There’s no doubt in my mind that I simply love retro gaming. I do have a long list of all the best games that you all should totally play, but for today, I’d like to let you all know of the priceless antique known as Earthbound (Also known as Mother 2). I remember playing this on an emulator at a very young age and I’ve probably replayed it more than 10 times throughout my years. And I must say, this oldie never truly gets old.
The story opens with our silent protagonist, Ness (Fun Fact: Ness is an anagram of SNES), waking up after a meteorite hits a nearby hill on Onett. When the annoying kid next door urges you to follow him, he meets an alien known as Buzz Buzz who tells him he will embark on an epic quest to rid the world of evil. With the story taking place in, well, practically all four corners of the world, Ness and 3 other chosen heroes set out to defeat the evil entity known as Giygas.
Now for a game that was made in Japan, it certainly feels like a JRPG… but also doesn’t. Whilst traditional games during that era were predominantly set in the middle ages and featured wizards and swordsmen, Earthbound had kids armed with baseball bats and frying pans. It’s chock-full of references to pop culture (Like an interesting Yellow Submarine) and is, as a whole, a bright and colourful take on epic quests.
The story is certainly out there – 4 Kids against the world. Literally. The alien entity known as Giygas basically exerts his evil influence on everyday people, animals, machines, zombies, coffee cups and records to name a few. The world of the game, Eagleland, is based on the United States (With a name like that, who knew?) and gives rise to myriad of quirky comments and interesting remarks about Western and Eastern cultures. The game itself is pretty simple to play though: it has an ordinary levelling up system, a turn based battle system, status effects that affect the party in and out of battle, an ATM to store the money your dad gives you… Wait, hold on a minute.
Music is definitely an integral part of the game, and many of the 8-Bit tracks are unique in their own way. It’s definitely an engaging part and it just works so well with the visuals. The graphics evoke distinct moods in the player, evident in the happiness felt as you travel along the streets of your home town, the melancholy in leaving it, the excitement of the big city and the fear in traversing through dark dungeons. The countless sprites and objects that lay throughout the world of Earthbound are without a doubt interesting to look at and provide an interesting sense of humour. Especially when you decide to talk to it (like a black sesame seed in the middle of the desert).
Honestly, it’s hard for me to choose my all-time favourite retro game – it’s always a tie between Final Fantasy V and Earthbound. But despite that little toss-up, this game will forever be a timeless classic in my heart. It really does have it all for me – JRPG elements, an interesting plot, humour and art all in an excellent blend of retro goodness. It’s disheartening knowing that it may never get the glory it truly deserves, although the recent port into the Wii U warms me up just a little. If you’re a fan of good old games or just want to experience something hilarious and different, please give Earthbound a go. You’ll feel better than a bunch of “Fuzzy Pickles“.
Bry Rating: 5/5
Recommended? Avenge Buzz-Buzz! Play this now!
Country of Origin: Japan
Developer: Ape ; Hal Laboratory