Real Talk By: Ms. Throwback
Originally released in 1995 in the U.S. on the Super Nintendo, and recently released last year on the Wii U virtual console, Earthbound has become a classic for many. The game is actually a sequel to the “Mother” series of games in Japan, but is the only English release from it to make it stateside. The story-line includes our hero Ness and his crew of four collecting melodies to defeat evil alien forces. Originally the game did not fair well here, and Ness became more well-known for his role in Super Smash Brothers four years later than for his heroics in Earthbound. Because of this, the follow-up title Mother 3, was never released in the United States and we have only seen one game feature Ness in his series.
Earthbound is a role-playing title that takes place in the village of Onett. When a meteorite lands in 13-year-old Ness’ town and awakens his slumber he finds a bee (yes, as in the two-winged, six-legged creature.) that lets him and his crew know that they are the chosen children who must destroy Giygas, a great evil alien. Ness must then find the other children and save the earth from total destruction.
Ness’ adventure takes place much like original Zelda titles, from a top view of the map. By talking with villagers and fighting enemies he meets along the way. Battles are conducted in a Chrono Trigger type style where enemies will challenge you to a turn based style fight and you may choose between the menu options of Bash, PSI, Goods, Defend, Auto Fight, and Run Away. The character with higher speed gets to attack first. Interestingly enough when Ness or his crew is attacked the damage is not instantaneous, a timer ticks down over a period, if you can strategically attack in the mean time, you could end up winning (even though you didn’t attack first). This is in no way an easy task. Hard is an understatement. Almost every single character in the entire game wants to battle with Ness in some form, making this a title that takes a long, and I mean long time to get through. Ness uses a baseball bat and his psychic powers in and out of combat as his main abilities to progress through the game. Not to mention, his friends..
Paula the professional magic user, Jeff the genius son of a scientist, and Poo a martial artist from another realm all help Ness destroy the alien forces. The game is full of fun and quirky characters that create interesting dialogue and add spice to the game along the way. Another prevalent character is Ness’ neighbor Pokey who is absolutely annoying but creates an interesting dynamic to the game none-the-less.
Game play can be initiated by running at an enemy on the screen. Approaching them from behind will allow you to make a sneak attack, and sometimes defeat the player before they have had the chance to start a battle. The same will happen if they approach you. This is something you have to be aware of the majority of your adventure.
Music and sound in the title are also very well versed. One of the things that made Ness great as a Super Smash Brothers character was his unique sound which comes directly from the Earthbound title. The games environment changes over time throughout the game and the score does everything it can to keep up with the ever-changing visual aspects of the title. It is very well done.
The visuals for the title are outstanding, even for 1995. Not only are the mapped characters and village aspects fun to look at, but the enemies in battle are all unique in design and visually appealing. Ness will come across several towns in his adventures and each of them are vastly different from the last. Several effects are used in the background during battle to show which power is being used, adding to the visual appeal as well. several different types of art styles are used depending on the feel they are trying to give you at the time. cloudy black and white overlays create a more scary dark feel while one of the towns is made of what seems like laser beams.
Playing this game again made me realize one thing, video game players can be some of the most critical reviewers out there. While this game has a high difficulty level, the ratings for original reviews of the title were terrible and I can’t seem to figure out why except that maybe Nintendo was right when they didn’t bring certain games to America. Maybe we just weren’t ready for the challenge, which is terribly unfortunate because Earthbound is the complete package. It’s lengthy which is a good thing when you’re talking about an RPG with a wonderful story line and breathtaking visual aspects. Playing it now almost makes it even better because it throws in some 90’s nostalgia as well. For the steep price of $10 on Nintendo’s Eshop, I think you should go ahead and put this one in your downloadable collection.
Earthbound for Super NES Gets
4.5 Out of Five
+Visuals and sound are top of the line
+Story line is in-depth and emotional
+Battle sequences are strategic
+Length of game
-Photosensitive people might have some trouble, there are consistent moments of flashing throughout the game.