Deadly aliens, a small boy, the adventure of a lifetime, and..... CRAZED HIPPIES!
That, in a nutshell, is the style of Earthbound, one of the few rpgs actually developed by Nintendo.
Throw everything traditional about the genre out the window for this one. Set in modern times, not futuristic mind you, the game takes place in the '90s! Forget about swords and staffs, our heros and heroines prefer the more practical things in life, like baseball bats and frying pans for weaponry. Throw away your anime characters; these are all-American cartoony characters.
All in all, however, Earthbound is a very refreshing and welcome change from the everyday rpg with the recycled 'save the princess' plot., Maybe it's just me.. but this title strikes all the right notes.
Not to say you won't find the tried and true plot twists, save the girl, destroy the source of evil, find so and so items, all this is found in Earthbound, in one way or another:
Your 'save the princess' venture takes the form of the kidnapped baby-sitter Paula! Some crazy person has nabbed her and you have to find her! Sounds boring? It's really not, although it is fairly simple. But even minor characters like the genius kid who Paula takes care of at her day-car center add a sence of urgency to her rescue.
And so on with the rest of the ol' plot cliches.. All set in modern times with an astoundingly good supporting cast.
Well, the main storyline however is certainly nothing special: Meteorite hits the planet, alien megalomaniac was using it to hitch a ride, now is bent on taking over the world. Supporting this so-so story is the quirkiest, funniest, and most unique cast of characters I've ever seen. Then, o yes, then, the supporting cast: The townspeople, the clerks, the Runaway-5, the wacky Mexican slot machine people, the hippies, the happy-happiest cult, the Mr. Saturns (the most overlooked cute things in the history of games) and all the people in the market.. the characters are no less than fantastic!! They turn an average game into a hilarious classic, no snes owner should pass this up.
This game is all about environment and comedy, the only really genuinly funny rpg I can remember playing is Earthbound. From the beginning, the colorful, child-like graphics will pull you in and make you interested to see what's next. The colorful landscapes are really attractive, and the amount of maps is great, many towns that are easy to navigate through, have great design, and are really fun and full of surprises are some features.
Overall, Earthbound is above average in the graphics department, with a few stand out areas here and there to really liven things up. Big points are picked up for the sheer variety in the visuals, from snow-covered lands to grassy plains to lakes to beaches to mega-malls to blues concert halls, there's a lot to see.
Earthbound bounces along merrily with happy little tunes that stand out in no way and are usually little more than average, the exception is the sounds of the Runaway 5! You just have to love that stuff..
Although it features a fairly weak battle system, the VERY innovative enemies almost make up for it, almost. The battles look like those in games such as Dragon Warrior. Your party isn't visible, only the enemies... almost like a weak first-person view. My guess is Nintendo decided on this format to show off the very cool enemies. I can't say enough about them! How many games do you really remember what nearly every enemy looks like? Earthbound is one of them. From silly little ant-like creatures to over-worked business men to crazy hippies! They make the battles far more tolerable than if you were fighting.. o say.. dragons.
The battles play pretty well, and one neat feature is that when you have an enemy so outmatched it'd be pointless to fight, the game gives you the automatic victory and all the experience points that go along with it! This is good on the one hand that it saves time, but bad on the other as it decreases an already easy games difficulty level.
Earthbound has its downs just like any other game, it's too easy, the story is sometimes unoriginal, the music is far less than perfect, and sometimes it just doesn't make any sence. But while you're beating the hell out of some cops down at the station, talking to those loveable Mr. Saturns, relaxing in the hotsprings, or just cruisin' with the Runaway 5... all the imperfections will fade into obscurity!
If you play Earthbound for nothing else, play it for the side ventures (Buy that house, look into the drawer inside.. You won't be dissapointed.)
All in all, I'm an Earthbound fan, as you've probably figured by now. The cast really steals the show, even if nearly every female NPC reminds me of 'The Drew Carey Show' character Mimi.. agh, the nightmares.. the horror.. the bloodloss..
Wanna comment? O yes,.. wondering about the high score for 'story'? Well, I could think of no where else to incorporate the high points the game's characters earn.
-your friendly neighborhood ff
|The intro. screen, lookin' good.
|Mr. Saturn, need I say more?