Organised Nonsense: #74 -Organised Nonsense at E3!

May 7, 2017 no comments Posted in Nintendo, Video Games

Christian who? He’s not here anyway. So Kevin and Sean talk Nintendo while they can.

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Organised Nonsense: #58 -Switch, Switch, Switch

January 14, 2017 no comments Posted in Nintendo, Podcast, Video Games

Fun Fact: We are not Cutie Girlfriends 🙁

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An Analysis Of Ten The Best Pokémon Types

July 27, 2016 one comment Posted in Nintendo, Video Games

With Pokémon Go after just coming out and taking the world by storm and with the 2016 Pokémon World Championships right around the corner, now more than ever it’s important to put thought into the types of Pokemon you chose along with their Strengths, Weaknesses, and useful applications. This list is not an objective list of “The Top 10 Best Pokemon Types” these are just Types that I personally consider to be strong. You’re free to disagree in the comments below

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You Should Play 999

July 1, 2016 no comments Posted in Nintendo, PC, Video Games

999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors is a 2010 visual novel and puzzle game for the Nintendo DS, developed by Spike Chunsoft and it might nearly be perfect. I feel this post will be a bit vague due to spoiler etiquette but I simply had to get the word out.

 

The game’s central premise is that there are 9 people trapped in a sinking ship who are forced to play the Nonary Game, in which the only way to win is to leave through the 9th and final numbered door within the ship. The game has an introductory puzzle as somewhat of a tutorial before you are introduced to the game’s colourful cast of characters, who may at first come off as one-note clichés but a great deal is revealed about them over time making them perhaps one of my favourite casts in gaming bar Persona and the Metal Gear prequels.

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-Final Fantasy Explorers- Review

February 22, 2016 no comments Posted in Nintendo, Video Games

What a first, huh? A review that of a recent game rather than a SNES RPG

I have rather little to talk about before getting into the main portion of the review which is the gameplay. Explorers was released late 2014 in Japan, taking until January 2016 to be released in the US and Europe. All I could garner for development info was the director Atsushi Hashimoto making the game based off the concept of a multiplayer Final Fantasy adventure with a job system being incorporated. Soon after the game came out my drive to purchase this immediately was rather flustered by reviews generally not going higher than 7 out of 10 (Fun fact IGN indeed rated the game 6.8/10. I presume too much Final Fantasy) but after purchase has my fears been unfounded? Well first off the game isn’t being sold for the general 50 or above euro Nintendo games get as price tags for no fucking reason so scrounging 40 euro for the game wasn’t as much of a problem.

The story? Please. This game can be summed up as a Final Fantasy version of Monster Hunter, a series that does not bother with plot as far as I’m aware. The basic premise is there for the sake of it, people who hunt for powerful life and technology powering giving crystals are known as Explorers. YOU are a Explorer heading to the island of Amostra, which is newly discovered as a vast source of crystals but on the way there your airship gets blasted by fucking Bahamut. After booking it you (I’m getting fed up with this already) get to the town of Libertas to began questing around for questing’s sake in search of the island’s Grand Crystal. After about 20 hours of doing stuff and having a rather pointless lesson in what the search for crystals do to the world you get to the Grand Crystal, the story stops pretending it’s a thing and most of the game’s quests start opening up. Now let’s get to the REAL review.

First off the avatar customisation is rather shit with a very limited number of options, though I don’t mind not spending hours increasing the size and shape of every part of my character’s face. I do mind having to shorten my character’s name to Chris due to character limits that shouldn’t be there. Like usual you start off in your Freelancer Job, to get more you need to unlock them. You unlock a bunch early after completing one of the tutorial quests but you unlock most of them by finishing the Job Test quests that you’ll get along the game. Other Jobs are unlocked by specific means such as learning Firaga, Curaga, and Blizzaga to get the Red Mage Job or killing 500 monsters to get the Dark Knight job. You shouldn’t have any trouble with the requirements except the “Make 20 Monsters” one but we’ll get to that later. Jobs as you’d expect change your stats, the abilities you can use, weapons you equip and so on and so forth.

You get equipment mainly through the shop in Liberta using the materials you get from defeated monsters to either make more stuff or upgrade your equipments’ stats until the piece reaches its stat limits (haven’t reached the Buster Sword’s one yet so I don’t plan on replacing it). You don’t level up for killing things Liberta serves as the main hub, you select your quests there and after each quest you get sent back although you can choose to explore the island but certain areas are blocked off till you get a quest telling you can pass through and then the area is unlocked for good. These area barriers get rather annoying to see and I can’t think of a reason for them to really be there. You can select main areas you’ve discovered via the airship outside of quests but the in between areas leading to the main ones like mountain passages or forests have to be travelled through during quests and they’re much more repetitive since its basically 3 similar areas till you reach the next main area.

After a certain point you can also select a number of subquests to be done during quests for rewards like killing monsters or delivering a item. Regardless all quests cost a bit of money to actually start for some reason, it’s not like you’ll ever run out of gil in this game. Quests you unlock come in set difficulties which determines the monsters’ strength and exploring Amostra is always done on the highest quest difficulty available to you but Lv. 2 and Lv.3 item drops don’t happen unless you’re above a certain difficulty whilst Lv. 1 drops are always guaranteed. If you want to make finding new materials easier use LibertaExplorer, it’s a site opened by a bunch of fans at the start of February that contains a enormous deal of Explorers info that players should definitely check out, it’s really convenient. No matter what however you will get annoyed at how enemies tend to not appear in areas that they should like the humble Chocobo which you can kill but only if it decides to show up.

Let’s get into mechanics now. Explorers can all do a normal attack and sprint. Your AP meter is the fuel for your abilities and sprinting, it fills as you attack, use a ether or stand still. For the love of god don’t overuse it and run out unless you want to be left walking after your teammates as they sprint away. You can lock on to nearby enemies by tapping R and have the camera move to in front of you by tapping L, holding L or R opens the ability lists allowing you to use what you have on them. Abilities also have a charge time after use but usually you should always have at least one ability to use if you spam all of them. Holding both L and R opens the Crystal Surge menu when the game tells you have one available. The controls do have a hefty use on the shoulder buttons but it’s easy to get used to, my main issue is how the lock-on always locks on to any boss monsters if they are in the vicinity and not the small fries unless you press “Track Small” on the touch screen.

You learn all your abilities from the Main Crystal in Liberta and they all cost CP. CP is what you get from killing things and is multiplied heavily after a quest. CP is also used during equipment upgrades and monster fusions. The Main Crystal also lets you learn any mutated abilities you’ve found. What are those? Let me explain that with Crystal Surge. You have a count of your Crystal Resonance on the top left that you raise by using abilities, when it gets over 100 a Crystal Surge can occur. The Crystal Surge menu then can be opened allowing you to choose a temporary status change for example all of your attacks are Critcal Hits or all of your attacks are Fire Elemental , but the 4 that appear are random and you won’t know what they do unless you look them up in the game or just try them out. Anyway when a Crystal Surge is active some of your abilities may turn yellow. Use them and you unlock a ability mutation which is a extra add on for the ability you have and all mutations can be stacked and added with whatever other mutation the ability is compatible with. For example:

  1. I have a ability called Sonic Steel
  2. I activate the Fire Crystal Surge that makes my attacks all do fire damage
  3. Sonic Steel turns yellow and I use it during the surge, the game prompts me that I’ve gotten the Fire Mutation
  4. I purchase Sonic Steel1 (which has the fire mutation) from the Main Crystal and replace it with the normal Sonic Steel.
  5. I get a poison mutation for Sonic Steel1 allowing me to purchase Sonic Steel2 which now has a chance of poisoning and burning a enemy.

I can increase the power and chance of success of abilities by repeatedly mutating the same Surge. If you don’t want to use any of the Crystal Surges that appear in the list you can change it by using abilities a couple of times. If you want to get the most of your abilities, GET EVERY MUTATION YOU CAN.

Now there’s Magicite (no not the Final Fantasy VI stuff) which you unlock after you Encase your first Eidolon during the quest where you learn how to. Eidolons are the series’ summons that fight you in specific areas and can be defeated for items but when they are at low HP the Encase Crystal Surge can appear allowing you to capture the Eidolon and use their magicite. It is REALLY annoying trying to capture a Eidolon for the first time so here are some tips that you should keep in mind every time you attempt it:

-Use abilities or Crystal Shards that don’t damage the Eidolon to raise your Crystal Resonance

-Use the Oracle item to change the Surge list

-When playing in a team you all have individual Crystal Surges at around the same time and raising Resonance is much faster. Having 4 people with Surges increase the chances of one of them having Encase.

When you Encase an Eidolon, you unlock its Trance for permanent use and can sell the Magicite as a Eidolon. Your Trance meter fills as you attack and use abilities. When its full you can go into Trance which fills your HP and AP. It also lets you use a Trance Surge when you get another Crystal Surge which is a really strong special but what it does depends on the Eidolon you have equipped. Now WHO WANTS TO TRANSFORM INTO LIGHTNING FROM THE POPULAR FINAL FANTASY XIII!?!?!?!? Like unlocking Jobs, you can unlock Magicite from the Libertas Moogles after completing certain requirements that let you transform into veteran Final Fantasy characters in Trance and use their Trance Surge. No Final Fantasy IX characters sadly. You can also unlock and forge Final Fantasy outfits but they’re generally overshadowed in terms of protection and convenience.

Now Monster Creation. This thing mainly exists so that people playing solo can have some semblance of “team”. When a monster dies they have a chance of dropping their Atmalith…it’s their soul so to speak. You use this to create monsters to fight with you and they can…level up even though you can’t. I split Monster Creation into two catagories: Either they’re shit or they’re broken damage dealers. My personal favs are the Black Knight, Cactuar and Magic Pot who deal really high magic damage.

So people like playing with other people right? This is self explanatory, you can play with up to 3 others in different quests, the difficulty is raised depending on how many people are there so good job synergy and teamwork is necessary. This can be done with friends or people you find online that may or may not be cunts and run off whilst you try to get materials. Can’t do much in profanities though, you have a set list of things to inform the team of.

I think I’ve covered more than enough. The game is rather clunky but still great fun as it serves its purpose well. Like some other games (BRAVELY DEFAULT) I think it would’ve benefitted greatly from some more time, attention and additions to make things more convenient. The music is…decent but with a game like this you’re probably listening to music or a podcast (wink wink nudge nudge) when playing. It’s worth the price that its going for and fans of the series have already bought the game because of all the beautiful fanservice. I wish Gilgamesh and Omega Weapon weren’t the only non-summon boss fights though, some more fanservice in optional boss department pls.

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Anyone want to see what review comes up next? I’m leaving that up to you.

-TheAceAlucard

Chrono Trigger Review

January 28, 2016 no comments Posted in Nintendo, Video Games

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Disclaimer: I rushed this one out the ass.

-Release-

In 1995 Square released Chrono Trigger saw its release on the SNES, a creation of what was dubbed the Dream Team; Hironobu Sakaguchi (creator of Final Fantasy), Yuji Horii (creator of Dragon Quest) and Akira Toriyama (who most of you probably already heard of) with the game being produced by Kazuhiko Aoki. It was critically acclaimed upon release although official PAL cartridges of the game were not created for some reason and it wouldn’t be until 2009 that PAL regions got Chrono Trigger via the DS version. There was a PS1 port created in 1999 but like Square’s port of Final Fantasy VI and such, it was absolutely filled with load times and they were almost 10 second ones at the least. I presume this has something to do with the PS1’s RAM or lack thereof which is why SNES ports got these load times. The only new addition to the PS1 version was a set of animated cutscenes that would play at different intervals created by Bird Studio and Toei Animation. They’re great and all, especially with the opening’s version of the main theme but they’re also included in the DS version of the game along with bonus features, a better translation and such. Predictably the DS version is the best one out there, while I did manage to cope with finishing the PS1 version that’s something I’ll never do again and there are already iOS and Android versions of the game if you need them.

-How Trigger got triggered (lol)-

Crono is a young swordsman who’s a mute. Oh boy. In all seriousness the kid wakes up excited (at least that’s what his mother says) for the festival the Guardia kingdom is holding to celebrate its long prosperity. While testing out his friend Lucca’s teleportation device being showed off at the fair a girl named Marle, who tagged along with Crono after bumping into him, tries the machine out but her pendant causes a malfunction which opens a random portal that she gets sucked into. Crono picks up the dropped pendant and decides to open the same portal to find her while Lucca stays behind and tries figures out just what the hell happened. He finds himself in the Middle Ages where he finds that Marle has been mistaking for that era’s queen whose been missing. Marle suddenly and rather painfully disappears in front of Crono just as she begins to explain why she was mistaken for the missing Queen Leene (lol). Lucca appears to tell Crono that Marle is actually the present’s Princess Nardia who took on the name of Marle to go off doing non-royal things. Leene is the Nardia’s ancestor and because she is still missing with Marle taking her place, a grandfather paradox occurs causing Marle to simply not exist. Crono and Lucca team up with a frog knight named…Frog in order to rescue the missing queen and restore the royal family line. After doing so Marle is restored and using Lucca’s new device designed to open gates in time that are appearing for some reason (sort of explained later on) they return to the present. Upon doing so Crono is arrested upon escorting the princess back to the castle under the pretence of “kidnapping her” (don’t worry there’s a sidequest also explaining this well enough) and escapes from jail with the help of Marle and Lucca. After escaping to a time gate leading to the distant apocalyptic future they discover that at some point the planet was ravaged by a unknown force named Lavos. Deciding to try and find a way to stop the event from happening they begin their journey through time to save the future and that’s where I’ll stop for now. The game may be over 20 years old but I don’t feel up to spoiling a lot of elements that make it easier to enjoy. Besides this synopsis is pretty bare but the depth to the game and the characters start coming about from Antiquity onwards along with the endgame sidequests mainly focusing on character events and development for example going back in time to stop Lucca’s mother from losing the ability to walk by getting caught in the active machine right in front of the poor girl (just save beforehand so you don’t fuck it up and make Lucca watch it a 2nd time). It’s what they went for I think, mainly giving you a romp through the world and characters they created until you get to Magus where things start adding up. The time travel logic isn’t pure perfect, it never is when changing history is the subject, but it uses it really well ignoring some paradoxes .

 

-Gameplay-

We have quite a number of new things to cover but nothing too in depth. Trigger does away with random encounters and transitioning into a different screen for battle. Battles are initiated by coming into enemy contact or going to a specific tile for fixed battles and battles all happen on the same map. This was considered quite innovative to have battles happen where they start, however there’s one major problem with this: There are a lot of fixed battles, combine that with enemies respawning everytime you leave the room and come back and you have a annoying number of repeated fixed encounters when you step on a tile on your way back to somewhere. EarthBound didn’t have this problem because dungeons had one way to go most of the time and avoiding encounters was more of a element there. In here its more in theory. One thing that makes it a bit harder to take is how because you fight on the same map YOU KNOW that you’re fighting the exact encounter again in the same area whilst with random encounter transitions you feel more like fighting just another one of that enemy type if they show up. You get used to it fast enough and if you don’t it’s not something that hampers the whole deal but it’s something that’ll make it hell to play the PS1 version where battles have load times where they didn’t. At least thanks to this system there are no encounters in the world map. Battles run off Final Fantasy‘s Active Time Battle. Basically everyone, enemies and characters, runs off a ATB Meter which gets full when they can perform a command. The higher a characters’ speed the faster the meter goes, although I recommend altering the battle speed and ATB in the Options menu to go faster or slower and whether or not it still fills when selecting through Items and Techs in case you don’t want to feel pressured to pick something in those menus fast before the enemy snags you. Techs are basically where all a character’s special moves and spells are and they cost MP to use. You learn Techs by gaining TP but unlike XP a character has to be in the battle to have earned it, whilst members out of the party can gain some XP on their own. Techs generally have a field of effect, some work more when the enemies and lined up or in a particular area of range; for example Falcon Strike is a Tech that attacks diagonally so anything next to what your attacking gets hit as well. What makes creating a party in this game unique in terms of strategy are the powerful Dual Techs. When two character’s ATB are both filled you can use any Dual Techs they may have. Dual Techs come about when character’s Tech’s can be combined for example Crono’s Cyclone Tech can be combined with Lucca’s Flame Toss to create Flame Whirl. Dual Techs cost the characters using the Dual Tech the amount of MP that their normal Tech would cost on its own meaning Crono spends MP needed for Cyclone and Lucca spends the MP needed for Flame Toss   learning Dual Techs is a matter of changing around party members once in a while when they learn new Techs and seeing what appears in the Tech menu. It gets even further with Triple Techs which require a specific party and in some cases a specific item to use. Party members can be swapped at any time outside of battle so making a new party is a button push away if needed. Since TP has to be earned during battle I generally like to fight the respawning Rubble on the Mountain of Woe past the halfway point of the game, the bastard drops 100 TP which is not something I can pass up to grind on until everyone has their Techs which is something you WILL do before getting to the near end anyway. I don’t think this game will ever force you to grind too much but there are bosses that you will need to think of a good strategy to beat…or be like me and just abuse strong Techs when I can get them early. Basically fights give good challenge either way, they’re difficult enough as things go on so that you need to keep your eyes open and learn the enemy starting with Magus and especially with the fucking Golem boss.

One of the main gimmicks for Trigger is, well, time travel. Different version of the same planet through a number of time periods allowing access to new locations; The present, middle ages, prehistory, apocalyptic future, antiquity and finally the year 1999 where Lavos rose and destroyed the planet. And when I was born. Lovely. The End of Time which you enter soon into the game acts as the main hub for any Time Gates the group come across until you get the time machine Epoch and eventually its upgrade to fly. Gaspar will generally give you hints of where to go next so getting confused on what to do isn’t ever a problem. Just don’t touch the bucket’s Time Gate, that takes you straight to the final boss. Gaspar does warn you not to touch the bucket when you meet him but fuck he could’ve mentioned where it lead. The Epoch comes majorly into play when doing sidequests which are basically the meat of Trigger‘s final chapter. Getting Crono back into your party endgame is technically one since at that point you can beat the game with any party you want but the others serve to strengthen the party for the fight against Lavos so ignoring them is a very bad idea unless you want Lavos to wipe you out. I won’t go too in depth to them but they’re enjoyable side quests nonetheless and give you great equipment for the final battle as well as the time travel coming into play for stuff like the Sun Stone and Rainbow Shell. The game is designed quite straightforward until that point, and it helps cut down the backtracking by a mile.

I think I’ve covered the main gameplay so far so let’s get into the DS version’s additions. Besides some interfaces changes we also get a self filling map which is always nice to have. There’s also 2 Lost Sanctum areas which basically have you do fetch quests and things for reptites in return for rewards. I never bothered since the stuff opens extremely late game and you all know how I feel about areas being dedicated to fetch quests. We also have this Arena of the Ages. Ever wanted to raise a monster? Now you can, although this is accessible from the End of Time it doesn’t anything I deemed worth going after although some items can be nice to get a bit early and the raising mechanics are extremely straightfoward. I just get a kick out of watching my raised pet out damage another one but that’s about it. Finally we have 4 extra boss fights against a few shade versions of your party members and then the Bucket will take you to the Dimensional Vortex dungeon. This does get you some more awesome equipment but it’s the last thing in the game so I didn’t feel it was worth trying out and Square usually made extra dungeons in ports a pain to get through. Maybe when I bother to go after the Dream Devourer (yeah that’s the name of it) and the other ending, I’ll update the review but not now.

Speaking of extra equipment Chrono Trigger was one of the first RPGs to introduce the holy New Game Plus. Replay the game with all your badass equipment, levels and Techs? Fuck yeah but now we can get into alternate ending territory. There are a large number of endings you can get that the game keeps track of, all based on when in the game and how you beat Lavos. The ending most players should get first is the ending that comes after you rescue Crono and fight Lavos after going through the Black Omen. A lot of the endings are more of a play for laughs like what if you went into the Bucket defeated Lavos before helping Ayla take out the reptites in Prehistory, thus turning the present’s humanity into repitites. Another ending is…the female characters going through a list of the male characters of the game. Fucking hell.

-Presentation-

Sexy on all accounts; the music is phenomenal and definitely my favourite SNES soundtrack. The graphics were spectacular for the time make the game hold up extremely well amongst the DS library although the numerous uses of the SNES’ list of special graphical effects (can’t name them all myself right now) does age the game to some extent. The story is what I feel it needs to be, its less about deep questions but still keeps characters’ and story’s development and has good writing with twists that are strong as they need to be. I recommend the game for everyone to at least try out, I know a lot of people aren’t very friendly towards some of the ideas implemented (specifically ATB and encounters started by touching tiles) but it’s a great game given a fair shake and worth any gamers’ time. The DS version is great despite my disinterest in a lot of the extras but seeing as the other options are the PS1 version (huge load times), the SNES version (90’s RPG localization), and iOS (touch screen controls), I think you’ll come to the conclusion it’s the best choice out of them.

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-TheAceAlucard

 

 

 

Wanna know why this was rushed? I wanted to review Mother 3 but I realised how long I would take writing a plot synopsis so I looked over a couple of things I could do. I tried rushing a playthrough of the original Ratchet and Clank as a nod to the upcoming reboot game and film but it was agonizing going back to it. I had about four days to decide, most of which I wouldn’t spend writing so I picked Chrono Trigger as a easy ticket out.

EarthBound (Mother 2) Review

January 4, 2016 no comments Posted in Nintendo, Video Games

-Release-

EarthBound is a 1994 SNES RPG created by Shigesato Itoi as the sequel to 1989’s Mother; a NES game not released outside of Japan until 2015 when Nintendo decided to take the unreleased prototype of the localization and sell it as EarthBound Beginnings. Yep, not only did they localize the wrong Mother game fans have been begging for but they also used the prototype that’s been on the internet for some while and didn’t adjust it. We’re not here to talk about Nintendo’s lack of effort though, we’re here to talk about the fact that EarthBound’s US advertising slogan was “This Game Stinks!” while in Japan it was marketed towards non-gamers. The game sold like shit in the US because of the advertising campaign (costing a total of about 2 million dollars) and the graphical style being received poorly at the time. As a result no official PAL (European) cartridges of EarthBound were made and its sequel was never released outside of Japan. In spite of that thanks to its unique style and setting (Extremely satire portrayal of America, most of which presumably unintentional) Earthbound created a massive cult following for itself which grew bigger as time went on and is probably one of the most nice and undying video game fandoms out there. EarthBound finally got itself a Wii U Virtual Console rerelease in 2013, presumably because of licensing issues thanks to the games’ numerous musical quotations, references and sampling. This release allowed Europeans to play Earthbound without using a emulator but before you do that lets look at the cult classic in question.

 

-EarthBound’s Beginning (lol)-

After being shown a sort of horrifying screen that has nothing to do with much and being given that lovely title card we get to name stuff: The four party members, Ness’ dog, your favourite food and your favourite thing. Your favourite thing comes into play as Ness’ PSI Special or PSI [Your-Favourite-Thing-Here] to be exact. Just don’t name anything after yourself as the game asks for the player’s own name down the road. The story starts with a meteorite crashing near Ness’ house and after the police are away, Ness’ neighbour Porky Minch knocks on the door and asks Ness to help find his brother Picky near the crash site. Yes, I know the kid’s name is actually Pokey in the US version but not only is that a stupid name but Smash Bros. and Mother 3 use the Japan variant Porky. And because the kid looks like a fucking pig. Ness finds Porky’s brother but a fly-like messenger from the future named Buzz Buzz emerges from the meteorite, telling Ness that he is the chosen one who needs to stop the alien Giygas from causing world devastation (and lots of other weird shit). Giygas is the villain from the first game who booked it after a few kids played a song from his childhood, deciding to become pure evil in order to continue conquest. After taking out the Starman Jr. sent to kill Buzz Buzz (because Final Starmen are fucking expensive) Ness takes Porky and Picky home where its implied the kid gets a good parental beating by his father. Porky’s mother Lardna kills Buzz Buzz because he stupidly flew into the woman’s earshot. With his dying breath (which you can get him to continuously repeat) Buzz Buzz tells Ness to visit 8 Sanctuaries and collect their melodies which will give him the power to stop Giygas. And what is that power? 200,000 XP. From then on the story doesn’t really advance much besides finding the other chosen kids to join Ness and getting through all the weird things each area brings. You’ll be taking out gang members and a police force, fighting your personal dark side inside a surreal mental location, or getting your soul tossed into a robot in order to travel to the past just to name a few but let’s leave weirdness aside for now. Nothing that I can say about the story from now besides Porky turning over to Giygas’ side and becoming 2nd to final boss or Giygas causing weird things to happen to the townspeople, animals and inanimate objects really holds much significance to a reviewers’ plot summary. Some might argue the game’s story pauses until the final dungeon, however we’ve still got a lot of meat to cover here.

-Gameplay-

REALLY standard stuff for a RPG, with some archaic problems even for its time but convenient additions in areas you wouldn’t expect. EarthBound has you go through different towns in Americaland and areas connecting said towns because fuck world maps. The game was one of the first SNES RPGs to introduce diagonal movement but the main chore of navigation is the lack of any sort of speedy travel. You can only walk everywhere with the only things you get to alleviate this being a bicycle that Ness can only use by himself and you get it not too long before a area where you get your first party member making it a waste of space. You also get PSI teleport around the halfway point that lets you travel to areas you’ve already been through but at that point you’ve already done a REALLY large amount of back and forth to get to that point. At some points you can/have to take the bus through the first few towns but THAT takes time as well. Battles initiated upon contact with a enemy, a pre-emptive if you get them unawares, a sneak attack from them if they get your party from the back or a normal battle circumstance every other time. Its basic turn based battle mechanics, with a couple of exceptions. First the health meter is a odometer, meaning it takes time to scroll down when you take damage. This means if you take a fatal hit but win/heal before death than you survive which becomes very important to take into account in later bosses. When engaging in battle with weaker enemies you’ll end up killing them instantly and skipping the battle. Weak enemies and enemies in completed Sanctuaries also run away from Ness instead of chasing the party. You save the game via telephones which you use to call a number of people but here are the main ones: Your dad to save, your mother to get rid of Ness’ homesickness (yes that is a status ailment exclusive to Ness and it comes up randomly until Lv. 70), and your sister to get a delivery man to collect 3 items and put them in storage. If you get a game over you’re sent back to the last save point you used with half of your money.

When you defeat monsters any money you get is sent to your bank account which you access via ATMs so if you’re done with money put at least most of it away to avoid losing a lot of it. One of the infamous problems with this game is the fucking inventory. Nothing stacks, your equipped weapons are treated as separate items that take space and each character can only hold 14 items each INCLUDING key items. Needless to say in a RPG this system becomes a massive pain in the ass to sort out, especially since other RPGs of its time didn’t have something as backwards as this. You do have the item storage I mentioned earlier for useless key items and such but even that has a limit and you can only store and take 3 items at a time when using the delivery service which takes time to get to you in the first place. Status ailments can be annoying to cure at first with some needing specific healing requirements but stops becoming a major issue once you get the better Healing PSI

Characters can only hold one weapon and 3 pieces of equipment to boost their stats, with shops allowing you to automatically equip purchased items and sell old ones which is a convenient feature in the face of the inconvenient item management. As it may be obvious baseball bats and psychic powers replace swords and magic which doesn’t mean too much to me, they do what they need to do in this type of game. Each character is unique in certain ways:

Ness- Main Physical Attacker and Healer with PSI Special coming in for crowd control

Paula- Main PSI Attacker, learning lots of useful PSI attacks but is incredibly weak to attacks when you get her. Grind her levels up for a easier time since every character starts at Lv. 1 when you get them and she has the weakest defence and HP.

Jeff- Good Physical attacker, can’t use PSI and can take advantage of one use items he either purchases or fixes if his IQ is high enough. Said one use items can BREAK BOSSES EASILY so Bottle Rockets and Big Bottle Rockets are a goddamn must.

Poo- PSI attacker that comes in halfway through the game but he has a number of drawbacks. He can only wear 4 special pieces of equipment you’ll most likely miss in the whole game and a lot of items don’t have much effect on him like fast food. The only time he can get close to eclipsing Paula’s PSI range is his unique PSI Starstorm he learns late game.

Different PSI is learnt after reaching different levels and can make bosses and enemies easier if you grind to them….which the game can make you do on a number of occasions. There are some areas and dungeons halfway through the game that can rip you in two quickly if you don’t rip them in two first. In fact the start of the game is technically you just grinding enemies near Ness’ house until you can beat the gang members and their leader because they can do heavy damage if you walk to them straight away. Something useful to note is that if you exit a room and re-enter it/move far enough away you can reload the enemies in that area into either a different formation or type which makes avoiding dangerous or speedy encounters feasible.

My experience with this game can be summed up as such; I had fun until the halfway point. Its then when all of the design problems this game has starts building up. Backtracking is rampant at certain points, particularly when trying to get into the fucking Monotoli Building in Fourside and having to do a few backtracks to the desert especially obvious in a cave FILLED with fetch quest monkeys although it does start to thin out over time. A number points of the game can be cryptic on what to do and the townspeople only do so much when they’re not giving you the weirdest dialogue you’ll ever hear in a RPG but I can’t really complain about it because 1. There’s a guy in certain areas of the game that gives hints and most importantly 2. Every copy of EarthBound comes with a extensive strategic guide, including the Wii U version. Getting lost is kind of difficult with that stipulation but I’m not really a fan of that type of design if the game was indeed packaged with a guide in part to clear cryptic and annoying parts aside but I doubt it.

Is EarthBound beginner friendly? Yes, despite the need to grind on occasions. Is it good for veterans? In my opinion, HELL NO the gameplay just doesn’t hold up well enough to compete with many RPGs, including the ones out at that time. The deciding factor for many on why they love EarthBound is its presentation.

 

 

-Presentation-

The game’s simplistic cartoony style is appealing whilst allowing it to age better over time but SNES games didn’t tend to age badly in my book. The only time the style annoys me a bit is when the perspective can get wonky, especially in Fourside. The sprites are OK, I’m more a fan of the enemy sprites in battle which are really nice looking in this style. The battle background is another story. This  kind of thing is never too intrusive to the eyes but you have to wonder why they decided to get trippy with it, maybe to make the game have more of a identity than it already had since I don’t want to think about if this is Ness’ actual vision. The music is really catchy stuff and I like a lot of the battle themes despite a good bit of it being a SNES sound chip and a theremin having rough sex but eerie, atmospheric and funky battle tunes all the same. I’ve mentioned the insane amount of weird shit and dialogue previously, and while that is a humorous turn on for some I find it rather unremarkable after the halfway point where I realised this is all I’m hearing from these people not to mention the aged gameplay taking me out of it. I think this weird kind of plot can be done with endearing writing, something I have a hard time spotting in the dialogue. The creepy shit that happens with Giygas at the end of the game shook me out of my bored stupor but I went right back in when the method to defeating his last form came about. After playing Mother 3, a game I think   manages to balance its good writing and characters with its weird, wacky and unmistakably humorous side I found it to be the better game between the two because I felt a reason to keep going with the game. I know many EarthBound fans think otherwise but that’s how I think about it.

-So?-

For myself I feel EarthBound has managed to build itself up as a popular experience than a game. It does things uniquely but only in the ways it wants to and whether or not one likes the game is a question of if they can find endearment in its wackiness because this gameplay does shit for anyone. Sure its fine for first timers but why start a first timer with something so limited? When I don’t feel satisfied from a gameplay view the story and characters were what usually have me press on but I didn’t find it appealing enough to stop the drag that the game became till the end after the halfway point. Well, besides the catchy soundtrack.

It’s up to the person from there, but I doubt anyone whose played many other RPGs will have a easy time trying to see for themselves. Who knows, maybe watching a LP or something might get a craving going for more of its silliness but I think it’s done much better…in its Japan-only sequel.

Hey, at least I can say I love the fans of the game and what they do in their spare time.

-TheAceAlucard