EarthBound: Problems

Over the past week, my gamer brothers-in-arms, Gavin and Andrew, hinted at EarthBound testing their patience. Andrew, bless him, even went so far to title last week’s post “I loathe this game.”

However, while I do not plan on giving up, I told the fellas to do whatever they wish. Since this snag came up, it inspired me to weigh in on my feelings about the game overall.

I do not fault Gavin and Andrew for wanting to hang up their controllers. EarthBound can be a challenging game. It is not without its faults. Compared to other classic RPGs on the Super Nintendo, EarthBound is lacking in some areas.

  • I hate the item system. It is a constant source of frustration. Yes, on some level, it adds a bit of “realism” to the game: each item takes up a slot, and each character only has so many slots. I suppose I should count my blessings. It could be like the item system in Resident Evil, where you must arrange items like pieces in Tetris to fit inside your “backpack.”
  • The battles are visually boring. Granted, coming to EarthBound after Final Fantasy VII may not have been the best move. While I enjoy the design and names of the enemies (e.g., Annoying Old Party Man, Cute Li’l UFO), the static sprites and lack of player sprites make battles about as visually engaging as a postage stamp. Compare this to Final Fantasy VI or Chrono Trigger, two other classic RPGs for the Super Nintendo (yes, I know the enemies were also static in FFVI, but at least the player characters moved).
  • Character abilities are somewhat lacking. Again, I must refer back to Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger. Each of those games featured characters with a wide array of abilities. Yes, Ness and Paula have their PSI attacks, but few, if any, are as interesting as Sabin’s attacks in FFVI, or X-Strike in Chrono Trigger. Jeff is the most lacking of the three (soon to be four, once I get Poo). He cannot use PSI attacks, but he can Spy to learn an enemy’s weakness. He can also use Bottle Rockets and such, but you can only carry so many due to the item system (see above).
  • The game play is very linear. I don’t always hate linear games. The world opens up a bit once you learn Teleport (which I did recently), but it is nothing like Final Fantasy VI or Chrono Trigger. A point Andrew brought up was, essentially, how the party just goes somewhere and then the game rewards them with an item to progress further. I didn’t really think about this until he pointed it out, but this does happen quite a bit. Apple Kid and others supply the party with items to move the story along, without much (or any) effort on the player’s part, in such a way that it is almost like a time release Plot Pill.

In closing, I make these observations as a fan of the game. I still love EarthBound, despite these faults, and I look forward to completing this wacky, quirky adventure. There is no such thing as a perfect video game. Well, except for maybe BurgerTime.

Where You At?: Fourside (still!)
Sanctuary Songs Recorded: 3
Party: Ness, Jeff

Read Gavin Craig’s week 8 post
Read Andrew Simone’s week 8 post

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. He stinks. Follow him on Twitter, @danieljhogan.

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