SpeedGamers EarthBound Marathon
We’ve looked at a whole bunch of magazine reviews of EarthBound, most of them pretty bad. Here’s another review of EarthBound from European magazine “Super Power”, courtesy of Lucky the Fox. This review was from 1995 and was originally written in Finnish but then translated into Swedish.
(click to see full scans)
Lucky the Fox provided an English translation, but going between so many languages is bound to make things sound strange. So don’t pay that much mind. Here’s the English translation of everything:
Nintendo’s famous RPG, Mother 2 has been released in America. Matsu and Martti-San investigate further.
Meteorite crashes down. Neighbours think that it’s an earthquake, but in reality something much worse is happening. Simultaneously with the collision, our world gets a greeting from hostile people of the future. According to a legend, a couple of boys and a girl will defeat evil Giygas and save Earth. The adventure begins while our hero is still in his pajamas…
‘Earthbound – The War Against Giygas’ is Nintendo’s first attempt to bring a roleplaying game to American market. (Zelda is considered adventure.) Result is a strange combination of Japanese RPG and American small town milieu.
The game’s heroes are a group of youth living in Onett, a small town in Eagleland. Just as our hero, Ness, has gone to bed, a meteorite lands near his home. Ness’s mother can’t stop his son from investigating, but only nags about how it’s not appropriate to go outside wearing pajamas. Onett’s police force is famous for its road blocks – the town’s law enforcement can’t do anything else. The police have naturally closed the scene and that’s naturally where the little brother of Ness’s best friend, Pokey, has wandered to. So the first mission is to help a friend in need, which gives a taste of the adventure to come.
Strangely enough, Ness’s parents realise before him that he’s supposed to save the mankind. For example, his father calls to tell that he has put money on Ness’s account (“Buy whatever you want to”). Even though the money goes to hotel bills (restoring energy), phone calls (free from black telephones) and buying food – boring adult things that is.
Ness takes his dog, King, and friends along on a great adventure, where other things than just destroying aliens happen. He becomes enemies with a local gang – Sharks Gang – and gas pumps(!), feral dogs, snakes, dinosaurs and spacemen.
Events take place in the present, but reality has many dimensions unknown to us. When Ness helps his friend to find his little brother, the police remove the road blocks. Our heroes get to the smoldering meteorite. A little bee appears from the glow and introduces himself as Buzz-Buzz. Buzz tells that he comes from 10 years in the future and that in the future, cosmic destroyers, sent by Giygas, have driven the mankind to an eternal darkness. “But you can change the future by striking back here and now!” (Sound familiar?)*
In order to defeat Giygas, Ness has to combine and channel his powers with the power of Earth. Special magical stones are found in eight different places, and they all must be found for the mission to succeed. Buzz-Buzz doesn’t really get time to enjoy his freedom. Lady next door mistakes him for a wasp and kills him with a rolled-up newspaper. Do Ness and his friends share a similiar fate…
‘Taste of Coke’
Behind Earthbound is a man named Shigesato Itoi. In his youth, he got numerous influences from American pop culture. And that shows. The game is obviously aimed at younger gamers and those who aren’t normally interested in RPGs. The feel of the game could be compared to Shadowrun and the drawn backdrops and characters have something Bart-esque to them. The game environment is a markedly American small town with phonebooths, banks and librarians. Japanese influences aren’t evident as much in demons and dragons as they are in how the Japanese see an American small town.
It’s hard to critizise an ambitious attempt to popularize roleplaying games. Earthbound probably manages to attract roleplayers of tomorrow. Even the hero carries a baseball bat as a weapon rather than an Excalibur sword usual in RPGs. Then there’s such a thing as the soul of the game. Games coming from the home country of roleplaying games seem to somehow magically trap their players. The feel of hamburgers and Coca Cola in Earthbound makes it hard to get sucked in the mysterious mood of the adventure.
‘Arcades instead of dark castles’
Earthbound is the only choice for a roleplayer who has gotten tired of dragons and evil gnomes. American schoolboy in the main role may seem a bit idiotic, let alone that credit cards and American fast food is needed in order to reach the goal of the adventure. Yet it’s not idiotic, just slightly different and very fun. The only annoying aspect are the battles, where psychedelic monsters wobble around the screen. The entire game balances between horror and comedy which creates a feeling that the player is an extra in some cheap American film. This is simply an adventure which has Coca Cola rather than magic potions, arcades rather than castles and average Joes rather than exotic heroes.
Graphics: 76 – Slightly more NES-esque than Bart’s SNES adventure, otherwise highly similiar.
Challenge: 82 – Plenty of ambient noise that plays for a bit too long.
Feel: 82 – Battles require sharp control of the gamepad.
Challenge: 78 – Easy for experienced players, perhaps a little too many dialogue screens for beginners.
OVERALL: 77 – Is Coca Cola better than Elixir? Decide for yourselves.
Captions on page 1:
Beauty sleep ends with a massive noise.
Well raised heroes don’t run around outside in nothing but pajamas.
(I can’t seem to translate this as I’m not sure exactly what the expression here would translate to.)
Bluecoats are firm and demand the youngsters to scram.
Doesn’t this resemble ‘Peanuts’ a little bit?
Captions on page 2:
Earthbound’s first bad guy is named Chuck.
The meteor glows ominously, as if predicting the things to come.
* note: this might be a movie quote or something, but since I don’t recognize it, I can’t use the proper English version.
I think it’s surprising that this review was as positive as it was, it seems like most game magazines back then crapped all over the game. I think it might be because these Super Power people actually played through the entire game though. Some of the U.S. magazines seemed to only play half of Onett and call the game “a Barney-esque romp through a McDonald’s playland”. I think the fact that the review said “The entire game balances between horror and comedy” is proof that these guys at the very least played a good chunk of the game.
Anyway, if anyone else knows of any old magazine reviews of any of the games in the EarthBound/MOTHER series, let me know! I love seeing these things 😀
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29 Comments to Super Power’s EarthBound Review
- Jeff Shot First: My copy arrived today! It is… amazing. I haven’t put it down yet. I don’t really know what else to say. I think...
- TanukiDan: I can’t wait to get it! Would you mind if I talked about it on my lame youtube once I get it?
- Lochy: This looks awesome. Hopefully I can buy it as an after christmas present for myself. What an absolute treat!
- Jeff Shot First: Can I just say wow. This is incredible. I loved the first book on Zelda, and this is something even more special. I cannot wait to...
- SaturnValley: Amazing! I love the 90’s aesthetic. This is perfect timing since I was planning on getting this for Christmas, really hope it...