A turn-based JRPG and sequel to then-Japan-only Earthbound Beginnings (1989) in which Ness, a young boy living in a land based on the USA, leaves home to go on an adventure through strange locations, get to know quirky characters and defeat an unknowable alien threat called Giygas while facing up to the realities of growing up and becoming familiar with the real world.
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When EarthBound arrived on Wii U in 2013, my oldest friend and I made a day of it. I mean we took the time to walk over to the local GameStop down by the bagel shop and pick up a physical download code. We'd both seen and heard references to EarthBound from time to time alluding to its weirdness, its hidden layers, and its mythical status, but redeeming the purchase revealed something else. We settled on the default names (though I can't say I recommend it), sat on the carpet in front of the TV, and spent all afternoon strolling through Onett and hanging out with its characters. There was something eerily comfortable about this little cartoon suburb, with its restaurants, hotels, and nonsense-spewing adults. What I now realize is that, despite there being psychic powers and talking alien bees, I'd never experienced a setting in a videogame, or possibly anywhere, with an atmosphere as earnest or authentic. We didn't so much as reach the Titanic Ant before my friend had to go home, resolving then to download the game for himself, but that first afternoon with the game had already burrowed deep inside my memory.
EarthBound's mundanity is as core to its identity as any of the wild idiosyncrasies it's known for. To wander its familiar towns, talk with weirdos and pick up friends and souvenirs and memories is to gaze into a heightened mirror of reality, exaggerated in its warmth and darkness. It somehow manages to achieve this while also being as playful and thorough an RPG adventure as any, packed with color and variety and laugh-out-loud surprises and genuine scares. With a hilarious sense of humor that manifests in quirky, sometimes endearingly inconvenient game mechanics, excellent taste in music, and an equal degree of world-wisdom, playing EarthBound always feels like hanging out with another person who's been places and seen things that you or I might only imagine. It's the only game I could believe might actually possess a living soul.
I was in middle school when I started EarthBound, and I wouldn't finish it until the summer before college (don’t lookit me, time flies). I'd moved away from our neighborhood by the time I reached the endgame, and invited my oldest friend to join me. Sure enough, he did. We sat down on the couch in front of the TV. I don't remember if I exactly cried during the finale, but even now, after more replays than I care to admit, it resonates. I felt back then this burning realization that, in some cosmic way, EarthBound had probably understood me more than I did, all along. Maybe it still does.
Most people prefer Mother 3 and I can understand why, it has a way better story and it's more concise.
What I love about Earthbound is how open it feels, the feeling of being a kid just wandering around and doing whatever you want is unmatched. I think the enemies, music and random conversations were better in this game than in Mother 3; I just really like the mundane American suburban life setting.
The "this game is so stupid" moments were more prevalent in this game than in Mother 3, Earthbound made me laugh so much more.
I also thought the NPCs were better in this game and I fell in love with Magicant.
This game just gives a very mysterious vibe and exploring the World feels so rewarding and good.
Earthbound is just a masterpiece and a lot of great games have taken inspiration from it -Yume Nikki, LISA, Undertale, the list goes on- but nothing has matched the authenticity and originality of Earthbound in my opinion.
The story kinda sucks (if it can be called a story) so I can understand why some people don't like this game as much as Mother 3.