First and foremost I should apologize for taking such a long holiday break. Also I know in my last review I teased a Wing Commander review (which I still plan on doing.) As I’ve said with the holidays and some other personal things coming up I put the reviews on hiatus, however with things settling down for the most part I can pick it back up. With all the said and done on with the review!
As it was suggested I will do my review a bit different this time instead of just jumping in and getting on with the normal review I should first explain how much this game means to me. To me it’s not just the best game made on the SNES it’s one of the best games ever made. Back in 1995 my younger self had no idea what he was getting into when buying this game. (Well having my parents buy it but still.) Right from the beginning I should have known I was in for something special just from the oversized box it came in. Also the ads littered in Nintendo power with scratch and sniff was genius and a little stinky. Still being fairly new to the RPG genre (Final Fantasy II or IV in Japan whatever.) and in my opinion that game is a masterpiece also, but that’s a whole other review. As I was saying being fairly new to the whole RPG genre I didn’t have much to compare this one too and I had no idea that I would be damning myself after playing this game. Like most gamers there is one game in each genre which is the pinnacle of greatness. Although there would be many great RPG’s for the SNES none would compare to the greatness that is Earthbound. Now during the review I will remain as spoiler free as I possibly can for people who haven’t played this and want to experience it for the first time. (I recommend not using walkthroughs or anything or you will be doing yourself a great disservice.)
As I’ve said before to spare any spoilers I will just lightly touch the story here and there. The story goes that there is an evil entity known as Giygas in the not so distant future that is going to destroy the world. It’s up to our bat wielding hero Ness to save the world from utter destruction. If you’re not familiar with Ness and his earlier work you may remember him in a little known game called Super Smash Brothers. Ness in his journey will have 3 people who are imperative to his success. You can name them however you see fit, but their given names are Paula, Jeff, and Poo. (insert fecal matter joke here.) The real enjoyment from this game comes from the well written story and experiencing everything first hand.
As for the gameplay it’s pretty standard RPG style. It’s top down as you walk around towns, cities, dungeons, and spooky graveyards. Now some of the things that this game does differently than other RPG’s is what sets it apart from the rest. For one everyone hates grinding for money and experience so when you become powerful enough the game recognizes this and you win the battle automatically. Also instead of getting money after every battle your dad keeps track of it for you and deposits the money into the bank which you can access via ATM. Also as with most of the RPG’s of the time they are either set in the past or future. This one takes place in 199X and the heroes are kids. As a kid playing this myself that was one of the biggest appeals to me because kids get looked over most of the time. The only slight minor complaint I could come up with is most of the time your inventory will become cramped but the game has a clever way of dealing with this. If your inventory is full give the Escargo Express a call and they’ll come out and pick up and store 3 things for you. (For a small fee.) Also you will get a “For Sale” sign and if the person can find you they will buy one item from you. Also you feel more attached to your character because if he doesn’t visit mom or hear her voice for a while he will become homesick and he will need to call home or visit to cure this. All in all the gameplay is pretty dang solid and to me I never got bored even when I got stuck without knowing where to go. The other aspect of gameplay is the battle screen where you do all of your…..battleing. The battle screen basically just shows your enemy and or enemies are facing with you a crazy LSD background. You fight a wide variety of enemies such as runaway dogs, mad ducks, even insane cultists! The battles are done pretty standard with you choosing your actions and everyone takes their turns. Not too bad, but not ground-breaking. If it isn’t broke though no need to fix it.
Music and Sound
The music is some of the finest music I’ve heard in a game. Most of the time I’ll catch myself whistling or humming the tunes from this game. Most notably I think I is the Sound Stone Melody. From what I’ve heard from culture in Japan I think it’s a very popular song over there and has been sung at baseball games and the such. If you listen closely to some of the songs they bear a resemblance to popular American songs. Which I believe is causing the problem of it coming to the Virtual Console. Although anyone keeping up with the newest Earthbound news has heard that Earthbound (Mother 2) is coming to the Japan Virtual Console. So hopefully if it sells well over there which I’m pretty sure it will then it will soon be coming to us in the United States. (or wherever you are in the world.) Some of the sounds in the game are pretty standard nothing too out of the ordinary, however I do think I did hear a burp once or twice in the game and it made me laugh.
It is my opinion that this isn’t one of the best SNES games made, but one of the best games ever made. I was never once bored even when I was stuck and forgot where to go. The things that people had to say in the game always kept me laughing. Even if you never get stuck I recommend talking to everyone and I mean everyone even the animals will have something funny to say. The story is amazing and the game never takes itself too seriously. Words can never fully express how much this game meant to me as a kid and it still holds up to this day. Playing it over after not playing for so long I forgot certain things and it was like experiencing it again for the first time getting lost and not breaking down and resorting to walkthroughs or anything. If you haven’t ever played this or even heard of it I highly recommend it you will not be disappointed. Now being able to grab a copy could be a bit tricky with just the carts going for $150. There are however “less expensive” ways of playing this game. I’m not condoning any illegal activities I’m just saying the Internet can always find a way. Words can never express how truly wonderful this game is and how well storytelling used to be in videogames. This is one game where I actually felt emotionally attached to characters and gave a crap about them. There would be others as I will touch on in future reviews.
The next review will feature this guy…..
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