EarthBound: Getting started, getting started

EarthBound is a challenging choice for the Gamers’ Club for the same reason, hopefully, that it will be an interesting one. Last week, I wrote that playing EarthBound made one a member of an exclusive club, which is true mostly because the game itself is so hard to find. The only official release of EarthBound in the US was the Super Nintendo version from 1995. Unlike Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Chrono Trigger, and, sometimes it seems, every other role-playing game ever released for the NES, SNES, or N64, EarthBound has never been re-released for another system. It’s not available on the Wii’s Virtual Console, and Kokatu.com doesn’t think it ever will be (mostly because the music pays homage a little too closely to recognizable — and copyrighted — songs).

So in order to legally play the game, you have to dig up a working SNES machine, and shell out somewhat north of $100 for a working cartridge.

Or you can download a ROM and use one of the many excellent SNES emulators. Which I may or may not have done. Which in turn may or may not have led to the discovery that the many excellent Mac emulators don’t work with the Lion operating system. This may or may not have led me to download a new excellent emulator for my wife’s PC. (I also may or may not think that said hypothetical emulator isn’t quite as excellent as the emulator which I will neither confirm nor deny having used previously on my Mac.) Furthermore, I may or may not have discovered that my save file disappeared when my wife moved a set of files which may or may not have included an emulator from her desktop to a folder named “Gavin’s fun stuff.”

I can, however, confirm that I have at this point that I’ve played the first 20 minutes of EarthBound three times. There’s not a lot of substance to say yet. I’m amused by the battle mechanics — in the first serious battle, with an enemy named “Starman Junior,” the battle party consists of Ness, his neighbors Picky and Pokey, and a bug named Buzz Buzz. Buzz Buzz, of course, is the most valuable member of the party, as he casts an impenetrable defensive spell (or “psionic”), and inflicts 100+ points of damage with his attacks. Ness, by contrast, inflicts 3-4 (that’s “three or four,” not “34”) points of damage per attack, and Picky and Pokey “apologize profusely” and “pretend to cry” by turns.

And then Buzz Buzz is squished, with hardly a thought, by Pokey’s mom. And he dies. Yeah.

I can see why Andrew might find the whole thing a bit too cutsey, and I’ll be interested to see if the battle mechanics are enough to hold my attention, or whether grinding with a broken bat as my weapon gets old really fast.

I’m also looking forward to actually moving forward, rather than climbing that damn hill to find that meteor. Again.

Where You At?: Home
Sanctuary Songs Recorded: 0 of 8
Party: Just me

Read Daniel J. Hogan’s week 2 post
Read Andrew Simone’s week 2 post

Gavin Craig is co-editor of The Idler. You can follow him on Twitter at @craiggav.

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