Only In Japan, only in Japan…
Chances are that most of you have never heard of Mother but you may know the name Earthbound as the game that Ness appeared in, but Earthbound is the second game in the Mother series. Oh, Nintendo pulled a Final Fantasy. Well, time for a bit of backstory to explain the 0 part of Earthbound 0. Back in the NES era, Americans weren’t fond of RPGs as much as Japan. Mother was made in Japan and it sold extremely well so it was obvious that Mother had to come to America. Despite translation and a full marketing strategy being complete and ready, Nintendo decided not to go along with the plan because selling an RPG in America would be a huge risk. Mother was to be called Earthbound in America but as I just said, Mother didn’t reach America. Skip to a few years laters and you see that a group of people had translated Mother so the game could be played in English on ROMs. Mother 2/ Earthbound was released in America, obviously, so to avoid confusion, the translation group decided to call Mother 1, Earthbound 0. That’s enough story telling, let’s to the actual game.
Well, it sure is an NES game with NES graphics. Some environments are extremely bland but, oddly, they seem to fit really well with the game. Other environments are nicely detailed with a few pieces of eye candy here and there. Overworld sprites are animated… well, like an NES sprite. They’re okay, I guess, but it’s the NES so I can’t really blame the technology. During battle, you can see some pretty cool sprites of enemies and they’re really cartoony, I love it.
It’s common place for an RPG to have some kind of grand tale of mythic beings and a group of saviors that have to save the world from an evil threat. Well, Earthbound 0 is nothing like that, at least, it’s not supposed to be. The game starts with an introduction that states that along time ago, the 1980’s to be more specific, a married couple suddenly vanished then a few years later the husband returns but the wife didn’t. Then in 1988, your character, Ninten, wakes up in his bed to see that some sort of super natural phenomenon is going on in his house. After a phone call from his dad, Ninten goes off to see what’s causing the problems. After a few errands later, he goes into a sort of dream world where he meets a queen. The queen tells Ninten to find eight melodies, I guess she was bored or something. That’s all I’m gonna say since everything past that would be spoilers. The story isn’t something huge like saving the entire world, it’s pretty much just an errand that Ninten decides to do. The story doesn’t take itself too seriously and that’s one thing I love about this game. You don’t have to pay attention to the story but it’s interesting enough to continue going.
The game is like any other RPG in terms of in game stats, level your characters and travel the overworld in search of the plot and all that. Although, what separates this game from the rest is it’s battle system. Oh my god the battle system, it’s so much fun that I forgive Okamiden for having such a boring battle system. In Earthbound 0, you basically fight just like any other RPG, take turns and whoever loses all health loses but the battles are so humorous that you’ll want to find a random battle when you’re bored. You know how in other RPGs you fight orcs, elves, machines from another world, or even a slime? In this game you fight none of that, well, mostly. You fight hippies, crows smoking cigars, business men, and even an elephant. The battles are quite humorous with texts such as “___ is charging up power. ___ decided to cry instead of attacking” and stuff like that. Also, you don’t use swords or mythical jewels from the medieval ages, no, instead you use bats and frying pans. The game play is quite beautiful.
The game is close to perfect, the only gripes I have that the game is that the game is a little bit grind happy and sometimes you’ll feel like not even touching the game but once you pick it up again, you’ll be having fun for quite a while. I didn’t mention the game’s amazing soundtrack but you can check that out for yourself, seriously, you don’t need me to tell you how amazing the music is.
Be sure to check out Alink’s youtube channel at youtube.com where you will find Let’s Plays and sarcasm galore. Also, be sure to check out Alink’s band, you might like them if you’re into alternative acoustics.