RPG Series Review: Earthbound/Undertale (PART 2)

xandermartin98
RPG Series Review: Earthbound/Undertale (PART 2)

Okay, so perhaps MAYBE Earthbound Zero REALLY wasn't a very good game in retrospect, but I mean, hey; after seeing absolute masterpieces like Super Metroid, Link To The Past, Mario World, and arguably even Mega Man X and Super Castlevania IV, I gotta say...what could possibly go wrong with remaking it onto the Super Nintendo? Well, in terms of its American marketing, pretty much EVERYTHING, but let's not go into that.

MOTHER 2 (Earthbound)

Earthbound is not only a very strange game in general but also a remarkably strange case of a certain game being worshipped as the eternal sacred cow of its franchise. Much like quite a few other 1990s Nintendo classics with similar cultural status (like literally ALL of the ones that I just mentioned in the paragraph up above, for instance, as well as Kirby Super Star, Chrono Trigger, Ocarina Of Time and Super Mario 64 just to name a few more) it is also INCREDIBLY overrated...but still a fantastic game in its own right regardless. Anyway, let's begin the review, shall we?

STORY: Personally, I wanted to start with this, as it's probably Earthbound's overall most pronounced improvement upon its predecessor in my opinion. Whereas Earthbound Zero's storyline, being from an NES game and all, was roughly one-half-dimensional and incredibly vague at best, the actual Earthbound's is amazingly well-written and actually makes you feel properly immersed in the game's profoundly unique world and setting...which, let's be honest, is a pretty rare feat for Super Nintendo games, outside of a select few like Donkey Kong Country, Final Fantasy VI and the aforementioned Super Metroid, Castlevania IV and Chrono Trigger.

But despite being incredibly well-written, sharp and humorous, the storyline still revolves around an astonishingly simple focal point; aliens, led by an absolutely horrifying eldritch monstrosity known as Giygas, are attacking Earth and brainwashing all of its local creatures and civilians, and it's up to Ninten- I mean Ness, Ana- I mean Paula, Lloyd- I mean Jeff, and Aang- I mean Poo to overcome their deepest fears, collect the Eight Melodies and bring them all together to ultimately save the day from sure destruction at the hands of local fat spoiled brat Eric Cartman- I mean Porky Minch. Did I mention yet that this game is secretly a remake of the first one?

Along the way, you run into all kinds of absolutely amazing moments that I'd rather not spoil the details of, my personal favorites of which being the Blue Klux Klan, the Giygas battle and Moonside. In conclusion, this game definitely gets an A for story. Granted, it's not exactly something I'd call THE GREATEST VIDEO GAME STORYLINE OF ALL TIME (looking at you three especially, Chrono Trigger and Undertale and MOTHER 3), but it's definitely up there at any rate.

GRAPHICS: Sadly the main reason why this game was so woefully overshadowed by its Square Enix competition at the time when it came out (again, apart from the American advertising campaign for it), simply because it was released during the Mortal Kombat phase of the 90s, when even the annoyingly small fraction of the local edgelords that were perfectly willing to play games like Super Mario World still refused to play Earthbound because it "looked too kiddy". Well, I gotta say; after playing its predecessor, this game was a MAJOR treat for the eyes by comparison. The first game's art style, which was already rather refreshingly unique for its time to begin with, is downright GORGEOUSLY remade into 16-bit, with (almost) all of the added attention to detail that you would expect from said graphical power jump, and the psychedelic background during combat are hands-down some of THE greatest things I've ever laid eyes upon in a video game; assuming we're counting Giygas as a background, him too.

SOUND: Dear god, where do I even begin with this one? This game honestly quite rivals (and at times even significantly OUTDOES) even the likes of Super Metroid and Castlevania IV as far as sound design is concerned. Not quite so much in terms of music, honestly, but each song gives off its own unique flavor of atmosphere, the instrumentation and composition push the limits of the SNES sound chip in quite a few ways, and just the whole concept of the game having literally nine different battle themes for the sole purpose of being able to effectively musically describe each type of enemy that you encounter is simply genius in its absolute purest form. Too bad you don't actually get to hear most of said battle themes for very long due to how ridiculously short and easy the battles (much like the game itself) tend to be. Speaking of which...

GAMEPLAY: Yeah...while this game may be a gargantuan improvement upon Earthbound Zero in terms of playability, not much else has really been improved nearly as much as it could've been about it. The new shopping and storage systems are fantastically convenient, don't get me wrong, and the rolling HP meters for combat are admittedly a pretty bad-arse new feature, but overall, it's really just the same thing as Earthbound Zero but with the difficulty (THANKFULLY) neutered. PSI abilities that aren't Magnet, Lifeup, PSI Shield, Healing, Paralysis and the upper levels of Freeze and Fire are still just as overall useless as ever, and pretty much all of the bosses can easily be defeated just by spamming Freeze into them if you know what you're doing; however, it's at least a total blast to play compared to the FIRST one (shudders), so I can't really complain too much. Also, those battle backgrounds; seriously, THOSE battle backgrounds.

OVERALL: Don't get me wrong; Earthbound is an absolutely classic game, and there really isn't any praise I can sing for it that hasn't already been sung before, but is it REALLY as good (let alone even NEARLY as dark) as Mother 3? Well, I happen to know for a fact that the answer to the latter question is a firmly resounding NO (looking at you, list of Top 10 Darkest E-Rated Video Games in which this and Super Metroid are placed SIGNIFICANTLY above Mother 3 and Metroid Fusion), but as for the former question...well, let's just say only time will tell, wink wink.

In the meantime, 9/10

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