Thursday, 9 February 2012

EarthBound (SNES)

Another game request.

I haven't played this before exactly, but I have an idea of what to expect and... well, I can't promise this post's going to have a happy ending. Just giving you fair warning.

I have to admit though, that's a cool screen.

Okay first I have to choose my favourite flavour, then name my characters, then my dog, then my favourite food, then my favourite thing... is this a game or a survey?

I selected 'Don't Care' to see what happened, and it auto-named him Ness. Well, if it's a good enough name for Super Smash Bros. then it's good enough for me.


Young Ness is woken in the middle of the night by a strange sound from outside. I tried to make him go back to sleep, but nothing I press will make him climb back in that bed. Fair enough, I doubt I could sleep through those sirens either.

I feel like there should be a Nintendo console making a cameo near the desk, but nope. I guess Ness is more into baseball than video games.

With nothing else to do I went wandering around the house and found his sister's room. There was a present on the ground, so I went to check it out and Ness just tore the wrapping paper open and took the gift for himself.

It's okay, the bat was cracked anyway. I'll buy her a better bat after I've beaten up some enemies with it and taken their cash.

Well that explains the sirens at least.

The police explain that a meteorite has fallen nearby, and they've blocked the roads into town because... they're going for the world record. Bastards.

Seeing as I'm blocked in, the only thing left for me to do now is go up the hill behind Ness's house and check out the meteorite for myself.


Damn, I'm so close. The meteorite is just past that roadblock. That other kid, Pokey, tells me I'm annoying the cops and I should go home, though I get the feeling they'd be happier if he was the one that left.

And now I'm totally stuck. The police won't let me past the roadblock and I can't find another way around. I tried talking to everyone, I tried bribing Pokey with food to get rid of him and do the cops a favour, I even tried walking all the way back down the hill to Pokey's house to find something I could use against him. And after finding nothing I walked all the way up again.


Turns out I was supposed to just give up and go home like Pokey told me to. I wish I could say I came up with this brilliant idea myself, but the truth is I had to ask a friend what to do next.

Pokey soon turns up at my door asking me to help him find his brother, so I get to head all the way back up the hill. Again.

I'm getting a bit of a Pokémon vibe from these graphics for some reason. It's pretty basic looking, but not ugly.

Though in this I can see actually the enemies walking around on the level, and I have to walk into them to start a fight. There's no random battles.

Son of a bitch! That crow just did 8hp of damage... to Ness's eyes. Ow.

The battles take place in first person view, in a trippy void totally disconnected from the level. There's no background art, the enemies don't move, and there's no attack animations. The epic conflict plays out entirely in that little message box at the top of the screen. I can't say that it's pulling me into Ness's world.

My team takes a turn, the crow takes a turn, etc. I can't do much else but hit or heal right now, either by eating food items, or by using my totally inexplicable healing magic. I already knew from Smash Bros. that the Ness would have PSI powers, I just assumed they were going to come from the meteorite, not that he'd have them naturally.


I've finally reached the damn meteorite! My dog chickened out and ran home, but that's fine, I don't even need him. I've got a space bee thing from the future called Buzz Buzz on my team now!

The time travelling insect has a tragic tale to tell. 10 years from now Giygas, the universal cosmic destroyer, has wiped out all of humanity. But there is a legend from the ancient times that tells of a chosen one who will defeat him! Even though that didn't actually happen and Giygas won.

To be honest I don't think we can put much faith in a prophecy that's failed to come true once already, but we might as well trying changing the future anyway. It's not like Ness has anything better to do, and he does have cool PSI powers. First though we need to get Pokey and his brother back home.


Damn, Pokey's mother just murdered Buzz Buzz! I was kind of getting sick of listening to him buzz around Ness's head, but he didn't deserve that.

The heroic not-bee hangs on to life just long enough to tell me I need to visit eight sanctuaries in order to save the world. The first, called "Giant Step", is somewhere near Onett. And that's all the info I get.

Uh, okay? I took a couple of steps out of my front door and this photographer floats down from the sky, takes a photo, then flies back off. No explanation. I hate it when people do that.

Right, I know exactly where I need to go next. I just have no clue where that is.


Awesome, I went inside the library and got a free map! Of course it doesn't have Giant Step marked on it, that'd be too easy. And no one inside the library wants to tell me where it is. Not that Ness actually tries to ask anyone, that'd be too easy. Instead I have to listen to whatever's on the NPC's mind and hope it has some relevance to anything I'm doing.

Okay fine, I can figure this out logically. My poor deceased insect comrade told me that Giant Step was NEAR Onett, not inside the town itself. So my next goal should be to find a way out of town.


Just squeeze through the damn trees Ness! Or you could just climb over them. Trees should not be a natural barrier for an adventurous 13 year old.

Fine, I get it. I can't leave the town yet. I'll just have to figure out what the game wants me to do here.

Why are all the shop signs written in crayon?

I've had an idea. The developers may have assumed that most players would shop for better weapons and healing items sooner or later, so perhaps there'll be a clue at the equipment shop. The trouble is, this drug store is the only shop marked on the map.

Oh, it turns out that it's the kind of drug store that also sells baseball gear. And a pretty pricey cheap bracelet. No clues on where to find Giant Step here though.

I grabbed a better bat and a baseball cap and it was kind enough to automatically sell my old gear for me. Then I went to the Burger Shop next door and bought all the healing items I could carry. Which turned out to be not much, annoyingly.


Okay, I know I said in that 'Rules' box on the right that I never cheat... but I used a walkthrough map to find Giant Step. I really have no idea how I was supposed to find the place by myself, short of talking to every NPC in town.

But now I know exactly where I'm going. Sure they didn't bother to label City Hall on the map either, but I think I can figure out which building it is by myself.



The cops won't let me speak to the Mayor, because he's too busy dealing with problems like the meteorite and the Sharks, whoever the fuck they are. Mission failed.

No, wait, I remember seeing some guy in the street dressed like a shark...

THERE'S the guy!

I beat up every Shark guy I can see, and then... nothing. A friend who's finished the game eventually takes pity on me and tells me that the rest of them are inside the arcade.

Fantastic, this guy won't let me become a member and come inside to fight the Shark's boss until I've finished EarthBound. Annoyingly I can't just get my bat out and SMASH him into the side of the pinball machine.

Eventually my friend lost patience with me and practically yelled 'TELL HIM YOU DON'T WANT TO BE A MEMBER, YOU FUCKING IDIOT'... okay not in those exact words, but I got the message.

Finally, I meet the leader of the Sharks. It's nice to see someone else in the game is as annoyed as I am that Ness won't say anything.

And then he beats the shit out of me. With knives.

It's okay, I respawn back at home so it's just a short walk to get back into the fight.

Oh great, it's a two part boss fight? Fortunately now I know that the enemy can hit me before the action I took during my turn has taken effect, so I've been using my healing items a turn early.

This time I beat both bosses in a row, and with the Sharks defeated I'm able to convince the Mayor to let me through to Giant Step.


Damn, now I'm fighting ants? These enemies are so tiny and hard to see on the level that they might as well be random battles.

Beaten by a pair of ants. Damn you Auto Fight for failing me once again! It seems I'm losing every third fight in this place, I'm hopeless.

This time on the walk back all the low level enemies I was fighting at the start of the game are actually running away from me, which is a nice touch. The game really does have some good ideas scattered around.


Two hours into the game I finally find the first sanctuary!

Guess what, Auto Fight didn't work here either. I tried it twice just to make sure (I guess I'm more bored of the battle system than I am of walking from my house to the cave.)

Third time around I took control and targeted those little ants first (there's one hidden behind the boss... sneaky little bastard). With them down I was able to focus on the boss, using my PSI attack as the finishing blow.

I finally reach my sanctuary and use the Sound Stone to record the melody of Giant Step. No idea what the deal with that is, but I'm 1/8th of the way towards saving the world!

And now I'm back to being as lost as I was before, only this time I don't even know what the second sanctuary is called.


The cops were a little annoyed I broke into Giant Step, and asked me to come down to the station. Realising this might be my chance to get through the roadblock into the next town, I decide to obey.

And then the cops lock Ness in a room with five officers who take turns to beat him up.

I'm not even joking or exaggerating, this is exactly what happens. The Onett police try to beat the shit out of a thirteen year old kid in a back room of the station. Fortunately they didn't think to confiscate his baseball bat first...


And then I'm lost again and I've got a mushroom stuck to my head, and this dude jumps off a roof and fights me for no reason and... whatever, I'm done with this game.

I'm not going to say this isn't a good game, or that it's overrated. I've got to assume that a game with so many fans and so much critical acclaim is probably doing something right. But it really isn't appealing to me in the slightest. Sorry.

Next game.


  1. Shigesato Itoi is rolling in his soon-to-be filled grave...

    Gotta give you some credit for sticking with it for not giving up after one game over though!

    1. Damn, I'd hope not. It's my secret fear that anyone involved in making any of the games I've played has actually been reading the crap I've written and feels like I'm trying to shit on their hard work.

  2. can you do a killer 7 review? preferably on the gamecube. not sure how else to request this

    thnx. love the blog ray

    1. I hate saying 'no', but Killer7 would be a real pain in the ass for me to play for the site. Sorry.

    2. I notice Mecha-Neko hasn't added a post for a while. Perhaps you should shoot him with the Blog Ray.

    3. A few months back I asked him if he wanted to write about a game for the site. He wrote about 84 of them. He'll be happy to know someone's missing his words, but I think the poor guy's earned his break.

      But mecha-neko WILL return.

  3. I love Earthbound, but I'll be the first to admit... the battle system is terrible. The animation in it is that of an elementary schooler's bad art project, and the actual combat is very slow-paced and boring. That said, if you get deep into it, you find a lot of great humor and even a mature story. The final boss, Giygas, is just hardcore. Anyway, I also give you credit for giving it an honest try. I enjoyed reading your playthrough, and I think I will subscribe to your blog!

  4. An honest review of this game. Hm. New concept.

    'Tis why I've been reading this blog.

    1. You've got me imagining a global Earthbound conspiracy now, scheming to trick people into playing the game, then using peer pressure to manipulate them into claiming they enjoyed it, with no one wanting to be the one that points out that the Emperor has no clothes in fear of appearing stupid.

      But nah. I'm sure this is just a case of different games appealing to different folks.


Semi-Random Game Box