The Ultimate Classic RPG Guide for New Gamers: Earthbound
I wonder if the writers, producers or artists of this quirky little number knew that it would become such a massive cult hit. I'm confident in saying that Earthbound is definitely one of a kind. Also known in Japan as Mother, Earthbound is a successful series that has had several entries over seas, but only this single pearl of gaming goodness graced our shores. Most of the gamers of my generation are still praying for some sort of follow up to come home to the US. With every passing year, the odds of America getting another installment of the game grows more unlikely. But that doesn't mean that those of us who have had the pleasure of playing this gem can't continue to dream.
Zoom in on Ness, Englewood's underdog who seems like the most unlikely candidate for world savior. Ness is really one unlucky fellow. Unlucky that he has to comb the world over for three young warriors such as himself. Unlucky that he has to fend of all kinds of bizarre enemies that are trying to defeat him. Unlucky that he has a world destruction bent alien mastermind trying to stop him dead in his tracks by any means necessary.
The trouble all begins when a meteor crash lands into the hills just beyond the home of our hero. Ness, being the curious adventure seeker, decides to go and investigate the impact site. Crazy as it sounds, the meteor is actually an escape pod for a space hero from the future. This hero has sustained a fatal injury and is fading fast, and begs Ness to take over his quest and defeat this scourge before the Earth can be destroyed. Thus begins the epic journey for intergalactic peace.
What really makes this game stand out is its weirdness. The first ten minutes are devoted completely to customizing your game. You choose the color scheme of your menu and text boxes, naming all of your main characters and a few sub characters and answering a few ordinary, everyday questions that will also play a role in the game. With the exception of maybe five or so statements, your entire party is silent. You would think that it would take away from the games dynamic, but there are enough background characters that you can interact with that take all the guess work out of your team's thoughts and feelings. Instead of your traditional sword/knife/gun weapon roster, this game gives you fry pans, baseball bats and yo-yos to save the planet. Nothing says bad ass alien slayer like the newest battle yo-yo! Ness and crew find the influence of Giygas everywhere, and must venture all across the world to destroy it. Ness travels from the deepest swamps to the darkest caves to ancient pyramids and even to a lost world of ancient creatures. Villages hidden in the far reaches of the globe contain the secrets to defeating your enemy. Treasures hidden under stones or buried in treasure chests hidden in fluffy clouds and bits of information secured in the slimy city sewers will only make the fight a little easier.
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Your enemies are even more out of the ordinary than your weaponry. Zombies, hippies (yes you read that right), crazed yard sale shoppers, coffee cups, vinyl records and even rain clouds. But don't let the strangeness of your enemies turn you off, as looks can be deceiving. Especially when the vinyl record obliterates your party in a single turn! The humor of battles is what keeps the otherwise typical turn based system from getting overly annoying. In battle, you can actually hear how hard you're being hit.
Check out Ness' cameo appearance in this fun brawler!
So unless you've played the game several times through, you're better off listening to the game instead of plugging in a cd or mp3. The good thing about this is that you can actually recover from being knocked out if you feed your characters before their hit points reach zero.Yep, even this misfit bunch gets hungry. Feeding your party is the best way to recover strength and even add temporary stat boosts. It's always a good idea to load up your backpack with food before leaving any town. Especially since you don't know what unorthodox monster is waiting just around the corner.
Earthbound may seem lame, but trust me, there isn't a written review anywhere that can really do this game justice. It's one that you really have to try for yourself to understand why it's such a sought after title. The little bits of humor that can be found anywhere and everywhere and the quirky surprises that really do come out of nowhere, really do make the strange greatness that is Earthbound.
Ness is actually a very popular character over in Japan. Have you ever played Super Smash Bros. Brawl? The little guy with the backpack and ball cap? Yes! He is the one and only hero of this incredible story! I'm incredibly impressed that he made it into the American version of the game, and I'm sure any retro gamer can appreciate the programmers letting him participate.
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