EarthBound: Hokey Pokey
I have made it to Fourside, which according to the Player’s Guide, is supposed to be some kind of New York City analogue. Interesting, considering Fourside has some of the least amount of “citizens” walking around when compared to the smaller towns.
But, it does have a Dinosaur Museum. Which is great. However, the main interesting point about Fourside is the reappearance of Ness’ neighbor, Pokey.
Last time we saw Pokey, he was second in command of the Happy Happyist cult. He even arranged, and took part in, Paula’s capture for her use in a human sacrifice. These days, he is an advisor of sorts and right-hand man to the businessman who runs Fourside, Geldegarde Monotoli. Running a cult, kidnapping, and human sacrifices: yep, these tie into a career in business perfectly.
Pokey has quite the career going.
In both situations, he is the right hand man of someone in power — but is Pokey the one really running the show? Was he using Mr. Carpainter as a puppet? Perhaps. And when that failed, thanks to Ness’ intervention, did Pokey try to repeat his success with Monotoli? It would appear to be the case.
This reminds me of the Final Fantasy series, where the “baddie” the party is after is not necessarily always the one calling all of the shots. There is usually always someone else behind the scene pulling the strings.
Pokey seems to be the middleman between the “adult” villains Ness runs into and Giygas, the villain Buzz Buzz warned Ness about at the beginning of the game. Is Pokey EarthBound’s answer to Wormtongue from Lord of the Rings? Maybe. He influences others and puts himself in a position of power just like Wormtongue.
Pokey’s young age makes his actions a bit unsettling. He’s thirteen. It is obvious he has no hesitation about doing what is necessary to get power (kidnapping and human sacrifices) or cares whom he sides with (cultists, crooked business men). When I originally played EarthBound as a teenager, I didn’t really think about this fact. But, at the age of thirty, I pay more attention to such details than as a teenager.
Maybe Bill Cosby was right about kids having “the brain damage.” As a kid, I just took EarthBound at face value: a goofy video game. As an adult, I read between the lines (to some extent) and take in what the game is saying or showing.
Having studied film and animation, and created my own works (novels, animated shorts, short films, etc.) I know that everything in a work is there for a reason (usually). Pokey looks the way he does, acts the way he does and says what he says because the game designer wanted it to be so.
However, I think if you want to find a certain meaning in a work, and go looking for it, you can find any meaning you want. (“The Care Bears Movie is about drug addiction? It makes so much sense!”)
So what is the game designer, or perhaps the English game translator, saying with Pokey? Don’t trust thirteen year olds? Maybe. Bill Cosby is making more sense by the minute.
Where You At?: Fourside
Sanctuary Songs Recorded: 3
Party: Ness, Paula, Jeff
Daniel J. Hogan is the geek half of Ginger and the Geek. He is also a photoblogger and host of the Magic of Eyri Podcast. With the hippin and the hoppin and the bippin and the boppin. Follow him on Twitter, @danieljhogan.