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Platform

SNES

 

Genre

Role Playing

 

Developer

Ape Inc.

 

Year Released

1994

 

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Earthbound

 

earthbound classic snes review        earthbound classic snes review

 

Even today, Earthbound's present-day savvy and comical wit remains unconventional in a genre dominated by tragic tales and heroism. Discarding dragon-slaying and crystal-finding, Earthbound follows the adventures of a boy called Ness in the year 199X.

 

One fateful night, Buzz Buzz, an alien from the future, orders Ness to channel the earth's power by visiting eight sanctuaries, thus fulfilling the prophecy of the chosen boy who will save humankind from Giygas, the universal cosmic destroyer.

 

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Thankfully, the cheesiness of its plotline is intentional. Earthbound's tongue-in-cheek approach is intended to humor the often clichéd nature of role playing games.

But its eccentricity doesn't come at the expense of a solid gaming premise. The obligatory turn-based battles are masterfully done. When Ness fights a significantly weak enemy, he automatically wins; an ingenious solution to those useless encounters against trivial opponents. In a pleasant reversal, really pathetic enemies will even flee at his approach.

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Encounters are non-random with enemies fully visible and thus avoidable. Combined with an auto-fight feature, combat becomes a relatively stress-free affair. Earthbound tends to reprimand the player, rather than punish with force.

 

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The rest is role-playing vanilla transposed to a present-day setting. Thus, swords, armor and potions are replaced by slingshots, baseball caps and hamburgers.

 

Its leniency may disappoint hardcore gamers, but I found Earthbound a refreshing change, offering new gameplay opportunities whilst ridiculing itself in the process. Now how many RPGs are capable of that?

 

- Justin Liew

(November 10, 2002)

 

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