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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This review contains spoilers
I've been obsessed with the aesthetic of games like Earthbound and Chrono Trigger for a long time, but now is the time that i've brought myself to play further than Peaceful Rest Valley and beat the game, and as expected when I actually dive head first into something I was already in love with the style of, I now love it even more. You could argue the gameplay is relatively whatever, I'm no JRPG aficionado for sure but I got a lot out of the battles here. Boss fights felt legitimately challenging but never in a cheap way, always in a way where it felt rewarding to beat them even if it only took one try. The earlier stages of the game are definitely the most difficult though it isn't the easiest game (at least it wasn't for me, i'll fully admit i've never been the most amazing at games) and there were a lot of areas that chewed me up and spat me out before I got through them. Scaraba's pyramid being the main one though it wasn't even as bad as a lot of places where the difficulty has been painful in games before and I still felt compelled to press on because by that point, the game had me hook line and sinker. The main thing that I think everyone thinks of with Earthbound is its off the beaten path charm and sense of humour which really dragged me in, this game is really funny but deeply personal and sweet and sad and many other emotions, it really is a rollercoaster ride in that regard. The story is amazing, the themes of childhood and growing up and how it is all interwoven into how the game plays and how you interact with the people and places, even some arguably throwaway lines strike a deep chord because of how much thought clearly went into writing everything here. It really connected with me on many levels because of all these funny and emotional moments to be found. The ending is beautiful, I don't want to spoil it much but it really had me, the final boss was a real rewarding moment to beat but in a much more emotion filled way than other bosses purely because of how the fight plays out. This is getting very samey but that is mostly because the points I made are really the main things I love and also I am rubbish at writing. Either way, this is a thoughtful, hilarious, and pure joyous journey of a game that drags you in and will make you remember the time you have with it, and may make you remember times you've had before and think about how things change. A very wanky reviewer note to end on.
This is a perfect Calvin game. as a long time not a JRPG fan , I was urged to try this and it was a gaming experience that I thought was prefect. From the wacky enemies to the banger locations and soundtrack this was a treat for sure. I am being converted.
A JRPG that stands out in every single aspect except the gameplay. For starters, the setting is highly unique, like a sort of westernized goofy contemporaneous science fiction with fantasy elements. This game really stands out, it's not surprising it has a following.
The writing is often comedic and breaks the fourth wall, everything has a surreal tone that's only reinforced by the presentation. Like battles take place in front of abstract backgrounds, the music has uneven BPM at times and the plot is simply insane.
The main issue with this game is that it's just sort of unremarkable in the moment to moment gameplay. The main story has these fantastical sequences where it's impossible to predict what will happen next, but the combat remains pretty much the same from beginning to end. The most that can happen is getting a new party member and you only get 4 of those.
However, the gameplay is not bad, just a bit bland, but this game lasts close to 30 hours for a regular playthrough so it can get stale, especially when you don't have all the party members available. Thankfully you never need to grind unless you want to farm certain items which is completely optional.
Overall, I think Earthbound is a fantastic game. It's an easy recommendation to anyone who can stomach old JRPGs.