If you’re a gamer in the biggest sense (Yes, I’m looking at you) then you might have heard of an SNES RPG called EarthBound. Heck, some of you might have even played EarthBound. Or better yet, some of you actually OWNED an actual copy of EarthBound.
For those who don’t know what EarthBound is, gather around and let Mr. Kerby tell you about it. (This is my longest post ever, btw)
EarthBound (also known as Mother 2) was relesed in the U.S. on August 27, 1994 (which would almost make it 15 years since it’s release), for the SNES, but to a very low commercial success. However, that didn’t mean the game wasn’t good. Created by Shigesato Itoi, EarthBound tells the story of a young boy named Ness, who lives in the town of Onett. After a Meteorite crashes near his home, he is thrust into a story that will forever change his life. Gifted with PSI powers, he embarks on a journey to stop the evil Giygas from destroying the entire earth. On his way, he meets the lovely and similarly gifted Paula, the technical genius Jeff, and the eastern prince, Poo.
Sounds like a typical fantasy set in the past, doesn’t it? Far from it. It is actually set in 199x, in modern times, and completely changes the dynamic of the game henceforth. Instead of swords and magic wands, you fight with baseball bats, frying pans, and yo-yos, fighting through cities, embarking on roadside adventures, and much more. And what game has you battling New Age Hippies, super-powered ants, and giant, sentient piles of vomit (An actual boss in this game)? EarthBound, that’s what. The pop-culture references and humor add to the depth of the game, and the game’s locations often make you remember the trips you either went on, or always wanted to go on. EarthBound pretty much made fun of the entire RPG genre, so to speak. All this, and the goal is to thwart a humongous threat to the earth, to boot.
Ness’ task is to gather the eight melodies, with the help of his friends, and use them to defeat the evil Giygas. One section takes you through a zombie and ghost-infested town, another takes you through a sandy wasteland. But it even takes an even weird turn as you also go through an alternate universe, as well as your own mind. You got to see ancient dinosaurs and what is made to be Stonehenge.
And the music was just as different as the gameplay was. Its catchy, poppy tunes and Jazzy blues jingles kept you wanting more. It felt real good to wail on a hippy while listening to beachy music that sounds like something the Beach Boys would have written. The music matched the mood of every part of the story, and you would feel so empty without it.
But while the fun almost never seemed to stop, the game also had it’s dark side. An extremely disturbing dark side to it…
*pulls out a flashlight and turns it on, pointing it at his chin upwards, cheesy ghost story style*
“Yes, he’s the villain. Of course he’s going to be dark and scary right? He’s the ultimate goal! Beat him and evil is twharted!”
Yes, all that is absolutely true. But what not many people realize is that the dark and scary part is quite possibly the ultimate understatement.
What Giygas does to you, not the player, but you, is what scares me. The fight with Giygas (the longest fight in the game, I believe) is the scariest part of this game. The fight rapes your mind with a sharp, yet dull stick, pulls it out through your nose, and non-chalantly flings it onto the hot pavement to stew in the sun. I suppose you’re asking why? Why is it that scary? First off, you have to understand the backstory to this guy.
Giygas is the ultimate evil. He doesn’t have form, and he has lost capacity for rational thought, whose own body and mind were destroyed by his own power. This is revealed to you during the fight by your rival/ex-best friend, Pokey. But this is revealed to you as you’ve traveled back in time, with your souls transferred into robots, cut off from the rest of time. Your party has traveled back in time to destroy Giygas before he became even MORE powerful than he already is, and Pokey tells you he already lost.
What transpires during the fight is a scary scene. you’re surrounded by nothing but giygas, who nothing more than a wisp of near nothingness, his mind lost to the evil. Your party “Cannot grasp the true nature of his attack” throughout the whole ordeal, and the only true way to beat him is to pray. That’s right, you pray that you could ever find a way to beat him. And when you do, even his death is a scary thing.
It emotionally drains you, makes you wonder what’s wrong with Giygas, since the things Giygas says are totally wacky. “It hurts… It hurts…” and “I’m h…a…p…p…y…” are scary in themselves, but there’s also the story behind that first line I just mentioned. The creater, Itoi, as a child, accidentally witnessed a rape scene in a Japanese theater, which scarred him mentally to the point where he incorporated this experience into the final fight.
All in all, it’s a scary-ass fight that still has me scared each time I watch videos of it, or play it myself.
EarthBound is an excellent RPG that no gamer should go without playing, and if you’re brave enough, play to the end.