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In the Japanese version, Porky and his brother are spanked off camera by their father after you bring them back home at the start of the game. In the American version, the sound effect was changed to the one later used when enemies use "verbal attacks" (which has its own implications relating to emotional abuse), though Pokey still ends up being banned from dessert for the rest of the decade.
Also, when you talk to Porky after that off-camera incident, he'll say, "My butt hurts!" in the original version, while in the U.S. version, Pokey says, "My dad really got after me. He said I get no dessert for the rest of the decade..."
The Ace: Ness. Pretty much everyone he knows tell him what a brave, outgoing, smart, adorable, and all-around excellent person he is. His neighbor and "friend" Pokey ontheotherhand...
Adorkable: Jeff has thick glasses and wears a dork suit everywhere, but he also have an adorable woobie-ish side as well.
Adults Are Useless: You have to stop a gang in your hometown because the cops and mayor cannot figure it out, you have to save Paula because her dad is too scared and worried to do it alone, you have to get the zombies out of Threed because no one there knows what to do, you have to get the Runaway Five out of crippling debt twice...
Adventure Towns: One city is filled with delinquent children, another has a cultist group just around the corner, another is in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse...
Ness, Jeff, Paula and... Poo? Heck, even Ness may qualify.
Talk to the Sanchez brothers in the desert between Threed and Fourside. In order, their names are Pancho, Pincho, and Tomas Jefferson.
A.I. Roulette: More striking because there are multiple AI moves that do nothing, and still more that inflict bad status effects on the enemy that uses them. Much of this, though, serves to enhance the game's odd world and contribute to the Rule of Funny.
Aliens Speaking English: Giygas apparently does. Well chronicling the events in Mother 1, he was raised by humans after all...
All Cavemen Were Neanderthals: One of the enemies hanging out around stonehenge is the stereotypical neanderthal, complete with fur tunic and club.
All for Nothing: According to Leder in the sequel, the world was destroyed by humans an indeterminable number of years after the events of this game. So, it depends on your view on things, but this is a particularly bleak yet completely legitimate way of looking at the ending. Then again, if you hadn't fought Giygas, the whole universe would've ceased to exist, let alone what's left of humanity before the events of Mother 3.
Arc Villain: Prominent in the first half of the game, with Frank in Onett, Mr. Carpainter in Twoson and Happy Happy Village, Master Belch in Threed, and Monotoli in Fourside, three of which interestingly enough perform a Heel-Face Turn. Though the real Arc Villain of the first half of the game is the Mani Mani Statue, a corrupting illusion device that Giygas uses to get people to do his bidding.
The Mole Playing Rough. They first appear in the Lilliput Steps, an underground cave, where they're a decent foe (oh, and the boss there is a giant mole, so there's a mole theme in that cave). However, for same reason, the designers put some specific points (to be exact, in the Dusty Dunes Desert, Summers Beach and the Deep Darkness) around the game where one of them always spawns if you walk around there. Not only they're incredibly weak by that point, but they're places where you wouldn't even expect to find a mole.
Another famous example is the Mad Ducks (an enemy encountered back in Winters) behind the store in Saturn Valley. Even stranger is the fact that they are in an area that you can't reach unless you exploit a glitch.
Mad Ducks also appear in the underground tunnels in Dusty Dunes Desert. They're incredibly weak enemies at that point (to the point that, to be able to provide a bit of challenge, they spawn there in absurdly high numbers), and it also makes one wonder what a duck is doing in a desert cave.
Talah Rama's cave in Dusty Dunes Desert is for some reason populated by enemies by found back in the Milky Well Cave. Not only are they weak at that point, they'll also run away from you if you've already defeated Trillionage Sprout (which most likely you'll have done by that point).
The area between Threed and Dusty Dunes Desert will sometimes have New Age Retro Hippies, enemies encountered back in Twoson. They're also on a high ledge, which your party cannot reach. note This example in particular happens because that area is actually placed in the game files near the tunnel entrance in Twoson. There's a enemy spawning point located on the Twoson tunnel entrance, which is also active even if you're on the Threed side. Sometimes, an enemy can spawn there as if you were in Twoson. However, you wouldn't know that unless you're inspecting the game ROM.
The Dungeon Man is full of these. His first floor contains enemies that were in the Fourside Department Store. The dead ends on his second floor contains enemies from Moonside, an area you can only enter once. His third floor contains a "monster zoo," which invokes this trope.
Artifact of Doom: The Mani Mani Statue gives off greedy thoughts to any nearby individual who comes across it.
Ash Face: Colliding with a person or obstacle when attempting to teleport causes the user to turn black with soot and a smile.
Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: When you get to the lost world, your size shrinks thanks to how huge everything (including the enemies) are compared to your normal size.
Autobots, Rock Out!: Pokey's battle music starts out 8-bit and simple, reminiscent of Dragon Warrior, the series which inspired this one. A minute in, the instrumentals revert to heavy metal.
Award Bait Song: "Smiles and Tears". It had official lyrics in the Japanese instruction booklet, but it didn't have official vocals until 2010.
The higher levels of PSI Rockin' can feel like this because it requires significantly more PP than any other PSI move in the game. And unlike Paula and Poo, Ness doesn't have access to PSI Magnet to replenish PP. It does have its uses, like when you REALLY need to kill something fast, or when all the enemies are on separate "rows", making it impossible to hit everything with PK Fire.
Badass Adorable: All four of the main cast. Special mention goes to Paula, a blonde-haired, hair-bow wearing little girl in a pink dress who is capable of setting you on fire with her mind, and Jeff, an Adorkable little dweeb whose weapons of choice include lasers, bazookas, life-sucking machines, and rocket launchers.
Bad Future: According to Buzz Buzz, this was the state of the future under Giygas's control. It was presumably averted with Giygas's defeat.
Because Destiny Says So: Ness only sets out in the first place because Buzz Buzz came from the future saying that he had to.
Better Than a Bare Bulb: Brick Road's dungeon and Dungeon Man has tons of signs that lampshade many dungeon cliches.
Big Bad Duumvirate: Giygas and Pokey Minch, or so it seems; no-one can be completely sure if they're equals, or if one is pulling the strings of the other. It seems to be implied that at the start Giygas was influencing Pokey's dark side and Pokey was a simple mook, then later on The Dragon, but near the end of the game when Giygas is so batshit insane to the point where he barely comprehends what's happening around him, Pokey takes advantage of that and becomes The Star Scream
Blah Blah Blah: If you talk to the officer next to Chief Strong who had scolded you for entering Giant Step, he'll say the following dialogue:
Police Officer: So here you are. You're the little delinquent that came back from Giant Step! Now you listen here... "Don't Enter" means just that— DO NOT ENTER! You got that? And furthermore... Blah blah Blah blah It's usually those tax evaders who... Blah blah Blah blah We don't enjoy blocking off the roads, you know... Blah blah Blah blah It's usually the local whiners that make a big deal about emergencies and meteorites! Blah blah Blah blah Blah blah
Blinding Bangs: Pokey's and Picky's, although they seem to see just fine. They make Pokey look like more of a slob and tie Picky to Pokey visually, so that was probably the reason behind the design decision.
Boring Return Journey: Subverted. It's entirely possible to have one after defeating Giygas, but since you can teleport by that point, there's really no reason to. Though by that point almost every NPC will have new dialogue about how awesome you are that you saved the world. It's both Crowning Moment of Heartwarming and Crowning Moment of Funny (Such as Orangekid saying you were only able to do it because of him)
Brats with Slingshots: Several slingshots are available as alternate weapons, in keeping with the theme of children using improvised weapons.
Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: When Ness takes Paula back to her house and talks to her mother, she says that she has made "a hand-made band-aid. Oooh! That rhymes! I'll call it a Hand-Aid!" This was actually added to the English translation, as the Japanese version did not give a reason for the Hand-Aid's name.
In the beginning of the game, if you have your bat without having it equipped and talk to Pokey before leaving your house, he'll specifically tell you to equip it. If you respond no to his question of if you know what equip means, he'll say "'Equip' is used a lot in games like this, but you already knew that..."
In the First Town, a dog tells Ness that he's been possessed by the spirit of the game designer to explain something.
Those good moles who give you game advice. "Oh, I mean in front of you!!"
You, the player, enter your name multiple times throughout the game, under the guise of Jeff's friend Tony contacting you via phone.
Finally, the player helps to destroy Giygas, and is thanked by name, as per above.
Breather Episode: Twice during your adventure, the coffee and tea breaks. Relaxing music plays as a recap of your adventure scrolls by and Ness enjoys a little break.
Lampshaded - the Onett police department is famous for closing roads, and are reportedly going for the world record of most roads closed because of emergency.
Also played straight, in that there is also a literal broken bridge in Peaceful Rest Valley. When you first enter the dungeon, you must take the long way around the bridge, but after you complete the dungeon, it gets fixed and acts as a shortcut back through.
I wonder who made the bridge impassable? Why would someone do this? Crud...
Bug Buzz: When Buzz Buzz joins your party, his buzzing sound fills up the background music.
But Thou Must: When Pokey wakes Ness up in the middle of the night, he asks him to help find his younger brother, Picky. If you refuse to help him, Pokey says he will say something that will "cut you like a knife", and then bring up the Yes/No choice again. If you refuse again, he will say that he was just kidding, and won't actually say anything like that, and then asks you again, keeping you in a looped conversation until you say Yes.
In Japan, EarthBound was heavily promoted by TakuyaKimura (who is still the ideal man of most Japanese women today) of the boy band SMAP. He was on the advertisements and commercials — granted that the game was also advertised towards young women, there's a likely chance that many women started playing the game because of him. Not only that, but all the nameable characters could be named after the members of SMAP using the "Don't Care" option!
Similarly, one of the biggest selling points for the series as a whole in Japan was that Itoi is a popular celebrity and the games were something he made, to the point where tagging his name onto the ads was a big part of the campaign.
Chekhov's Gun: The meteor that kicks off the adventure is used much, much later to provide what you need for time travel.
Copy Protection: Legendary for its unusually fiendish brutality. If you ran the game from a copied cartridge or cartridge-copying device, bad things would happen. Like the game suddenly crashing and all your saves getting deleted during the final boss fight, for instance.
B.H. Pirkle, Mayor of Onett. He lets the police set up road blocks for no reason, and he bribes a child to take care of his gang problem for him. After Ness deals with it, the mayor gives him the key to a broken shack outside of town, but keeps it a secret so he cannot be held responsible for anything bad that might happen. This leads Ness, a young boy, to get in trouble with the police, who for some reason opt to solve the dispute by having 5 of their guys fight him one-on-one.
Gelegarde Monotoli of Fourside, under the influence of the Mani Mani statue, kidnaps Paula. He gets better.
Creative Closing Credits: The background of the credits feature all of the photos taken by the flying photographer (the one that says, "Say, 'Fuzzy Pickles'!") The more photos you collect, the more complete the slide show is. Note that each image in Ness' slideshow, except for Ness himself, is 100% accurate, including their statuses at the time. (KO'd characters except for him still have halos over their heads, but he is temporarily conscious for those shots.)
Cult: The Happy Happists. They all dress the same and live in an isolated community in the middle of nowhere, and kidnap little girls. Blue, blue...
Cut the Juice: When Ness and Jeff inflict enough damage on the Clumsy Robot, the Runaway Five burst in, and turn it off by flipping a switch on its back. If you inflict enough damage by its own attack, the Runaway Five turn the robot off a second time because of a glitch.
Damage Over Time: Whenever a character receives damage or healing, their Life Meter rolls down or up to the new value over time (rather than instantly), the speed of which is governed by the character's individual "Guts" stat. Side effects like Critical Existence Failure do not trigger based on the raw damage a character has received, but the value that's currently shown on their meter instead.
Dark World: Moonside, though it's a hallucination caused by the Mani Mani Statue.
Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: While you lose half your money when your party is defeated, the ability to keep your money in an ATM (plus the fact that money usually is added to your ATM account rather than given directly to you) basically means that you never need to lose ANY amount of money. A game over is more or less an inconvenience, rather than any sort of peril to avoid. It's worth it to note that dying and continuing leads to only your front character being alive (and with no PP). In certain areas, this leads to some difficult situations.
Fairly elaborate, accessible only with these Game Genie codes: 6B88-54D4, 3188-5404, 3E88-5464. This menu contains, among other things, a Kirby sprite as the menu cursor — an artifact left by a HAL Laboratory programmer, perhaps.
Although, another more well-known debug menu exists as well — one intended to be used during the game, similar to Super Mario RPG. This menu is also reachable via one of the options from the former... and is significantly trickier to figure out, since it remains untranslated from Japanese despite the lack of a Japanese font. Only a few words are recognisable as compressed garbled Engrish — "SUND" for Sound, "TRP-T" for Teleport, and "GtZStTI" for Goods Edit, for example.
Deconstruction: Of the "young kids saving the world" plot. While innocent undertones are included, it factors in several characters emotions and thoughts and brings light to several disturbing tones in stories of the sort, such as Ness's homesickness, and Giygas being a child when you kill him/her/them/it.
Deep South: Twoson can be depicted as this, which is not without reason (it's named after and is pronounced the same as Tuscon, Arizona). It can also be depicted as a Sweet Home Alabama.
Degraded Boss: The Kraken. When you first fight him he is a major boss who capsized your boat. The upgraded versions of him you fight later appear as regular enemies and can be taken out by Ness alone with out much trouble.
Desert Skull: You can actually have a conversation with a cattle skeleton in the Dusty Dunes Desert.
Any character, if their Guts stat is sufficiently high, will hang in there through repeated mortal blows for a very long times - enough, usually, to heal them completely.
The Hit Points in this game rolls down, much like a odometer in your car. When a character takes enough damage to be knocked out, it will say "X has taken Y points of mortal damage!" but they won't actually die until the meter rolls down to zero. This will lead to you rushing to heal the party member or end the battle before their HP counter rolls down to zero and they die. There's a chance that the game will omit the "mortal" part in the message and the meter will stop at one instead of zero, the chances of this happening depends on the character's Guts stat.
There's also an item called the "Sudden Guts Pill" that, when used in battle, will temporarily double the character's Guts stat for the duration. However, it's incredibly rare, and the one shop that has it sells it at a ridiculous price.
In the Playable Epilogue, Ness can finally return the map to the Onett library and the bike to the Twoson bicycle shop. How considerate!
If you take said bike into the rain forest in said epilogue and ride it through the puddles, it gets its own unique sound effect that never plays at any other point in the game.
In the monkey caves at Dusty Dunes Desert, you need to give the monkeys a certain item so they'll let you pass. Depending on the items that you have, this may or may not turn into a Chain of Deals-type quest. There are two monkeys that ask for Hamburgers... however, Double Burgers also fit the requirement.
When you reach the end of the Scaraba Pyramid, Poo will leave your party which will turn the game into an Unwinnable situation if you put the Hawk Eye in his inventory, right? Instead, you'll get a call from Escargo Express saying that Poo gave the Hawk Eye to them for safekeeping and that you can have the item delivered to you for free.
Buzz Buzz will give the Sound Stone to Escargo Express if your bag is full.
If Paula has the Pencil Eraser when she gets kidnapped by the Dept Store Spook, you'll get a call from Escargo Express saying that she gave it to them. This is because you need the Pencil Eraser for the monkey caves in Dusty Dunes Desert.
Don't Explain the Joke: In the Japanese version, the welcome sign for Twoson tells you that it is the second town and asks, "Did you notice?" The English version handles this by saying, "We got this name because we weren't first."
Too many to list, but worthy of note is that the trope-naming New Age Retro Hippie was more simply known as a "carefree guy" in the Japanese version, with the English translation giving the trope name.
Threek was changed to Threed due to an oversight by the original writers — although it was most likely intended to sound like a combination of "three" and "eek!" due to the zombies, Nintendo of America didn't want people misreading it as "Three K," in other words, "KKK."
Offensive spells had their prefixes changed from PK (psychokinetic) to simply PSI in the translation, possibly for consistency with defensive moves like the shields.
Duel Boss: Ness's Nightmare. Also, the bosses encountered before rescuing Paula - Frank Fly, Frankystein Mk. II, Titanic Ant, and Mr. Carpainter. (If you gave Ness a different name, then Ness's Nightmare will be renamed accordingly as well!)
Drunk on Milk: Jackie's Cafe In Fourside was actually originally called "Boris's Bar" in the Japanese version but was changed due to Nintendo's censoring guidelines. Of course, this means that the guy who is slightly pink and keeps drinking his "coffee" is. . .
Early Game Hell: The game tends to become a lot easier as Ness recruits party members to join his cause.
One of the Sharks, a local gang Ness fights early in the game, asks if you'd like to join. The correct response in order to continue the plot is "no". Answering "yes" will prompt the gang member to tell you to come back after completing EarthBound.
One girl NPC asks "Has Earthbound been released yet?"
Easy EXP: The caterpillar-type baddies you find in the deserts are rare, but experience points pinatas.
Eldritch Location: Moonside. Also, it's entirely possible that Giygas is sufficiently large and amorphous that once he's released from the Devil's Machine, he is one of these of his own accord instead of being just an Eldritch Abomination.
Elemental Tiers: Elemental attacks have different areas of effect. Ice is a single-target, Fire hits a whole row but does less damage, and Lightning targets a random enemy and is prone to missing frequently unless there are many enemies. So even if you're facing a lightning-vulnerable boss you probably want to use ice, and same goes for if the fire-weak enemies are on multiple rows.
Emergency Transformation: Dr. Andonuts transplants the heroes' souls into robot bodies. Without them, you can't chase Giygas into the distant past.
Epileptic Flashing Lights: The game will be one of the many that Nintendo has edited to take these out in its Virtual Console release. Mainly, some of the stronger PSI attacks put out one hell of a seizure-inducing light show.
Everyone Join The Party: While fighting the Big Bad, the only way to beat him is to use the up until then useless skill "Pray," which causes all the NPCs in the world, plus the player, to pray together, which destroys him.
Everytown, America: Onett is the quintessential '50s Amer- er, Eaglandian town, replete with school, burger joint, arcade, City Hall and gang of street toughs. And a meteor, but we don't talk about the meteor. Twoson and Threed may also count, but Onett is the more obvious one.
Ness, Paula and Jeff are near-identical to their original Mother counterparts Ninten, Ana, and Loid, and even hold many of the same abilities. Frank Fly appears to be an expy of Teddy, but he's not playable.
The main two of The Runaway Five (Lucky and Gorgeous) bare a striking resemblance to The Blues Brothers crossed with Mario and Luigi.
Father Neptune: The captain outside the boat you're supposed to get on when going to Scaraba.
Fight Woosh: There are four different kinds. The gray woosh means that the battle will go on as normal. Sneak up behind an enemy to get a green woosh and a surprise attack. Don't let the enemy sneak up behind you or you'll get a red woosh and they'll get a surprise attack on you! The fourth kind is the spiky one used for bosses.
Flunky Boss: Both Titanic Ant and Trillionage Sprout start with a couple of minor enemies in tow (Ant Ant Blacks and Tough Mobile Sprouts, respectively)
Pokey:"Ness! Now, I... well... It's going to seem like I'm running away, but perhaps I'll just sneak away to another era to think about my next plan."
Follow the Leader: The Tengi Makyou/Far East Of Eden, which shares this series's offbeat humour, with hilarious writings, taking place in a fictional Japan based on exaggerated conceptions by the west. The fourth one even takes place in a fictional America, with hilarious results. The first game appeared after Mother 1, in 1989. It unfortunately shares its No Export for You status.
One notable piece is the fact that each party member has one thing that sets them apart in their attacks: Ness focuses on protecting others because he's the leader, Paula is the PSI powerhouse and resident medic because she wants to get stronger and become independent, Jeff builds things in the night because of his inferiority complex, and Poo is the debuffer because of his disarming nature.
Possibly the best example is Ness homesickness status effect. It happens when Ness is between levels 16 and 75, and corresponds to Ness being strong enough to be away from home, but still weak enough to be distressed about it.
One grandma asks Ness if he has grandchildren. If he answers "Yes", her answer is hilarious. Also, when you control Jeff for the first time, Tony's attempt to help you escape is rather... um.
When Picky and Pokey's father beats them, the sound effect was changed to something sounding a bit more cartoony in the American release. However, the implications of child abuse was not lost on any older gamer.
There's one exclusive to Japanese version, delivered from one girl to Poo. This has been changed to her asking to play with her in translation.
Girl: Will you make out with me again like you used to?
Averted generally in the Wii U release where the game rating is now changed to Teen.
The "Monkey's Love" is an item you can use in battle; a monkey will come out of nowhere and pin your enemy to the ground.
That attractive woman you chase into the zombie infested hotel. Her appearance and the way she swaggers at first, she seems to be implied to be a hooker. Even an NPC nearby says he would love to "Spend some sweet time with her"
Girl of My Dreams: Can happen with Ness — if he sleeps in inns before he battles the Happy Happyists, he will receive psychic pleas from the imprisoned Paula. And it also happens with Jeff, who receives similar psychic pleas from Paula when she and Ness are trapped in Threed.
Global Currency: Slightly more acceptable here. Sure, the world only uses one currency, but it's dollars. And stuff in other countries is more expensive, but this may be because of the Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness, and one of the last towns is a tourist resort where everything sells for double what it does anywhere else. The signs for stores in other countries also make a point of stating that they do indeed accept Eagleland currency, something real foreign stores would do to promote tourist spending.)
Good Morning, Crono: Justified by the fact that the game begins in the middle of the night. The main character is wide awake by the time the sun rises.
Gotta Catch Them All: The eight melodies for the Sound Stone, which are plot crucial. There's also the optional photo spots with the flying photographer, which are later added to the Creative Closing Credits. These photo spots are hidden, but the maps are design in such a way that you'll probably stumble over these Easter Eggs anyway.
In the last moments of the final battle with Giygas, the player — as in, the one holding the controller — as in, YOU join the party. And it is awesome.
Guide Dang It: Earthbound came with a free Player's Guide so that first-time players could figure out what they're supposed to do if they got stuck. Either that or pay the Hint guy to get a clue on the next place to go or the next thing to do.
Figuring out that you're supposed to pray in the final battle can be tough without checking a guide, as the game only drops a few subtle hints.
Pokey: Do you want to scream for help here in the dark?! ... I know you have telepathy or something, so just try and call for help!Possibly making it even tougher is when, the eighth time you pray, you get a message saying "Paula's prayer was absorbed by the darkness." This can make players think that prayer no longer works and you're supposed to return to simply beating Giygas up again. Actually, you're supposed to pray AGAIN, one last time, to finish the battle. Buzz Buzz does somewhat tell you even from the start. His final words are of you having to "unite with the Earth's power". This can be seen as both having to find all Eight Melodies and as uniting all as one in prayer. Original copies of the game were bundled with the complete strategy guide at no extra charge (and the Virtual Console release was accompanied by Nintendo releasing said guide as a free downloadable on their website). So if you must shout "guide dang it!" you need not shout too loudly.