Zero Punctuation: EarthBound - Not Your Typical JRPG

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themilo504:

prats93:
Earthbound and it's sequel Mother 3 are the closest games will ever get to literature.

Can we please all stop putting literature on such a high pedestal, the only reason why so many good stories are books is because literature has been around for a very long time.

There's nothing about literature that makes them any better than movies comic books video games or any other storytelling method, i actually think that its inferior to other storytelling methods.

I get where you are coming from but I see no need to put other forms of story telling down. It has its merits, just as all forms of art do. No need for a huge budget to produce moving performances or amazing action scenes and you can get a tighter focus on the characters. As good as the Game of Thrones show might be it will never be as good as the books because half the fun of the story is getting to see the events filtered through the characters' perspectives. Hell, you don't even need to perceive the comment as an insult either, I certainly know I would like to see some tighter focus in game stories.

Another game in my backlog that I stopped mid way. I remember getting to what looked like neon sign town. Twas a little creepy, as if the kids found themselves in a red light district of a major city.

Yahtzee just reviewed Earthbound. Pardon me a moment while I resize my eyes back down to proper proportions. Though, speaking as a guy with a frakin' Starman emblem tattoo, be wary--here there be grind. Moreso in Mother 1, and only in select places in Mother 3 (until you get the defense up/power down Ω, wherein the rest of the game except two bosses become completely manageable with normal progression). Skip the first one, unless you really like Earthbound, because it's the same game while telling a prequel story. It's also hard as balls without the easy patch, and the first enemy in the game can kill you outright if you don't react right. That enemy? The psychically possessed lamp on your bed table.

But, if you liked Earthbound, then download the fan translation of Mother 3 and follow those instructions to play it, because it's exactly the strong sequel that this series needed. It's definitely worth it. Moments like Tanetane island are what makes gaming something unique among all media.

LordTerminal:
A ZP retro review on EARTHBOUND?!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQBiaOQk__A

I don't have a like function here, but I just want you to know that I just liked this so hard I broke my clicking button.

Liquidprid3:
Yahtzee reviews my favorite RPG of all time.

Am I in fucking heaven?

Possibly just the nicer, gentrified side of hell, but at least you're in great company.

Sgt. Sykes:
So what exactly is interesting about this game then? For such a cult thing, it doesn't seem to have anything in it apart from being slightly quirky - but which JRPG isn't.

It's not just that it's quirky. It pokes fun at itself while still having a zany sense of humor, but in kind of unexpected ways. For example: there's a town with a ghost and zombie infestation. After some chaos and getting a new party member, you develop a plan to get rid of the zombies--with zombie flypaper. Want more? Okay. You encounter an isolated tribe of people at the back end of a dark swamp, all suffering crippling shyness. The solution? Go back to the library at the beginning of the game and check out the self-help section for the book "Overcoming Shyness", and have them read the book so that you can enlist their aid in progressing to the next power site. There's some stuff in between, and the story isn't afraid to take turns into the macabre, Lovecraftian, or reflexively philosophical (like the section where you pass out and go on a vision quest inside your own imagination, something that got its own game in Psychonauts), but it all works together in a beautifully chaotic way.

Dalisclock:

Optimystic:

I assure you I'm not new. *points at join date*

Also, that must be why he didn't review Tabula Rasa, or Age of Conan, or Eve, or Cataclysm, or DCUO, or SWTOR, or ESO... oh wait.

My mistake.

I still don't get the feeling he likes doing those games, so he takes great pleasure at tearing them a new one.

Which confirms yahtzee is either an introvert or actually antisocial.

Hey, it's not my fault. I bought a copy of Earthbound! After renting it first of course. Earthbound is one of the most offbeat games ever made and it was critically panned for it. Our loss, I guess we're going going to get more glitzy FF style shiny-pants JRPGs.

Anyway, I've been thinking of replaying it for ages. Maybe I will and post the whole thing to YouTube and call it a "Let's Play". That's what everyone seems to be doing now. I still have the original cartridge.

To be honest, the closest I remember of Earthbound is from the "unfinished" soundtrack "parody" from Duane and Brando...


I really should give this game another go, now that I think about it...

This is the surprise that awaits me when I get home from a long, boring day at work? Yahtzee doing a review of Earthbound?

FUCK YES! Excellent review, Yahtzee! An Electric Light Orchestra reference in the Elder Scrolls Online review and a retro-review of Earthbound? This must be my lucky year.

A fantastic game, and it happens to be the one game I would have bought a Wii-U for if I didn't own the game on the SNES in all its wonderful glory.

This review made my day, except I'm going to go visit my mother and eat some cockFajitas, and then fight bad guys with my PSI Gaming ability. This was exceptionally awesome, I loved it.

What a coincidence - I just played through Mother 1 (or rather the translated NES version "Earthbound Zero") for the first time a couple of days ago! :)

I really liked the game; I've always been a fantasy guy, but I found the "current day" setting mixed with all sorts of weird and wacky stuff extremely interesting, entertaining and surprising. In standard fantasy or sci-fi you pretty much know what's coming - dragons, elves, dwarfs, magic, but in Mother/Earthbound you can never really be sure; Hippies, monsters, aliens, ghosts, rock singers, robots, a penguin, young love... In a way that's way more "fantasy" than any traditional fantasy game.

Maybe that's the true meaning of fantasy anyway.

Earthbound has been on my "to play" list for a long time, and this review has finally spurred me on to actually play it. It wasn't long before I struck comedic paydirt, when my character's mother told me to "eat some COCK and scoot up to bed."

I hope that choosing PUSSY as my favourite thing has an equally satisfying payoff.

I'd just like to thank Mr. Croshaw for reminding me I had not had my fill of rum for the day. Daily schedule: complete!

Dansen:

themilo504:

prats93:
Earthbound and it's sequel Mother 3 are the closest games will ever get to literature.

Can we please all stop putting literature on such a high pedestal, the only reason why so many good stories are books is because literature has been around for a very long time.

There's nothing about literature that makes them any better than movies comic books video games or any other storytelling method, i actually think that its inferior to other storytelling methods.

I get where you are coming from but I see no need to put other forms of story telling down. It has its merits, just as all forms of art do. No need for a huge budget to produce moving performances or amazing action scenes and you can get a tighter focus on the characters. As good as the Game of Thrones show might be it will never be as good as the books because half the fun of the story is getting to see the events filtered through the characters' perspectives. Hell, you don't even need to perceive the comment as an insult either, I certainly know I would like to see some tighter focus in game stories.

I personally don't like literature but if other people do thats fine, it mostly just annoys me that people use literature as some kind of quality test.

when people say a game is like a comic book it typically means that it looks a lot like a superhero comic book, when people say a game is like a movie it typically means that it's not very interactive, but when people say a game is like literature it typically means that it has a very good story.

Saying that a game is like literature should mean that its very VERY text heavy, ace attorney or zork are like literature, earthbound and mother 3 are not.

It also annoys me that disliking literature results in questions of why and people thinking less of you, but if you dislike movies and/or video games nobody bats a eye.

Earthbound? I'm kinda surprised that's something that came up.

I never heard much about the game, but it seems a little more interesting now.

Yahtzee used PK Titwank Alpha! The Unassuming Local Guy is weirded out!

Agreed that Earthbound made a poor first impression on me when it came out and still would today, for even then I felt that parodying Dragon Quest's clunky turn-based style was no excuse to actually be that way in the age of Active Time Battle, but it grows on you. The hardest parts in the game and the only times you will ever need to grind actually come in the opening stretches before you get Paula and the rest, after that the others might occasionally die but Ness almost never will.

President Bagel:
Well, that was bloody fantastic. Earthbound is a magnificent gaming experience, although I find the pacing and simplicity of the combat to be a bit of a slog at times.

This was exactly my issue with it. Having purchased a SNES right after the N64 came out, I played the game as a fan of JRPGs.

The fighting mechanics are in the Dragon Quest school of simple, enemies are from the Mystic Quest school of easy (where status effects or death attacks are the only traversable "difficulty" issue and are entirely avoidable,) and the art style reminded me of all of the crappy canon-fodder cartoons and commercials from the time that provided mercilessly wavy characters with "gags" instead of personalities (like circus clowns that think being sickeningly jubilant and wearing bright-colored make-up makes them funny) as a way of "talking down to the kids" to provide them buy crap because "hey look, a cartoon! Its bright-coloring and brainless puns are funny, right? Buy this from clowny the clown!"

It's a game that assumes that "wacky" = "fun" when "wacky" is rapid-firing G-rated jokes that sound much like the ones you'd find on popsicle sticks in the hope that the played finds something cute or clever in there somewhere.

It's extremely easy to find the art atrocious, the jokes greu, its combat as dull as bread, and its progression as sluggish as Dragon Quest I. If it weren't for the couple of darker moments, it wouldn't have a following and the game would be avoided like a Happy Meal ad from the 80s.

Darth_Payn:
Yahtzee, you tease! That "Mother" bit towards the end sounded like the perfect place to toss in lyrics from that one Pink Floyd song from "The Wall"! You also didn't point out the fucked-up-ness of how you and your little pals kill the final boss:

I've only read about that, but Yahtzee's review points out how important the mother is to the whole tone of the game - stability in chaos - and the boss made me realize there could a far deeper, more disturbing scenario playing out:

Earthbound was a little silly and the dark undertone kept it from being outright boring after a while. I liked how enemies left you alone once you got stronger. It kind of reminded me of a weird cross-over of a turn based rpg and commander keen.

Overall it's not something I'd go out of my way for but wasn't bad either. Odd but neat review.

I never played Earthbound for I owned the Sega Genesis. My fondest memory of a JRPG has to be Phantasy Star 2, however. Maybe Earthbound could be a game for an exceptionally rainy day.

Aiddon:
Y'know, the more I think about it he more I wonder what "a typical JRPG" means. Recently there was that whole "JRPGS better that FF7" list that I couldn't help but disapprove of due to its severely narrow scope. I rattle off DOZENS of other titles or series that deserved mention. Sure, Yahtzee says a typical JRPG is about "15 year olds defeating Satan with the power of friendship"...but wouldn't that make Earthbound the typical JRPG due to its arc with only its aesthetics really differentiating it? If anything I noticed JRPGs lean towards late teens, early twenties with the protagonists, that time where they're not old enough to be adults, but also not young enough to be children. Sure, the "fighting Satan" argument is realistic, but that's not exactly something out of play in fiction in general.

Recently I actually took a swing at Saga Frontier 2, a quirky game for the PS1 that has dual storylines. In one you play the exiled prince of a kingdom and live his life from literally the day he is born to the day he dies and witness the political influence of his actions. The second is about a family starting with the first generation and then ending with his granddaughter decades later. And that's before you get into its funky battle system. Can't exactly say that's "typical" with the JRPG formula people claim exists. Even with FFVII that can't work because there is ONE teenager in the entire party (Yuffie) while everyone else ranges from early twenties to well into their fifties or sixties (Vincent). And then there's Sephiroth who ISN'T Satan, but just a man who just so happens to swiftly begin attaining godhood, making him more similar to Kefka than a load of the other villains in the series.

As such, I can't really say JRPGs follow an exact template. There's just too much variation, whether it be stuff like Tactics Ogre, Front Mission, Breath of Fire, Soublazer, Illusion of Gaia, Brave Fencer Musashi, Secret of Mana, Secret of Evermore, Rune Factory, Odin Sphere, Muramasa: The Demon Blade, Persona, Shin Megami Tensei, Fire Emblem, Shining Force, Phantasy Star, dear god I could go on with this.

How about we condense that paragraph into this: Bad to average ( and/or occasionally good) JRPGS use Japanese and/or anime-esque tropes, while most good JRPGs either play around with the tropes or don't use the tropes at all.

Really? I know it's summer release drought, but there are still quite a few (good) new games being released, you don't need to jump on that internet reviewer bandwagon years after the fact. Not that I watched it, mind. "Not Your Typical JRPG" plus Yahtzee's tendency to go for broad generalizations based on a laughable small sample size (can't shake your Something Awful upbringing, ey Ben?) when it comes to this genre makes me not want to.

slo:

Dalisclock:

Gizmo1990:
Seeing as yahtzee has nothing new to play, how about a ZP on The Wolf Among Us now that ep 5 has been released?

Or Transistor for that matter?

Considering how much Yathzee went on about the ending of Bastion you'd think he would have picked up Transistor by now.

Could it be that Transistor just is not bad enough to review?

No, considering it doesn't hold a candle to Bastion. Transistor isn't bad, but it's definitely not as good as it's predecessor. And they lied about being able to fight without the pause, you take far too much damage for that to be a viable strat until you have almost all your functions.

IMO, I think the graphics look fine. I love the simplistic, stylized look of the game. Also, Buzz-Buzz dies at the beginning of the game... Does Ness's mom LIKE having sex with dead bugs? ...What?! The music, BTW, takes up most of the game's memory, and is probably one of my favorite video game soundtracks ever. Also, Yahtzee, there's a fan translation of Mother 3 you can play, though the translators DO tell you to legally purchase Mother 3 beforehand...

yahtzee's talking a lot more about games he likes lately it's pretty cool :3

FINALLY, he reviews Earthbound! FINALLY, a Wii U game he has something nice to say about!

themilo504:
I personally don't like literature but if other people do thats fine, it mostly just annoys me that people use literature as some kind of quality test.

when people say a game is like a comic book it typically means that it looks a lot like a superhero comic book, when people say a game is like a movie it typically means that it's not very interactive, but when people say a game is like literature it typically means that it has a very good story.

Saying that a game is like literature should mean that its very VERY text heavy, ace attorney or zork are like literature, earthbound and mother 3 are not.

It also annoys me that disliking literature results in questions of why and people thinking less of you, but if you dislike movies and/or video games nobody bats a eye.

Don't be annoyed by such things dear, is not good for yours or anybody's health.
Still, saying that earthbound is the closest to literature games will ever get is a silly thing nonetheless.
Isn't literature just the art of writing in general? I assume you and the other guy meant books, which are just a determined format.
I like books a lot though, they smell nice and you can carry them around, I don't worry about dropping them and I don't need to plug them anywhere.

After all the praise this game gets I have tried it over and over again and I just don't like it enough to finish it. For one thing the inventory system sucks and I am not too fond of the save system either. Further it can be way too wordy, especially when all you want to do is save but your dad won't shut the hell up.

I do like the music though and I like that you don't have to fight really weak enemies. I also like the clean looking graphics, they may not be pushing the SNES to it's limits but that's just fine.

I also don't agree with Yahtzee's definition of a JRPG. He's basically saying that if it's a JRPG that he likes, then it can't be a JRPG. Earthbound is indeed a JRPG.

TheZaius:
FINALLY, he reviews Earthbound! FINALLY, a Wii U game he has something nice to say about!

It's not a Wii U game.

WeepingAngels:

TheZaius:
FINALLY, he reviews Earthbound! FINALLY, a Wii U game he has something nice to say about!

It's not a Wii U game.

It's a game on the Wii U therefore Wii U game.

TheZaius:

WeepingAngels:

TheZaius:
FINALLY, he reviews Earthbound! FINALLY, a Wii U game he has something nice to say about!

It's not a Wii U game.

It's a game on the Wii U therefore Wii U game.

No, it's an SNES game on the Wii U Virtual Console. We don't say that Earthbound is a PC game just because it can be emulated on a PC.

Sgt. Sykes:
So what exactly is interesting about this game then? For such a cult thing, it doesn't seem to have anything in it apart from being slightly quirky - but which JRPG isn't.

Maybe because of the details (it's a JRPG trying to be in a pseudo-american location; and instead of magic, it has psychic powers) and the ocasional creepy or weird things that happen in the game (a walking mushroom? and when it hits you it makes a mushroom grow up on your head? WTF!). The game first shows a screen with weird and omnious music and an image that seems taken from a 50s alien invasion flick like The War of the Worlds. And nothing in the game prepares you for the end boss location; and its battle music is the epitome of "you dared to play? welcome to hell!".

WeepingAngels:

TheZaius:

WeepingAngels:
It's not a Wii U game.

It's a game on the Wii U therefore Wii U game.

No, it's an SNES game on the Wii U Virtual Console. We don't say that Earthbound is a PC game just because it can be emulated on a PC.

Emulation on a PC isn't legitimate so it doesn't count.
Sure, Earthbound is a game that was originally released on the Super Nintendo and is now available on the Wii U's Virtual Console.
But...
It's also a game on the Wii U therefore Wii U game.

Earthbound, ah that brings back memories...

Of binge playing over 24 hours to lose it when the Talking rock says, Hi I'm a Talking Rock.
Keeping count of how many New Age Retro Hippies I can make tame in an hour.
Did I just put Salt in my Coffee, then drink it? Oohkaay.
Oh, time to drink the tea obviously laced with LSD to get the recap to this point.
Yes is no and no is yes in Neon Town.
Fuzzy Pickles!
Bologna sammiches, Where's the Steal command I need those.
Slog to the end, durnit put the Franklin Badge on the wrong character and now I can't pray.

Definitely a niche game even to the JRPG fans at the time. It didn't help that it was wicked expensive and if you didn't have that player's guide that came in the giant box, just about unbeatable. Remember, not really a lot of internet sites at that time to get help.

Commenting again, this time to criticize his definition of JRPG: by your label the Dragon Quest series does not count, even when it started Japan's obsession with RPGs.

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