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Tips for Buying EarthBound

November 21st, 2012 | EarthBound

Seth Campbell recently sent this to me:

I wrote a perlimenary Screenplay for a potential EarthBound movie. I don’t have the rescources to PRODUCE a film. But this rough draft DOES show that Earthbound has the potential for a really great movie. Something virtualy unheard of in the world of video games.

I would really appreciate feedback both from fans and people unfamiliar with EarthBound since I want the narrative to appeal to both.

And here’s the PDF file:

I haven’t had time to really sit down and read through it with all the craziness of this past week, but from what little I skimmed it was a really interesting idea and some of the adaptations were pretty creative. I look forward to reading through the entire thing soon, but if you have any thoughts of your own share them in the comments!


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37 Comments to An EarthBound Movie Screenplay

gwalms said on Nov. 21, 2012

Maybe a Japanese studio would pick it up? 😛

Radiostorm said on Nov. 21, 2012

I can’t be bothered to read the screenplay, but I already know I want cherished character actor Bob Hoskins involved in some way.

Eunacis (Seth Campbell) said on Nov. 21, 2012

Thanks a load for this! I’m allready working on the second draft, but I want to hold off giving that a grand lookover until I take the feedback of the fans into consideration.

Octibbles said on Nov. 21, 2012

I read through the entire thing and I liked it a lot! Some things are rushed slightly, and some dialogue seems a bit rigid and unnatural, but it is a rough draft after all. I was kind of disappointed to see some things from the game taken out, but I guess they really wouldn’t make much sense due to the strangeness. Very good job so far, though.

Eunacis (Seth Campbell) said on Nov. 21, 2012

I’m probably gonna comment here regularly to give a bit of insight.

The biggest problem for me was giving Ness a voice. Since he doesn’t talk in the games, I had to make a bunch of it up.

The biggest change from the game is probably the omission of the Dusty Dunes Desert. The reason I cut it was that it caused the story to grind to a halt. As do all fetch quests.

The loss of Apple Kid is also unfortunate, but what little he contributed to the plot could easilly be replaced by allready existing characters. I didn’t want the script to have too many characters. This is why Apple Kid, Orange Kid, Lier X., The Kids in the treehouse, and Sanctuary Bosses had to go.

GrandMasterBox said on Nov. 21, 2012

I’ve read most of the script, but it seems like most of the lines that worked well in the video games don’t really work here.

this is a good adaptation for MOTHER 2, but i think it can be done better, if a few things fixed

the one thing I noticed is that throughout ness doesn’t have that many lines, and while he may be a silent protagonist, I think he deserves more lines. alot the other lines seemed rushed too

just general stuff, looks pretty good though

gwalms said on Nov. 21, 2012

Just noticed this isn’t the first time EBC has linked to an EB screenplay proposal. I wonder if Seth looked at Galena’s work at all?

Eunacis (Seth Campbell) said on Nov. 21, 2012


I’m trying to make this script a three act structure. Not Seven+

Krennthief said on Nov. 21, 2012

I’m reading through this and I’m not particularly invested in the characters to be honest… I have to agree with GrandMasterBox that the game doesn’t translate extremely well to a screenplay…

I loved the game, too; don’t get me wrong. It just seems kind of forced… It may be just my taste in movies, but I just didn’t like Buzz Buzz’s explanation of naming psychokinetic abilities while fighting the Starman, much less the actual incorporation of naming the psychokinesis abilities to begin with…

I’ll read some more and give more input in a while…

Krennthief said on Nov. 21, 2012

Sorry, misread that; it was after the battle. >.< I reduce my previous statement to just my complaint about the incorporation of naming his abilities because Buzz Buzz told him he should…

Buster The Fox said on Nov. 21, 2012

Interesting; If I had more time, I would read through it. No Apple Kid? I think at least he should be in there somewhere. 🙂 He kinda goes along with Andonuts in my mind. Plus, I wonder how you solved the Zombie Paper thing? xD Threed would be pretty tough to do in a rushed movie script.

I’ll try to give it a read sometime soon, but no promises. D: Hopefully soon-ISH, at least.

Chris said on Nov. 21, 2012

I skimmed a bit. I always thought something about Mother 2 could make a good movie, but the last battle (which I think was a brilliant use of the medium, or at least Mother 2’s game mechanics) always stopped me in my tracks.

Again, I skimmed but it seems pretty short at 60ish pages, and the scenes and scenarios themselves seem a bit thin/rushed too. Honestly I would suggest doing your own thing and not being too faithful. Something like how “There Will Be Blood” is to “Oil!” In this case, keeping with the tone and spirit of the series but not necessarily keeping with the exact structure of events and what-not (someone mentioned the dialogue works in the video game but probably wouldn’t in a movie, this is a good thing to keep in mind).

Krennthief said on Nov. 21, 2012

I’m going to be completely honest and critical about this script, and I’m sorry to be like this, but I have so many problems with it. No offense to Seth at all, but there needs to be a lot of work done to make this rough draft into something that could be adapted for the screen that an audience could follow and appreciate:

First, the story’s flow is all over the place. One minute we’re in Twoson, the next we’re in Happy Happy Village, and the next we’re in Twoson again, but we’ve rescued Paula. All the while there is absolutely nothing interesting the characters have to offer… I want them to interact, but all I get is Ness saying, “Okay,” to the exposition all of the others almost randomly spout at him.

I feel like the dialogue shows very little motivation for each of the characters (the characters don’t really display much personality, so I can’t even imagine an actor with much to use for subtext), and it’s like they’re only moving forward just… Just because.

Also, Master Belch never said his name; no one ever did, for that matter! And then Ness refers to him as Belch after he and Jeff find the Paula mannequin. The script just feels so rushed…

If you want to make a feature-length film, you should feel free to write something probably twice the length of this script; a page of a script usually approximates to a minute of screen time, so this potential film adaptation of the game would probably be about 68 minutes in length, give or take five minutes.

And things that happen in the script seem to not phase the characters almost in the slightest; it seems almost unnecessary that Paula says, “Hippies,” to Ness after her parents almost thoughtlessly agree to let her go on her adventure. I feel like there should be some more emotion to it, or something. I want to see Paula’s parents be hesitant, but supportive of their daughter’s decision to leave on this adventure that nobody seems to understand.

Another thing, too, is that we never see Ness really stop to consider this grand adventure to save the world. I might have skimmed over something mentioning it, but he seems to lack the excitement and awe of saving the entire world. I’d understand if he thought it was all just a game, but how could he after all of the stuff that’s already happened, like a talking insect fighting an alien robot in front of his very eyes? He’s thirteen, not four, so he should be able to comprehend that what is going on in front of his eyes is out of this world. It’s like this whole journey doesn’t mean a thing to him; everything just seems like a sequence of Big-Lipped Alligator Moments.

Too many of the ensemble characters just seem too passive, like the bartender (practically letting two young boys enter the bar area), and again, Paula’s parents. I don’t even remember Ness’ mom really saying anything to stop Ness from leaving.

It feels like the Chosen Four are just handed the plot-developing devices, too, like they don’t even try to figure anything out on their own. Dr. Andonuts literally says that Jeff wets his bed sometimes and that Rainy Circle would be a good place to visit after saying he’ll fix the Sky Runner. I can believe this kind of thing happening in the game, but a live-action feature film would not be this non-sensical unless it was a comedy, and I cannot see this film as solely a comedy.

Poo’s Mu training scene was just way too truncated, as well… I mean, he just gets his legs broken. Almost every time I play EarthBound, Mu training still makes me uncomfortable, because the spirit does all of these crazy things to demonstrate to Poo “true emptiness.” All I see here is Poo getting his legs broken, which doesn’t really show me the complete extent in which this training goes, and I end up not caring. Poo shows his strength from losing everything, not just one thing.

Everything that happens is way too convenient. It’s like, “Hey kids, want some vital information/key items for progressing the story?” There’s no draw for that. If I were an average, run-of-the-mill audience member, I’d get up and walk out of a film that seemed like its problems were this easily solved.

And the Sphinx’s security system really sucks. If I wanted to steal something from it and it asked me if I was a thief or a hero, I’d definitely say I was a hero and steal everything from the Sphinx.

There are no emotional reactions from any of the characters. At all. Lumine Hall only further illustrates how flat of a character Ness is by showing us the exact thoughts he had in the game. Protagonists are meant to be the audience’s connection between their lives and the characters’ fictional lives, but I can’t connect to Ness at all, and I don’t think anybody would at all.

And the sudden exposition of Ness’ true feelings of the journey before his battle with his Nightmare should have been prevalent in his character before this moment. It’s too late for the audience to realize Ness has reasons to be on this adventure. His feelings could at least develop from excitement, curiosity, and adventure to the feeling of realizing that the Earth is in danger, and he wants to protect this beautiful planet he’s seen so much of.

And I HATE the one-liners Ness has. They are SO hokey, and sometimes they don’t even make sense, like when Dr. Andonuts says that the Starmen have overrun Onett, and Ness says, “Well, they’re gonna have a rude awakening.” The actual vigilance of the Starmen is never actually implied, so why would he even mention anything having to do with giving them a “rude awakening”? Maybe something like, “They won’t know what hit ‘em,” would work better.

And the final battle between the Chosen Four and Giygas doesn’t seem nearly as horrific as in the game itself, because Giygas is aware of what he is doing. I have a save file on the final part of the game just to experience this battle over and over again because of how frightening and horrifying it all is. I just think it’s silly to have Giygas actually confront the Chosen Four, give a Big Bad Boast, and knowingly becoming this terrifying embodiment of pure evil. It’s not nearly as jarring, because it’s like a warning of what’s to come. The first time I got to Giygas in the game, I had no idea what was going to happen, but that swirling red face scarred me for a while, and I feel like this was because I had no idea what I was up against. That weird Ness Face thing never spoke to me, and I didn’t know if I should believe what Pokey was saying to me. In this script, however, I get a lucid, direct testimonial from Giygas himself, which is just kind of meh.

I feel like the whole effect of asking the player to pray for the Chosen Four worked better in the game, too. When you’re one person playing a game you’ve invested all of your time and effort into and you personally feel utterly hopeless because you are the one controlling your party to defeat Giygas, it hits you hard with shock when you see your name on that screen, and the game saying that you’re praying for their safety; it’s shocking because it’s TRUE. You don’t want to lose the game. But in this script, I’ve felt no connection to any of the characters, and honestly, if they were to ask me for help as an audience member, I’d actually laugh out loud in the theatre and not give a hang. I understand you probably wanted to keep this in to maintain the story of the game, and you’ve already cut out quite a bit from the game, but leaving this aspect in makes it feel like a Care Bears movie, I swear.

And then the film ends with EXACTLY what happened in the game. It’s like you literally copy/pasted dialogue from the game into Celtx and didn’t expand on it at all. Actually, a lot of the scenes in this film seem like you just transcribed them from the game onto a script. I feel like you haven’t incorporated a writer’s originality, which I was really hoping to see, but you only did a little.

I’m really sorry for being so critical of your script, but I must say what I think, and I think you can work on all of the things I mentioned. I’ve wanted to see somebody do justice to EarthBound by adapting it into a good, high-quality (but not necessarily big-budget) feature-length film, but I have yet to come across something that really shows that. Maybe you could be the one to do it, too, but only if you really work hard to make this your own thing, and not just a truncated transcription of the game.

Eunacis (Seth Campbell) said on Nov. 21, 2012


Oh, Nelly, this is a doozy.

First, I’ll start with the good news:
I’ve fixed the following:
Mu Training
Sphinx scene
Giygas’s first speech
Ness’s one-liners have been axed

I’ve added a scene where Ness’s mom reads his note (You’ll have to wait for the second draft)
I rewrote the scene where they meet up w/ her again in Onett.
I added a scene where after rescuing Paula, they return to Happy Happy Village.
I fixed the conversation w/ Paula’s mom.
I’ve rewritten the scene of The Runaway Five in Twoson and added a meet-up in Fourside.
I even added a scene that I’m not telling you about.

The other problems (Motivation and pacing) I’ve been tweaking dialogue and visuals all over the script to rectify these errors. Again, it’s a first draft, and ALL first drafts SUCK. My Outline even went through two seperate drafts.

Also, Characters axed from the narrative will instead be delegated to cameo roles.

I’m still new at this game and this is the first time I’ve written a screenplay w/ feedback.

I’ve learned more from these replies than I ever learned in Creative Writing class. If I need a deadline, the Second Draft WILL be out by Christmas. I want to run what changes I’ve made so far by a stranger to the series, they’ll see version 2.0 and I’ll share version 2.1 w/ all of you.

This comment is looooooooooooooooooong!

Mato said on Nov. 21, 2012

Holy moly that was a long critique! I gotta say, I love it when people post really helpful constructive criticism, and even MORE so when I see the criticism accepted maturely 😀

I haven’t finished this draft but already I really look forward to the next one!

Krennthief said on Nov. 21, 2012

I’m so glad that you took that long-winded review to heart; I was afraid you’d get mad at me for being so harsh… But you’re right; it’s a first draft, and like you said, there’ll be a lot of tweaking until you know that you’re ready for a final.

Keep up the great work! I can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s complete!

And again, I’m so sorry for such a long response… I need to work on being concise. XD

Derik Flensburg said on Nov. 22, 2012

Why is there no cowbell?

Co-Wink-Key-Dink inc said on Nov. 22, 2012

I just found out that the last name Campbell decided for Ness, Ness Sandhop.
Is the name of Phil Sandhop, the dude who translated Earthbound Zero

Apple Kid said on Nov. 22, 2012

I agree with krenntheif on many aspects but I have a few bones to pick as well. The first one being your earliest mistake, Tracy’s age. If I were you, just because of her tiny role, would go cannon and label her younger than Ness. Next, I extremely dislike Ness’s mom being named Ana, just based on the fact Ana could not be his mom unless she was really underaged. As for the last name, I kind of thought the nod to Phil was humorous but should be cut in the final version. The next thing is battles, there needs to be more battles, without them the movie seems dry and boring, as it lacks action. I also encourage you to include the sanctuary bosses as they add excitement to this rather boring play. I also advise you to go cannon with Dr. Andonuts’s name as it is impossible for him to be Loid/Lloyd. You also cut out some of the most humorous parts of Earthbound/Mother 2 which is what makes the game just *that* much better. Finally, when it comes to the Giygas battle, keep the battle with Pokey/Porky, don’t mentions Giygas’s previous form it doesn’t appear in the game so the movie probably wouldn’t have it either. I know I already said finally but, I also feel the movie should include the Dusty Dunes Desert. My real final comment is that you should expand the duration of areas. It felt extremely rushed liked, ” Hey, guy that works for me I need that play

Apple Kid said on Nov. 22, 2012

Sorry, I pressed the comment button, but long story short, I didn’t enjoy it and it needs a lot of improvement before it can possibly hit the silver screen, overall I grade it a D-.

Miles Vialpando said on Nov. 22, 2012

For some reason, I can see a blond haired girl staring blindly up to the air with dark red lights flashing over. Giygas. ;0

Eunacis (Seth Campbell) said on Nov. 22, 2012

@Apple Kid

The connections to EB0 have been fine tuned in the second draft (where said adventures now take place in 1969)
Dusty Dunes offers absolutely nothing to the plot except fetch-quests.
I’m trying to reincorperate more battles.
NO SANCTUARY BOSSES! The Sanctuary scenes are allready repetitive enough.
I’m going back and also incorperating more of the game’s humor, but I have to find a balance so there’s enough humor, but it doesn’t grind the narrative to a halt.
I’ve made major revisions to the Giygas fight.
And finally, I’m fixing the MAJOR pacing problem. This is caused by the fact that the length of gameplay is caused mostly by an unusual ammount of fetch quests which don’t translate into a film at all.

Apple Kid said on Nov. 22, 2012

Don’t take what I posted as an etched in stone thing, I’m really excited to see how this is coming along. And please don’t take all of my suggestions to heart, when it comes to reviews I have a Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde thing going on. I’m excited to see how this comes along.

Apple Kid said on Nov. 22, 2012

Sorry I bate to double post, but Seth you didn’t address the “Tracy’s age” issue, its not that big of a deal but I’d just want to know why you changed it and if she will remain 15 or go cannon and become younger than Ness.

Eunacis (Seth Campbell) said on Nov. 22, 2012

@Apple Kid

The game says she has a job, it would then make sense for her to be older.

Radic said on Nov. 22, 2012

I think that Tracy being youger then Ness but also having a job, was just an insite on Ness’ life, how he grows up with someone who is more independent, maybe people say Ness is not, which I agree with. It shows you he grows up in the shadow of his younger sister, who is responsible enough to run the Escargo Express, an insite of how Ness’ journey is shapping him into a more independent person like Tracy. I think making her older ruins this family feeling, with Ness always having the advantage, it doesn’t really click into a real family life, not that a 6 year old would have a job.

Apple Kid said on Nov. 22, 2012

I get that, but if it isn’t revealed in the movie I wouldn’t incorporate it. Hey! It’s your call, and I do agree with you an older person would fit better due to the possession of a job. I do find it semi-annoying that she is a bit to old, but it is better than some people who depict her as 3 or 4. And I bate to bring this up again but Dusty Dunes Desert allows the player access to an explanation as to as why the Runaway Five assist them in the Montoli building. It also teaches Ness how to teleport, but I could see how that could lead to overuse of the power causing a repetitive pattern in the movie (I should have thought of that earlier). I do agree that keeping characters such as the Apple Kid would only make the movie seem like a back-tracking paradise.

MotherFan said on Nov. 23, 2012

Why did you choose Sandhop as a name. I know about Phil Sandhop but Ness has no relation to him, you should have just kept it as Ness.

MotherFan said on Nov. 23, 2012

Oh and @Buster The Fox UNFAIR!!!! YOU GET TO BE THE EPIC HINAWA!!!!!!!!

Apple Kid said on Nov. 23, 2012

@MotherFan He chose Sandhop as a nod to Phil, nothing more, nothing less.

Ami-chan said on Nov. 25, 2012

dude this is the best flipping thing i’ve ever seen

Sambora said on Nov. 26, 2012

I believe someone also wrote a script for a sequel to the entire series. It’s called Earthbound 2.

gwalms said on Dec. 1, 2012

Any update?

Mato said on Dec. 1, 2012

Yeah I’ve been meaning to post a revision he sent me, I’ll probably do that later today.

Sable said on Dec. 21, 2012

I would love to see this movie made~!

Chivi-chivik said on Mar. 5, 2013

I support the idea of making a movie of this game, but please, no live-action… 🙁

mother_fan101 said on Jan. 3, 2014

actually the moves are denoted as PSI not PK, you are incorrect there, and also it is BUZZ BUZZ who defeats the starman not ness, I like what you have done by introducing his psi powers early though because that way you can really get into the movie. although everything is good until poo, all of his body is broken not just his legs, also ness and poo cannot learn PSI freeze, only paula can, it is true, play the game. h and also the very end was bad as well, you could have left it with something like, one of those happily ever after ends like

Ness told his mom and dad all of his stories and ended up marrying paula and live happily for the rest of his days never having to worry about aliens ever again.” there hows that, pretty good I’d say, so there, a better ending to your story


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