EarthBound

aka: Mother 2: Gīgu no Gyakushū
Moby ID: 6676
SNES Specs
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Description official descriptions

In the year 199X, in the village of Onett, on the continent of Eagleland...

Young Ness was asleep one night when a loud crashing noise awoke him suddenly. As he rushes out of bed and up to a nearby hill, he encounters a strange meteor, carrying a single passenger: a mysterious insect-like being named Buzz Buzz. Buzz Buzz tells him that in the future, an evil alien being known as Giygas has conquered the world, and the only ones who can stop him are four young kids: three boys and a girl. Ness, of course, is one of the chosen ones, and he must find the other three children: Paula, a young girl with remarkable psychic powers, Jeff, a mechanical genius, and Poo, the young Prince of Dahlaam. Together, these four friends have the power to defeat Giygas and save the world from his chaotic reign!

EarthBound is a sequel to Mother. It is a top-down role-playing game in which the heroes travel around Eagleland and various other, exotic countries, trying to end Giygas' evil influence.

On the way, Ness and his friends will encounter a lot of enemies and battle them in turn-based combat. Unlike in the previous game, enemies are visibly walking on the screen. Each turn, each of the characters in the party can attack with their weapons, use a special ability (some characters have powerful psychic powers that can hurt enemies, heal comrades, and more; some also have some other, unique special powers), use an item or try and escape.

The game features "rolling HP meters" - when a character is dealt damage, it's not all taken away from his HP right away, but instead his HP decreases slowly; if the combat is ended quickly, even a massively damaging attack can leave a character with only minor injuries. By winning battles, characters receive experience and thus become stronger. If the player-controlled characters are strong enough, weak enemies will escape from them instead of trying to attack; when chased down, they will be defeated instantly.

Saving the game is done by finding a telephone and calling Ness' father. When the heroes defeat enemies, Ness' bank account receives money, which can be then retrieved from ATM machines throughout the game and spent in shops to buy better equipment or useful items.

Spellings

  • MOTHER 2 ギーグの逆襲 - Japanese spelling

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Credits (SNES version)

127 People (109 developers, 18 thanks) · View all

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[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 86% (based on 37 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.3 out of 5 (based on 137 ratings with 10 reviews)

A game different even in this era

The Good
The ending. Seriously. It was the best part of the game. Now, that isn't saying that the rest of the game wasn't likable. Earthbound has a very endearing quality to it. The setting is a modern one -- cityscapes and ATM machines, Yo-yo's and frying pans for weapons, taking a ride on that good ol' public transportation(perhaps the best tune in the game to accompany you). Speaking of music, not all of it is original, or it at least seemed that way --I thought I heard "Hey You" by Pink Floyd hidden in there -- but most of it is enjoyable. This was the first RPG game of this kind that I experienced diagonal walk cycles, a most pleasant surprise. It added to the smoothness of the game. That leads into the graphics, which were pleasing to the eye.

The Bad
Maybe a lot, maybe a little. The story doesn't really carry the game until the end. It feels all over the place, or not really put together. One easily knows what is going on, but not because of story, just instinctually. Most of the conversation is, well, childish, even too childish for a child, I'd say. Corny may be a better word.

The Bottom Line
It is no doubt a game worth playing, if not to kill time, then one to enjoy the experience of something different, or at least somewhat different.

SNES · by SlapHappy (10) · 2004

Earthbound Review

The Good
I loved the quality of the Graphics...oh, and the Music was cool. It had a great storyline and It was a challenge. Personally, Threed DID actually scare me!(If they make it a little scary, it's cool!) The Battle background looked AWESOME!!!! I would label this game, "The Best RPG of All-Time!". It is a puzzler, but you will get through the game. You play as the Powerful and PSI'd Ness, The Master of PSI... Paula, then You play as The Genius Jeff, and then You play as a Prince,Poo(funny name! lol). You all go through The Normal town, Ness' hometown, Onett. Then you go through the sweet town, Twoson. THEN, You go through the Scary Zombie filled place,Threed, and Finally you go to the Big City, Fourside. If you are creative, and have lots of strategic skills, you are fit for the game.



The Bad
It was REALLY hard, but I got through it.

The Bottom Line
GO AND BUY THIS GAME!, you will have fun and then addict to it.

SNES · by Blake Smith (5) · 2006

Lightheartedly poking fun, 16-bit style

The Good
In 1995, Nintendo of America released a low-key, quirky little Super NES RPG called EarthBound. Though the game had sold very well in Japan (as the sequel to the Famicom hit, Mother), gamers on the American side were not as receptive. After all, this was before Final Fantasy VII had created true believers of the American gaming public in regard to RPGs. As such, there were numerous marketing ploys used in order to move copies: packaging the game with a free strategy guide (unheard of at the time), scratch-and-sniff cards featuring characters from the game, and nearly incessant references to the game's “zaniness” and “trippy battle backgrounds.” Not surprisingly, these tactics backfired (not entirely because of the game's simplistic graphics), and the game sold fairly poorly in the West. The few who actually picked up the game, though, were in for a treat: not only was the game good, but it was a truly unique experience for those who were able to pick up on what the game was trying to do. Not only was the game a solid RPG in its own right, but it served to parody the conventions of the entire genre up to that point in a lighthearted, fun, and downright hilarious manner.

The actual gameplay is pretty standard 16-bit RPG fare: move about on the world map fighting enemies to gain experience, etc. Anyone familiar with any of the first six Dragon Quest games would feel right at home with EarthBound, as there are few differences. The graphics, though charming in their own right, are very simplistic even by 16-bit RPG standards. The music, though catchy, is nothing spectacular (Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger, games that came out around the same time as EarthBound, blow EarthBound away in both areas). In fact, on the surface, EarthBound appears to have nothing original going for it; in that sense, it is not difficult to see why the game might have failed commercially.

EarthBound has many redeeming qualities, however. For one, the setting and subject matter were really unique for a console RPG at the time. Whereas most RPGs up to that point had been pretty standard swords-and-sorcery fare, EarthBound was set in a world very clearly inspired by the United States. The main character, Ness, wore shorts and a baseball cap, wielded a baseball bat as his main weapon, and was from a small, rural town that would remind any American player of similar such towns. The twist, though, was that an alien entity known as Giygas had invaded, and his influence was causing humans and animals alike to behave irrationally and often violently, especially toward Ness and friends. What results is a bizarre yet entertaining take on the United States. The setting feels a lot like bizarro-USA, what would happen if one looked at the US through a Japanese lens and added some weird stuff to it for flavor.

“Weird” is probably the best word to sum up the game in general, but in the highest sense of the word. The game's charm lies in that weirdness, in its quirkiness. The game is quite simply hilarious. There is always some weird joke or spin on an RPG convention that will make many players at least crack a smile, if not laugh out loud. From Picky Minch trying to “cast a magic spell” early in the game, to all of the moles in the desert mine claiming to be “the third strongest,” to rummaging through trash cans to find hamburgers, EarthBound was full of funny and/or strange moments that gave it personality and a unique charm that is very difficult to explain, but easy enough to understand when experienced.

That charm, however, lies distinctly in its existence as a parody of the traditional console RPG. The simple graphics take on an added meaning when viewed as an intentional parody of the then-simplistic nature of RPG graphics compared to other genres, such as action or adventure games. (This was, of course, before Final Fantasy VII came along and made FMVs and shiny graphics mandatory for RPGs.) There were a lot of instances where the game made it explicitly clear that it was aware of its own existence as a video game. The most obvious example of this is when, later in the game, the game stops to ask the player's name. That player later gets another chance to confirm his or her name. Also, when Ness first gets the Town Map from the library, the librarian is sure to remind him to push “You know, the X button... near the top, haha.” While the game puts on an air of being serious, you know it is never taking itself too seriously... and that is what makes the game so fun to experience.

The Bad
Perhaps the best place to start with EarthBound's negative qualities is the most obvious point of contention: its graphics. Despite any claims to the contrary, graphics DO ultimately matter in a game, at least to some degree. Unfortunately, this becomes blatantly apparent in EarthBound. Although the simplistic graphics are intentional and, in fact, poking fun at the lack of graphical prowess of its contemporary RPGs, the game falls far behind many other 16-bit titles in terms of sheer graphical quality. Again, this is intentional, but looks do matter to a large majority of the gaming public, especially in the world of post-Final Fantasy VII console RPGs. (Interestingly enough, an earlier Final Fantasy and contemporary of EarthBound -- Final Fantasy VI -- makes EarthBound look ugly by comparison.)

Another small knock on this game is that its gameplay is, as previously mentioned, little more than a Dragon Quest knock-off: the battles are in first-person perspective, psychic powers are just spells with a different name, and so on. Sure, there are a few modifications, such as the rolling HP counter, the ability to see enemies on the map in place of random “screen-shake” encounters, and so on, but the gameplay is tried-and-true Dragon Quest. Perhaps the designers felt that if they were going to parody the RPG genre, there would be no better place to start than with the prototypical console RPG, Dragon Quest. Then again, maybe they simply went with the design philosophy of “if it ain't broke, don't fix it.”

That style of play, however, makes the game a bit formulaic for an experienced RPG player. With only a little bit of time invested in level-building, for example, it is relatively easy to take on the final boss with an entire party of fully maxed-out, level 99 characters. This is made even easier by the fact that once the “boss” of a “dungeon” has been defeated, enemies on-screen will turn their backs to the player and run, thus leaving themselves open for a green screen (sneak) attack. In some instances, this results in the immediate defeat of the enemies without even initiating combat -- a savvy player can take advantage of this fact to gain experience levels in an incredibly easy and expedient manner.

The Bottom Line
EarthBound simultaneously exemplifies and makes fun of everything about RPGs of the 16-bit era. Everything that it does, it does well, especially when one goes from the assumption that the game was simplistic as part of a statement about the state of 16-bit RPGs. The gameplay is solid, following the Dragon Quest formula, but its quirkiness and seeming awareness of the player outside of the game (especially prevalent in the final boss battle) are what make EarthBound a true 16-bit treasure. It is an absolute pity that the game didn't sell better -- perhaps then the Mother 1 & 2 compilation, not to mention Mother 3, would have seen a stateside release.

SNES · by prymusferal (23) · 2007

[ View all 10 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
Do sealed copies of the American Release exist? WiseNaydra Mar 30, 2023
Free Player's Guide? GNJMSTR (106) Jun 15, 2011

Trivia

1001 Video Games

The SNES version of EarthBound appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Advertisement

The game's advertising campaign in the U.S. was quite a disaster. Apparently, the higher-ups at Nintendo of America decided that "kids like farts!" and thus, the ads ran in the magazines all exaggerated the (few and far between) "toilet humor" elements of the game, making the game look like an endless string of burping, puking and farting. (The ads also included scratch-n-sniff stickers.)

The advertising slogan even said: "This game stinks." Who knows how much this contributed to EarthBound's low sales.

A webpage with more info and scans of magazine ads can be found in the related links section.

Copy protection

The cartridge has a built-in copy protection with nasty effects for pirates. If a hacked game (which bypasses the first layer of protection which would simply prevent the game from starting) is played, there are a lot more random encounters in the game world. If a player endures this, it will freeze during the final battle and delete all save games. More information can be found on the fansite EarthBound Central.

Development

Shigesato Itoi, the creator of EarthBound, added a few personal details to the game.

Firstly, Ness's father never appears in person. According to an article from an issue of Edge magazine (either a classic feature on EarthBound or a review of Mother 3), this was inspired by the fact that Itoi's own father was absent for a great part of his childhood.

Secondly, the dialogue of Giygas was inspired by a traumatic childhood experience where Itoi mistakenly walked into an adult movie theatre and caught a glimpse of a sex/rape scene in the 1957 movie Kenpei and the Dismembered Beauty.

Version differences

  • At one point in the Japanese version of EarthBound, Pokey and Picky are punished by their dad for coming home late. He takes them off-screen, and a noise is heard resembling hitting/slapping. If you talk to Pokey afterwards, he complains that his "butt hurts." When Mother 2 was translated for the US, the "hitting" sound effect was changed to a shorter, more comical effect, resembling "yelling". When you talk to Pokey afterwards, instead of complaining about his butt, he whines that his dad took away his dessert privileges.
  • In the Japanese version of the game, at a certain point, the main character Ness is nude. This was changed to having Ness appear in his pajamas for the North American release. However, on close inspection of the strategy guide (page 111), there is an image of Ness in the nude on the bottom left of the page. This was an obvious oversight on the part of Nintendo of America.
  • In Peaceful Rest Valley, you'll encounter a large statue of a pencil blocking your path. At that point, you'll receive the Pencil Eraser and Apple Kid will jokingly warn you about using the machine nearby a place that sells pencils. In the Japanese version, the statues aren't pencils but instead octopus statues. So in the Japanese version, Apple kid will joke about using the machine nearby a "Takoyaki" (grilled octopus) restaurant which wouldn't make sense to some United States players.

Extras

The game included a card of scratch-'n-sniff spots, featuring monsters from the game.

Manual

EarthBound was packaged with an Official Nintendo Player's Guide, which also doubled as its manual. Because of this the box was far larger than any other SNES game box.

References to the game

  • Jeff appears as an assist trophy in the Wii game Super Smash Bros.: Brawl.
  • Ness appears as a playable character in the Super Smash Bros. fighting games. However, he uses moves he didn't learn in EarthBound, such as PK fire and PK thunder.

Song

At the end of the last song, Ending 3 - Smiles and Tears (5:05), during the credits the words "I Miss You" are digitally spoken, presumably by Ness.

Information also contributed by Calpis, CaptainCanuck, Chris Chidester, colm52, JudgeDeadd, KFactor, Mark Ennis, MegaMegaMan, Sciere and Warren McHenry

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Satoshi Kunsai.

New Nintendo 3DS added by Michael Cassidy. Nintendo Switch added by Rik Hideto. Wii U added by Sciere.

Additional contributors: Iris-chan, chirinea, Hitman23, Freeman, CaptainCanuck, Havoc Crow, LepricahnsGold, Patrick Bregger, Thomas Thompson, Victor Vance, FatherJack, click here to win an iPhone9SSSS.

Game added June 10, 2002. Last modified May 5, 2024.