By Hailinel 5 Comments
EarthBound. That cult favorite RPG that fans have implored for a re-release for years, and may never get, because of the Beatles. Yes, the Beatles. Though the game contains more than a few potential copyright violations that could lead to lawsuits from one of the most litigious music acts this side of Metallica, the game is equally well-known for its weird, whimsical characters, storyline, and world. And when the fate of that world partially depends on a socially inept mess with an apple for a haircut, you know that you’re in for something a little off the beaten path. This of course also holds true for the final boss; Giygas.
Giygas, whose name was, according to an old Nintendo Power article, at one point going to be localized as “The Geek” (we all dodged a bullet on that one), is a monstrosity of pure evil. Assisted by Ness’s portly asshole neighbor Pokey, it uses attacks that the game itself describes as being beyond comprehension. Its powers influence the evil in the hearts of people everywhere. Even supposedly peaceful new-age retro hippies are influenced to charge at our heroes and get beaten back by baseball bats and frying pans as a result.
Without the intervention of the heroes, Giygas will eventually conquer the world. We know this because a time-traveling bee with the ability to communicate with humans warns Ness of this danger. And if you can’t trust a time-traveling bee that can communicate with humans, who can you trust?
Now, as whimsical and nostalgic as EarthBound is, Giygas is an underbelly of pure darkness. Shigesato Itoi, the creator of the Mother series, took part of his inspiration for Giygas from a traumatic childhood experience. He wandered into a movie theater he hadn’t meant to enter and bore witness to a scene from a film entitled The Military Policeman and the Dismembered Beauty. And if the title alone isn’t alarming enough, he happened to wander in during a rape scene. Or at least, what his young self perceived to be one.
But despite all of the struggles that the heroes endure to face off with Earth's fated conqueror, Giygas can’t be destroyed through normal means. Bats, frying pans, PP, bottle rockets; they alone are not enough to stop the manifestation of evil incarnate. No, in the end, when all is nearly lost, there is only one thing that can save the world. The power of prayer.
Now, this isn’t some crazy religious message that the game is espousing. That came earlier in the game with the appearance of a cult that worshiped the color blue. No, quite literally, the most damaging weapon in the party’s arsenal is prayer. Specifically, the party member Paula has a battle ability called “Pray.” Throughout 99.999% of the game, this ability is useless and does absolutely nothing. That is, unless you’re intent on wasting a turn. In which case, hey, good show, champ.
But if you want to stop Giygas and save the world, prayer is your only option. Only through repeated prayer, which gradually leads the rest of the world to pray for the party in turn, can provide the power to stop Giygas in his tracks. A demonstration of collective human will brings pure evil to a halt. It is a beautiful thing.
Also, it is a beautiful thing that players that pirated the game weren’t able to experience for themselves. The sneaky programmers that coded EarthBound put a trigger in the game that would go off if it detected that it was pirated. If the player managed to get all the way to Giygas, the game would freeze just before the final battle could begin. And while I’m sure that this trigger was eventually worked around, it had to be a huge kick in the junk for those that first encountered it. I don’t know who had the idea to implement this little feature, but to the dedicated sadist responsible, I salute you.