EarthBound

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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After playing a number of quirky EarthBound inspired RPGs, I finally decided that I should play the game itself. While I ultimately enjoyed it, it didn’t blow me away. Despite that, it’s a game that I really appreciate, and it feels good to experience a game that went on to inspire so many other games that came after it.
It’s a solid, pretty basic RPG with a very unique tone and setting. There’s a wide variety of interesting locations as well as cute, funny and weird scenarios. Those aspects are the game’s biggest appeal, and really, those were the main things that kept me playing it.
The plot is really simplistic. Your party members generally remain silent except for very short instances here and there. The vast majority of the game’s charm and substance comes from the NPCs you talk to over the course of the adventure, and the various scenarios that occur with them. These scenarios are what mainly drives the plot. While these scenarios can be entertaining, I can’t say I prefer this method of storytelling. I’m especially let down by how silent your party is. I wish they were expressive in the slightest, especially considering how different this game’s setting is from typical RPGs. You’re not playing as a band of warriors, you’re playing as a group of kids, and not being able to see them react to the strange things that happen to them or watch them bond together as friends over the course of their journey feels like a huge missed opportunity and it makes it really hard for me to feel invested in these characters. The personalities of and interactions with your party members is a huge part of what makes Omori, one of those quirky EarthBound-inspired RPGs, one of my favorite games of all time.
There’s a lot of annoying and dated aspects of the game’s design that really bothered me. The biggest issue I had is Ness and the party’s painfully slow walk speed. I don’t think I could have ever played this game without emulating it and using the speed up function of the emulator for this reason in particular. Most places take forever to get to. You can get a bike that lets you move faster, but as soon as you get your first party member, you can’t use it anymore which feels like a big joke (and it probably is, considering how quickly you meet your first party member after your opportunity to get the bike).
There’s also so many long, repetitive dialog sequences that really don’t need to be there. The most egregious example is when you’re simply trying to save the game. Every time you save, you have to call your Dad on the telephone and he’ll proceed to tell you that he deposited money into your bank account and how much EXP everyone in the party needs before they reach the next level (which I don’t really need to know, especially since I can just check in the status menu) before asking to save . After you do he’ll ask you if you want to keep playing, and if you say yes, he’ll go on this tangent about how you work so hard just like your Mother EVERY SINGLE TIME you save the game. It’s so frustrating having to mash A through all of this dialogue when I just want to record my game progress. This is just one instance however. There are other instances (like the Camera Guy) throughout the game that make me very thankful I emulated it.
The next biggest issue I had was how annoying item management is as well as how items are handled in general. Since this is a post modern setting, all of the items and equipment in the game consist of things like bats, frying pans, bottle rockets, fast food, as well as other unique items, and it’s not always clear what the items do. You can’t check what they do until after they’re already in your inventory, which makes figuring out healing items in particular a hassle. They do have an easy way of indicating whether or not a piece of equipment is better than what you have currently equipped, but that’s the only positive thing I can really say when it comes to buying items at shops.
Then there’s managing your inventory space. Inventory space is pretty limited, especially considering there are some key items that take up inventory slots that you need to have on your person in order to progress the story or do things like access your money or the in-game map. You have the option to drop items that you don’t need, but there are certain items that you just can’t. You can’t drop key items, that makes sense, but there are other items that you can’t get rid of for seemingly no apparent reason, and it’s frustrating because of how needlessly complicated it is to store items you don’t need.
It’s an entire process that revolves around a service that your sister works at called Escargo Express. After like, 10-15 seconds or so, this dude will appear that will take only up to three items from your inventory and store them for you. You can only access this service via a telephone, which are typically only found in towns or villages. There are key items that you get over the course of the game that are only used in specific instances with no way of knowing when you’ll need to use these items again. So you potentially end up holding onto them for way longer than you need to, wasting a slot in your already limited inventory, or you store them only to reach a roadblock that requires that item, forcing you to go all the way back to a town to call Escargo Express, wait for the dude to show up, retrieve that item, and then go all the way back to where you were trying to go just so you can remove that roadblock. I wouldn’t mind this so much if you could access the rest of your inventory at any time outside of combat, but the whole Escargo Express process makes this way more aggravating than it needs to be.
Despite these dated, poorly thought out elements to its design, there are other design elements that I really appreciate. The game will automatically skip battles if you encounter an enemy that’s decently below your party’s current levels. I also really like the rolling health mechanic, which can force you into making drastic plays in order to heal someone before their health rolls down to zero (though admittedly, there were a lot of instances where this would happen regardless of how fast I could get through my turn).
I like the game’s visual style a lot, which is funny considering that a lot of people did not view this game’s graphics favorably in the 90s. To me, the artstyle is very charming, and I really like the wavy, constantly shifting psychedelic backgrounds during enemy encounters. They’re way more interesting to look at than a static background. The game’s music is also very… unique in a way that I appreciate.
Overall, I enjoyed EarthBound, and I appreciate it for what it is. I don’t really think it’s a game that I want to revisit any time soon. But it was still worth playing to see where a lot of the games that I’ve come to enjoy today got their inspiration from. I understand why people like it, I understand why it’s influential, I just don’t think the game has aged very well, and it doesn’t especially appeal to me. If I hadn’t emulated it, I don’t think I could’ve ever made it past the more dated elements of its design.

"i don like this :(" - what my friend wanted me to make my review
Sorry, Goose, but I actually have a lot more to say about this. After giving up on this and beating MOTHER 3 and 1, I decided it was only fair to come back and finish it. I came in with a fresh mind, and was really hoping I would like it as much as everyone else does, but sadly, that just isn't the case.
I'll start with the positives: it's very charming! The reputation it's built up for being very quirky and funny is definitely deserved, there were double-digits times I found myself laughing at a gag or throwaway line, and I think more jokes landed than flopped, which is impressive considering just how many there are. The art style is very striking and creative, it makes the little details like the towns' buildings more memorable and the party members' designs simply iconic, though the peak is the final boss without a doubt. While I personally don't like the SNES soundfont, I do like a majority of the songs from the MOTHER 1 soundtrack that were touched up (e.g. the shop theme) and the two final boss themes are just fantastic, the last being one of my favorite songs in video games. However, that's about all I can say for positives, although the charm is definitely a major part of the game.
The biggest negative I have is the gameplay. Underneath its silly, surreal syrup of style, the RPG that lies at the core is pretty weak. The rolling numbers are a nice addition, but I find that a majority of the time they roll too quickly to the point of being useless, with party members already dead before the healing text box popped up. Too many fights are just A-button mashing with next to zero actual strategizing, ESPECIALLY once Jeff gets his late game bottle rocket collection. Even when you can't bash an enemy to death, I found that Paula and Poo's (and, when necessary, Ness's) PSI attacks rendered most foes dead within the first round, and even if it went on longer, it felt like more of a nuisance than a real fight. Not only the gameplay, but I find that the characters and world are much less interesting than either of its two sibling games, and even on its own, it lacks in that department. What is Paula's character outside of "she's nice to Ness and has psychic powers"? I know it's a lot to ask a SNES-era game to have incredibly compelling characters, but when a major ending plot point is reliant on the fact that you care about them, it feels cheap to ask that when you haven't given me enough to care about. As for the world itself, I just don't find it particularly interesting. It's neat to look at it now, nearly 30 years later, and see just how much of it is a time capsule of an exact era in American culture, but that's about all I feel, the world feels much more disjointed and segmented than I'd want it to.
Rating this game is admittedly very difficult for me, because I don't feel like a 5/10 is correct, but I don't know what to rate it. I think, for what it's worth, it's aged decently. Sure, the menuing is painfully clunky and the console lag can be insufferable at times, but it's not terrible and still very much playable, though I think the amount of slow-scrolling text boxes during battle can certainly start to wear one's patience thin. The gameplay is not great, but the style and vibe of the game definitely wins me over and is what kept me playing until the end, even if the ending was more of a let down for me than anything. I feel near equal parts positive and negative things about this game, and it evens out to a resounding shrug of an experience. I'm glad I played it, and I think its influence on the world of gaming has been more of a good thing than a bad thing, but it's not one I can see myself coming back to, nor is it one I can even see myself recommending.

Nunca dejes drogas al alcance de los niños

video games should not be longer than 15 hours
ill finish it someday