EarthBound

by Justin Baker - July 27, 2013, 5:38 pm PDT
Total comments: 10

9.5

All together now: "fuzzy pickles!"

I went into EarthBound expecting the heartwarming, quirky, well-written RPG that all of my EarthBound friends have told me it was, and it most certainly lives up to that reputation. What I didn’t expect was a battle system that is still better than most modern ones, one that threw aside many staples of the genre to do something different and exciting. I could gush for this entire review about the fun characters, great writing, and awesome music, but I would much rather expose what many people tend to gloss over in their love of the game: the excellent battle system and control options.

The turn-based battle system uses a combination of rolling health counters combined with automatic skill progression to create a system that seems simple at first glance, but has a surprising amount of depth. Although, more than anything, it respects the player’s time, allowing you to essentially skip low-level random battles entirely by having the enemy flee or simply giving you an automatic victory. This reduces grinding to a minimum, and the addition of restore points make the often unexpectedly difficult boss encounters simple to attempt as many times as you want, with little repercussion.

Combine these time saving features with a control scheme built to be played one-handed, and you’ll soon find that all of the tedious and frustrating parts of the game become small detractors from the fun story and characters. Not to mention the equally goofy guide that breaks down each enemy and obstacle in detail. I found myself leisurely doing other things while battling my way to my next objective, very similar to how one might play a phone game. The convenience of EarthBound has helped the game stand the test of time just as much as its off-the-wall plot.

Unfortunately not all the tedium has been stripped away, and the unintuitive inventory management system often rears its ugly head along with menus that automatically close each time you perform an action; they’re often a minor, but noticeable, failing in a game that goes so far out of its way to be convenient. Luckily, for the most part, time and technology have allowed the game to slough off some of its more frustrating portions, such as difficulty spikes, to deliver a concentrated dose of fun.

I’ve tried to delve into the game many times over the years, but the combination of having it up on my big screen with the guide freely available and the addition of restore points have exposed me to, what I consider, a true “EarthBound Experience.” And, trust me, it’s an experience worth having.

Summary

Pros
  • Built for one-handed controls
  • Great Music
  • Guide and restore points greatly improve experience
  • Heartwarming story
  • Intuitive battle system
Cons
  • Frustrating inventory management
  • Tedious menu interactions

Talkback

AwesomeUnicornJuly 28, 2013

Gush away!  This game really helped define my childhood, and I'm having a blast playing through it again.  The only problem I'm having is that I keep stopping to sit and listen to the music.  Boy Meets Girl (Twoson Theme)... So magical.

Since you hit on the quasi-one handed control scheme, I am wondering if that had any influence on the game Opoona (criminally underrated, quirky Wii RPG that can be played solely using the nunchuk).

pokepal148July 28, 2013

you could probably map everything to the wii remote and play it that way

RazorkidJuly 28, 2013

The soundtrack to this game is worth the price of admission alone.  It's soooooo good!

EasyCureJuly 28, 2013

Yay I love hearing people gush about this game! For anyone new to the EB community, make sure to check out all the nice remixes over at overclockedremix if you like the music!

Leo13July 30, 2013

Everyone keeps talking about how we're going to get Mother 3 now. I would suggest that that is only a possibility if 2 things occur.
1-we all must spam Nintendo with requests for Mother 3 post on Miiverse, ask for it when you take the Earthbound club nintendo survey, email them ect.
2-Earthbound must sell like nobody's business. I know what you're thinking you already bought it so you did your part, but there's certainly someone you can talk to and convince that this game is worth getting.

TJ SpykeJuly 30, 2013

Putting up EarthBound required very little effort: adding Miiverse support, Off-Screen TV support, and save-states. Very little time and effort really. Bringing over Mother 3 would require full localization, including lots of translation. All for a GBA game. Maybe if they called it EarthBound 2 (which is likely, there were 3 Pokemon Stadium games and only the 2nd and 3rd were released outside of Japan. So the 3rd one was called Pokemon Stadium 2), that might help a tiny bit, but even then I am not sure this means anything about M3 coming over.

Leo13July 30, 2013

I realize it doesn't mean that mother 3 is coming and I don't care what they call it Mother 3, Earthbound 2, crazy zani wacky game it doesn't matter to me. I had never played Earthbound and now I own it and I really like it. I've never played the sequel and I'd really like to and since I don't have a legal way to acquire it I'm hoping that Nintendo decides to do it even if they charge more for it then they normally would (the $10 price tag on Earthbound didn't slow me down any and $20 for the sequel wouldn't slow me down any either) I would just like more of this experience.

Leo13July 30, 2013

One of the reasons I'd like to see Mother 3 (Earthbound 2) is my young daughter walked in while I was playing last week and asked me to start reading it to her so I did. Now she quotes it at random times, yells fuzzy pickles when my wife pulls out the camera and I'm surprised with how much she talks about the specific characters in the game. It's fun to have her enjoying the game along with me so I'd love to be able to continue this with the sequel or even Mother 1 (would they call that Earthbound 0?)

Lucariofan99August 01, 2013

I still do not get what this game is! :confused;

Leo13August 01, 2013

This is my first time playing it so I don't have the full picture, but so far it seems like it's a JRPG based in a modern time with writing that is clever and funny in an odd way.
I'm really liking it no question it was easily worth more then the $10 price tag.

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Genre
Developer
Players1

Worldwide Releases

na: EarthBound
Release Jul 18, 2013
PublisherNintendo
RatingTeen
jpn: Mother 2
Release Mar 20, 2013
PublisherNintendo
eu: EarthBound
Release Jul 18, 2013
PublisherNintendo

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