Gaming

Making New Memories with Earthbound in 2022

Image: Nintendo Life / Zion Grassle

I didn’t have an SNES as a kid. I didn’t have a NES either. I had an N64 so I’m not completely hopeless. Lately, I’ve been able to fill in the gaps in my gaming knowledge as Nintendo has added a ton of games that I’ve either missed (due to being a kid) or missed (e.g. mourned absence) on the Nintendo Switch. Internet Service.

But, well, many of them haven’t aged – even the ones I remember fondly, whose sharp edges can be cut down with nostalgic forgiveness, like Banjo-Kazooie. Look, Banjo-Kazooie is a great game, but 25 years of constantly improving and improving platform games makes this game a little bad. I’m sorry. [I… But… It’s… *temple pain kicks in* – Ed.]

Playing old SNES and NES games is even harder because I don’t have good memories to soften the blow. I downloaded Final Fantasy, a game I’ve never played before, and it just feels it’s like playing an old game like selling your fancy 2020 Ford Focus with Bluetooth and heated seats and buying a 90s car with manual pop-up windows and no extra port. I’m spoiled, but when it comes to games, I love having things like smart camera control and being able to carry more than ten things in my inventory.

It’s not just controls. Some games are badly dated in terms of their writing and quest design, and while I’d like to say it’s not really their fault, their age is no excuse. There were a lot of games in the 90s with smart dialogue and humor that aged exceptionally well, and one of those games is… Earthbound. What do you mean you already knew it from the title?

When you don’t grow up with certain consoles, you will find that you have large gaps in your video game knowledge library. People will link to favorite series like Halo, unknownand F-Zero, and you’ll just smile and nod and hope you don’t get exposed as someone who doesn’t know the difference between Master Chief and Captain Falcon.

That was me from Earthbound. It was one of those games that everyone seemed to love and some cynical part of me was just point blank refuses believe people when they agree on everything, which is why it took me 25 years to observe tenacious.

I mean, yes, of course, I’m sure Earthbound was great when you were a kid, but without that context, it’s just another old JRPG, right? I played Pokemon! I can extrapolate! Earthbound are probably just Pokemon with extra kids and fewer animals meant to hit.

Anyway, to cut a 30 year old story, I picked up Earthbound as soon as it was in the Nintendo Switch Online library because there’s not much point in paying for an NSO service if you’re not going to use This is. I thought I’d see what all the fuss was about and then move on to a modern game with yummy 3D camera controls and an inventory that has a “sort by value” button. Yum.

Why didn’t anyone tell me how good Earthbound is?

Oh right. Because I didn’t listen to them.

Earthbound
IMAB

From the very beginning, I was in awe of how strange this game was. Millennial and Gen Z humor tends to favor the absurd these days, and Earthbound fits right into it like it was released just yesterday. I mean, in the first few minutes of the game, you find a special bee in a crater, and just when you think that bee might be a companion, or at least a super-important character, it gets squashed to never be. is mentioned again. It’s still funny! And just like that, there are plenty of items that don’t do anything magical, like a ruler that just helps you measure things. Because, of course, it is. This is a ruler. What did you expect?

It’s weird to play these games out of order, because after playing a lot of Undertale and Deltarune, my first thought was: “Wow… this is like a Toby Fox game.” I know. Of course it is, this is one of his biggest influences! It’s like going to a museum and saying, “Hmm, a lot of artists were named after Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” But you know what I mean.

my first thought was, wow… this looks like a Toby Fox game. I know… It’s like walking into a museum and saying, “Hmm, a lot of artists were named after Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

Being able to see the impact a game will eventually have on a whole generation of developers is pretty cool in itself, but being able to admit that a lot of the things you love about modern games have been straight ripped out of Earthbound is like discovering a piece puzzles that you didn’t even know were missing. Suddenly, many things make sense.

Got all those musical bites that I’ve heard for years, and it turns out they’re all from the same place: Earthbound, which has absolutely amazing sound design for its age. It’s the same with the aesthetics, from the iconic kid’s cap and striped shirt outfit (I called it “The Egg”) to the green and blue checkered background, references to these things can be found. everywhereonce you know where to look. I told my friend that it’s like finding out that half of American celebrities are secretly Canadians, and then you too will start seeing secret Canadians everywhere.

Earthbound
egg

And aside from the impact it has had on the industry, Earthbound is just really good game. Sure, it has its flaws, which are largely due to the fact that this is a mid-90s game, but I’m willing to forgive a lot of the issues because they’re so flawlessly and cleverly spiced up.

Earthbound is a game about kids, and a lot of its design choices stem from that. All the health foods you get are foods that kids dream about or can include in their lunch: hamburgers, french fries, boiled eggs and sandwiches; sometimes you will find more mature products like coffee, but the description specifically says “I think it’s delicious for adults.” Your enemies range from weird monsters that don’t make sense like a literal road sign, to spoiled adults with mundane names like “Extra Cranky Lady” – the kind of monster an 8 year old would think of.

Earthbound
I always say it

So what does it do meaning that you have a really tiny inventory and half of it is filled with key items that you can’t get rid of. You are a child. You have tiny pockets. It also makes sense to save the game by calling your dad, and the cities are the only place to do that, because again – you’re a kid! And just like fast bus travel, a tiny village inhabited only by weird little guys who all have the same name, and the fact that a significant part of the game is all about cave exploration are all the best kids stuff of the 90s. I didn’t live near the cave, but if I did, you might bet I would have spent a lot of time there imagining I was a pirate or something.

(So ​​listen, game developers: if you’re going to make a game with slightly annoying design choices, you can get away with it if you subject This is.)

I’m sorry it took me so long to listen to the crowd of people telling me that Earthbound is a good game. To be honest, people recommend things all the time which turned out to be pants, so a bit of cynicism is helpful. But it’s also good to know that some games are forever great, no matter how old they are, even if you don’t have a nostalgia cushion – so this Mother’s Day, I’ll be working on completing Earthbound. Better 30 years late than never!

Earthbound is great, right? Tell me about your favorite beats (and what you named your characters!) in the comments.




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