Review: EarthBound (Retro)
EarthBound: Member ReviewRetro 971 views 0 likes 1 comment
- Release Date (NA): July 18, 2013
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Genres: Role-playing game
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
Released in 1995, EarthBound (or Mother 2 in Japan) is a Role-playing game (RPG) for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Even though it's launch price and marketing was terrible, the famous 16 bit RPG got a huge fanbase both in the west and the east.
EarthBound stands out of all RPGs in the 90's, especially for the SNES. Unlike other popular RPGs in that time, like Chrono Trigger and Terranigma, EarthBound is set in relatively modern-times (199X), and in an America-like world, Eagle Land. Just like in most RPGs, you can change the characters names in the beginning. EarthBound was created by Ape and HAL Laboratory under Shigesato Itoi's direction, and it was published by Nintendo.
You play as Ness, a young boy that has psychic powers. In the beginning on the game, a meteorite crashes, waking Ness up. He decides to go out and investigate and meets Pokey, his neighbor, who tells him to just go back to sleep. After waking up again hearing Pokey knock on the door, Ness goes out to help Pokey find his lost brother with his pet dog King. Ness then encounters an alien named Buzz Buzz, who kills a Starman Junior and tells Ness that he and 3 other children are destined to save the world from the evil alien super-monster Giygas.
During his quest, Ness meets his accomplices: Jeff - a genius young boy who is the only member of the team that doesn't have psychic powers, Paula - a girl with psychic powers and Poo - a mysterious prince from a faraway land with knowledge of psychic powers and martial arts.
I'd love to tell you more about the plot, but I'm afraid to spoil it for you! But, I can assure you, that Earthbound is filled with funny, intriguing moments that will make you laugh and want to play even more!
From left to right: Ness, Paula, Jeff, Poo
From left to right: Ness, Paula, Jeff, Poo
Not only is EarthBound considered unique for its setting, it also stands out gameplay-wise. EarthBound uses a 2d isometric view on the world:
EarthBound certainly delivers in the visuals department. Its caricature-like presentation of 1990's USA is mostly flawless. The world is huge and is visually rich with it's attention to details and number of different settings. Ranging from cold forests to blazing hot deserts, from small villages to huge cities, EarthBound's Eagle Land certainly is memorable.
Fourside, a city which unlike other places in EarthBound is shown isometrically from both sides.
- Items, Currency and Rest
Gold and Rupees are commonly used in RPGs, but not in EarthBound. In this game, real money is used (no, not REAL LIFE money! This isn't a facebook game by EA!). Most of your money is given by your dad, who sends it to your bank account, from which by using an Automatic-Teller Machine you can both dispose and withdraw. Yes this is a game with working ATM's and bank accounts, haven't seen that eh?
You can rest and sleep in your house andsometimes in other peoples houses, but if none of those are near you can always book yourself a hotel for the night! Not for free, of course.
Saving is also a luxury some times, if you're too lazy to look carefully. Saving is done by calling your dad via telephone. There are 2 types of telephones in EarthBound: free ones (those which you can find in any hotel or house) and paid ones (the ones that are almost everywhere). Thankfully your friend Apple-Kid invents the cellphone, but unfortunately you can only receive calls from it. Thanks to this glorious invention you can receive calls every 20 minutes from your dad saying that you should stop working so hard!
Recovering is also unique. EarthBound uses a Grand Theft Auto-like recovery system where you can basically just recover from almost anything by eating a sandwich or sleeping. When you get poisoned and you don't have any antidotes left you can go to the doctor in the hospital. If you get cursed or you've become hard like a diamond (I know what you're thinking) you can go to a healer, who is most of the time outside the doctors cabinet. Healers are free, since they have no medical license.
A screenshot of a dumb player paying money to use a telephone. Seriously who the heck does this?
When you or one of your friends lose all of their HP, they don't die. They "faint" and are quickly sent to the hospital, where you can buy them out for 200$, just like in real life. That's not to say you can't die in this game, however. For example, if you don't have any friends yet in the game or all of them are in the hospital and you are defeated in a battle, the game is over and you're going to have to start over from the last place you saved or slept.
"I see dead people"
Unlike it's predecessor EarthBound Zero, EarthBound doesn't use random encounters, which is a welcome change in my opinion. The RPG traditionally uses a turn-based battlesystem. Depending on what character is selected, you can either Bash (physical attack) your enemy, use a PSI skill on it, Run, Defend or use one of your Goods. If you're too lazy to battle you can always use Auto-Fight.
After defeating an enemy, you and your team gain XP. After gaining enough XP, you level up. After leveling up character stats go up. The stats in the game don't only include your basic Offense Defense Speed etc., the stats also include Guts, Vitality, IQ and Luck. Guts is an interesting stat, because the higher your guts the higher your chance of having 1hp left after you get hit by a huge attack. Vitality is a stat that compliments your HP quantity (1 point in vitality is roughly 15 HP). Luck, like IQ, is still a stat with unknown purposes, and no it doesn't make your chances of getting a SMAAASH hit. IQ, on the other hand, is useful only for Jeff. The higher Jeff's IQ is, the more he can fix while he is sleeping.
A screenshot of EarthBound's battlesystem
During battles you can use different goods, from skip sandwiches to bottle rockets. You can even temporarily upgrade your stats by using sudden gut pills and others.
What I like most about EarthBound's battle system is how after you level up to a certain level and some enemies become WAY too easy for you, the enemies stop following you. Even the mightiest bears, crocodiles and taxi's (yes, taxi's) are frightened of you after you gained a level or two!
Why are you running away? Are you afraid?
Even if you DO somehow manage to corner a foe, most of the times you wont even have to go through a battle sequence! The screen will simply flash green and the foe will be defeated!
Earthbound, as every other RPG released on the SNES, has a great soundtrack. This isn't a surprise, since the music was composed by famous composers Keiichi Suzuki, Hirokazu Tanaka and Hiroshi Kanazu. It's soundtrack varies from smooth Jazz all the way to Death Metal. I'm serious. Just take a look at some of the fine pieces of EarthBound's original soundtrack:
+ - Amazing, new and original atmosphere
+ - Great soundtrack
+ - Memorable characters and story that will always be in your heart <3
+ - Great gameplay mechanics
+ - Vast and open world filled with adventure
+ - Good visuals
+ And a lot more!
- - Too short
The game starts amazingly good, giving you the right vibe and sets you for an adventure you'll never forget.
Very good battlesystem that in my opinion should have been implemented in more games. It has a great isometric view and it doesn't feel "broken" at all. Your friends follow you correctly without a problem, overall I really enjoyed the gameplay.
In my opinion, this is the best RPG for the SNES. If you ask anybody who has played this game to say something bad about it they'll always probably say it's too short since it's THAT GOOD.
out of 10
(not an average)
This is one of the best games ever created by mankind and my personal favorite right after Deus Ex. If you love Classic RPGs I definitely recommend you to buy this on the WiiU virtual market. EarthBound will leave a mark in your brain after you finish it, and it will be a good one.