Thursday, November 13, 2003

EarthBound!

The War Against Gygas!
From my retrogaming news front: I just finished EarthBound on the SNES! I've had a copy of this game for some time but I only managed to find enough time to sit down and play it this month. Now that I've played through and defeated Gygas (the game's final uber-menace), I'm wondering why this game isn't as famous as it should be. Sure, the graphics, battle scenes, and story may not be as cool or as angsty as other RPGs on the SNES (particularly Final Fantasy 6, Chrono Trigger, and Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals) but EarthBound has a charm of its own: it doesn't take anything, even itself, seriously!

EarthBound: The War Against Gygas! is actually called Mother 2: Gygas Strikes Back! in Japan, since it's the second game of the Mother series (the first game was Mother on the NES, but it wasn't released in the US; Nintendo of America translated it but scrapped it before release; the prototype ROM got out though and was dumped by DemiForce).

The game is set in a world like our own 1990s Earth, and tells the story of four kids who are destined to save the world from an evil force called Gygas. Along the way, you meet a talking space bee, demented policemen, skate-thrashing street punks, Mr. T (yes, Mr. T), a Blues Brothers parody (The Runaway Five), insane cultists who worship the color blue, flying saucers, living piles of puke, dinosaurs, a village full of beings all named Mr. Saturn, a town infested with zombies... And then there's also the background music ranging from blues to a weird ambient techno-thing. The list is long and the weirdness never ends. Well, until you get to the end of the game, that is.

The battle engine is menu-driven, similar to the Dragon Quest series', where you choose which action each character takes every round. You fight un-animated enemies on a psychedelic background of swirling colors, and there's a text box that tells you the effects of the combatants actions. The game varies the text for certain enemies so you don't get the usual "So-and-so attacks!" and instead have "The Spiteful Crow pecks at your eyes!" as well as "New Age Retro Hippie uses a toothbrush!" (Yes, both are examples taken from the game itself). Combat is fast and fun for the most part, with the challenge factor amped a few for the bosses. Most bosses have a weakness you can exploit though.

I highly recommend EarthBound for RPG fans. This is a game that deserves to be up there with the classics.

Earthbound Review Rating:
Gameplay: 9/10
Story: 9/10
Graphics: 9/10

For more information on Earthbound and the Mother series of console RPGs, see starmen.net, which is probably the best Earthbound-related site out there.

Game on.