One of the greatest RPGs on the SNES has to be Earthbound! It's
fun, mindless, somewhat big, and just plain great! I always say that you should own both an SNES and a Genesis,
since one has games the other doesn't HAVE a duplicate of. Wheras
Shining Force 2 and LandStalker are the Genesis landmarks, this game is the
SNES high mark!
One night, on the continent of EagleLand, near the town of
Onett, a meteor of sorts crashes, waking up your character (there are bunch
of default names, but I'll use Ness here since it's the first one
to pop up) and everyone
in his house, Ness goes to investigate. Unfortunately, the idiot cops are blocking
the way, so you head back home, only to be woken up later that night by
a fat kid named Pokey, claiming his brother is lost. You truck back to the
meteor and find the kid. When you do, you'll
meet a bee who tells you about the evil Alien Giygas, who plans
to destroy the world or something. It was foretold in prophecy that some
kids would get together and defeat Giygas (must be a pretty pathetic alien
if he can be defeated by kids, even more pathetic when you learn HOW).
After taking Pokey and Picky home, the bee gets killed, but gives you a
"Sound Stone" before he dies, explaining that you need the melodies of
these places called "Your Sanctuary" to channel the Earth's power into you
so you can defeat Giygas or something. After all this your adventure
starts. You go from Onett to various towns like Twoson, Threed, then to Fourside (notice
a pattern here?) Afterwards you go to towns that really aren't named after
numbers. In addition to the main character (and your dog, which plays
along for a bit) you can find three other kids to join your party
and help save the world.
The first thing you'll notice is the strange atmosphere...it's very cartoon-like
and I swear the main character resembles Charlie Brown. The game is meant
to take place in the "real world". You use bats as weapons as opposed to
swords, and hats act as armor. Money is obtained by beating enemies then calling up your father
so he can deposit money in your ATM account. There's very little of the
cliched themes of other RPGs, and it's refreshing. In fact, Earthbound
actually has a sense of humor...I love how the kid Pokey refuses to do anything
useful in a fight, and funny responses are given whenever he does something. All of the animals
have gone nuts thanks to Giygas' evil influence, so you'll often have
to fight crows and snakes. Later on, you'll even fight musical instruments
and other bizarre stuff. The best one is the deranged hippie by far.
Let's get the side streets outta my way first. Obviously Nintendo
cut this crap about graphics being important for awhile and tried to make
a game that advertised on gameplay instead, because the graphics aren't
that impressive. Everything looks flat and cartoonish. But the graphics are
colorful at least (also, the battles have some swirvy backgrounds that
are rather cool).
The music is okay for the most part. The town tune isn't bad, but most of the
battle music just sucks (though its bearable). The good thing is that
music always changes, one battle tune is actually pretty good! Sometimes the music is made up
of transmitter sounds!
Controls are fine, as the characters move faster than in most RPGs, and you
can even walk diagonally.
Nintendo took every step to make sure this was
as comfortable as possible. Heck, it's even set up so you can play with
The battle scenes are
just like in Dragon Warrior, sometimes you MIGHT face more than one enemy,
but often it's just one tough bastard who refuses to die. I'm not saying
combat is TOUGH, mind you, just slightly harder than some RPGs.
Instead of MP, you get "Psychic
Points" which allows Ness and his friends to use PSI Power (except
your friend Jeff, who doesn't have any PSI power). Something bugs me because the
abbreviation for "Psychic Points" is PP. PSI Power is the exact same
as magic otherwise. You gain new PSI powers by raising levels (sometimes
you get them through the storyline though). There is a neat twist
about battles though...you see the enemies when you're walking around
and can try to dodge them. Also, you can try to sneak up on them to get
a first attack...on the flip side, they can get you in the back and
attack first as well. There's also the instant win, which occurs when
your experience level is a lot higher than the enemies...the bad guy
simply dies without a fight, and you get the experience. This saves
a lot of time.
The game world is on a slightly isometric perspective. You never
get your character lost behind buildings. There's even side view areas with
depth scrolling! The
world is somewhat big, but exploration is still low, thanks to the
linearity (why do all console RPGs have to be linear?) There are no extras,
like Espers or Materia, but who cares? This game is just fun!
On the whole, this is a pretty good game. Sure, its rather lax in
the character department, and has nothing special in it, and is an almost
complete rip-off of Dragon Warrior, but come on! Who cares? It's fun!
And for those who are stuck, it even comes with a Nintendo Power Player's
Guide (which isn't really that good, as it skips over some things)!
This game is living proof that you don't need to throw in good graphics,
great music, complicated battle systems, or any other innovations (other
than the atmosphere, which sets this game apart from just about any
medievil or sci-fi style RPG you could think of) just to be a good