Earthbound Beginnings: The Giygas Menace

Introduction:

“Either my great-grandad let the smoke machine on for too long or Yellowstone just found some competition.” Image from Wikibound

The year is 1988 as a dark storm looms over America…and it wasn’t the new Coca-Cola taste. The adults of a town are taken away until only children are left. Living cars, strange monsters, and animals not in their right mind roam the country. Pissing on said cars and giving people hernias. A young queen in a distant wherever the hell Magicant is loses her memory and a special song. All these strange phenomena occur as the clouds of evil nest above Mt. Itoi, and an extraterrestrial being plots their evil scheme.

The young Philips CDI awakens from his…nap on his singular chair? Either way, as he leaves to get some juice, an attack from a poltergeist interrupts his day. A lamp with a smile, the first of many victims, strikes at the boy with his tangling thing that turns him on (I didn’t mean to word it that way), but Ninten (his actually name) smashes the ceramic lamp of $12. He bursts into his sister’s rooms and savagely beats on another lamp and doll. The day is saved, but not until the inside of the doll sings the first part of a secret melody. Going downstairs to resume his day, Ninten’s father 7 years late gives him a call about his great grandfather, revealed to be George, the kidnapped man in the beginning, and of PSI. He tells Ninten to go to the basement, go on an adventure, ignore the trap door, and learn of his powers that he totally had the entire time. Armed with his abuelo’s diary, a map, and a loaf of stale bread with a bit of fermentation, our young hero sets out to Podunk These Nuts to investigate the strange occurrences of the land and learn of his family’s history. Along with him on the ride is a catholic, a boy from within a trash can, and the guy from one of the Romantic’s album covers.

Earthbound Beginnings/ Mother 1: The Classic Lost In Magicant

“Podunk, where the kids where blue and the adults have blue hair. Guess this is L.A then.”

Itoi’s vision brought to life when he, besides being a famed copywriter and celebrity, wanted to make a video game after playing the NES for a while. Though he thought his proposal didn’t convince Miyamoto during a trip to Nintendo, which was originally for a different business purpose, due to the previous flop of another celebrity tie-in-game named Takeshi’s Challenge, he was given the go. He started Ape Inc and developed Mother for release on July 27, 1989.

Inspired by Dragon Quest and named after the John Lennon song, the game is a simple RPG with towns to traverse through and enemy jack@sses to randomly meet. At the time, it was a unique distinction from other RPGs due to taking place in a modern setting, America (the most modern place ofcourse), unlike the medieval themed locals of Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. So, no black mages and roaming dragons; you’re a Giants fans fighting cars and eating burgers like a MERICAN! Instead of temples or ruins, you explore Abandoned Zoos and caves…and some ruins. While an Urban Fantasy isn’t unique these days anymore, it was an innovative move for RPGs back in the late 80s.

Though a bit rushed, shown in Mt. Itoi, the game was released on the NES and was a huge hit in Japan. Unfortunately, possibly due to the release of the Super NES over in the states, the game’s finished localized version was never released here. So, the game in America never came to America. 80s kids wouldn’t get their kicks of psychic kids and stinky humor until the release of Earthbound. While not official, fans did get a hold of the localized cartridge back in the day and put the ROM online, translating it as Earthbound Zero. However, in 2015, Nintendo did the unthinkable and released the original english translation onto the Wii U due to fan dedication. 27 years…and for the low price of $6.99. No one, ever, can tell me the Wii U was a bad console. Not great but, hey, at least this game and Metroid gave it recognition.

I played the game a while back, and went back for the sake of this review, after playing Earthbound and learning the prequel was on the Wii U. I didn’t have one at the time, so I ended up borrowing my brother’s. While I did enjoyed it myself, it’s a very flawed game besides, of course, the fact that it’s old as balls. Some aspects aren’t bad while others can totally influence whether or a not a person would want to buy it. Keep in mind, though, that it’s not a newer title and I won’t compare it much to our current era.

With that in mind, I’ll get into the review.

Gameplay:

If you’re familiar with Earthbound, the regular gameplay elements of Beginnings are not different at all. The menus are layered the same, the bag is limited (yet somehow worse), the walking animations are the same, the battles are fought mostly the same, and PP is still filled in the tank (better go to the bathroom for that).

Talking to people and checking random garbage still requires going up to them and using the corresponding option on the menu, just like real life! Hotels, hospitals, and stores function the same. You get money from enemies and access it through an ATM, and you save by calling your dad (or save states on the Wii U). Goods and equipment are stored in the bag, though their is no equipment menu. All and all, this sets up the basics that the rest of the series will follow, and isn’t too different at first that it will require someone to struggle getting adjusted. Even if you didn’t play the original, it’s not too hard to get used to.

There are still major and minor differences, both good and bad, to go through.

Overworld: Where the h3ll am I?

The overworld of Beginnings is detailed similar to how Earthbound would be designed, though the NES makes these towns and locations very basic. I’ll get back to this later.

One of the things that did get annoying in Earthbound is the slow overworld movement. After a while of playing, the slog of walking did make going through areas boring. In a weird switcharoo, this game decided to feature a run button!

“Accurate representation of me with the B button: sh!tty look and all.” Image by Kwentan

Well, not exactly a run button. Just like how emulators have a speed up command, the English translators made the B button a speed up button to move around areas fasters. So, it’s less like running and more like breaking the fabric of time to get to places faster. This is a great feature in the English version as a run button helps explore the world better.

From Podunk to Ellay, originally named after holidays similar to the number theme in Earthbound, America is a large world that can be explored at any time. This is because, unlike the linear story of Earthbound, Beginnings has a non-linear campaign where a lot can be seen in any order and not everything is required. For instance, Ana, Paula if she experiences frostbite every 2 seconds, is not a required party member to beat the game. So, you do the entire journey without her, though not getting her is a pretty bad idea.

“That first road…so many 60s freaks. So many Beatles fans!” Image from Wikibound

Admittedly, I never took advantage of this aspect of the game. I would have loved a non-linearness experience if the game wasn’t confusing as hell. Now, you get a map of where you generally are, which is great, but it is really not specific. The graphics has its ups and downs, and those downs include all the forest and plain paths looking very similar together. It can become disorienting and you can get turned around a lot trying to do everything if you don’t pay attention.

The dialogue, unless I’m dumb as bricks, was so vague on where exactly stuff was located that I had to use a guide for the whole game. I don’t complain much about a game requiring an outside source much since it’s not actually a part of the game, and I think that a game that doesn’t handhold too much is good. But this game lands on the spectrum where the lack of direction makes for a more frustrating playthrough where a guide is required for the whole thing. For us, in the age of Twitter mobs and moms living near our area, guides are readily available for use. But for the kids back in the day, how the hell did you beat this game?

Okay, maybe I’m being too harsh; it was a different time. Maybe it isn’t that bad…until you get to the major difference compared to its successor. One of my favorite features in Earthbound is the enemies being in the overworld. It allows for strategy on how you can approach them-would you want to wait for an opportunity to get the back or just avoid them all together-and adds a level of engagement that I wish more JRPGs had. Of course, Beginnings couldn’t do that. Random battles are initiated whenever exploring outside a city. The problem isn’t that there are random battles, because how can I be mad at a game that didn’t do the thing its successor did, but rather its damn encounter rate. Step out of the city and you’re gonna fight something. Idk who’s gonna appear after the black screen but you’re gonna fight something.

“Don’t go into the long grass! Not into the long grass!”

Exploring wouldn’t be so bad if every single step didn’t have the high chance of a fight. The encounter rate is so high that just one step after the other could be another. On the one hand, it adds a level of difficulty where you have to be cautious at every turn. On the other hand, it’s arbitrary and makes exploring more of a chore. It drags the pacing of an already slow plot. The battles themselves aren’t too bad but after a while I just want to get to the objective done with. Exploring the world was one thing, but the high encounter rate makes the guide even more necessary to finish it without pulling out so many hairs. (To really get the gist, watch Alphs video on Earthbound Beginnings. His joke on the random battles sums it up).

On a last note, the reason I didn’t talk to a lot of the people in town and found their vague dialogue an annoyance is because I find the actual civilized areas of the game to be really boring and unremarkable. Some places do stick out like Magicant, Spookane, and Youngtown, but everywhere else barely stood out from one another. The only thing separating the same skyscraper and house design is the layout of the town. Don’t get me wrong, this game does have a lot of strange and wonderful moments. But when it comes to the normal npcs, they aren’t as quirky, dark, or interesting. Unless it was in a story-related area of the place, I basically ignored most people. It’s really Earthbound that refined this and made a lot of regular NPCs quirky. NES argument aside, it’s really lackluster. Hopefully with a new reimagining coming out soon, the team can give each town a distinct look and vibe.

Battles: All Quest, One Dragon.

“I like to imagine that you’re fighting the whole d@mn background and not just a pair of eyes.”

The battle system here is more in-line with Dragon Quest 2, from what I’ve seen of footage due to not having a Projared level collection of games, but does have many generic JRPG conventions. The battle starts, you input commands, and you wait to see what happens. No rolling HP system to save a party member before death, none of the characters have a special trait that can be used in battle, and none of that psychedelic background that burns the retinas. Only 3 party members can be used as opposed to the 4 in Earthbound. A black background, a few enemies, basic controls, and that’s it. It’s old but simple, though my favorite aspect about the aesthetics of these battle screens is the way enemy sprites manifest. In Earthbound and Mother 3, they are just there the moment it starts. I like that, in this game, it’s like the enemies are appearing from the black drapes like a play ready to stand still and do weird things.

On the battle menu, you have the normal attack, the PSI, the Goods, Run, and Check; the basis for what Earthbound’s would become. The latter is unique to this game, essentially a universal Spy for everyone to check the enemies’ stats and weaknesses. There isn’t much to write or go in depth on; you pick the action, wait your turn, and be done with battles. Because of the encounter rate, the simplicity can become a double-edged sword and cause some disinterest. I found myself spamming the A button during some sessions; a bane for all JRPGs. I only became disinterested after a while, but whenever I refresh myself these basic battles were engaging enough to keep me going.

With the battles out of the way, I’ll go into the main characters and then into the story and my thoughts on it.

Character:

Ninten: Doing what Sega can’t

“So, when do I come into Smash? When do I get a mailing list? What do you think I am, the postal service?” Image from Wikibound

The young main protagonist thrusted to investigate the strange cases in America and learn how his family is connected to everything. Like Ness and Lucas, Ninten is a strictly supportive PSI user. The only attack he has is the physical ones, which he uses a bat to execute. Ninten, though, stands out compared to Ness and Luca due to not having offensive skills like Flash or a secret, special attack (Rockin and Love). Ninten has all the healing moves and shields but does have other abilities. Like Lucas, Ninten has stat buffs, standing out with a speed boost move. He has a defense down debuff and the Beginnings unique 4-D Split, a guaranteed run away (none of the annoying mechanics of running away normally in Earthbound) but with a high PP cost.

I actually like that the protagonist is a support user because I feel as though they do much more in battle than if they were offensive. It makes the protagonist’s “power of friendship” matter because they are the ones keeping their friends alive. Nothing wrong with an offensive MP, but I think Ninten being the strict tanky support made for a more unique character.

One last aspect of Ninten, more of a crutch, is his asthma. Like Homesickness, it keeps Ninten from attacking. I love that a status ailment is also a part of the character, but it does get annoying during significant battles. The only way to heal it is through a asthma bottle or ending the fight. Only in Beginnings.

Saint Ana’s Fire: Snowman in Motion

“How lonely must it be in Snowman for Ana to fall in love with the first boy she sees in a dream?” Image from Wikibound

Paula’s predecessor and the main offensive PSI attacker in the group. She’s a young Christian girl from the white winter of Snowman who’s shy but kind. She joins the quest for the Holy Grail in order to find her missing mother. Ana’s role in the party is the offensive PSI glass-cannon, and bless the lord is she one of the best…when you get her up them levels. As the only one, she gets moves like Freeze and Fire that helps against enemies weak against special moves. Train her up and she gets the PK Beam, which is essentially the PK Rockin and Love of the game except Ana and other enemies get it. Also, it has a vendetta against one sorry mother fu-

But, the best thing about Ana compared to Paula is how much of a Jack of All Trades she is. She gets all the healing moves, up staging Ninten with Lifeup Omega, many status ailment moves like Paralysis, PK Magnet, PK Block, shield and shield breaks, and a frying pan. When she gets these moves, she proves her weight. But, like our next party member, she is a chore to catch up with Ninten due to being lv 1 when you recruit her. This was a chore in Earthbound but Paula is found at a reasonable place. Snowman had some powerful enemies like the Coca-Cola bear, and keeping her alive was pretty difficult. But it would be an understatement to say that Ana is a powerful ally.

Pink Lloyd: Wish You Were Here, Sometimes

“I’m so stereotypically nerdy that the designers surgically infused my glasses into my retinas!” Image from Wikibound

Jeff if he looked like his dad and had a lower IQ. I’m not being mean, there is no IQ stat here so Lloyd is technically dumber. A coward from Merrysville found in Twinkle Elementary, he joins Ninten on his quest after the latter assists him in getting and releasing fireworks from the Sweet’s ol’Little Factory. No idea why Morrigan Freeman suddenly paid rent in my head when I wrote that. He’s the only party member besides Pippi that is required to recruit in order to finish the game, as he’s needed to fix Eve the robot randy.

At first, Lloyd is a pretty weak. Like Ana, he starts at a pretty low level so he requires grinding to get him up to speed. I found him to be worse than Ana when this occurred since Lloyd doesn’t do much in the beginning. Because he only has a gun and no PSI, he doesn’t do a lot of damage in the beginning, so he’s a lot more tedious and boring compared to the others. As a physical attacker, Teddy does the job better than him later on. However, Lloyd does become more useful when he gets access to his gadgets, similar to Jeff. Unlike his blonde counterpart, the goods exclusive to Lloyd are only bought in certain stores rather than made using the IQ stat. Some of his best ones are the Laser Guns (PK Laser as an item), the Flamethrower (PK Fire as an item), and the bombs.

I do like how Lloyd only goes with Ninten because they become genuine friends together. Ana and Teddy join the cause because they have a personal vendetta with the main antagonist, but Lloyd lacks this character trait. Some might see him as the worst or the most uninteresting because of that, but it speaks more when you realize he’s doing this journey to better himself and be there for the first friend he ever made.

ICUPippi: …and she’s gone.

Teddy Roosevelt: Of the Booty-Busting Gang

“I suddenly looked at his weird hair, cropped it out, and pasted Gerald’s face from Hey Arnold under it. I hope all of you can’t unsee it.”

The leader of the Bla-Bla Gang (Black Blood Gang in the Japanese version because everything sounds cooler in Japan) who joins Ninten on their quest very late game (or early) to head to Mt. Itoi in order to avenge his parents who died there. He first appears as a boss before Ninten uses his balls for baseball. I like Teddy cause he uses swooordds, and looks like the Fonz. Shout out to all the greasers still thinking John F Kennedy is the president. Teddy is the Poo of the game since he’s the fourth member to join (still the 3rd since he shanks Lloyd to take his spot) but is more of a predecessor to Frank the Fly as a gang leader and the usage of blades.

Teddy is a one trick pony for physical attacks, but he’s no poo poo at the job. He gets the highest stats in the game with a physical stat of 86 compared to Ninten’s 5 and Lloyd’s 4, so his physical attacks using swords (his best being a damn katana) are on par with some powerful PSI attacks. I’ll admit it, I enjoyed his company. I actually liked the idea of the Frank character being a prominent party member, though his late entry doesn’t give you much time with him. Unfortunately, unless you do cheats, Teddy never gets to fight the final boss, being injured during the attack by a giant robot. I did sigh in anguish when Lloyd came back, but laughed when he did it riding solo in a tank.

Fun fact: because of the ambiguity of the Japanese version, it’s not clear whether or not Teddy survived his wounds. He is technically the only party member to potentially die.

The Story: Sporadic, But in a Fun and Creepy Way

The story and plot can be sporadic, and slow due to mentioned grievances, but it has a charm to it that becomes a staple for the franchise. It’s child-like writing definitely fits well with the game’s Peanut artstyle. You deliver a baby chick back into a town made up of chickens, ride a tank in a desert in search of a monkey cave, and talk to a man who feels forgotten. Combined with this imagination is a level of depth sometimes explored in the open that keeps it from being nothing more than a dumb kids game.

I call it sporadic because the main story only comes in snit-bits. It starts with the phone call, but really begins when you visit Queen Mary of Magicant, a pink cloud world full of Magician Reds and freakin eyeballs, for the first time. While the small cases around the world are important, getting the 8 melodies is how you actually progress into the finale. Some moments like the haunted house is connected to the melodies, keeping them from feeling like unnecessary filler, while others are annoyingly scattered throughout the country with vague hints to where they are.

The moment Queen Mary gets her memories back: “Lalala, I love living in-hey, what’s that ligh-“

It all comes together at the end when you sing the 8 melodies to Queen Mary, which reveals her identity as Maria (Ninten’s great-grandmother), and Giegue. It’s revealed that Maria, after getting yeeted to space, had taken care of Giegue 80 years ago liker her own Mewtwo…child. What the hell is that thing. Well, “that thing” invaded Earth due to George noping out of captivity and stealing the knowledge of PSI from his race. Thinking back on it, it’s a really good twist that adds a personal touch to Ninten and Giegue’s conflict. I love how tragic Giygas’s origin is and I’m glad Itoi added some depth to what could have been a generic final villain. With the little bits of George and Maria given in this game, it really puts everything together to make a unique “alien invasion” story. I do wish it was mentioned more and was put into full focus besides the 8 melodies, but I like what we get. It makes for an emotional end for the game.

What made everything so enjoyable despite how loose the plot can be is the way it induces a child-like nostalgia. Walking around a town, talking to people, and dealing with robots brings a familiar feeling like the times you’d come home from school to play on your game console, go outside in the backyard, or anything you did to escape the horrors of reality. Maybe minus the robot part, unless you’re life was more interesting than the rest. It all came together like a story we would probably make as a kid: scattered without direction but with many colorful creatures and people to encounter. However, unlike our flawed minds, this game did it with enough stability and heart to make it enjoyable for anyone.

The main characters and their small interactions, though slim, help convey this feeling while also being organic moments in the story. A stand-out moment happens when Ana and Ninten confess their love for each other. On the tops of Mt. Itoi, in a small cabin, the two tell how they feel to each alone in a room before escaping their troubles together in dance form. It’s heartwarming, cute, and conveys how everything to a child, even something small, is the most serious thing in the world. Even love…though it gets ruined by Teddy’s interference and a giant Gundam.

Yet, what stood out to me the most even to this day is its creepy and eerie atmosphere. Blue KKK and implied adult stuff is rampant in Earthbound, but it’s very subtle underneath the trip of drugs and quirky humor. Beginnings doesn’t have a lot of adult subtexts, but due to the dated graphics and supernatural moments there is a added level of eeriness that’s more blunt than it’s successor. It’s equivalent to walking around an empty town as the wind howls. Building’s creak, darkness replace doors, and you feel eyes all around you. Even within towns, the small amount of people gives an air of loneliness to this game.

“Hello, this is the Zoo help line. Waht? The animals escaped? No, honey, you’re calling on the wrong day. We only let them out when it’s Tuesday. Wait, right now? Ooooh, that’s been the blood curdling screams I’ve been hearing all day. You know, I thought it was a bit strange when that man came at the window and screamed ‘help me god, please!’ I just thought it was one of those Catholics again, running on and on about their sins. I opened the window and threw him a Devil’s cake to scurry him off. Now, honey, I’m gonna have hang up the phone now, I think the lions got out. No, they’re not reenacting Mufasa’s death, they’re eviscerating human Simba right now. I got to go, I got to go. Bye honey, I’ll see you at 4.” Image from Wikibound

One of my favorite examples happens early on when you enter into the abandoned zoo for the mayor. Kicking the monkey out and getting the key, you go in to find out why the animals have gone berserk. You wonder around alone, not a single person in sight. Some animals stay in their pens while others prowl around the facility; you’re their prey. The music brings an air of unease as you try to get to the nearest building, though I imagine its either loud from animals or silent. The graphics add to the tone, to me, because of how simple it makes everything. It’s what I love about old games because the setting is conveyed enough in a way for you to fill in the gaps with your mind. Even when you escape the jaws of the alligator and the claws of the bear, you’re still not safe in this building. It’s empty and quiet, with the only things remaining being the scuttering of rats and a strange alien in an empty room.

Beginnings finds a great balance between a children’s story and an atmospheric horror story. Though the random encounters become a chore, the difficulty puts players on the edge as danger lurks in every corner. This type of tone makes Beginnings a better alien invasion in a rural area game than Earthbound, to me. I love the quirkiness of Earthbound but I also love the atmosphere of Beginnings. It always feels like a more expanded version of the Stonehenge arc, which was very much the classic example of an alien invasion. The story of Beginnings can be frustrating to get through, and it sometimes feels like a less refined Earthbound (which it really is), but it has memorable moments and a tone that’s consistent and engaging. To me, the best aspect of each game goes as followed: Earthbound is the adventure, Mother 3 is the story, and Beginnings is the tone.

Soundtrack:

It’s okay. It helps establish the tone I ranted about earlier, but I didn’t go gaga for the soundtrack this time around. It’s not because its the NES, because I love the Mario 3 soundtrack, but more like it’s just not my kind of sound. The one’s I found the best include Magicant, the factory theme, and Giegue’s theme. Magicant utilizes the beeps and boops of the NES to create a weird but fantastical theme that really represents the world as a concept. It has an aura similar to temple themes of other JRPGS, but I find Magicant unique because it best represents what Mother is: quirky with heart. I especially love how chippy and happy it is. Most mystical themes go for an intriguing sound, but Magicant just goes full ham with its cheerful noise.

I definitely like this version a lot more than Ness’s due to being more recognizable to the ears and short. Ness’s Magicant theme is okay, definitely has bits of the original in it and fits with Ness’s whimsical and nonsensical version of the place, but I find myself leaning more toward Maria’s. Also, you can’t help and deny the remixes of the original are pretty damn emotional. Especially bauerklos’s version, which should be sued if this game gets a remake.

The factory’s theme is one of my favorite dungeon themes due to its simple execution. The foreboding nature throughout helps establish the factory as a dark place where horrors can be found, evident with the weird scientist and robot enemies. But I love how the static effect of the NES is used to make it seem the machinery is still alive in the place and continuing what they were made to do. Gives, as Henry from MXR would say, IMMERSION.

“There’s something so eye-catching and creepy about Giegue’s original look. I wonder if this is the Devil Machine.” Image from Wikibound

The final in-game song, or track, is Giegue’s theme. And when I mean song, I mean white noise and some pushes of a button. Unlike other final boss themes like from Ocarina of Time or Okami, this track doesn’t go for a high emotional punch that favors the hero or the villian. Instead, it gives an ominous sense of dread. The best way to describe it is like a UFO hovering above the battle field, its strange machinery filling the air with its presence. Sometimes it sounds like a legion of UFOs ready to attack. The theme fits Giegue and the game well because of its alien-like nature, but also makes Giygas stand out among other final bosses.

Props to him, he did it twice. It doesn’t sound like something a human would make. There’s voids in it, gaps that our imaginative minds need to fill but are denied the request. Itoi is a creative genius when it came to developing this franchise, but the tracks by Suzuki and Tanaka prove others helped in that genius.

Other Issues

Mt Itoi-This part was freaking hard when I first got there. I learned that, apparently, the team had to ship out the game before pre-testing the area for the release date. Because of that bull, the place is a huge difficulty spike. I had to actually grind for a while just to get through it. However, it becomes a joke once you find EVE as she pummels everything in sight.

“George honest to god came to this mountain and thought, ‘Mwah, mwah. Perfect location with the finest view of corpses and glitched out squirrels. Nobody visits me for some reason.” Image from Earthbound Fandom

Leveling– Skills can be learned up until around the 40s, but you can beat this game with levels under 30 (though it’d be a lot hard). I finished the game with Ninten and Lloyd around the 30 mark and Ana at 25. Similar with Pokemon Gold, I find the leveling system quite strange and unbalanced.

Does it even matter– And, as a personal thing looking back while comparing it to the trilogy, Beginnings is both really remembered and forgotten in later installments. Beginnings is definitely an important game in understanding the origins of PSI and Giygas, and yet Earthbound essentially became a reimagining of it. Ness, Paula, and Jeff are redesigns of the Beginnings party, especially Ness was designed exactly like Ninten with the hat pointing the opposite way (there is some more slightly differences). Much of the music has been reused in Earthbound: the random battle music becoming the boss theme, the Yucca Desert theme becoming the Dusty Dunes Desert theme, Pollyanna becoming Ness’s home theme, and Snowman becoming a series staple song. Certain events are played out similarly like a gang taking over a town and people being kidnapped and put into green pods. Even the story of Earthbound itself is about a group of kids finding the 8 melodies to defeat Giygas, who is influencing the world with his powers. Earthbound comes across as Beginnings refined to perfection, leaving Beginnings to feel like a first draft.

And yet, despite Earthbound originall being called “Mother 2: Giygas Strikes Back,” it’s not really a sequel because Beginnings is barely referenced. Now, fans of the series might argue the Mother series doesn’t have a concrete timeline. Beginnings takes place in 1988 but Earthbound takes place in 199X (whatever that means) meaning Giygas went to the future 10 years after Earthbound after taking over and then went back to the equivalent of a few years after the first game (yet America is never mentioned once at all and you can’t tell me Eagleland is America). Yet, Mother 3’s year is so disclosed the rest of Civilization ended by the time the prologue starts. Since Porky was directly stated to have traveled throughout time, who knows when Mother 3 took place.

Besides the lack of Mericans, none of the events that took place are referenced in the slightest. George discovering PSI, the Youngtown disappearances, or the fact an alien came. You’d think Ninten or Lloyd would have figured out that weird crap was going on. What, is CNN just as bad in fictional America? Giygas barely talks about his grand nephew and the Starmen never mention how Ness looks like the other baseball loving Asian.

Sure, Earthbound is barely mentioned in Mother 3, again from the playthrough I watched, but it’s referenced way more and is actually important to the story. Porky becomes, gasp from no one, the main villain and the end of the game basically shows you snit-bits of Ness’s journey. It’s presence is more felt here than Beginnings in Earthbound.

“I know this is for the fans but Lucas has no context for this. He must be thinking, ‘what the hell is this? I pay $2 to see some fat kid fight barf?” Image from Earthbound Fandom

I remember, before playing Beginnings, that someone had told me it wasn’t really important to play when playing all the games. I found it strange considering there are only 3 games, Nintendo please, but after playing it I can’t help but agree to an extent. I would have liked something to have been referenced, but having only Giygas be important makes the rest of Beginnings feel like an unnecessary prologue.

Overview: Is it Worth Playing?

After every compliment and criticism I gave this game, I did wonder whether or not you should actually play it as a casual or even a Earthbound fan? To the latter, I say of course! *Smack to the head* Get your hands on a ROM or pay it on the Wii U and play it. For others, understand that this is a pretty difficult experience and that this ain’t for everyone, more so than Earthbound. If you hate JRPGS, you’re gonna get hate this game. If you’re new to JRPGs, I’d say play others like Pokemon or Final Fantasy to understand how the genre works. I wouldn’t say this is an entry into this genre. If you’re a veteran JRPG player of old, new, or both, then I say check this game out after playing Earthbound. Earthbound will get you pretty situated into this weird franchise without pulling out your hair, and if you’ve only played the fantasy or science fiction games than this more modern world may become fresh for you.

“The hell category 10 hurricane is going on in the planet? Image from Wikibound

Me personally, I enjoyed the game with its faults. I enjoyed the world at its best, the story at its most critical, and the characters at their most charming. It’s hard, simple, and very strange. I mean, a town of ducks, man. I think people should play it at their own disposal or at least give it a chance. It’s not perfect, but it’s an imaginative and fairly executed experience that’ll have you singing the Eight Melodies on your Ocarina. Not the time one, Saria’s high school project one. I give Earthbound Beginnings a 6/10.

See you all when I play Mother 3 in 2056!

-Samuel Argueta

Recommendation Corner

John Lennon: Mother

This is the song that influenced Itoi to not only name the series Mother, but a lot of the creative decisions with the franchise due to Itoi connecting with Lennon as a person. Ever wonder why the first 2 games barely feature the father besides a phone? Well, I gave this song a listen to learn the roots of the franchise and for my novel.

The only way for me to describe the emotions of this song is a cry for help.

Image from wikipedia, all credit goes to the original uploader.

SSSS. Dynazenon

The continuation of SSSS. Gridman and the anime I’ve been watching for the summer. It’s a bit slower and I do find the original more interesting, but this show has its strengths and definitely has a good cast of characters. I also haven’t finished it, so take my words with a grain of salt.

Image from Gridman Fandom, all credit to original uploader

Super Metroid

Super Metroid is one of those rare games to me where I can repeatedly play it and never get bored. The amount of replayability is so good that it’s better than any of the overdone statements people have used to describe it. The alien world is fully detailed and gives a tone of mystery and exploration.

Get it on the Switch, the 3ds, or the Wii U. This game is the definition of what a video game should be, and Nintendo pulled this off in the 90s!

Published by penname2001

I am an aspiring writer working on one book, but also on a blog and short stories for my website. I like writing about horror, comedy, and fantasy, but I am not picky on a genre as long as it interests me. On my spare time, I like to read, play video games, watch anime and various shows and movies, and live life to the best of my ability.

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