About the Game


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EarthBound (SNES)

EarthBound is a traditional turn-based RPG made by Nintendo, released in 1995 in North America for the Super Nintendo. In Japan, it's known as Mother 2. The development of EarthBound took five years! The North American release has a very interesting history. EarthBound is the first RPG of its kind! Instead of the usual fantasy and magic, EarthBound has mad hippies, baseball bats, and pizza. In general, it's themed around an idiosyncratic portrayal of Americana and Western culture. The game is full of slapstick comedy and bizarre characters. The story, however, does have deeper, serious tones.

EarthBound also offers features that no other RPG has. For example, you can have a delivery man come and take away items you don't need. You can have a pizza delivered to you anywhere in the game (except caves/dungeons). Whenever you encounter a weak enemy, you automatically win the battle without having to fight it.

Although EarthBound (Mother 2) was positively received by Japanese audiences, EarthBound sold poorly in North America. Even after Nintendo pumped $2 million into an aggressive advertising campaign. It's not surprising as to why. In the mid-1990s, RPGs still weren't that popular yet. EarthBound's simple graphics and unusual non-fantasy elements didn't help either.

In the ensuing years, EarthBound's popularity grew rather dramatically. Many people discovered EarthBound in the 2000s when video game emulation became common. EarthBound attracted a strong fan following. Many RPG fans consider EarthBound to be in the top 10 of the best RPGs ever made.

Mother (NES)

The first Mother was released for the Famicon in Japan in 1989, and it never left Japan. Loyal fans of Earthbound managed to obtain a fully translated prototype and leaked it out onto the net for us to enjoy. For years we wondered how this prototype came into being. Then a guy who worked for Nintendo came forward and revealed to us that it was a marketing decision to deny Mother's release. Nintendo wanted to focus on the SNES.

It's a fascinating story. To learn more, I recommend checking out Lost Levels' Online's Mother article for the full story.

Mother 1+2 (GBA)

In 2003, Mother 1+2 was released for the Game Boy Advance in Japan. This was a compilation of the first two Mother titles. There are new items, shops, events, and run and shortcut buttons. This never officially left Japan. In April 2011, an unofficial English translation was released for Mother 1+2 by Tomato and Jeffman. Mother 1 was fully translated, and Mother 2 has basic menu and name translations. Click here for some screenshots.

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Mother 3 (GBA)

The long-awaited third segment to the series! It was released in 2006 only in Japan. Mother 3 starts out differently from the first two Mother games. The game is set up into eight different chapters, much like Dragon Quest IV. Instead of focusing on a group of children, it chronicles the story and adventures of Lucas and his family The story switches perspectives during each chapter. The game retains the Dragon Quest-style battle system Mother and EarthBound had (although this time at a much quicker pace). The battle system added an extra twist in the form of a 'music combo' system.

In October 2008, the unofficial English fan translation of Mother 3 was released! Visit their homepage to learn more about it. They made a cool trailer to showcase the game in English.

EarthBound & EarthBound Beginnings (Wii U)

In July 2013, EarthBound was re-released on the Wii U Virtual Console (worldwide). Nothing new was added; it was a direct port of the SNES release. Then in June 2015, in celebration of Earthbound's 20th Anniversary, Mother 1 was localized for the Wii U Virtual Console (worldwide) under the name “EarthBound Beginnings.” Finally, we were able to experience an official release of the first Mother game!

EarthBound & EarthBound Beginnings (Switch Online)

In February 2022, EarthBound and EarthBound Beginnings landed on Nintendo Switch Online. Anyone with the Switch Online membership can play these games. These are direct ports and do not add anything new.

The Story

A strange happening A strange happening in the beginning

EarthBound takes place in the year 199X, several years after the events of Mother (the first game), in the fictional country of Eagleland, a parody of the United States. The player starts as a young boy named Ness as he investigates a nearby meteorite crash with his neighbor, Pokey, to find his neighbor's brother Picky. They find that an alien force, Giygas, has enveloped and consumed the world in hatred and consequently turned animals, humans, and objects into malicious creatures. A small, bee-like creature from the future named Buzz-Buzz instructs Ness to collect melodies in a Sound Stone from eight Sanctuaries to preemptively stop the force but is killed shortly thereafter when Pokey and Picky's mother mistakes him for a pest.

On his journey to visit the sanctuaries, Ness visits the cultists of Happy Happy Village, where he saves Paula, and the zombie-infested Threed, where the two of them fall prey to a trap. After Paula telepathically instructs Jeff in a Winters boarding school to rescue them, they continue to Saturn Valley, a village filled with a species of creatures called Mr. Saturn, the city of Fourside, and the seaside resort Summers. Meanwhile, Poo, the prince of Dalaam, undergoes training called “Mu Training” before joining the party as well. And thus their adventures ensue! Can our heroes defeat Giygas and save the world?

Battle System

Sample of a battle

The battles in EarthBound are mostly text-based; similar to early RPGs such as Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest. You fight against the enemy using things like baseball bats, frying pans, and toy guns. When you encounter an enemy behind its back, then you get to attack the enemy first in battle. When the enemy catches you behind your back, then the enemy gets to attack first in battle.

Instead of MP, you have PP (psychic points). Each type of psychic attack has several levels, each one stronger than the other that you slowly learn. “PSI” (the attribute for psychic attacks) is separated into 4 categories: offensive, recovery, assisting, and other. Everyone can learn psychic abilities except for Jeff.

My favorite feature of battles is the “Auto” feature. Selecting this option will have everyone continuously automatically attack. To stop auto-battle, you must turn it off (you'll see the word “Auto” disappear). It's important to still be attentive to the battle while auto-battle is enabled. Enemies might surprise you and suddenly bring a character to low health or defeat them.

Tips & Strategy

Don't forget to talk to mom often! If you don't then the main character's strength weakens. By the time you reach the desert, it's a good idea to always keep stocked up on large pizzas. Don't forget to make use of defensive psychic abilities; they're a great deal of help during tough battles. Some parts of the game are hard to figure out so it's a good idea to have a walkthrough by your side. Pay close attention to some of the things people tell you. What they have to say could help your fight against a boss easier.

Don't forget about the sanctuaries! Every major town and area has one. The game doesn't push you to seek them out, nor does it always remind you about them, so you might miss one. You can't proceed into the last areas of the game without finding all eight of them.

My Opinion

I was one of those people who discovered EarthBound in the early 2000s when video game emulation rose in popularity. Back in 1995, I remember the smelly EarthBound advertisements from Nintendo Power. Maybe I rented the game from Blockbuster Video once? I don't remember.

EarthBound's Humor Some of EarthBound's humor

EarthBound's non-fantasy present-day atmosphere stood out and was fascinating to me. It was nice to play something different than the traditional fantasy RPGs such as Final Fantasy. Even more so, EarthBound's sense of humor made it especially unique to me. The jokes are hilarious!

Playing EarthBound, there was always something new and bizarre around every corner. There are some pretty unique (and funny) details in the game that you won't find in any other RPG. For example, when walking through the desert your characters can pass out from heat exhaustion. The only thing that can cure them is a wet towel! And sometimes when you go through a forest, a tree will follow you and attack! And just when you think your path is clear - a statue of a pencil blocks your way (so random!).

The story gets surprisingly deep. It gives a beautiful message; EarthBound had me appreciate life a little more. I love how the soundtrack has so much variety. Some songs are jazzy, some have a Caribbean flavor, and more.

From the story to the soundtrack to the fun factor, EarthBound is a masterpiece. I find myself coming back to it every so often. I would recommend it to any RPG fan.