Game Designer: We're developing an RPG set in the middle ages, with swords and magic.
Company Head: Wasn't our last game exactly like that?
Game Designer: Not at all! This one has innovative features never before seen in the genre.
Company Head: What does that mean?
Game Designer: It means our last game was exactly like it.
Unless you were a hardcore SNES-er you've probably never heard of the obscure RPG Earthbound. It was a huge success in Japan, so like Pokemon (this was actually way before that insane obsession, well way before as in 3 years) they decided to bring it to America and hype it until it craps all over everyone and everything. But it didn't work. At all. There was no Earthbound merchindise, no TV show, no nothing. Just a game that didn't sell very well.
I haven't actually said what Earthbound is about and why I would bother to review it yet, a problem I plan to remedy in the next few sentences. Earthbound is what you might call a 'modern RPG'. It's an RPG just as much as Final Fantasy, but it takes place in suburbs and large cities (The first half anyway). This is probably why everyone in America hated it, apparently the Japanese are more open minded. I've actually recommended this to people and they refused to play it simply because it contained no swords and no potions (No kidding. That bastard.) For the love of god, how many medieval RPGs can you have? I mean I like them fine, but they get a bit repetitive after a while.
Anyway, as I said this pretty much takes place in the present. You're a kid, and you live in the suburbs of a town named Onett. A meteor lands in your backyard, and in it is a bee. A really, really powerful bee. When you get into battles he kicks ass. He tells you that there's a galactic threat, Giygas, coming to earth. Naturally, you have to kill him. You wander around a bit and Buzz Buzz gets killed by a very large woman. This is where the game actually starts. You perform a few tasks in town, beat up the local gang, etc. Then you go into this cave, defeat a giant ant and find the first sanctuary location.
Things continue like this throughout the first half of the game. You go to the next big city and rescue a girl (who joins you) from a cult called the Happy Happyists (they dress like blue Klan members and paint stuff blue). Then you go to another city which is infested with Zombies... You get the idea. There's a few more cities after that. Why do I keep saying something is true for the first half of the game? Well my faithful minions, I will enlighten you.
After Onett, Twoson (yes, it's spelled like that), Threed, Winters, Fourside, and various areas of forest and desert in between, you go to Summers. Summers is a beach town, and on one side of it there's a fishing village. You book a ship and go across the ocean to a less populated continent that's mainly comprised of deserts, jungles and swamps.
One of the reasons this game succeeds is that, as previously stated, it's not like every other RPG ever . Now, if it was like every other RPG ever, I might still like it. Why? I'll tell you (asking myself questions is fun). Firstly, there's this condiment system thingy. If you have a food and a condiment, you can combine them to (potentially) make it restore more HP. For example ketchup + fries = funtimes, but ketchup + coffee = icky icky bad. Also, instead of being the equivalent of a potion, hi-potion and a max-potion like every other RPG ever, there's like a hundred different food items. That doesn't include things that heal ailments, bring dead party members back etc. Also, there's a big change in the middle of it (as I said before! Am I psychic? No) that doesn't really happen in any other RPG I can think of besides FF6/3. Thankfully, there is no world map like every other RPG ever. I freaking HATE those hell spawned things, even if you don't get into battles on them.
Instead, you take buses and strange flying devices in order to get from place to place, and a little later on you learn the very useful teleport skill. Lastly, there are no random battles like in every other... well, you get it. Instead, you see the enemies before and they run at you. Oftentimes it's easy enough to escape confrontation if you're low on health or something. If you manage to sneak up on an enemy without him seeing you, there's a green swirl and you get the first attack. If the opposite happens there's a red swirl and they get the first strike. All other times it's blue, and it depends on who has a higher speed stat.
There's a few other neat things involving the phone. When you kill enemies, you don't get money right away. You have to go to an ATM, and your dad deposited money in there. There's also pizza delivery which isn't very useful because if you're near a phone you're near a shop or an inn, but it's cool anyway. If you don't call your mom every once in a while you get homesick, and you call your dad to save. The Escargo Express keeps items like keys and things that you won't need soon but you can't throw away.
Get this game. Even if you hate RPGs, you'll probably like it. Besides, it's not exactly hard to find as a ROM. I won't link it here for fear of getting my ass sued into a bloody (yet strangely delicious) pulp. Next time I write a review it's not going to be serious at all, I promise. I just choked on my spit.
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