This article is part of our new experimental Backlog Club series, in which we (Nintendo Life!) pick a game that’s likely to be on our “games we should play” list, and then (NL + you!) spend the next one month playing this game. This is half time, the first of two parts where we pause for a minute to catch up on the game and how much we are enjoying it.
For May 2022 (how is it May already etc) we play the landmark JRPG SNES game Earthbound and discover memories of a childhood we never had…
My bedroom smells like burnt rubber. It’s not because I’ve thrown racy Formula 1 parties or because my furniture is made out of old tires — it’s because I’ve read Earthbound’s rather lavish Fangamer manual, which comes with its own scratch and sniff card will. a recreation of the one that came with the original game. And let me tell you: it is spicy.
The fact that I spent my hard-earned journalism money on a book about the game I play should tell you a lot about how much I’m enjoying Earthbound. It’s very rare that I like a game so much willingly Doing your homework, and while it helps that Fangamer’s Handbook is a beautiful little thing framed as a travel guide, it’s all thanks to the incredibly well-aged I of Earthbound that I’m having so much fun at a nearly 30-year-old game. After all, most things go downhill from about 25, right…? (Sob)
Similar to Slay The Spire, I’m not very far yet, although it feels like I’m done charges. I have ventured from Onett to Twoson to Threed to Fourside and visited the splendid Saturn Valley on the way and wish I could just stay there forever and according to the manual I’m only on page 122 of 250. But Earthbound is one of those old school JRPG games that reward you for backtracking and tracing mysteries into every little alley and dead end to be found, and I damn love secrets, so it might take quite a while for me to finish this one.
Well it feels a bit like I’m horribly late to the party because it seems like everyone and their moms have played Earthbound before – but it doesn’t seem to matter too much since it’s game, the people want Playing them even if you’re a little late. It has quite the reputation as a cult classic, so my expectations were very high, and I was too in addition i hesitate to ever try because i hate when people insist that i do things. I’m independent, damn it!
Admittedly, Earthbound has its weaknesses. The inventory system, which is a generous way of describing it, is little more than a little bag in which Ness (or Egg, as I called him) keeps all the random things he finds, some useful and others not and THERE IS NO WAY TO KNOW WHAT IS WHAT. And like I mentioned, there’s a lot of backtracking, and it’s easy to get lost, overwhelmed, or tired. Or all three.
But it’s just so total charming. In fact, I’m going to let you in on a tiny trade secret. For some reason British games journalists are very fond of using the word ‘charming’ to describe games, usually in reviews, because it encapsulates a certain feeling: of a game that’s not afraid to be serious, with a certain one Kind of enchanted being totally convinced that makes you smile, even if it’s a little rough around the edges.
“Charming” games are ones where the walls between you and the developer are so thin that you can almost see them watching you play like someone who just gave you a Christmas present that they made themselves – nervous, excited and hoping you enjoy this cause they put their hearts into.
And earthbound is charming. It’s enchantingly beautiful, enchantingly strange, deeply magical and utterly unique. It kind of captures a ’90s (sorry, 9Xs) vibe that never really existed, because none of us have ever had a UFO crash in our back yard, and while 20th-century parents were a lot more laid-back than they are today, I doubt my mother would have made me happy if I was a 10-year-old globetrotter to save the world. Even if I occasionally phoned home.
However, I will admit that it is a tiring game. When I got to Fourside, I started getting a little annoyed at how much the NPCs expected of me – they wanted me to travel back to cities bygone, raise insane amounts of money, fix their zombie problems, look for things that… they have lost , and so on. I have my own mission, dammit! Leave me alone! I’m just a kid!
I know hol quests and side quests are part of the journey, but when all of your progress means one step forward, twenty steps right, three steps back, and occasionally being nudged into weird interdimensional spaces, it can feel a bit like not eating your ice cream allowed until you’re done from someone else math homework.
Still, I’m having a good time. A nice time. A whoa Time. I’m getting a little tired, but I want to see this thing through to the end because there are so many unanswered questions: what are the weird musical footprints? Who is Giygas? Will I ever meet the fourth character
phew clunk? And why does this weird photographer keep interrupting me?
I’m excited to find out. Say “Fuzzy Pickles!”
Check out Zion’s beautiful tribute to the Mother/Earthbound series above! This wasn’t even an intended synergy! We’re just cool like that.
Don’t forget to vote for in this month’s poll next Game of the Month that will be one of these Crime Adventure Stories:
Did you enjoy playing/replaying Earthbound? Will you also try Earthbound Beginnings and Mother 3? Let us know what you think so far in the usual way!
https://www.nintendolife.com/features/backlog-club-week-two-may-getting-snestalgic-with-earthbound Backlog Club: Week Two, May – Get SNEstalgic with Earthbound