If you have read any of my reviews so far you already know this, but I love RPGs. Video game RPGs, pencil and paper RPGs, even board games with RPG style elements in them, I love them all. When I got my copy of Dragon Warrior for the NES in 1989 I was the happiest little boy in all the land. Give me all the experience points, magic spells and special weapons I can handle. Problem was, all of these games I was playing were all in the fantasy genre. It was all about castles, dragons and evil wizards. In the early 1990’s, the time in which I got into pencil and paper RPGs, I was big in to Battletech/Mechwarrior system of games by FASA. Well here was an RPG that was not in fantasy but rather sci-fi, about big walking tanks duking it out in the future. The change was refreshing but in the video game world, it all still seemed to be about saving princesses and beating ogres. It was in this mixing pot one of my all time favorite games fell into my lap: Earthbound for the SNES.
Earthbound had all the elements of traditional console RPGs: story focused on character development, the player playing a character instead creating one (like in PC RPGs, which a breakdown of the difference I will do. . . . someday) leveling up, better weapons, all that jazz. What made Earthbound so different that it was sent in modern day, more specifically America (more on that later). Gone were swords and dragons, replaced with baseball bats and skate punks. Instead of magic spells you had psi powers. In fact, to even get money from battles you had to call your Dad and have him put money into your bank account that you would withdraw from an ATM. I had never played an RPG set in the modern area before and with like a slap to the face of goodness.
The story of Earthbound is nothing to special, a group of children have to save the world from a great evil named Giygas. The four children are: Nes (for all you Smash Brothers players out there, this is where NES comes from) who is the main character of the game. Paula the PSI power master who is similar to magic user types in other games. Jeff a technology base character who used bottle rockets and bombs. Lastly and most strangely named is the martial arts using Poo. Yes, the boy’s name is Poo. Earthbound has these four character running around America visiting special location to get enough power to stop the evil Giygas. Now the America that the game takes place in is rather. . . umm shall we say wacky? It feels like the developers of this game, being mostly Japanese simply threw what ever odd bits and pieces of knowledge that had about America and American pop culture into the game. Let’s see here, you fight Hippies as enemies. You have a trip on a Yellow submarine. (yes I know it’s the Beatles and therefore British) One of the special location you visit is a Bigfoot track. I can do no real justice for the humor but let me just say, when I first got the game (my early teens) I laughed a bit. When I went back and played it as an adult, I nearly fell out of my seat at times.
I cannot say enough about this game so I will stop now before this becomes more of the gush-fest it already is. It’s simple, this is one of the best games that not many have played. Trust me on this, hunt down a ROM. . . . .err I mean go ahead and download it with your Wii points right now. You will not be disappointed. That is unless you don’t enjoy defeneding yourself from Diamond Dogs with a yo-yo.
Trivia: Earthbound is actualy the second in a trilogy of games, known in Japan as Mother. Eathbound is actually Mother 2 which was the only Mother game released in North America. The first game, Mother 1 is a NES game which you maybe able to find a fan translation of the ROM out there on the old interwebs, often titled Earthbound 0. Mother 3 is a Game Boy Advanced game and is where Lucas from Super Smash Bros. Brawl is originally from.
Hint About Next Game: Fist of the Localization: A Terrible Beat ’em Up is You!