Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Earthbound: SNES

Well, folks, you’re going to have to settle for a game review without pictures, because I’m not entirely sure where the screen shots for the SNES games get saved.

This time, gentle readers, we will be exploring Earthbound, a game brought to my attention by my friend Mike. The basic plot of this game, titled “Mother 2: The War Against Giygas” in its original Japanese, follows the adventures of a young man and his battles to save the world from an evil entity named Giygas. Along the way, the main character picks up three friends, and together, with the help of the person mashing buttons on the controller, defeat the evil Giygas and save humanity.

If you’ve been following this blog, then you will probably have figured out by now that Earthbound is exactly the kind of game I like to play. It was an incredibly fun game, with enemies with odd names (Unassuming Local Man and New Age Retro Hippie were my favorites) that always kept me looking forward to the next encounter. More on those later, though.

Now, you get to name all of the characters that you pick up along the way, so for your reference, here’s what I named mine:

Main kid: Dood

Obligatory female: Mazie

Nerd kid: Fark

Asian royal kid: Meaty

(If you look this game up on the Internet, the kids’ names are respectively supposed to be Ness, Paula, Jeff, and Poo.)

You also get to name the family dog and identify your favorite food, so that it can be referenced throughout the game. I named the dog Dawgg, and the mother character kept telling me to relax and eat some cheese. (Note that I kept all the names I created in capital letters, so DOOD was always told to go eat some CHEESE.)

The whole thing starts out when a meteor crashes into the hillside near Dood’s home town of Onett. Everyone in the house wakes up, and Dood, who I would guess to be about ten, gets it in his head to go outside and investigate. Somehow, his mother is just fine with her young son going out in the middle of the night, armed only with a broken baseball bat and red cap, to find something that had PLUMMETTED TO THE EARTH FROM OUTER SPACE and was covered in who knows what kind of germs.

So anyway, Dood ventures out, and is attacked by several animals along the way, including snakes, stray dogs, and crows that steal your shit. Good times. You make your way up the hill and come across Onett resident Lier X. Agerate, who is digging for treasure. He is only of minimal importance. Anyway, Dood makes it to the crash site, which is blocked off by a police barricade, and runs into his neighbor Pokey, who is a chubby little douchebag who has a bowl haircut and tells Dood to bugger off. Dood goes home and goes back out later to find the neighbor kid, makes it to the meteorite, and meets up with a space bug appropriately named Buzz Buzz (no, I did not name that one), who informs Dood that he is the Chosen One who will Save All Humanity, and that he will teach Dood all of the Lessons he needs to Save All Humanity.

Dood goes to take the neighbor kid home, and Buzz Buzz is consequently mistaken for a dung beetle by Mrs. Neighbor and meets an untimely and undignified end. And so Dood must make the journey to become strong enough to conquer the evil Giygas on his own.

Again, his mother has no problem with him heading out into the world to fight dangerous monsters and, along the way, pick up a girl from a preschool, a nerd from a boarding school, and most mysteriously of all, a prince from some far-east country.

The mechanics of the game are your basic turn-by-turn RPG. Don’t have fast reflexes on the controllers? Doesn’t matter. You just set up your orders and the processor does the fighting for you, saving your thumbs a few more years from gaming-induced arthritis. Each character has hit points (HP), determining how much damage they can take from an enemy, and psi points (PP, haha) that can be used in attacks or for some restorative purpose. The only kid who doesn’t have PP is the nerd, who can fix broken things and turn them into new, useful objects.

Each kid has his/her own unique abilities. Main kid can, um, really swing a bat; obligatory female has super-psychic and has a “pray” ability that can be used in battle; nerd kid can…do nerd kid stuff; Asian royal kid has mysterious Asian powers. (Insert SeƱor Chang doing his “mysterious, inscrutable” bit here.) Of course, all these things are useful to the game, and the girl’s “pray” option is really only useful at the very end of the game.

As I mentioned before, the gameplay involves a journey where Dood (“main kid”) has to find eight special places and learn a song, and picks up the other three urchins along the way. You meet a lot of interesting characters, such as:

1. Two inventors called Apple Kid and Orange Kid. Orange Kid’s a dick.

2. The Mr. Saturns, who speak in the most inscrutable font you will ever come across and say things like “boing” and “zoom” a lot. They’re about as useful as they sound.

3. Geldegarde Monotoli. I have included him just because he has a funny name.

4. Dood’s dad, who exists only as a telephone call, but will ring Dood up while he’s in the middle of something to tell him to take a rest. I enjoy this the most simply because it’s as if the game designers thought their game would be so absorbing that the children playing it would forget to eat or use the toilet.

5. The Runaway Five, which is a band that keeps reappearing in different locations throughout the game. The kids bail them out of debt twice, and they are the 16-bit version of the Blues Brothers. The really peculiar thing about this group is that backstage, there are five members, but when you see their stage performances, there are six people. Go figure.

And you meet a lot of enemies with some very interesting names, such as:

1. Skate Punk.

2. Yes Man Jr. (You never meet Yes Man Sr. that I know of.)

3. Evil Ramblin’ Mushroom, which can make you grow a mushroom out of your head.

4. New Age Retro Hippie.

5. Unassuming Local Man.

6. Li’l UFO, whose special ability is to give you a cold.

7. Putrid Moldyman.

8. Worthless Protoplasm.

9. Mini Barf—and yes, this is exactly what you think it is.

10. Lethal Asp Hieroglyph, which is only one of three different kinds of hierglyphs that can come off of the pyramid walls and attack you.

11. Mr. Molecule, which sounds like something that should have been on Mr. Wizard or Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Pokey will pop up throughout the game and say rude things because he’s a douchebag who—gasp!—works for Giygas.

Oh yeah…the nerd kid’s dad informs the group that Giygas has somehow retreated to the past and is attacking from there, and the only way the group can get to him is to put their souls into robots to get into some special pod to get to where Giygas is. Of course, there’s the caveat that they might not be able to return to their bodies, blah blah blah…it all works out in the end. Don’t worry. Unless you don’t defeat Giygas, in which case All Of Humanity dies.

At the end, when the Big Bad Boss is finally defeated, you get to go home and eat some CHEESE. Your mom is all kinds of proud of you, and it would seem she never had a problem with her ten-year-old kid (or however old he’s supposed to be ) gallivanting across the country, turning into a robot to go back through time because a flesh-and-bones body couldn’t do it, and coming back as if nothing happened. It was kind of a sad moment, because I had spent so much time playing the game. I would definitely recommend a play-through.