This past Sunday, I finished my on-stream playthrough of EarthBound. I included it as an option in the “What Should I Stream Next?” poll, expecting it to run away with the voting. It really only took the lead in the eleventh hour, though, but I’m glad it did. I last played all the way through the game when I was about 13 years old, and as I mentioned earlier, I didn’t appreciate the charm and humor of the game at that time.
Suffice to say that, while there were times I thought the game liked its toilet humor a little too much, I can see why people love the game as much as they do. It’s pretty obvious that a lot of care went into the game, and parts of it are legitimately pretty terrifying when you stop to think about them (The people trapped in tubes filled with fluid of some kind, asking for help, being a prime example). And of course, the ending is a complete mindscrew, which was only accented by my choice of player name.
Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, it was obvious that a lot of care was put into the game. Most games have a special final dungeon theme, and a final battle theme, etc. Not a lot of games continually give you new themes right up to that point, though, which Earthbound does. There are very few repeat themes in the game, and for that matter, there’s a sound effect that you’re very unlikely to hear, that the developers went to the trouble of including anyway. After you beat the game and take Paula back to Twoson, go into Deep Darkness and ride the bicycle in the swamp. This is the only time you’ll hear that splashing. Amazing stuff.
Which is not to say that it’s a perfect game, the way some of its more devoted fans would have you believe. Besides the “Not-Quite-Always-Easy-Button” issue I mentioned in the last post, the game helpfully provides you a recap of where the Your Sanctuary locations are near the end of the game. Why do I consider this a flaw? Because I feel like the game has to provide you this recap, because the main story narrative, despite the Sound Stone and the Your Sanctuaries being ostensibly the main quest of the game, lets you skip up to half of them with no problem, forcing you to go back at this late juncture. Very bizarre.
In all, I’m glad I played through it again. I don’t know that I’ll make it a frequent thing, but I have a much better appreciation for the game now, despite some of its minor flaws. The cartridge is very expensive, going for lots of money on EBay, but there are, of course, other methods of playing it. Which you should.