Ness and his dog King in front of his mom's house in Onett (opening scene of EarthBound).
If you know me, you know that there are TONS AND TONS of videogames I’ve never played. Sadly, although I consider myself to be a “hardcore” gamer, I really am not compared to most “gamers”. The reason for that is because, unlike other more productive people, I can never seem to find the time to play games. Period.
In fact, my most played system as of late has been my Nintendo 3DS, and that’s simply because it is the easiest system to play when I’m sitting on the throne…. And cause I’m a hardcore Nintendo fanboy to boot.
So I thought it would be fun to go through some of the games I’d LOVE to play and still plan on playing someday, but never have up to this point and why I want to play them. Maybe I’ll get to them at some point, and hopefully soon; but maybe not. We’ll see. Enjoy.
EPISODE #1 – EARTHBOUND
Released: November 1995 (USA), August 27, 1994 (Japan)
System: Super Nintendo
Re-Released: As part of Mother I&II Collection for Game Boy Advance (Japan-only)
Developed By: Nintendo, Ape, HAL Laboratory
Is There A Digital Version?: Not legally, ROM & Emulator for play on the PC are easy to find however. It has never been officially re-released.
The elusive EarthBound (Mother 2) cartridge... worth lots of money these days.
EarthBound is one of those cult-classic videogames that literally everyone should play… regardless of whether you like Japanese Role-Playing Games or not. Despite what the title says and the premise of this “On the Cutting Room Floor” series, EarthBound is actually a game I have played through MULTIPLE times. However it remains on the cutting room floor for me because I have NEVER finished it.
Unlike many others, I actually own a SNES EarthBound cart (along with the box) that I bought for $15 in 1998 at Blockbuster. Back then I was pissed because I assumed the big box meant it came with the Strategy Guide/Instruction Book pictured on the front of the box… but it was not meant to be as the box didn’t contain that guide. Believe it or not, me in my naive-to-the-future-worth-of-the-epic-game-he-held-in-his-hands youth ALMOST took the game back. I was literally about to hightail it back to the store and return it because I was so disappointed at not having the book. Even back in those days, my early teen years, I had that collector’s streak pumping through my veins, and I wanted my games to be complete with the box AND instructions.
A typical EarthBound battle looks like this.... that's the dreaded Territorial Oak enemy! *shivers*
Thankfully, I wisely kept the game, figuring that it would be really fun and cool to play (as I had read in gaming magazines) and I’d just have to do without the instruction book. Wise choice young grasshopper me, wise choice!
EarthBound is one of the most unique games you will ever play. It has a self-deprecating, breaking-the-fourth-wall streak running throughout that makes the writing extremely laugh-out-loud funny and more witty and interesting than most games… certainly than most RPGs of the day. The game is a typical JRPG, with turn-based battles (seen in the first person perspective, and menu-driven), a focus on talking to every villager you encounter, and an epic quest, but the modern America setting of the game is what made EarthBound really stand out.
A typical screenshot of talking to villagers in EarthBound's first town of Onett.
EarthBound is not a fantasy game, it is a literal modern-day adventure of four kids spelunking through the oddest of occurrences; crashing meteors, alien visitors, zombie apocalypse, roadrunning jazz bands, haunted malls, color-blue-worshiping cults… it’s actually a sci-fi game in reality, although the science fiction aspect doesn’t really override the rest of the tale due to the fact that the game generally stays in a modern-day, city setting throughout. It is the worlds you explore in EarthBound however, the cities, that play as much a role in the game as anything else. Each city, Onette, Twoson, Threed, Fourside, is like a character in itself because of the unique themes of each.
Overall, EarthBound is arguably the game I want to MOST FINISH of all the games I have. Sadly, I started on the game many, many times using my SNES cartridge, but the cart has ALWAYS deleted my saved games from the beginning. It’s been an eternal heartbreaker. I had resisted pirating the game (which in my case is legal because I own the original cart) for the longest time in the hope that Nintendo would re-release a digital version… but they never did.
A JRPG with city buildings, hamburgers, stop signs and streets? Believe it.
So last year I finally broke down and downloaded the ROM and an emulator, and finally got to experience the game without the threat of my save file being erased…. I tried ONE LAST TIME to play it on the actual SNES… but somehow something always ends up happening that causes the game to freeze (accidentally bumping the system, accidentally moving the powercord… one time our freakin’ cat jumped on it and that was that) so that was the last straw for me and I went the route most EarthBound fans had long-taken; the route of a pirate. I still prefer to play games with a controller (THE controller) so I’m not a fan of the keyboard controls, but having new features like the ability to speed up time or save anywhere is definitely welcome.
EarthBound has such a charming, simple look to it. This is Ness' sister's room.
Hopefully Nintendo will re-release the game soon for the 3DS eShop, can you imagine how much of a killer-app it’d be? And while they’re at it they should flatout REMAKE the game and all-three Mother titles and release it for 3DS, Wii or Wii U… the Western world never got the original EarthBound, called Mother in Japan, or the Japan-only sequel to EarthBound called Mother 3 for Game Boy Advance, which is criminal. Of course, illegally, an English version of “EarthBound Zero” for NES via emulator exists, as does English ROM’s of Mother 3…. both of which I own.
One of these days soon I’ll actually sit down and record myself playing through the whole game. Last time I stopped simply cause I got sidetracked, but with my new site here that is SUPPOSED to be focused on watching me play games… I definitely intend on allowing you to watch me play it.
Here is a look at EarthBound in action! Alongside the awesome intro.