you better have a good hand. Unlike "Flying" in Pokémon, most of the time you're going to run into something when preparing a teleportation by running around. Made worse by the fact it costs PP, so you have limited tries to get it right. Try giving yourself enough room to pull it off, because if there was anything in the game that pissed me off, it was this.
You want an item delivered to you because you're too far away to pick it up? If you find a phone, you can order a pizza! Or get an item from storage via Escargo Express… Yeah, I didn't use the phone a lot actually outside of saving. Either way, stuff can be delivered to you.
There is a bicycle in the game… But most people do not use it, as it becomes pointless because when people are in your party you can't use it.
Now… Next to the teleporting, one of the biggest gripes I have with the game is at the end. There's no post-game since this was older of course, but you are always going to be locked in the place before you fight the final boss with no way to save except there. It's made worse when you realize you can't go back to the overworld because… Well, I can't spoil that. Also "The End…?" screen locks up your game like the Super Mario 64, Zelda Ocarina of Time, and Majora's Mask.
Uh… I think that's everything in gameplay. If I missed something, then oh well. It was probably something not important.
Expected of a SNES title. Very bright and colorful! However, the fact that Fourside was depicted so wrongly in Melee will forever irk me… The character and enemy models are pretty funny too. I can't think of a single complaint other than possibly the backgrounds giving someone a headache.
There are some voice clips used in game which may come off as surprising you, but it only happen very rarely.
Music-wise… Some tunes are very catchy, some sound like they came out of Blues Clues, and others… Are… Uh… Kinda meh. This is probably due to SNES limits however though. My personal favorite recurring theme in battles is "Battle Against a Machine", which plays with the more difficult enemies such as the Starmen.
Other themes for caves and such however can feel very unnerving, which may ruin the "funny and colorful" vibe… Though, if that doesn't do the trick, the dark undertones certainly will.
This game has a nearly perfect translation. Nearly, I said. The only thing that doesn't make it over is some censorship things, notably for Pokey… Who I'm going to completely cover in the undertones. No, it has nothing to do with his name.
Yes, this needed its own category. Why? Because it actually did affect my experience playing the game, there were instances where I actually was on the verge of tears. Unlike Mother 3, which throws it right at you and I actually expect it (not saying that game didn't make me sad…), this game is more subtle and realistic.
I'm not going over Giygas, because all of the shit relating to him is mainly for the first game and not this one. Everyone has said everything about him, and I think he's just a masochist that doesn't think rationally anymore, nothing else. To me, Giygas is not scary or sad, because he's just a weird alien, therefore not something that could happen.
First there's Mr. Everdred. Never explicitly said in-game if you don't talk to a lot of NPCs in Twoson, but despite what he does in Fourside… He is dead. He was killed in Fourside, and the unused sprites make it even more evident. It seems like they tried to retcon and keep him alive, but forgot to change the dialogue, ultimately sealing his fate. He died in the middle of a street due to the value of the Mani Mani Statue, showing how people kill for wealth.
The Happy Happyists are a combination of the Klu Klux Klan and a strange cult that wore blue in a dairy farm area. Mr. Everdred says they plan to sacrifice Paula (though Mr. Carpainter says he wants to use her as a high priestess… who would you rather believe?) and she's only about 13-years old. This is shit that has actually happened, evil statues or not.
While approached more comically, unreliable cops and police brutality are also present in Earthbound. As are poor jobless drunkards, "suspicious women" luring children into hotels to be attacked, bands in hefty debt therefore losing their freedom, celebrities being lusted after by obsessive fans, and… Cake filled with drugs? That last one may be a stretch, but that's what I honestly thought.
The entirety of gathering the "Eight Melodies" may be a nod to maturing and conquering one's fears/inner demons to grow up… But this is one that doesn't really say much other than that. When going through Magicant in the japanese version, Ness is naked rather than in his pajamas. Going through the place is partly also breaking purity and innocence Ness has for the entire game.
Finally there's Pokey, your next-door neighbor. In the localizations and portions of the game he's shown to be very arrogant, selfish, a trouble-maker, and a bit of a bully. This attitude though seems to be partly contradictory to how he speaks to Ness in Magicant, where he wants to stay his friend forever.
Going to go ahead and repeat what I typed in a YouTube comment… You see, in the original japanese version and according to the creator; Itoi, Pokey is socially-inept and very lonely. He and Picky are abused by his parents. His father gives Picky and him 100 spanks in-game (but only hearable in the japanese version), and his mother says that her husband is actually too easy with them, implying she's worse.
The start of him acting different and malicious is after Mr. Carpainter is defeated and Ness recruits Paula. In the Japanese version, Pokey apologizes and asks Ness if he still though of him as a friend… Due to Ness being a silent protagonist, Pokey sees it as Ness shunning him. In the localization, it was changed to him just saying "Haha! Just kidding!" and insulting Ness. I have no idea why they changed this, other than possibly wanting the players to be annoyed with Pokey rather than understand this sort of thing and feel guilty.
Because of having a weak heart, Giygas quickly took the chance to manipulate him into being the alien's right-hand man. That's where Pokey becomes notably more jerkish to Ness and co. when he rises to power in Fourside. By the end of the game, he makes the mistake of time-traveling which took a very large toll on his health (everyone else traveled in robotic forms so they did not have to risk this). He is no longer able to walk and now uses some sort of spider-mech. It also seems no one cared about him going missing, except Picky sorta.
Despite all of his tauntings and traveling to another time again (making him start the sequel's entire events), which made his condition worse, it seems Pokey still thought of Ness as a close friend too or even missed him in Mother 3. A theater in New Pork City plays a film about Ness's adventure, that Pokey picked out himself. He also even keeps a yo-yo in Thunder Tower's playroom called "Friend's Yo-Yo".
Originally, it seemed Pokey was planned to die and apologize for his actions in Mother 3. This idea was scrapped, and replaced with him sealed inside the Absolutely Safe Capsule… Alone and friendless, once again. He's doomed to be alone no matter what. It started with him being alone, when Giygas got to him it eventually ended the same way.
Does this excuse most of the shit started in Mother 3? Absolutely not. The kid doesn't understand the line between good "playing" and bad, by the time he did it was too fun. But I'm pretty sure his younger self would not be pleased with how his future turns out simply by "becoming friends" with Giygas. There's nothing Ness or anyone else do about it either, even if you want to help. I can't hate him for all of the shit he's done, either. There's kind of a charm to him, he's a bit tragic, and part of it is Giygas' fault for manipulating him to be a massive asshole…
Why does this affect me the most? Because shit like child neglect/abuse, friends shunning you for a mistake, being alone/disliked, and finally rising to power therefore treating everything around you like inferiors… Is all shit that can happen in real life, aliens aside.
"So 5.5 billion years from now, Porky will still be alive... But the grief of that is incredibly depressing to me. It's amazing... Porky/Pokey is truly a poem in himself." - ItoiThe same shit can't be said for Fassad in the sequel, honestly. He's an asshole from the start with no reason.
Is Earthbound overrated/overpraised? No. The praise it has is very deserved considering the man behind it and his ideas. Yes, the fan-base is obsessive and erratic, but this is expected of a lot of fan-bases. The final boss, not so much, as it's scripted.
There were times where the game got a little tedious, and the parts during and after Giygas are disappointing, but that didn't stop me from having fun at all. And that's what really matters when you're playing a game really. Considering the limited amount of space, it's aged pretty well for a SNES title.
It's a game that must be seen/played to see for yourself, and due to the Wii U's VC, that's now possible again. This game isn't even that long either if you easily know what you're doing, so go give it a shot!