EarthBound is a role-playing game originally published by Nintendo for the Japanese Super Famicom in 1994 and localized in 1995 for North America's Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Written, directed and produced by notable Japanese author Shigesato Itoi, Earthbound is actually the second game in Itoi's Mother franchise and is known as Mother 2 in Japan. It is also the only entry in the series to see an official international release. The game was considered unique among its contemporaries due to its unusual setting: a quirky modern world that stood in stark contrast to the medieval fantasy and futuristic science-fiction environments common in other RPGs. The series eventually saw another entry in 2006, released only on the Game Boy Advance in Japan as Mother 3; Earthbound itself was re-released in a Japanese GBA compilation called Mother 1+2 to promote the third game's release.
EarthBound was also re-released for the Wii U Virtual Console on July 18, 2013 in North America and Europe. This was the first re-release of the game in North America and the first official release of the game anywhere in Europe. A digital version of the strategy guide originally packed with the North American SNES release was also made available on the Nintendo of America website. In Japan, Mother 2 was made available for Wii U Virtual Console on March 20, 2013 for thirty yen as part of a Famicom 30th Anniversary promotion.
EarthBound's gameplay is largely similar to earlier entries in Square Enix's popular Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy role-playing franchises. Players navigate their party from an overhead perspective through an expansive game world, conversing with NPCs, acquiring items and fighting enemies in turn-based battles. However, unlike nearly all other RPGs of its vintage, there are no random encounters; instead, combat is initiated when any member of the player's party touches an enemy in the field. Battles may also begin with a surprise attack from the enemy or a free turn for the player's party, depending on which directions the party and the enemy are facing when combat is initiated. As the party increases their levels, weaker enemies will begin to run away; encountering enemies that are significantly weaker than the party may even result in an instant victory, bypassing combat entirely.
Much like preceding Dragon Quest titles, EarthBound's combat system takes places from a first-person perspective. Both the player's party and the enemy act in turns using physical attacks, PSI abilities or inventory items. Party stats and equipment also play a critical role during battles and heavily influence each character's viability in combat. Stats can be increased by earning experience points from defeated enemies, eventually causing characters to level-up and gain additional predetermined stat points. Ness and his friends wield a variety of relatively mundane weapons throughout the game including baseball bats and yo-yos, and they can equip themselves with protective gear that sometimes grants additional benefits.
Each character also has a certain number of hit points reflecting their overall health. When a character takes damage, their hit points are gradually decremented on a rolling counter. Once a character's HP reaches zero, the character falls unconscious, preventing them from acting in battle until they are revived either by certain restorative items or by paying a doctor's fee at a Hospital. Hit points were well-established as a mechanic to reflect player health in RPGs by the time of EarthBound's release; however, the rolling HP counter used in EarthBound allows players to continue issuing commands to mortally-wounded characters until their counter actually "ticks down" to zero. This uniquely-implemented HP mechanic presents an additional layer of strategy in combat, giving players the opportunity to save their party members from KO status by either healing immediately or defeating all enemies quickly to end the battle.
Inventory space in EarthBound is limited; each player character receives fourteen inventory slots which are divided not only between consumable items, but also any equipped gear carried by the character. With the addition of certain mandatory key items received by Ness early in the story which also occupy precious inventory space, EarthBound's inventory system is notably restrictive when compared to those of other RPGs. These restrictions are somewhat mitigated by Escargot Express, a parcel service managed through Ness' younger sister Tracy that can store several items outside of the party's inventory.
Ness, Paula and Poo also possess psychic abilities called PSI that can be used inside and outside of battle. These abilities are regulated by a character's PP, or Psychic Points. When a player's PP is drained, their PSI abilities can no longer be used. PP is restored by resting or consuming certain PP-recovering items. Characters will sometimes gain brand-new or improved PSI abilities while leveling up. Jeff does not use PSI, instead relying on his inventions for applying status effects and firing bottle rockets to deal large amounts of damage.
Listed below are the available PSI abilities and their effects:
|PSI Ability||Learned By (Lv.)||PP||Effect|
|Lifeup α||Ness (2), Poo (15)||5||Restores 75-125 HP to a single ally|
|Lifeup β||Ness (20), Poo (15)||8||Restores 225-375 HP to a single ally|
|Lifeup γ||Ness (39), Poo (46)||13||Restores all HP to a single ally|
|Lifeup Ω||Ness (70)||24||Restores 300-500 HP to all allies|
|Healing α||Ness (10), Poo (15)||5||Heals cold, sunstroke & sleep|
|Healing β||Ness (24), Poo (15)||8||α + poison, nausea, crying & strange|
|Healing γ||Ness (53), Poo (36)||20||β + paralysis, diamond & death (75%)|
|Healing Ω||Poo (52)||38||γ + death (100% success)|
|PSI Magnet α||Paula (15), Poo (21)||0||Absorbs 2-8 PP from a single enemy|
|PSI Magnet Ω||Paula (21), Poo (27)||0||Absorbs 2-8 PP from all enemies|
|PSI Ability||Learned By (Lv.)||PP||Effect|
|PSI Rockin' α||Ness (8)||10||40-120 damage to all enemies|
|PSI Rockin' β||Ness (22)||14||90-270 damage to all enemies|
|PSI Rockin' γ||Ness (49)||40||160-480 damage to all enemies|
|PSI Rockin' Ω||Ness (75)||98||320-960 damage to all enemies|
|PSI Flash α||Ness (18)||8||Random crying/strange (all enemies)|
|PSI Flash β||Ness (38)||19||α + numbness/death|
|PSI Flash γ||Ness (61)||24||α + numbness/death (better chance)|
|PSI Flash Ω||Ness (67)||32||α + numbness/death (best chance)|
|PSI Fire α||Paula (3)||6||60-100 damage to one row|
|PSI Fire β||Paula (19)||12||120-200 damage to one row|
|PSI Fire γ||Paula (37)||20||180-300 damage to one row|
|PSI Fire Ω||Paula (64)||42||240-400 damage to one row|
|PSI Freeze α||Paula (1), Poo (15)||4||135-255 damage to one enemy|
|PSI Freeze β||Paula (11), Poo (15)||9||270-450 damage to one enemy|
|PSI Freeze γ||Paula (31), Poo (33)||18||405-675 damage to one enemy|
|PSI Freeze Ω||Paula (46)||28||540-900 damage to one enemy|
|PSI Starstorm α||Poo (event)||24||270-450 damage to all enemies|
|PSI Starstorm Ω||Poo (event)||42||540-900 damage to all enemies|
|PSI Thunder α||Paula (8), Poo (15)||3||60-180 damage to one enemy|
|PSI Thunder β||Paula (25), Poo (15)||7||60-180 damage to one enemy (x2)|
|PSI Thunder γ||Paula (57), Poo (41)||16||100-300 damage to one enemy (x3)|
|PSI Thunder Ω||Poo (55)||20||100-300 damage to one enemy (x4)|
|PSI Ability||Learned By (Lv.)||PP||Effect|
|Hypnosis α||Ness (4)||6||Puts one enemy to sleep|
|Hypnosis Ω||Ness (27)||18||Puts all enemies to sleep|
|Shield α||Ness (12), Poo (15)||6||Shields one ally|
|Shield Σ||Poo (15)||18||Shields all allies|
|Shield β||Ness (34), Poo (16)||10||Power shields one ally|
|Shield Ω||Poo (51)||30||Power shields all allies|
|PSI Shield α||Paula (6)||8||Psychic shields one ally|
|PSI Shield Σ||Paula (26)||24||Psychic shields all allies|
|PSI Shield β||Paula (51)||14||Psychic power shields one ally|
|PSI Shield Ω||Paula (60)||42||Psychic power shields all allies|
|Brainshock α||Poo (24)||10||Makes one enemy feel strange|
|Brainshock Ω||Poo (44)||30||Makes all enemies feel strange|
|Paralysis α||Ness (14)||8||Paralyzes one enemy|
|Paralysis Ω||Ness (29)||24||Paralyzes all enemies|
|Offense Up α||Paula (21)||10||Raises one ally's offense|
|Offense Up Ω||Paula (40)||30||Raises all allies' offense|
|Defense Down α||Paula (29)||6||Decreases one enemy's defense|
|Defense Down Ω||Paula (54)||18||Decreases all enemies' defense|
The game's various "Shield" abilities apply different effects when used. Reusing the same Shield ability consecutively will apply a "layering" effect and extend the duration of the shield; using a different Shield ability will cancel the previous shield's effects.
- Shield α and Shield Σ apply a basic shield that reduces damage received from physical attacks by 50%.
- Shield β and Shield Ω apply a "power shield" that reduces damage received from physical attacks by 50%, as well as reflecting some of the damage back at the attacker.
- PSI Shield α and PSI Shield Σ apply a psychic shield that blocks an enemy's PSI attack.
- PSI Shield β and PSI Shield Ω apply a psychic "power shield" that reflects an enemy's PSI attack back at the attacker.
Offense Up and Defense Down can also be "layered" to increase their effectiveness.
|PSI Ability||Learned By (Lv.)||PP||Effect|
|Teleport α||Ness (event), Poo (17)||2||Teleport to previously-visited towns|
|Teleport β||Ness (event), Poo (18)||8||Teleport to previously-visited towns|
Teleport α requires enough clearance for a running start, while Teleport β can be used in more confined areas, as it only requires enough room for the characters to run in a spiral.
EarthBound's story begins at Ness' home in the outskirts of Onett, a small town in the nation of Eagleland. A meteorite crashes into the foothills behind Ness' house late one night, waking Ness and his family. Ness hikes up to the crash site and finds his nosy neighbor Pokey pestering several police officers assigned to investigate the impact crater. After returning home, Ness is woken again later that night by a loud knocking at his front door; Pokey bursts in to explain that his younger brother Picky is missing and coerces Ness to help look for him. Accompanied by his dog King, Ness and Pokey reach the meteorite and find Picky napping nearby; however, as they begin to leave, an insect-like creature named Buzz Buzz emerges from a beam of light.
Buzz Buzz has traveled back in time from ten years in the future to warn Ness about Giygas, an interstellar warlord that has conquered Earth in Buzz Buzz's own time. However, the "Apple of Enlightenment" has predicted that four children are destined to change history by defeating Giygas in the present. Buzz Buzz accompanies Ness back to Pokey's house, but along the way the party is suddenly confronted by a Starman Junior, one of Giygas' agents sent back in time to assassinate Buzz Buzz and his newfound allies. Buzz Buzz demonstrates considerable psychic abilities during their battle and easily defeats this powerful enemy; he also explains that Giygas has already begun to influence the evil that exists inside other living creatures and even inanimate objects, causing them to become hostile towards anyone that stands against Giygas.
Ness safely escorts Pokey and Picky home, but Buzz Buzz is tragically killed by Pokey's mother after being mistaken for a dung beetle. With his last breath, Buzz Buzz entrusts Ness with an artifact called the Sound Stone. Ness must visit eight “Your Sanctuary” locations scattered across the world and record their melodies, which will allow Ness and his friends to defeat Giygas.
Ness ventures into town the next morning in search of the first melody at Giant Step, one of Onett's local landmarks. He also learns that the Sharks, Onett's gang of street punks, have recently become much more aggressive. The path leading to Giant Step has been locked by the police under orders from Mayor B. H. Pirkle, who asks Ness to deal with the Sharks in return for the key. Ness fights his way through the Sharks' hangout at the local arcade and confronts their leader, Frank Fly, as well as his homemade tank "Frankystein Mk. II". Frank immediately reforms after his defeat, pledging his support to Ness and promising to keep the Sharks in line.
After retrieving Pirkle's key (and promising not to hold the mayor responsible for any accidents), Ness battles through the cave leading to Giant Step and defeats its guardian Titanic Ant, receiving the first "Your Sanctuary" melody as a reward. However, an irate police officer scolds Ness for trespassing as he leaves the cave and directs him to report to the Police Station. Ness is attacked by a group of crooked cops lead by Captain Strong at the station; after beating them up, Captain Strong radios his officers at the roadblock, instructing them to re-open the road south to Twoson.
Soon after leaving Onett, Ness begins receiving telepathic messages in his dreams from someone named Paula pleading for help. The town of Twoson is also buzzing about Paula's recent kidnapping, eventually leading Ness to lock horns with Mr. Everdred, the crime boss of Burglin Park. Everdred reveals that Paula was taken to a place called Happy Happy Village by followers of a strange blue-worshiping cult led by a man named Carpainter. Ness attempts to head through Peaceful Rest Valley to reach the cult's base, but the path is blocked by a large pencil-shaped object. Returning to Twoson, Ness befriends the unkempt inventor Apple Kid and receives his newest invention, the Pencil Eraser, which removes the obstruction.
After reaching Happy Happy Village, Ness finds the small cabin where Paula is imprisoned. She gives Ness the Franklin Badge for protection against Carpainter, who also holds the key to her cell. Pokey suddenly appears outside the cabin and reveals himself to be Carpainter's lackey before sending more cultists to attack Ness. With the Franklin Badge's lightning-reflecting capabilities, Ness returns to the Happy Happyists' headquarters and soundly beats Carpainter, who claims to have begun acting strangely after acquiring the Mani Mani Statue from Lier X. Agerate. Carpainter's cult immediately dissolves, allowing Ness to easily free Paula from the cabin. Before returning to Twoson, the pair visit nearby Lilliput Steps, the second “Your Sanctuary” location, and defeat Mondo Mole to record the location's melody.
Bus service to the next town, Threed, resumes after Ness and Paula return to Twoson; however, the connecting tunnel is filled with ghosts which prevent buses from actually reaching Threed. Their only lead is Everdred, who had asked Ness to return to him after rescuing Paula. When Ness meets Everdred again, he gifts a large wad of bills to the party worth exactly $10,000. Ness and Paula visit Twoson's Chaos Theater, a music venue currently hosting a group called the Runaway Five. One of the band's frontmen gives Ness free tickets to the show and explains that the Runaway Five is trapped in Twoson by a phony contract drawn up by Mr. Poochyfud, the theater manager. Ness hands Everdred's cash to Poochyfud, who excitedly rips up the contract. The grateful Runaway Five members offer Ness and Paula a lift to Threed before continuing onto their next venue in Fourside; the band's loud music prevents ghosts from attacking their tour bus.
Zombies run amok in Threed, a gloomy town where even the sun has stopped shining. Ness and Paula question the terrified locals who have retreated into the center of town as a last defense; they mention a secret tunnel in the town's graveyard that seems to be the source of the undead. The party investigates the graveyard and find the passage blocked by a pair of zombie sentries. When they return to town, Ness notices a suspicious woman loitering outside the Threed Sunset Hotel. Following the woman inside leads Ness and Paula straight into an ambush, and they are quickly rendered unconscious by several zombies. The pair awaken in an underground cell, causing Paula to call out telepathically in desperation.
Paula's psychic call reaches across the ocean toward Winters, a snowy country far to the north of Eagleland, and is heard by a young student named Jeff attending Snow Wood Boarding School. Jeff wakes up in the middle of the night and immediately sets out to find Paula; with the assistance of his best friend Tony, Jeff climbs over the school gate and begins his journey south. He also meets the gum-loving Bubble Monkey, who joins Jeff's party. The pair soon reach the northern shore of Lake Tess, the habitat of a mythical creature named Tessie. Strange winds begin to blow, prompting Bubble Monkey to blow a bubble that lifts him towards Tessie's emerging head. Jeff and Bubble Monkey ride Tessie to the southern shore, passing through Brick Road's simple dungeon as well as the famous Stonehenge before Bubble Monkey leaves to pursue an attractive female monkey. Jeff finally reaches the laboratory of his father, Dr. Andonuts, where the two share an awkward reunion after several years. Dr. Andonuts also gives Jeff the Sky Runner, a flying saucer capable of long-distance travel. Jeff bids his father farewell and flies to Threed to rescue Ness and Paula from their cell under the graveyard, accidentally wrecking the Sky Runner in the process.
Ness and his friends continue their search for a way through the graveyard, eventually defeating a strange monster south of Threed known as Boogey Tent. The animated circus tent was guarding a jar of Fly Honey: the favorite food of the zombies' leader, a disgusting entity named Master Belch. Apple Kid also calls Ness to notify him about the delivery of his next invention, an anti-zombie weapon called "Zombie Paper". Ness spreads the sticky paper inside the circus tent in the center of town, trapping all of the zombies inside the tent by the next morning and opening the path through the graveyard.
The party battles through the subterranean passage and emerges near Grapefruit Falls, the location of Master Belch's secret base. Without a password, Ness is denied entry to the base and instead visits nearby Saturn Valley, home of the odd but friendly Mr. Saturns. One Mr. Saturn gives Ness a hint to reach Belch's base: stand still for three minutes. The party returns to the base and easily defeats Belch by distracting him with the Jar of Fly Honey, rescuing several enslaved Mr. Saturns along their way. After resting in Saturn Valley's hot springs, Ness and his friends battle the Trillionage Sprout at Milky Well, the third "Your Sanctuary" location, and receive its melody before trekking back to a much brighter and safer Threed.
Heavy gridlock on the highway forces the party's bus to stop in Dusty Dunes Desert. They detour on foot across an expanse of scalding desert sands and eventually reach the metropolis of Fourside, a bustling city controlled by reclusive business tycoon and mayor Geldegarde Monotoli. Pokey has also reappeared in Fourside and now works closely with Monotoli as his business aide. After returning to Dusty Dunes to clear out a mole-infested gold mine, the appreciative mine owners give Ness a large Diamond as a reward. Coincidentally, the Runaway Five have once again been cheated by a crooked manager, this time at Fourside's Topolla Theater, and the band is in debt for one million dollars. Ness' Diamond more than covers their debt and the party is treated to one last performance of the band, who promise to help Ness and his friends someday soon in return for their incredible generosity.
Fourside's multi-story Department Store reopens its doors soon afterward, but Paula is kidnapped during a sudden blackout when the party tries to exit the building. Ness and Jeff reach the top floor and defeat the Department Store Spook, who reveals that Paula is being held by Giygas' minions inside the heavily-guarded Monotoli Building. With no way to bypass Monotoli's security, Ness and Jeff hit the streets of Fourside for leads. Their investigation leads them to popular local hangout Jackie's Café; after questioning the patrons, the boys hear a commotion outside and find Everdred lying injured in an alley. The crime boss explains how he had stolen the Mani Mani Statue from Carpainter in order to sell it to Monotoli, but Everdred was betrayed by Monotoli and left for dead. Everdred also gives Ness a hint on how to reach the world of Moonside through the Café, which supposedly leads to Monotoli himself.
Ness and Jeff emerge in Moonside, a dangerously-twisted version of Fourside where the inhabitants spout gibberish and nothing is as it seems. After getting their bearings, the boys wind through the labyrinthine streets and reach the mirror version of the Monotoli Building at the city's center. They find Monotoli cowering in front of the evil Mani Mani Statue, which attacks the party with powerful PSI abilities before being destroyed by Ness and Jeff. The moment the statue breaks, the pair find themselves standing in an empty warehouse behind Jackie's Café; apparently the world of Moonside was only an illusion generated by the Mani Mani. Although the source of Monotoli's power has been destroyed, Monotoli himself escapes from the Café, leaving the party without any further leads towards rescuing Paula.
Apple Kid soon calls Ness to inform him about his latest invention, a Gourmet Yogurt Dispenser, that is being sent via Escargot Express' "Neglected Class". Unfortunately, the courier responsible for the delivery arrives empty-handed, but he mentions the package was lost down a hole somewhere in Dusty Dunes Desert. This hole turns out to be the Monkey Cave, a large simian colony watched over by the prophet Talah Rama, who discusses the party's destiny before turning Apple Kid's yogurt dispenser over to Ness. One of the monkeys also teaches PSI Teleport to Ness, allowing the party to instantly warp between previously-visited areas.
Ness and Jeff return to Fourside and meet Electra, a housemaid who works in the Monotoli Building. She is thrilled to finally locate a yogurt dispenser and invites Ness to Monotoli's private penthouse on the forty-eighth floor. The duo arrive and easily gain access to the penthouse; however, a Clumsy Robot blocks the door leading to Paula and unleashes a salvo of powerful attacks. Suddenly, members of the Runaway Five rush into the room and switch off the robot, allowing Ness and Jeff to proceed and confront Monotoli, who apologizes profusely for the kidnapping and immediately releases Paula. Monotoli even offers his own private helicopter for the party's use, but it is stolen by Pokey in a dramatic escape; Monotoli explains that Pokey is heading for Summers, a coastal resort town. The party hitches a ride back to Threed on the Runaway Five's tour bus so that Jeff can make repairs to the Sky Runner. After a brief stopover in Winters to visit the fourth "Your Sanctuary" location at Rainy Circle, Dr. Andonuts upgrades the Sky Runner's range so that it can reach Summers.
Summers & Scaraba
The Sky Runner does not survive its second crash-landing on Summers' sandy beaches; Ness and his friends emerge relatively unscathed and begin exploring their surroundings. Finding evidence of Pokey's recent presence, the party soon wanders into the neighboring port town of Toto and finds a charter boat captain that can sail across the sea to Scaraba, Pokey's next destination. However, the captain can't sail until his wife leaves the Stoic Club, an avant-garde and exclusive club for intellectuals in Summers. Ness obtains the club's secret phone number and makes reservations; after finding the captain's wife, she agrees to resume her business as a street vendor selling Magic Cake. One bite of the confection sends Ness into a strange dream-like state, where he observes a young man in foreign clothing undergoing intense training.
Meanwhile, in the far-distant country of Dalaam, Prince Poo is on the brink of completing his special "Mu training". After a particularly intense session of deep meditation, Poo's master acknowledges his pupil's success and instructs the young prince to accompany Ness, a child hero from Eagleland who has recently arrived in Summers. Poo immediately teleports to Summers and pledges his loyalty to Ness and his friends; Poo's ruby also allows the party to enter a special exhibit inside Summers' Cultural Museum, where they learn about a certain Pyramid in Scaraba that happens to be of great interest to Pokey. Ness soon receives a strange call from the curator of Fourside's Dinosaur Museum, Mr. Spoon. He implores Ness to retrieve the signature of Venus, the hot new singer at the Topolla Theater. Venus obliges by signing a banana peel, allowing the party to enter a hidden manhole in the Dinosaur Museum leading into Fourside's sewers; at the sewer's end lies the fifth "Your Sanctuary" spot at Magnet Hill. A key found at Magnet Hill also opens the path to Pink Cloud in Dalaam, the sixth "Your Sanctuary", where the powerful Thunder and Storm brothers conjure up devastating lightning attacks.
With only two melodies remaining, Ness and his friends charter a boat and sail to Scaraba, but they are attacked by the fearsome Kraken, scourge of the seven seas. They sink the monster and make port in Scaraba before crossing the searing desert to reach the Sphinx. After solving its riddle, the party battles through the Pyramid and retrieves the Hawk Eye, an ancient gem that can pierce through any darkness. The wise Star Master greets the party upon exiting the Pyramid and asks Poo to accompany him, offering special training in a new PSI technique called "Starstorm". Poo is whisked away while Ness, Jeff and Paula continue through southern Scaraba and eventually reach Dungeon Man, Brick Road's ultimate creation; in fact, Dungeon Man is literally Brick Road himself, who was transformed by Dr. Andonuts into a living dungeon after meeting Jeff in Winters.
Dungeon Man's interior proves to be a lengthy trek, but the trio eventually reach Brick Road's face embedded in a wall, who agrees to accompany Ness and his friends for awhile before getting wedged between several nearby palm trees. Although he can no longer move, Dungeon Man still offers to assist the party with an old submarine he had kept in his collection. Jeff repairs the vehicle and the group sets off across the ocean towards the stinking swamps of Deep Darkness.
Deep Darkness & Lost Underworld
Mobility is a luxury in Deep Darkness, a jungle so thick that no sunlight reaches the ground. Using the power of the Hawk Eye, Ness and company slowly forge ahead and battle a revitalized Master Belch (now calling himself Master Barf); Poo returns during the battle and demonstrates his new Starstorm technique, putting an end to Barf once and for all. The party also stumbles across Pokey's crashed helicopter before discovering Tenda Village, a tribe of diminutive green creatures afflicted with crippling shyness. The tribe's chief mentions a certain book that might alleviate their condition but offers no leads on where to find it.
As the party leaves the village, Apple Kid calls again to inform Ness about Dr. Andonuts' recent disappearance just before being abducted himself by an unknown assailant. His counterpart Orange Kid calls immediately afterward and mentions Apple Kid was last seen near Dr. Andonuts' lab; several more abductions have taken place by the time Ness reaches the lab. Apple Kid's pet mouse explains how his master was taken beneath Stonehenge by aliens and passes on the Eraser Eraser, Apple Kid's last invention, which clears the path to the aliens' underground base.
Several varieties of hostile aliens roam beneath Stonehenge including Giygas' elite force of Starmen troops. Deep inside the alien base, the party discovers the abductees encased in glass tubes before encountering Starman DX, the base's leader. Defeating this powerful psychic shuts down Stonehenge Base and releases the human captives, including Apple Kid, who mentions a book he recently returned to Onett's Library titled "Overcoming Shyness". Ness warps to Onett and locates the book, giving much-needed confidence to the taciturn Tenda tribe and opening a new passage underneath the village leading to the seventh "Your Sanctuary", Lumine Hall.
Another hole at the end of Lumine Hall drops the party into an enormous subterranean cave known as the Lost World, an area filled with prehistoric creatures. A splinter tribe of less-shy Tenda also inhabit the area; inside their protective enclosure, the party meets a talking rock who expounds upon the nature of the world's "Your Sanctuary" locations before directing Ness towards Fire Spring and the final melody. Lava flows and suffocating heat are nothing compared to the firey enemies that attack Ness and his friends here, culminating in a grueling two-part boss battle against the blazing Carbon Dog and the nearly-invulnerable Diamond Dog. Once both dogs have been brought to heel, Ness reaches the sanctuary spot and finally completes the Sound Stone's melody, causing him to suddenly fall into a deep slumber.
Ness dreams of himself as an infant exhibiting his psychic abilities for the very first time. The scenery changes, and Ness finds himself in his pajamas wandering amidst the surreal and colorful landscape of Magicant, a world of dreams inside his own mind. The images of several familiar characters such as Pokey and Everdred also appear in Magicant, and Ness' family offers him a place to rest. The Star Master explains that Magicant is a reflection of Ness' psyche, and that Ness must confront the evil that exists inside himself. Flying Men, symbols of Ness' courage, fight alongside Ness as he winds down the spiraling path leading into the Sea of Eden, a representation of his subconscious.
Mighty Kraken guard the shallow Sea of Eden and the strange golden object that lies at its center, which turns out to be a nightmare image of the Mani Mani Statue. Ness battles the familiar manifestation of evil and destroys it, overcoming the hatred in his own heart and unlocking his true psychic potential. The Sound Stone he once held disappears, and Ness awakens back in Fire Spring to see Paula, Jeff and Poo standing over him. After a short reunion, the party steels their resolve and teleports to Saturn Valley to begin preparations for the final battle.
Upon returning to Saturn Valley, the team finds that Dr. Andonuts has constructed a spatial warp device called the Phase Distorter II; the original Phase Distorter was recently stolen by Pokey. After an unsuccessful test run, Dr. Andonuts determines that Zexonyte, an exotic rare element, is necessary to complete the new device; however, Zexonyte does not occur naturally on Earth and can only be found in meteorites. Ness and his friends teleport back to Onett and find the town in total chaos; powerful aliens terrorize the darkened streets and the local residents have barricaded themselves indoors. After checking on Ness' family, the party pushes on through Onett's foothills and retrieves a chunk of the still-glowing meteorite.
Dr. Andonuts installs the Zexonyte while Ness and company rest up and replenish their items. After saying their goodbyes to the residents of Saturn Valley, the team climb aboard the Phase Distorter II and warp to a strange yet familiar cave in the Lost Underworld. They discover the wreck of the original Phase Distorter nearby, but Pokey is nowhere to be found. Yet another machine piloted by Dr. Andonuts soon appears inside the cave: the Phase Distorter III, which can warp both time and space. Giygas cannot be defeated in the present, but the chosen four may stand a chance by fighting him in the distant past. Unfortunately, time travel destroys organic matter, so the party agree to have their consciousnesses transferred into four humanoid robots before embarking on the last leg of their journey.
The Cave of the Past proves to be a harrowing gauntlet of the game's most powerful enemies, but Ness and his friends continue forward. Eventually the rocky terrain gives way to a pulsating organic chamber containing what looks like a gigantic eyeball. When the party approaches, the eye suddenly dilates, revealing Ness' own face in the center. Pokey appears as well to explain that despite the Apple of Enlightenment's prediction, Giygas cannot be defeated. Giygas is no longer just a supremely-evil being; he has become evil itself. True to his word, the party's attacks have no effect as Giygas begins his devastating psychic assault. Ness and his friends regroup and focus their energy toward Pokey, who is soon forced to retreat. Before leaving, Pokey switches off the "Devil's Machine", a device that had kept Giygas' incalculable power in check. This reveals the true face of their enemy: a swirling, nebulous mass of evil power with no discernible form or consciousness.
Giygas' attacks in this state are indistinct, yet overwhelmingly powerful; there is no defense against them, psychic or otherwise. As the party endures the onslaught, Pokey reappears to taunt Ness at the brink of his defeat and mentions that at this point even praying would be useless. Ironically, Paula's "Pray" command turns out to be the key to victory; her prayers are somehow sent out across time and space, reaching the hearts of those people whose lives were touched by the party's positive energy. As the game's various characters across the world begin to pray, their energy is directed back towards Giygas, dealing increasing amounts of damage. Eventually, even the player is called upon to pray for the safety of Ness and his friends, causing a ludicrous amount of critical damage against Giygas. The evil entity spits incomprehensible gibberish in his death throes and slowly dissolves into a familiar red static, finally ending Earth's long war against Giygas.
The battered mechanical shells of Ness, Paula, Jeff and Poo lie motionless on the ground after their victory, but their souls manage to return to their bodies in Saturn Valley, where they receive a hero's welcome. Poo returns to Dalaam's throne, Jeff reunites with his father Dr. Andonuts, and Ness agrees to escort Paula back to Twoson before returning home to his family in Onett, where they view a photo album compiled during his journey.
After the credits roll, Ness is once again awoken in the middle of the night by loud knocking. This time Picky enters and hands over a letter addressed to Ness from Pokey, which reads: "Come and get me, loser! Spankety spankety spankety!"
Cast of Characters
- Ness - The main protagonist of the game. A plucky, if a little quiet, boy with untapped psychic potential that began manifesting as early as when he was an infant. He lives at home with his supportive mother and (presumably) hard working father, who is never actually seen in the course of the game. When a meteor crashes near his house in the suburbs of Onett he goes to investigate with his selfish, rude neighbor, who thinks Ness is his best friend, and his life changes forever. After a visit from Buzz-Buzz, a bee from the future, he is called to arms against the intergalactic warlord Giygas. Ness' primary psychic attack takes the name of whatever is listed as the players favorite thing, the primary default name is "Rockin".
- Paula - An extremely powerful psychic raised by her parents in the Polestar Preschool in the city of Twoson. She calls to Ness in his dreams, saying she's in danger, and trying to give him hints as to where she is, but she doesn't know exactly where that is. When Ness reaches Twoson, it turns out she's been abducted. Ness gives chase, leading him through a treacherous mountain to the other side of a large river. When Ness arrives, all he sees are cultists espousing Happy Happyism. Investigation later leads him to Paula, after which the cultists turn hostile. Ness defeats the Carpainter, using the Franklin badge provided by Paula to deflect his lightning, and she agrees to come with him afterward. She lends her powerful psychic attacks, as well as her unpredictable "prayer" action. She attacks using a frying pan, and can equip ribbons.
- Jeff - A super-genius at a private school in Winters. After an unfortunate run-in with some zombies and other undead menaces in Threed, Paula uses her psychic powers to reach out and call Jeff. With his best friend's aid, he breaks out of the oddly secure school after looting several cookies and barely-working weapons. He makes his way to Threed, with the help of a gum addicted Bubble Monkey, the legendary Nessie, and his father, who fails to recognize him, Dr. Andonuts' spaceship, he crashes through the ground in Threed, and using a brilliant invention, liberates the trapped duo. There are items throughout the game that only he can use, most notably the super-powerful bottle-rockets, and he can even wield guns in battle.
- Poo - A disciplined martial artist who is on the brink of completing his training when he is introduced to us. Unlike other party members, who are summoned psychically, Poo is brought into the dapper trio after Ness eats some suspect "magic cake" at the Stoic Club in the resort town of Summers. Poo lives in the mystical floating country of Dalaam, and as he goes to complete his "Mu training," the spirits of his ancestors arrive and destroy his body, taking away everything he has. His acceptance of the loss completes the training, and he uses his teleport skill to join Ness and company. Not only is he powerful unarmed combatant with his fists, but can find get special items that only he can use. He briefly leaves the party to learn the mighty Psi-Starstorm.
- Ness' Mom - A sweet and caring woman who supports Ness in all his endeavors and loves meeting his friends. The party can visit her anytime to rest and receive a hearty helping of Ness' favorite food.
- Tracy - Ness' sister. Shortly after Ness leaves home, she gets a part-time job working for Escargot Express and can store or deliver items for the party's use.
- Ness' Dad - Represented by a ringing telephone, Ness' absentee father supplies the party with cash based on defeated enemies; he can also save the game.
- King - Ness' dog. While very brave when he initially joins the party, King gets scared once Ness reaches the meteor site and runs back home, where he remains for the rest of the game.
- Buzz Buzz - A sentient insect who has traveled through time to warn Ness about his devastated future. Just before his untimely death he passes on the Sound Stone, an artifact which gives Ness the power to defeat Giygas.
- Apple Kid - A young inventor with a shabby appearance and a serious lack of funding. Apple Kid's research yields several useful items throughout the course of the game.
- Dr. Andonuts - The somewhat-negligent father of Jeff who doesn't even recognize his own son immediately, but does provide several useful inventions throughout the game.
- Brick Road / Dungeon Man - A man obsessed with RPG clichés who has constructed a short dungeon to challenge would-be adventurers. He appears to be friendly, giving the party helpful items and opportunities to rest, as well as signs to guide them along the way. After being transformed by Dr. Andonuts into a living dungeon himself, Dungeon Man eventually becomes wedged between two trees in southern Scaraba, but he doesn't seem too disturbed by the development.
- Picky Minch - Pokey's younger brother. In reality, he is actually more responsible and much braver than Pokey. His role as support for the party is brief, but he can be helpful on the way back from the meteor crash site near Ness' house.
- Mr. Saturn - Strange creatures that inhabit Saturn Valley. After being freed from slavery inside Master Belch's secret base, the Mr. Saturns support Ness and his friends during their final battle against Giygas.
- Giygas - An alien warlord who has set his sights on Earth. He is also an impossibly powerful psychic; in the future, Giygas has already succeeded in conquering the known universe. According to Mother's backstory, Giygas (or Giegue) was raised by a human named Maria. When Maria's husband stole the secrets of PSI from Giygas' race, Giygas swore vengance against humanity. He was stopped by Maria's great-grandson Ninten, the protagonist of Mother, and his friends. Giygas was ultimately defeated by his own emotional connection to a song taught to him by Maria; after his defeat, he resolves to seek out evil so strong that it would harden him against such weakness. Evidently he succeeded, becoming himself a nebulous mass of pure evil.
- Pokey Minch - Ness' selfish, overweight neighbor and outspoken acquaintance. After hearing Buzz-Buzz's grim warning about the future, Pokey quickly joins what he calls "the winning side" and abducts Paula in the name of Giygas. He is extremely cowardly and even pretends to reform during the course of the game, only to immediately taunt Ness again before fleeing.
- Frank Fly - The leader of Onett's gang of Sharks who also serves as Ness' first major boss fight. Frank uses a pair of knives to attack, as well as lowering Ness' Guts with nasty remarks. Once he's defeated, Frank climbs into his homemade robotic tank "Frankystein Mk. II" for a surprise rematch. After destroying Frank's tank, Frank immediately reforms and will restore the party's HP and PP at any time, offering words of encouragement to Ness and his friends.
- Mani Mani Statue - This strange gold horned statue resembling an Academy Award "Oscar" statuette seemingly stalks Ness and company throughout much the game. Wherever they go, the statue is always close behind, emitting a disturbing aura. Not until the land of Moonside is the Mani-Mani revealed for what it truly is: a symbol of evil. The statue makes one final appearance in Magicant as Ness' Nightmare.
- Master Belch - A hideous blue blob utterly dedicated to Giygas who is responsible for the plague of zombies that overrun the town of Threed. He possesses a crippling addiction to "fly honey" and has kidnapped several Mr. Saturn to aid in the manufacture of the substance. Master Belch later reappears in the Deep Darkness as the palette-swapped Master Barf.
North American Retail Release
Before even plugging the game in the system, players were greeted by an amazingly large box for EarthBound. The reason for the large size was very simple: Nintendo included an official player's guide for the game inside every copy of the game. It was a full color and full length guide, with pages adorned by clay sculptures of many of the enemies in game. Similar clay sculptures were made for the official Mother 3 fanguide, created by the devoted fans at Starmen.net and Fangamer.
Also included in the guide were six scratch and sniff cards, with pictures of some of the grosser enemies of the game, Master Barf included. Also included was a mystery scratch and sniff card, where the purchaser could send in a guess to Nintendo about what they were smelling. The correct answer? Pizza. Players who correctly guessed the answer found a package from Nintendo weeks later, containing an Earthbound branded air freshener, which smelled like pizza as well and had an image of the Mach Pizza delivery man.
EarthBound's soundtrack was produced by Hiroshi Kanazu, Keiichi Suzuki, and Hirokazu Tanaka and released only in Japan by Sony Records. It doesn't contain all of the tracks from Earthbound but only most of the best ones. The last 3 songs are not in the game at all but they are interesting remixes (shown as "PSI Mixes") of other songs in the game. Due to popular demand in Japan this album was re-released with Mother 1+2 in 2004
- Ness' name is an anagram for SNES, or just a reference to Nintendo's first system, the NES.
- The character name Lier X. Agerate is wordplay of Liar Exaggerate.
- The towns of Earthbound have numbers in their name according to the order Ness travels to. ONEtt, TWOson, THREEd, FOURside. These places may also mean that their sum is ten. Like in SUMmers and TENda Village.
- According to Mother franchise creator Shigesato Itoi, Jeff's friend Tony is gay.
- The invention called the Sky Runner was originally called the Sky Walker, but it was changed to avoid copyright issues with Star Wars, which features characters with the surname Skywalker.
- Itoi claims much of the game is based on his personal experiences. For instance, the final boss's dialogue is based on a recollection from his childhood of accidentally wandering into an exploitation movie and witnessing an onscreen rape. The movie The Military Policeman and the Dismembered Beauty (an obscure Japanese mystery film) is said to influence Giygas.
- The game contains several Beatles references. For example, there is a yellow submarine whose color is "purely coincidental" and an non-player character who gives the player a pop quiz "A Beatles song, XXXterday. Can you fill in the blanks?" with the choices being 'Yes' or 'No'. There are several alleged samples from Beatles songs in some of the game's music.
- Internal code was written to check for genuine Super Nintendo devices, by detecting the total RAM count. Upon failing these checksum tests, the game is modified to show an anti-piracy message at start-up. While playing the game in this state, the world is populated with exponentially more enemy encounters than normal. Should the player make it all the way to the final boss, the game intentionally freezes before the fight begins, and upon restarting the game, all save data is erased. These effects can be replicated using a cheat code device.
- There is a girl in Magicant who, in the English localization, introduces herself as Nico before inviting Ness to sing, dance, and play with her. This character is not named in the original Japanese text. Localization editor Marcus Lindblom was given permission to insert his newborn daughter's name in the game.