EarthBound

SNES game, 1994

Genre:
RPG
Year:
1994
Developer:
HAL Laboratory
Publisher:
Nintendo
Perspective:
Isometric
Theme:
Sci-Fi / Futuristic, Fantasy, Volleyball, Humor

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EarthBound is a unique and highly acclaimed role-playing game (RPG) developed by Ape Inc. and HAL Laboratory. Known as "Mother 2" in Japan, it is the second game in the Mother series created by Shigesato Itoi. EarthBound stands out for its quirky, contemporary setting, a stark contrast to the traditional fantasy or sci-fi themes prevalent in RPGs of the time.

Set in the fictional country of Eagleland, which closely resembles the United States, EarthBound follows the story of a young boy named Ness. After a meteorite lands near his home in the town of Onett, Ness embarks on a journey to collect melodies from eight sanctuaries to stop the evil alien force, Giygas. He is joined by a group of friends, each with unique abilities: Paula, a girl with psychic powers; Jeff, a young inventor; and Poo, a prince with mystical powers.

One of the defining features of EarthBound is its humorous and satirical take on American culture, a rarity for games at the time. The game's dialogue and scenarios often play with clichés and stereotypes, providing a fresh and humorous perspective. This approach, combined with its colorful and whimsical art style, gives EarthBound a distinct personality.

The gameplay in EarthBound deviates from traditional RPG mechanics in several ways. Combat is turn-based but includes unique elements like a health counter that rolls down, allowing players to heal before they hit zero HP. The game also eschews the typical medieval weaponry and magic, instead opting for everyday items like baseball bats and psychic abilities.

EarthBound's world is expansive and full of surprises, with a variety of environments that range from small towns to large cities, and even otherworldly locations. The game encourages exploration and interaction with numerous NPCs, each contributing to the game's rich narrative tapestry. Side quests and mini-games are scattered throughout, adding depth and replayability to the game.

EarthBound's legacy extends beyond its cult status; it has influenced numerous game developers and is often cited as a prime example of video game storytelling and creativity. Its impact on the RPG genre and gaming culture is profound, and it remains a cherished title for its originality, charm, and enduring appeal.

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