Earthbound
Box Shot
Earthbound
Platform: Super Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Designer: Nintendo
Genre: RPG
Players: 1
Published Date 1995
Reviewed by: 8-Bit Star

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 the battle 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 one hand!

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 game.