VG Tribune

Review: Earthbound

July 14, 2015 / 4:59 PM

By: Matthew Gibson

k34ivu3rk93rmju5soogYou really don’t see many RPGs, or at least a good amount of them, these days. However, the thrill of going on exciting journeys and battling monsters is still there in classic SNES games. And among them all is the cult-classic Earthbound, an RPG set in the modern day, which wasn’t seen all that often back in the 90s. But this is just the start of how far Earthbound sets itself apart from the rest.


 Like many other role-playing games, you take the role of Ness, a young boy, on an adventure to save the planet. Standard enough, sure. But it is the characters you meet, the places you visit, and the foes you battle, that define Earthbound. Lets delve into the battling system first and foremost, the core for this genre. You take part in turn-based battles, between your party and the enemy (or enemies). You also have various options at your disposal. There’s the standard ‘bash’ command (though it may change depending on your equipped weapon). PSI powers are the special moves of this games, as they can deal varying damage and effects. Items are there, naturally, and the ‘Run Away’ option is present. However, each player you have has something unique about them. Ness is the strongest character, in both his physical power, and PSI capabilities. Paula’s strength lies within her PSI powers, as she has relatively high PP, and can also ‘pray’, which can bring about different events (hurting the opponent, making them dizzy etc). Jeff is capable of spying on a chosen enemy to let you see their weaknesses and strong points. And he can use different items exclusive for him for great damage, though at the cost of having no PP. Poo (yes, that is his official name) also has strong PSI powers, but is able to ‘mirror’ the chosen foe. So now, the battling system is far more strategic, as you now want to use whoever is the best for the situation. Equipping various, well, equipment, another staple in the RPG genre, is not absent, and can be a potential game breaker when facing off with one of Giygas’ underlings. The enemies themselves also keep the game fresh. You be squaring off against hippies, squashing ants, trashing cars, and burning down trees (don’t do that last one please).

The other portion of Earthbound is exploring the world. One of the best things I like about Earthbound is its world. Unlike typical RPGs, this game, or rather this adventure, is set in our time. As you travel the world, you will encounter many faces, be them friendly or not. And the occasional quirky dialogue make this journey feel more than just a mission. PSI powers can be used here to heal your friends or to teleport later on. You can also access items, but his is where my potentially biggest problem comes in. Since there are many key items throughout the game that you can’t throw away, your inventory will become clogged with useless items, leaving less rooms for actually useful items, such as food and equipment. Yet this was the least of my problems. In general, exploring and walking through the world is almost as fun as the battles themselves, if not even more so.


This has to be one of the best looking games on the SNES. The sprites are quite expressive, especially in battle sequences. Each area has its own distinct feel as well thanks to the art style. The dullness of the zombie-invested Threed, the distant planet feel to Saturn Valley, and the weirdness that is Magicant. Each place you visit leaves a lasting impression and makes it even more special.


Like most of my other reviews I have done so far, the music perfectly fits the scenario at hand, or the current town you are in. However, there is a lot of good tracks on offer here. Please take a listen:



I can’t really say this game is a true masterpiece. Nothing here is truly ground-breaking. Yet, none of that really matters with this game. Thanks to its quirky charm, brilliant gameplay, and a fantastic journey, Earthbound is sure to be an adventure that I will never forget. For this reason, I am giving the game a 9/10. Thank you Nintendo for giving us this port of the SNES classic, as us in Europe never got to experience it before.

But if it is anyone I should be thanking, it is Mr. Satoru Iwata. Without him and his incredible gift for programming, this game may not have even seen the light of day. But Iwata has meant so much more than just that, and sadly I only realised how special he really was until yesterday, as I heard that he had sadly passed away. The reason I wanted to do this review was to do it as my tribute to him. I really don’t know where I would be without you. Well, I probably would have a less joyful life, lets start with that! Just, thank you, for everything.



Final Thoughts


About the author /

Like many other game writers, Matthew was brought into the gaming world from a young age. He aspires to be a games journalist in the future. Oh, and he's from the UK, so there's that. He also does Nintendo Podcast System, just in case there isn't enough Nintendo on this site.

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