The Super Nintendo is home to a lot of classic RPG’s. Some of my favorites were Super Mario RPG, Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, and Earthbound. Most of them were marketed well and very successful. Unfortunately, like most of the games we enjoy, Earthbound wasn’t a commercial success. Nintendo did their best. They tried to grab people’s attention by including a strategy guide with every copy. They even created an ad that featured scratch and sniff stickers. The scents kept you guessing, but it sadly wasn’t enough to lure in people.
The story begins with a flying object that crashes down from the night sky on the small town of Onett. The evil race known as the Giygas have arrived and plan on controlling Earth along with the universe. A courageous boy named Ness is given the task of saving Earth and defeating the Giygas. He must travel through eight different sanctuaries where he can combine his powers with the earth. Only when this is done, can he gain enough strength to confront them.
Now that you know about the story, let’s get to the gameplay! The battle system is like the Dragon Quest series. I’ve never been a huge fan of the system, but the way it’s implemented in Earthbound changed my mind. While in Battle, you can choose from: Attack, PSI Powers, Items, Defend, and Run. Every character also has a unique ability that they can use. Like the classic Dragon Quest titles, when you fight, you don’t see the character. It’s a simple, but fun, battle system that can be strategic at times.
Ness and his friends show their personality with style. The characters all have their strengths and weaknesses. Ness uses his trusted baseball bat along with his PSI (Physic Skills). Paula is the gifted physic from Twoson. Jeff is an inventor from Winters. He can use Bottle Rockets and fix items. Poo is the prince of Dalaam. He’s well rounded and has the ability to morph into enemies. The characters are a refreshing change from the norm.
Earthbound isn’t the most impressive looking game but it doesn’t have to be. The art direction and organic feel of the game make it stand out from other RPG’s. The locales in Earthbound are made up of many areas including towns, dungeons, and caves. My favorite town is Twoson where Paula runs her preschool called Polestar. It also has the Chaos Theater where the Blues Brothers look-a-likes, Runaway Five, usually perform.
The rest of the places you’ll visit are neat as well. From the zombie-filled streets of Threes, to Moonside which features a giant metropolis that has another side to it. Overall, Earthbound has some of the nicest places to visit in a RPG. You’re always seeing something unique and fresh. Overall, the graphics are well done and the artistic style of the game is top notch.
The characters you’ll encounter are crazy as well. I also enjoyed the humor/quirkiness of the game. It’s all very subtle and goes along with the bizarre theme of the game. You’ll see a fun loving monkey who loves bubble gum, a crazy billboard guy and a photographer who loves taking pictures in the sky.
Earthbound is a game that runs with your imagination. The music, humor, and characters make it a game like no other. Nintendo has created a game that emotionally connects with its player. This is one RPG that you definitely want to try. It is an experience that few games can offer.
Pros: Subtle Humor, Story, Unique, Characters, Art Direction, Music
Cons: Not much to do after you are done.
VGM: “Your Name, Please”