released on Aug 27, 1994

A turn-based JRPG and sequel to then-Japan-only Earthbound Beginnings (1989) in which Ness, a young boy living in a land based on the USA, leaves home to go on an adventure through strange locations, get to know quirky characters and defeat an unknowable alien threat called Giygas while facing up to the realities of growing up and becoming familiar with the real world.

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Once again, this is the kind of game I feel like I appreciate more than I enjoy. I see what it did and it was certainly unique, but as someone that's not too into this style of game, it wasn't one of my favorite games.

one of my all-time favorite games as far as visuals and music go. could not imagine beating this thing without save states.

I had a good time with EarthBound, though it didn't hit for me as hard as I expected it to. It is a fairly mechanically generic RPG with extremely surreal storytelling of the sort that doesn't really appeal to me.
EarthBound looks and sounds great. The pixels are bright and colorful with a ton of different environments to see and explore. There is a lot of experimental and ambient music that gives the game a cool feel and a couple of the tracks (like this one) really stand out.
There isn't much to the combat. Characters can all attack and three of them can use spells, though they mostly share the same spell lists with some variation. Spells are very basic -- single or multi-target damage and some buffs that I didn't find much occasion to use. Characters also have special abilities, Paula can Pray (heals the party for a minimal amount), Jeff can Spy (scan enemies for weaknesses) and fix and use items (basically single use or reusable spell effects), and Poo can use Mirror (turn into an enemy, a bit like Gau from FF6). They mostly don't matter (other than items, which are very overpowered) and don't work that well... they feel very vestigial.
The resource tension in this game is extreme, which does make things feel unique. There isn't a good way to regain psychic power (MP) so a lot of the gameplay is around conserving things as you navigate dungeons.
This is exacerbated by the inventory system, which is also reminiscent of Dragon Quest, with each character having an individual inventory that is hard to manage with slots taken up by random or required items.
There are also quite a few mechanics that aren't explained that well, if at all. Items have one-off, poorly explained effects, weapons have hidden stats (like a 75% miss chance!?), and Poo doesn't heal from eating regular food items and can't use most equipment. Other systems like food condiments don't serve much purpose and feel like they were added on a whim. It makes the whole game feel very quirky and novel without adding much of actual interest.
Regarding dungeons, they are extremely long and extremely maze-like with the enemies (though unique and sometimes funny) becoming extremely repetitive. There is a lot of variation between dungeons throughout the game, I just wanted each one to be much shorter.
Similarly, these modern looking towns and fields are extremely varied and novel for the fantasy and sci-fi heavy RPG genre. Things work like a regular 3/4 view RPG, but all the environments are skewed, adding to the modern, unique flavor. Exploring towns and meeting all the interesting characters was definitely the highlight for me.
The narrative here is very random and surreal. Your party's main motivation throughout the game is collecting sounds from various locations in the world, though the purpose and result isn't really mentioned until it happens. Individual events and locations aren't particularly connected together, with things happening without any perceivable cause. Luckily the pace is quick, but many times throughout the story you finish one task only to have your next handed to you via a convenient phone call or NPC intervention. Most of the things that happen are also pretty unmotivated or just silly jokes.
Though it didn't really hold my interest throughout the game or really get me invested in what was going on, it is very entertaining in a certain way, just looking forward to what weirdness the next city will hold or where your party will end up next.
I really do understand the appeal here, even though it mostly doesn't appeal to me in particular. Underneath the strangeness and randomness is a solid RPG that at least provides a unique experience, buoyed by the music and excellent pixel art.

Really loved this game but it's such a shame because I don't think there's any games out there inspired by it

quirky game good.
there's a reason why every single quirky indie rpg is inspired by this game. because it's awesome. it's a light-hearted, fun experience that gets serious when it needs to. also you can summon meteor showers on your opponents. play the game before i send an attack that you cannot grasp the true form of to your house.