Friday, June 12, 2009

Underrated games: Earthbound

Earthbound (and the entire MOTHER series) is an amazing game because of how truly unique it is. RPGs during the time of the NES and SNES were stuck in a rut that the dragon Quest/Warrior series (I'll talk about those later) had dug long ago. Then, in the land of the rising sun, the masterpiece known as MOTHER was born. Whilst the game did not make it to America until it had faded into obscurity, it left a mark on japan that lasted for almost 10 years. All RPGs before then were about princesses, dragons, swords, and medieval times. MOTHER was about the late 80s on earth, where you play as a boy thrust into a quest to save the world from aliens.

Several years later, MOTHER 2 arrived in japan, later coming to America known as Earthbound. It follows a similar formula to MOTHER (also known as Earthbound 0). It's set in the 90s in idyllic town, where the weather is always nice and the only threat is being hit by a runaway skateboard. The main character, Ness lives in this town. But this peaceful eternity would not last.

One night, Onett is peacefully sleeping until the sound of a meteor landing rocks the earth. You are then arbitrarily forced to investigate the site. Oddly enough, you are stopped from getting close by one of Onett's world famous road blocks, and your asshole friend, pokey (known as Porky in Japan) .you then go home and try to get some more sleep when you are woken up again by porky to leave and find his brother, Pickey, who he carelessly left behind when he ran crying like TINY BABY MAN. You go to find him and fight the obvious weak first enemy. And it's a dog. A DOG. No slimes, no sewer rats, no goombas, no goblins, a Runaway dog. After fighting your way through endless hordes of dogs, garden snakes and crows, you finally make it to the meteor, where pickey is found sleeping. A small insect appears out of the meteor and Ness's life is never the same again.

Now, onto the review. Most people turn their noses up at the idea of a JRPG, but earthbound is a game that anyone can enjoy. The battles are fun, the dialogue is hilarious, and the game has its little quirks that can entertain you for hours.

Will they ever learn English?

I never should have opened that door

The battle system is as minimal as possible. You can only see your enemies, and even then they are static sprites that flash when attacking. At the bottom you can see all your characters, their health, PP, and whatever status effects they may have. All combat is text based, with some effects for PK attacks, and a background that can only be described as “triptastic”.

(Not pictured: me trippin' balls)

The game has, easily, one of the best soundtracks that I have ever heard in a game. Each song suits the situation perfectly, and I found myself humming these songs without even knowing it. The SNES has massive capability for sound, and this game shows it.

What I think is the best part is how unconventional this game is. The setting is foreign, yet recognizable. The enemies can be found anywhere, and they are not just limited to monsters. Throughout the game, you will see rogue mushrooms, violent roaches (that's the actual name, I'm not kidding), borderline offensive cultists, living coffee mugs, a No Good Fly, and a guy who can only be described as the guy who has one two may drinks at a party and follows you around and DOESN'T SHUT UP. The best part, I think, is when you are about to be defeated by an extremely dangerous robot (and his healing bologna sandwiches), when the band you save from bankruptcy earlier dances in, and hits the off switch. Yeah. Seriously.

Why won't you SHUT UP?!

Next, is the main reason the game was so underrated. Despite its many shining features, the game's visuals were a tad outdated, seeing that this came out near the end of the SNES. It also was a sequel to a game that only came out in japan, which off-put many people (despite it has nothing to do with the original). This was before the massive popularity boom of RPGs, so this game was not the first to be treated this way.

At least it got the attention it deserved in Jap'n.


1 comment:

  1. It's not really underrated. Everyone loves it.