A turn-based JRPG and sequel to EarthBound (1994) in which a tragedy surrounding a family in the primitive yet joyful village of Tazmily incites the coming-of-age story of Lucas, the family's younger son, who goes on perilous adventures along with his friends in order to find his missing brother and stop a group of masked men from bringing about the end of the world.
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A heavier but nicely told approach to its narrative with themes of capitalism and the bonds of family and friends that still hold up today, great world building, charming and memorable characters along with streamlined gameplay that fixed most, if not all my issues with the first two titles. It's easy to see why this game spawned a cult fanbase and while it may not be the perfect game in my eyes, I certainly appreciate it's legacy a lot more which helped create many other games people love today.
obviously the surface elements - the basic look of the game, the cast (both your party and the extended populace), the core combat loop, the pathos of the anime melodrama, the music - all those things that everybody loves are excellent and rewarding and cute and funny and lived in, but i was just as struck by the nuances of the game's politics and changing relationship to its setting. the somewhat revanchist prelapsarian (and post-apocalyptic, post-scarcity) community of Tazmily eventually falling for the lure of capital's grotesquely preserved, nostalgic yet extratemporal spectre is so smart, there's a real tension between the progressive and regressive/bourgeois impulses of the text that's much more interesting than if it were "just" "anticapitalist"...not to mention the way the second half of the game is always tying narrative and ludic progress with some kind of loss, be it the dramatic hollowing-out of the heart and soul from your community or the very literal disappearance of characters.... had some wrinkles with it but the whole thing is so complete and singular despite its many imitators that it entirely won me over <333