Earthbound – Wii U Virtual Console
I had planned on doing another game this week; however, given the news of the death of president and CEO of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, which was announced last Sunday, I thought it would be appropriate to look at one of the games that he not only worked on, but saved from being cancelled.
Earthbound or Mother 2, as it was known in Japan is an RPG for the Super Nintendo. It is now available on the Wii U Virtual Console.
Instead of taking place in a faraway fantasy land, or a futuristic world, the game starts off in a small, contemporary American town. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say a small American town, as seen by a Japanese video game developer.
The story involves the player character, named Ness by default, exploring the world to stop a malevolent force from taking over the earth. This may sound cliché, but the beauty of Earthbound is its humor and satire. For instance, many of the games functions, like saving progress, are done over the phone. The player calls up Ness’s dad, who is never actually seen because he’s always at work to save the game. In addition, it’s necessary for Ness to phone his mother when he feels homesick, which will affect Ness in combat.
The gameplay is that of a classic RPG, with one unique feature. The player could see the enemies coming at them, instead of being suddenly thrown into battle, something that Final Fantasy would not do until its twelfth installment. In addition, if the player is significantly stronger, then enemies will automatically be defeated when they are engaged, which cuts down on the monotony of grinding to get stronger.
There is so much more I could go into about Earthbound. The localization is superb, capturing the humor and goofiness of its Japanese source, and making it accessible to an English-speaking audience. It has aged surprisingly well, and for Wii U owners, there is no reason to pass Earthbound by.