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SNES Games I Love #21: Earthbound

On 02/21/2020 at 08:19 AM by The Last Ninja

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Developers: Ape, HAL Laboratory

Publisher: Nintendo

Genre: RPG

Release: 1995

Currently available on: Wii U VC, New 3DS VC, SNES Classic Edition 

About the game: In Earthbound, you play as the all-American boy Ness as he sets off on an adventure to defeat an alien. Along the way, he makes friends with a psychic girl, a boy genius, and a strong-willed prince. The game is set in the modern world, which instantly sets it apart from most RPGs. The battle system is very similar to Dragon Quest, although there are a few new additions. But perhaps the best thing about the game is the story and dialogue. The characters are endearing, the story is truly touching, and the dialogue is often hilarious. These factors have cemented Earthbound as a cult classic. 

pic 1

Why I love it: My older brother actually bought this game shortly after its release. I remember looking through the awesome player's guide. As a kid, I always thought this game was a bit beyond me. When I was 16, I decided to give it a shot. I beat this game the same summer that I beat Ocarina of Time (it was a good summer!). I couldn't put the game down. The world, the characters, the story--all of it gripped me. I had never played a game quite like it. Earthbound is so bizarre with its quirky humor and odd characters. But because of that, it's also very endearing. The ending will make you cry. You will feel like these four kids are your friends. Earthbound is just that amazing. 




02/21/2020 at 11:38 AM

Never played, but always looked like Peanuts the JRPG, with sci-fi/fantasy elements.  Why hasn't there been a good Peanuts game by the way? Has there been a game at all?

The Last Ninja

02/22/2020 at 10:25 AM

You should really give it a try if you get the chance. Nintendo has finally made it available in a few different ways. 

Y'know, I don't think there's a Peanuts game, which is surprising considering how popular that franchise is. 

Cary Woodham

02/23/2020 at 07:30 PM

There have been a lot of Peanuts games.  When the computer animated Peanuts movie came out a couple of years ago, I reviewed a game based on it:

Also, there have been a few mobile games, and an Atari 2600 game based on Snoopy and the Red Baron.

Speaking of which, my favorite Peanuts game was a PS2 game called Snoopy vs. the Red Baron.  it was like an arcade flight sim for kids, but it was really fun and adorable.


02/21/2020 at 02:22 PM

This game was very esoteric. I missed out on its first release in 1995, and didn't get to really play it until 2013 when it was released on Wii U Virtual Console; I also have it on the SNES Classic Edition. 

Recently I played the fan translation of Mother 3 on a GBA using a bootleg cartridge. That game was pretty heavy in parts. I always wished that the original N64 version had been completed. The N64 got only one or two decent RPGs in its entire lifespan.

The Last Ninja

02/22/2020 at 10:26 AM

I haven't played Mother 3 sadly. I keep hoping that Nintendo will release it in some form, but perhaps that will never happen. 


02/24/2020 at 02:10 AM

Nintendo was apparently very close to authorizing an English release but got cold feet over some content it felt would be problematic in the United States, even with a M rating. The two big issues seem to be the Magypsies and an event that happens at the end of the game.  Pretty sure Salsa wearing a shock collar in chapter 3 would probably raise some eyebrows. Pity, I'd buy it if Nintendo released it on Switch.

Super Step Contributing Writer

02/21/2020 at 05:50 PM

This is the only game I remember making me cry as a kid cause I hated it. Wasted rental. 

That said, I appreciate the atmosphere much more as an adult and want to try to muscle through my JRPG antipathy to experience it. 

The Last Ninja

02/22/2020 at 10:27 AM

Whoa, hate is a strong word! Why did you hate it? 

Super Step Contributing Writer

02/23/2020 at 11:41 AM

Hated; past tense. I just never really liked JRPGs and got stuck very early on as a kid. It was frustrating at the time. lol

Cary Woodham

02/21/2020 at 10:30 PM

Oh man, you're gonna hate me.  So back when I was first trying out to write for The Dallas Morning News, I had to write two game reviews.  One for a game I liked, and one for a game I didn't like.  Since I was big into 16-bit RPGs at the time, the game I chose to write about that I liked was Final Fantasy 6.  The game I chose to write about that I didn't like...was Earthbound.

At the time I felt the battle system was a bit dated and took a few steps back from FF6.  And while I liked the weird story, it was so nonsensical that sometimes it was hard to tell where to go next.  The game came with a strategy guide back then for a reason.

If I had the time, I would love to give this game a second chance, though.  I will say one thing good about Earthbound.  Games like Earthbound and Super Mario RPG really brought good game translation to the forefront and paved the way for the future of translating text in games better.

The Last Ninja

02/22/2020 at 10:32 AM

I think you have to go in to Earthbound with the realization that it was trying to be different and weird. It definitely rubbed some people the wrong way. The story and characters are often bizarre, but that's what makes the game so endearing. The battle system actually added some things that were forward-thinking for the time. And yes, the translation is stellar. So I would say give it another chance and try to see it through to the end. Honestly, I used the player's guide a LOT to get through, but it's worth it. 


02/24/2020 at 09:25 PM

I don't think I ever saw this in the wild but it was always talked about as some holy grail game to collect. I'm glad you can download it now in the Nintendo store, I think. 

The Last Ninja

02/25/2020 at 12:27 AM

Yeah, it's almost impossible to find, so having a way to get a digital copy is great. 

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