EarthBound is a genuinely unique little RPG, and I haven't seen another game like it since. It has a strange, quirky sense of humor, an interesting system, great enemies, great music, a fun plot, fun characters, a sense of humor about itself, and just...it's just awesome. It's really one-of-a-kind. It was so different than everything else I'd ever played before.
The world of Earthbound is just...it's special. There's something about it you'll never see anywhere else, and you'll probably never see again (although there is Mother 3, which a bunch of the people at starmen.net are working on a translation for. Given that EarthBound has some of the most fanatically obsessed fans ever for any game (even StarCon2 fans aren't as hardcore as EarthBound fans! At least in my experience) I have great confidence that it'll be released someday). It's just...hard to explain really. You have to experience it for yourself.
But just in general, the game is really great. I'm sure you all know Ness from Super Smash Brothers, but everything makes so much more sense when you've actually played Earthbound (You have no idea how much I freaked out when I unlocked Ness in SSB for the first time on the N64 version).
Thing is, it's hard to find nowadays (expensive!) and if you don't have an SNES, that's even more money down the hole.
Finding a SNES emulator is no problem at all, and finding the ROM took me like two minutes (in fact, here it is! I'll host it on my domain for you :D).
Just load the .smc file in ZSNES and you're set! Easy as cake. MAGIC cake.
We begin with static. And this static-y music!
DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN you can probably guess what part of the intro corresponds to this part.
The incredibly loud DANANANANA DANA! DAN! part in the intro is when the credits start. Happy music! And some of the amazing locales we'll be visiting.
GET OFF THE ROAD
ring ring :D
What do these mysterious images mean?!?! ONLY TIME WILL TELL
Dum de dum
Choose A File! And the track that shares it's name. Around 1:00 it turns into the Name Your Character music. You can tell by the "desu ka?" sound effect. I particularly remember liking the remix Rom Shtick from the Bound Together project of this theme. Heh.
TEXT IN GAMES NEVER GOES FAST ENOUGH FOR MY LIKING
Mmm, delicious windows.
Eeeeh I'm sticking with plain. I'm just used to it by now.
If you're listening along at home, this is when the Name Your Character music would start in game. :D
THIS IS HOW IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN AND SHALL ALWAYS BE, FOREVER AND EVER AMEN
Paula! She is incredibly useful and is your Earthbound equivalent of a "Black Mage".
She does, however, die VERY easily. Curse you, Mage physical weakness! Alex actually originally came up with this name, but I just liked how "kill-me" sounded when you say it fast and I got so used to it that now I always use it. I do like Paula though. SHE JUST DIES AT THE DROP OF A HAT.
YOU KNOW, THAT GUY. HE OWES YOU MONEY.
For a while I renamed Jeff to Max, but I'm more used to Jeff now, so I kept it the same this run through.
THAT'S HIS DEFAULT NAME and I can't really picture him as anything different. SO IT STAYS.
This one actually stumped me for a while.
YEAH THERE WE GO
This one too.
I missed the screencap for it but YEAH SLEEP IS AWESOME YEAH WOO
In case you're curious, the defaults are Ness, Paula, Jeff, and Poo. I can't remember the food off the top of my head, but the dog's default is King, and your default favorite thing is ROCKIN. Hehehehe. Now I wonder if I shoulda kept that now. ROCKIN!
Let's get this show on the road!
I think Prologue to Destiny kicks in around here somewhere.
I miss games doing this.
I love the cheery font on the buildings.
Dun dun duuuun
You have no idea what's in store for you
This is how your menus and stuff work. It's kind of like Dragon Warrior in that you open a menu and select a command from it, rather than having a single action button that you press to do everything. You get used to it really fast. Seriously.
You can also see my HP and PP there. Earthbound's HP/PP system works on an interesting principle, but more on that in battle.
OH GOD YES WAA
Mine all mine
Four point increase! Not bad.
Sensitive, tender, nurturing. The mother we all want.
And so protective!
SHE'S SIMPLY BEING PRAGMATIC. You never know Ness could sneak out of his room all the time what
come with me cleeooooo sob
Anyway let's see what that giant explosion was about
The music that plays while you're wandering around now isss One Fateful Night. Just vaguely spooky music I guess.
Well there you go.
This is a good example of Earthbound dialogue. It's just kind of off-the-wall like this at times. IT'S WHAT MAKES IT SO DELICIOUS.
This house is trouble.
Your dream will no doubt be fulfilled random boy
YOU DON'T OWN ME
Go cry about it why don't you
APATHY - ONETT'S NUMBER ONE EXPORT.
you will be mine
GOODBYE O CLOCK
Ooo bread roll. Food items are what heal you in EarthBound, and there's a lot of ways to vary their effect on you with condiments. More on that as they appear.
Now I kind of want garlic. DARN IT. I may go make some pasta. Haha.
Will this character come back later? WHAT DO YOU THINK, AUDIENCE?
How many meteorites have you seen buddy
That fat blond kid there is Pokey, BANE OF MY EXISTENCE.
SCREW YOU POKEY
FINE I'll talk to Pokey argh
Punch to the face Pokey
punch to the face
I wonder who that other guy is up there with the cop.
SURE, WHY NOT
Some really annoying knocking is what woke Ness up this time. How is it annoying you ask? Listen and see!
SHAVE AND A HAIRCUT
DON'T WORRY, I GOT IT. I GOT THIS.
DOOR WANTS FLESH
Pokey actually opened the door and came in before I could open it. That doesn't really show up here. DRAMATIC FANFARE.
We'll see more of the Sharks later.
My eyes have rolled out of my head across the room and down the stairs
GO DIE IN A FIRE POKEY
HAAHAHA I TOTALLY FORGOT THIS LINE WAS IN HERE i love this game so much
your word threats don't scare me
And so I eventually said Yes because you have to.
Way ahead of ya
YOUR MOTHER ALWAYS THINKS AHEAD
I love how these kind of things are in parentheses. I like picturing the game whispering to you behind a hand. "Shh, by the way, you got a cookie. Shh."
This will be really useful later on, but not at the moment.
Your mom apparently is tired of dealing with this.
:D Your dog is actually really useful.
Pokey is totally worthless.
THE PHONE RINGS
Earthbound functions on real money. :D And ATMs and stuff. Hee.
Why not, might as well save while I'm here. You never know when things may go HORRIBLY AWRY
You have this exchange pretty much everytime you call your dad. Surprisingly it doesn't get old. At least, in my experience.
Anyway, outside! And to our first enemy!
Enemys are represented on the screen by sprites, and if you're good you can avoid them if you want. No random encounters here! Generally you do want to fight things though because one thing you need to do in Earthbound is LEVEL. A LOT. THIS GAME WILL BEAT YOU UP IF YOU DON'T. YOU MIGHT THINK IT LOOKS EASY BUT IT IS NOT. ALWAYS OVERLEVEL.
Anyway, the swirls change colors depending on stuff, but more on that later.
Your battle screen! Pretty straightforward. The thing is that your HP is on a rolling counter. When you get hit, your HP rolls down to how much HP you have left. What this means is that you can get fatally hit for like 999 damage BUT if you eat a healing item or heal yourself fast enough, you can get in before your HP rolls ALL the way down and come back from the brink of death. This is VERY useful in later parts of the game, and against bosses. You have to be quick though.
There's a few battle songs for Earthbound, and they vary depending on your enemy. I think for this area there were a few, but let's just start with Battle with a Weak Opponent first.
Pokey never does anything ever, because he's a worthless pile of garbage with legs.
Things don't die in Earthbound, they just become tame. Well, most of them become tame. Some of them explode. I hate those ones so much.
Your stats go up different amounts depending on what level you gain. You'll see as I gain more levels.
Also WOO Psi power! In Japanese these were called PK powers, and this is where Ness's moves in SSBM come from. Well his special moves anyway. Although amusingly enough, Paula is the one who had PK Fire and PK Thunder. And maybe Flash but I don't remember at the moment. OH WELL.
No you won't you liar
More bizarre enemies! The Coil Snake can wrap around you and prevent you from moving for a few turns. However, it's also very weak, so it's not really a threat at all.
NO MATCH FOR MY MIGHTY GUNS
Blah blah leveling blah blah there we go!
Ness is your tank. This will become more evident later on, but big HP gains are not unusual for him.
Spiteful Crows are EVIL. THEY STEAL YOUR ITEMS, AND SOMETIMES YOU CAN NEVER GET THEM BACK. WHY DO GAME DESIGNERS KEEP PUTTING IN ENEMIES THAT STEAL THINGS FROM YOU? ARRRGH
Statscreen! This can be useful to see how far you've got to level, if you're grinding in some area.
This ability NEVER GETS OLD and you will use it A LOT.
What do you DO all day, mister?
There he is!
As a random note, I just love how the dog just has his tongue out all the time. Hee.
Hahaha cutting it a little close there.
Items in Earthbound don't give you a set amount of HP back. It's always kind of random, and can definitely be influenced by condiments, for better or worse.
Anyway, let's keep going
SAFE TRIP HOME CLEO :<
Alright let's get your dumb brother and get out of here
No wait but first
I WANNA PUT MY HANDS ALL OVER IT
What, in your dreams
NO SURPRISE THERE
Picky actually is kind of helpful, in that he AT LEAST TRIES TO DO SOMETHING IN BATTLE
Technically, at this point I didn't so why not be honest.
I HEAR SOMETHING NOW
And in chimes Buzz Buzz's prophecy!
I dunno, I'm amused by the fact that it's only been ten years and yet DYSTOPIA
Deep into that darkness peering sorry
TEN YEARS IN THE FUTURE I like to imagine the Earthbound people giggling about this
That's vague, even for a prophecy.
I BELIEVE IT
I'm not sure where really
GO RIGHT NOW no wait this isn't Chrono Trigger
This is important pay attention
OF COURSE NOT, WHO WOULD BE
WHEN A VIDEO GAME CHARACTER ASKS YOU THIS, NEVER EVER SAY NO. SO BORING.
You can pay attention to someone for more than five seconds!
Woooooo Buzz Buzz!
Down we go!
*ominous stab of music*
Did something happen to Buzz Buzz that we don't know about?
ohgodohgodohgod Battle with an Otherworldly Foe music aaaa
...a tad anticlimactic.
That was Picky.
That was me. TAKE THAT
You can layer shields to great effect later on.
Heh, when you get a big statboost, sometimes there are comments like OH BABY and AWESOME and hehehe
All dogs go to MURDER
And then that's all he said. Alright.
Blech, Pokey/Picky house. Music!
SHE'S A FINE HANDSOME WOMAN
You hear this big WHACK noise.
Hahahaha I love how abrupt that is.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR BLUNTNESS KIND SIR.
NO BUZZ BUZZ DON'T TOUCH THE DEVIL WOMAN
SPEAK TO ME BUZZ BUZZ
Hee. Subtle mockery of typical death scenes.
Alright, got a set goal, let's do this thing.
You can hear the Eight Melodies sometimes on the Earthbound stages in SSBM. :D
Do not recklessly press a over and over or else you'll have to hear this story like five times by accident. Not that I did anything like that.
AND THEN HE'S GONE
I have this compulsion to talk to everyone YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU MIGHT MISS
You got whacked.
You're far better than your brother, Picky.
And day dawns and so begins Ness's adventure! Or it will in our next installment anyway.
Next up, the beautiful town of Onett!