EarthBound: Getting somewhere (sort of)

So last week I said that this was going to be a make or break week for me. Well, I don’t know that I can say that another couple of hours of play made EarthBound for me, but at least I can say it didn’t break it either.

But it’s a close thing, and while at the moment there’s (just) enough to keep me going, there are times when the game itself specifically neglects to encourage to to continue playing. Every time you save your game by calling your dad, he asks you if you want to turn the game off, and sounds a bit disappointed if you say that you want to continue playing.

What? You mean you're not quitting?

Maybe this is a relic of days before save points, quicksaves, and autosaves, days when getting housed was just part of playing an RPG, days when you would lose an entire term paper when your word processing program crashed.

Days, in other words, best forgotten.

I spent most of this week in Happy Happy, which Daniel wrote about in week 3. (Yeah, I’m a bit behind. Did I mention that I’m living in a new state?) Happy Happy is a town run by a cult known as the Happyists, who run around in blue Klu Klux Klan robes and have painted the town, well, blue. Not coincidentally, when you run into hostile townspeople in Twoson, what color are they? Yeah, you got it.

So there’s something sinister about the color blue in this game. We’ll store that away for future reference.

In Happy Happy, you find a house where a girl named Paula is being held. Pokey sics a couple of cultists on you and runs away. (He apparently shows up later, too.) When you confront the cult’s leader, a man named Carpainter, he’s standing in front of a statue of Gygas — finally! It’s almost easy to forget that Gygas is supposed to be the big bad in this game, since we haven’t seen any sign of him since Lier X. Agerate showed off the statue he found under his house. (It is, in fact, the same statue in Happy Happy — Carpainter bought it from Lier.)

When Carpainter is defeated (which was actually pretty easy. I had Ness at level 16, which was apparently perfectly adequate), Pokey shows up and apologizes. Then he yells “psych!” and runs away. Jerk.

Paula, somewhat oddly, starts off at level 1, with strength and hit points (or lack thereof) accordingly, but she catches up quickly, and learns several PSI abilities. She’s still not terribly powerful, but her extra item slots are valuable in and of themselves.

If I had any observations at this point, it that Lilliput Steps is an oddly non-essential area. It’s where you record the second Sanctuary Song, but there’s nothing else that you need in the game to progress to the next town. It’s even geographically removed — a side area adjacent to Happy Happy — and when you rescue Paula, she encourages you to return to Twoson as opposed to going after the Sanctuary Song. In all truth, this is probably intended to give you a chance to level Paula up a bit, and for all I know, the game’s designers do intend for you to come back to Lilliput Steps (a little) later in the game. If Carpainter was an easy boss fight, the Mondo Mole was actually pretty hard. With Ness at level 20 and Paula at level 16, I only just survived.

almost dead

So I’m making progress! Also, I finished Arkham City, so that’s not a distraction (read: far better game) anymore. So, onward!

Where You At?: Threed
Sanctuary Songs Recorded: 2
Party: Ness, Paula

Read Daniel J. Hogan’s week 8 post
Read Andrew Simone’s week 8 post

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

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