In my review of Earthbound, I covered the main story and characters that was generally important to know, and also my love for the game. However, I glossed over many of the side characters and NPCs that gave the game its charm. What makes the NPCs in Earthbound special is their dialogue and little moments that adds to the dark and strange nature of the game. Not all of it is interesting or necessary, but, when your in the mood, their sassy dialect and wacky nonsense puts them up as some of the best NPCs to talk to in a game (not close to Majora’s Mask but still). Some of my favorites moments include:
- Mr Pickle’s memorable “Fuzzy Pickles”
- “There’s a Hamburger in the trash,” says the kid who actually found one in a trash can.
- The elevator lady scolding you from looking too down
- The sass of the store clerks, since you aren’t an exception to their bad day
- The Tenda’s shyness
However, the side character that stuck with me the most was Picky Minch, the younger and kinder child in contrast to his @sshole brother Porky Minch. While Porky is much more memorable to the fans and those who played the games, especially what he’s done in Mother 3, its his brother that I found to be just as memorable. Picky has no real significance to any of the plot, yet his story shows just how messed up the Minch family became, and the how depressing the tragedy of the two brothers is.
Spoilers Ahead for Earthbound and Mother 3 (especially 3!)
Within Earthbound: The Boy Robbed of Adventure
Picky first appears when Ness goes out at night, like any child, to check the commotion. Ness can enter the Minch household and talk to him, saying he’s all alone due to his parents and brother somewhere else outside. Later, Porky forces Ness out of his slumber once again to find Picky, as Porky “lost” him when the brothers went to see what had caused the earthquake that night. Once found, Picky is a witness to the arrival of Buzz Buzz, though not one of the prophesized “chosen ones” alongside his brother. Picky becomes a temporary team member, helping Ness the best he can in fights until they defeat the Starman Jr.
The brothers return home only for Ness and Buzz Buzz, albeit only through sounds, to be a witness to a first hand account of the child abuse. Their father takes them to their room and beats them, or yell at them for the American sensitives back in the 80s. Their mother, an indirect abuser, states that she thinks their father goes “too easy on them.” If only she was too easy on Buzz Buzz.
After this moment, Picky’s role is done. Unlike Porky, who goes around the world to torment Ness, Picky stays home to do whatever the heck he does. School, playing in the yard, shopping, dealing with Sharks, and whatever daily life is like in Onett. But, things change within the Minch household as Ness and company progress in their adventure.
Of course, with Porky on his Giygas Bizzare Adventure, he is no longer inside the house. But, as the game progresses, Picky becomes lonelier and lonelier. His father leaves, since he’s in Fourside due to Porky using Monotoli’s trance as a way to get rich. Then his mother leaves to shop…apparently for the rest of the game. Picky stays behind all alone, cryptically saying that he doesn’t want to be near the meteorite anymore. On a personal note, this eerie and lonely moment was the first time this character stuck out to me. I’m not sure of the meaning of his words, since the meteor only held Buzz Buzz. Maybe their was something else that followed the little bug. During the siege on Onett, Picky locks himself in like the rest of the town as the aliens roam the roads.
Once the space nightmare that is Giygas is destroyed, Ness sees a happy ending for all the people in Earthbound. However, not everyone got this bright sunshin. Picky’s family is in disarray. Porky is gone within the timeline, his father is in the Fourside bar drinking away his sorrows, and his mother is seeing some guy named “Mr Prettyman” (apparently he doesn’t actually replace the father. Maybe a therapist). The silver lining shown is Picky’s friendship with Ness, which I believe to have been strengthened. The credits roll, but the player gets one last scene of Picky giving a final message from his brother to Ness, where Porky taunts our hero to find him. Where could he have gone?
Afterwards: The Mother’s 3
One of the revelations in Mother 3 is that the Pigmask Army, who has terrorized and modernized Tazmily Village, is led by Porky the Porker after travelling the timeline for centuries. Now an old and scrawny man with a childish sense of malice, he manipulates everyone in order to create New Pork City and release the Dark Dragon, a god-like being who can change the world based on the heart of the releaser. Within his grand metropolitan base is a slew of Earthbound references. The theatre plays moments of Ness’s adventure such as the fight with the evil tent(whooo!), a restaurant filled with Porky’s robot moms, and a boat ride within a museum of Earthbound characters and items, like Tessie and the Skyrunner.
And yet, Porky has nothing to remind himself of the little brother he left behind. There is a man named Bateau, who lives in Tazmily and runs a pigeon mail delivery service, that greatly resembles Picky, but it’s obviously not him. Maybe the old age, the constant time travel, and the insanity he developed with Giygas caused him to forget Picky(yet he remembers to take Dr. Andonauts for Chimerra research). As if the ending of Mother 3 wasn’t depressing enough, it’s sadder when you realize the two brothers, unlike Lucas and Claus, never got to see each other again before Porky seals himself in the Absolutely Safe Capsule, living forever as the child he is for the next billion years. I swear, Mother 3, whether you watch it as a playthrough(don’t) or actually play it, is just a downer.
Big Question: Why do I care?
Before I give my theory as to what possibly happened to Picky, you might be wondering why I even care? Why care this much about a random NPC that does not deserve so much investment time? Well, when it comes to story mediums, I have a strange affinity for side characters.
Notable examples of characters I shouldn’t care about but do come from Kamen Rider Zero-One and O’Brother, Where Art Thou. The guy on the left is Uchuyaro Raiden, otherwise known as Metsuboujinrai member Ikazuchi. He is a founding member and a sleeper agent sent to Hiden Intelligence, owned by Aruto/Zero-One, under his factory protocols to maintain Zea, the Humagear Satelitte, along with his “brother” Subaru. Without knowledge of who he is, he is unaware of the data he is leaking to his teammates for there evil plan.
Later in his debut episode, he takes Aruto and Fuwa, Kamen Rider Vulcan, to MBJR’s base, only for Jin, Ikazuchi’s team member, to hack him and turn Raiden back to MBJR and into a Kamen Rider. After activating the Ark, the primary antagonist, he is immediately murdered by Vulcan with a brand new toy-I mean form. Basically, they almost killed my interest in the show
Despite his debut being short, though he comes back 20 something episodes later, Raiden solidified himself to me as one of the best characters in the show in a short time. He’s assertive, yelling at Aruto, his own boss, for calling his motorcycle from the satellite without warning. His signature catch phrase, “I’m calling down the thunder,” not only feels awesome to hear, especially with his mannerisms, but truly shows that he gets stuff down, and no one can stop him. Compared to the Humagears before this episode, who expression of thoughts and feelings with a eerie robotic formula, Raiden expresses emotions in such a explosive way that it makes him distinct, very human-like, which foreshadows his involvement with MBJR.
Despite his aggressive and passionate tendencies, he cares for his little brother as any older brother should, shielding an attack for him and, after his revival, breaking his own programming from the Ark to be back with him. In the end, he got to be a spaceman again and work on Zea with his beloved brother. Though they did him dirty, never allowing him to fight much, Raiden become one of my favorite characters within the show, a lot better than what they did with the main character. It also helps how no toy magazine spoiled his Kamen Rider form, so the appearance of Kamen Rider Ikazuchi legitimately surprised me.
In O’Brother, Where Art Thou, the Soggy Bottom Boys pick up Tommy Johnson on the road, where he explains he’s a musician that “sold his soul to the devil.” Tommy says he’s heading to a radio owner to play music for some money, which Ulysses uses to create a fake band and earn some cash. Afterwards, Tommy disappears when their truck is discovered by the police. He isn’t seen until the Boys accidently stumble upon a KKK rally, where he’s been taken to be hanged. Due to earlier trauma of almost being hanged, Pete compels the Boys to save their friend.
They later take Tommy to be apart of their scheme to get Ulysses his wife back, making him their “D’Artagnan.” This, however, also gets him caught when the chain-gang corner them in a tight spot. As the gang set up their hanging, the boys apologize to Tommy for dragging him into this, especially with the flood that tears through the forest and engulfs them. Due to a prayer by Ulysses, they’re all alright by the end. Tommy even holds onto the drawer that totally had the ring Ulysses needed.
Despite the low screen time, I was invested in Tommy’s safety due to how much the Soggy Bottom Boys cared for him. He wasn’t really there throughout the whole movie, but the Boys made him one of their own, a bona fide member, like it was nothing. It shows that this band of criminals are caring people, investing the audience enough to hope that they all make it out alright.
Side characters like Picky and Raiden stick out to me because of their little screen time and big characteristics. Because their less relevant to the story, who they are and what they do can leave a huge impact on me more than most main characters. Nothing wrong with main characters, hell I love some main characters more than some side characters, but their storyline always feels the same no matter how different or twisty it is. It feels like all main characters are on a line, where they will either win, lose, or something different. This is not to say all main characters in all stories are the same. It’s more like all main characters have a linear arc, a line that I can see.
With side characters, you never really know what’s gonna happen to them because their arc isn’t so linear and they’re not allowed to rent the plot armor after hours. I get happy when their on screen, safe as a button, but mortally terrified when their in a life or death situation. When a side character is investing, they show off personalities of the other characters while being a useful tool to add surprise to the story. Their the wild card, the surprise plan, and the outlier to the story. Given the right personality and arc in the right story, I believe they can rival the main character as the best character. Now, back to Picky and Earthbound before I ramble more.
What I think happened to Picky
After such a cryptic ending, Picky asks where is brother is. I doubt Picky would not ask Ness what happened to the adventure, though Ness probably asks Picky if he could sleep first. Now, with the way the Minch’s ended up, Ness either tells the whole family or just Picky during school. Learning the tale, Picky goes out to try and find his brother as life went on, but still lived an Earthbound-esque normal life in Onett. He starts with every place Porky visited, from the Happy Happy Village to good-friend Monotoli, though they’re no help to his whereabouts.
Learning how Ness and company last saw Porky, Picky likely traveled to Winters to ask Dr. Andonauts to help him time-travel. Now, either Dr. Andonauts doesn’t help Picky due to finding it difficult to turn a child into a robot the first time, or he was captured by Porky (it’s never really clear when he was taken since Dr. Andonauts looks the same in Mother 3). Jeff might help, but judging by the consequences and the fact they never get to Porky in Mother 3, Picky didn’t get to travel through the time stream and find his brother. With all leads at a dead end, Picky forgets the quest and goes on living.
With the ambiguity of his parent’s relationship, whether or not Mr. Prettyman did become his step-dad, I’ll say things didn’t go well. His whole family is shattered. That is a traumatizing thing for a child, worse when you add the fictional elements of Porky’s descension into madness. This can have a negative impact on Picky’s growth. Pessimistic, depressed, poor concentration, hard educational life, and even poor relationship skills can develop from the tragedy that split his family. Nevertheless, with the way Bateau the Pigeon Man looks eerily similar to Picky, I think they’ll be a warm light for the boy in-between Earthbound and Mother 3. Maybe Ness, company, and all the friends they made along the adventure take in Picky as one of their own, and support when his parents couldn’t. I like to think that, despite the odds, Picky grew up into a responsible and caring adult. If only Porky could have seen it happen.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League
Way better than the original, and way too long! Despite that, I think the original vision explains the plot better. It improves the characters, the lore, and the final battle. Best part: Wonder Woman’s theme. She tries to make a sculpture, or whatever her job is, and she’s distracted by the yelling of her own theme. It’s unintentionally funny.
Image from Wikipedia
Final Fantasy 9
I’ve been playing this game since 2020 and it is fantastic. An Old Disney like magic gives the cutscenes a charm that I miss in fantasy stories. Serious with a bit of light comedy, this game is one of the finest epics I’ve played. I’m not even done yet, and I’m still gonna claim that. Also, the music is a chefs kiss. Sad, epic, and heartwarming like you’re within a fairy-tale. Seriously, I want more fantasy like this.
Image from Wikipedia
The Big Lebowsky
“Over the Line!” “Nobody f@cks with the Jesus!” “You know Walter, you’re right. If there is an unspoken message here, it’s f@ck you! Leave me the f@ck alone! Yeah, I’ll be at practice.” “What in God’s holy name name are you blathering about!” “That rug really tied the room together.”
Image from Slash Films
Micheal E and Paul Hardcastle
I listen to a lot of music in different genres, but these two must have descended from heaven or the other religious good places to bring us the divine genre. Jazzy, sensual, dreamy, and beautiful. When you’re feeling down, or want a night to just close your eyes and dream of a better place, then these two will transcend you into a higher place to forget all your worries. With how terrible 2021 is, I’m glad to have found these two.