Earth Bound / Tropes N to S


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Tropes A to G | Tropes H to M | Tropes N To S | Tropes T to Z


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    N 
  • Never Say "Die":
    • No enemies in EarthBound 'die.' See Non-Lethal K.O. below.
    • The Dept. Store Spook in Fourside goes out of his way to avoid pronouncing "hell":
    You will be gone, and you'll be burning in... Well, you'll go to heaven!
    • The English localization did this, as per Nintendo's then-standards. They missed a part in the ending where one of Poo's fangirls wakes up from "a dream in which Prince Poo died", in those exact words.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Probably one of the most egregious cases; the ads tried to make it look like a Grossout Game from beginning to end....note  There's maybe two parts of the game with any kind of Toilet Humor, and even then it's never too over-the-top. The main reason why the game was an Acclaimed Flop in its initial American release.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: EarthBound is the Trope Namer, after one of the enemies with the same name.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Giygas's forces abduct Dr. Andonuts, Apple Kid and one of the Mr. Saturns, and places them all in Stonehedge. This allows the three of them to meet and develop the Phase Distorter, the device that sends the party back in time to defeat Giygas.
  • Noble Shoplifter: In Happy Happy Village, there's a food stand with a sign saying they trust you to take what you need, as long as you leave the money. However, in this case, the player does have the option to leave without paying, so this trope depends on the player.
  • "No" Means "Yes": In Moonside, switching yes and no - one of the ways to make the area harder and to emphasize its weirdness.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: No enemies "die" in EarthBound. Instead, they:
    • "become tame" (animals, Sharks, Evil Eyes)
    • "stop moving" or "are broken into pieces" (Animate Inanimate Object)
    • "are totally scrapped" or "are destroyed" (war machines)
    • "go back to normal" or "regain their senses" (angry/brainwashed people)
    • "return to the dust of the earth" (zombies, mummies, etc)
    • "melt into thin air" or "disappear" (gases/ghosts)
    • "are defeated" (everything else)
  • Non-Linear Sequel: Despite the first MOTHER game ending on a painful To Be Continued (less painful if the player played the unreleased English prototype and the much-later MOTHER 1+2, the only direct connection with prequel is Giygas. This game takes place in the vague year 199X rather than the specific one of 1988, but unless America exists separately on the other side of the globe in this version of Earth, there is no sign of the original setting (although it's generally assumed it's the same world since Giygas "strikes back"). Ness is sort of Ninten's Legacy Character, but beyond that only the general themes really remain.
  • Non Standard Skill Learning: Spells are acquired by leveling up, except for the two tiers of Teleport for Ness. The first Teleport must be learned from a talking monkey, and the second one is automatically acquired after completing the Magicant level.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Porky (target: Ness).
  • Nostalgic Musicbox: The final rendition of the Eight Melodies, just before entering Magicant. You get all sorts of adorable clips of Ness's childhood.
  • Not Completely Useless: Poo's Mirror ability is usually ignored by many players, as most monsters are rather weak, and few monsters have anything that you'd want. There is, however, at least one exception. The Fuel Bots in the underground base can be mirrored, and somehow Poo can heal your party members without PP cost by refuelling them as if they were robots.
  • Now, Where Was I Going Again?: Averted with the use of the Hint stalls. For a small fee, the man behind the Hint Stall will nudge you in the right direction about where you need to go.
  • NPC Roadblock: The Happy Happyists' hideout contains a maze made of cultists; you have to talk to them or battle them to get them to move.
    O 
  • Odd Couple: Ness and Paula.
  • Older Than They Look: Most of the cast thanks to the graphics style, as the adults tend to blend in even in a crowd of children.
  • Ominous Message from the Future: The events of the game are set in motion when Buzz Buzz comes from the future to warn Ness that Giygas has destroyed the world in the future and that a boy named Ness would defeat him.
  • Only the Author Can Save Them Now: Deliberately pulled off in an extremely rare example that actually works, since it's cleverly subverted into only The Player Can Save Them Now. And not in the way you're thinking either.
  • Only Idiots May Pass: Advanced to an art form!
  • Out-of-Clothes Experience: In MOTHER 2, Ness is naked in Magicantnote . This was given a nice Woolseyism in EarthBound so that Ness is in his PJs instead.
  • Outside-the-Box Tactic: Continuing the series-wide trend, the Final Boss, Giygas cannot be defeated via normal tactics. You must use Paula's Pray command ten times before you, the player, defeat him.
  • The Overworld: The Eagleland overworld, which actually has roads, just like in Real Life! You sometimes get to ride in the tour bus with a local band down them, and you can pay to ride the regular bus to travel between Twoson, Threed and Fourside. Otherwise you walk like in other RPGs.
    P 
  • Palette Swap: Several enemies are like this, including a stronger version of the Territorial Oak, Foppies and Fobbies, and the Evil Mani-Mani/Ness's Nightmare.
  • Palmtree Panic: The town of Summers is a beach side resort town. Being a popular tourist spot it contains a museum and restaurant.
  • Parental Abandonment: Ness's Dad communicates over the phone often enough, but is never home. Jeff's father hasn't seen him in ten years despite living fairly near his boarding school (and this is an eleven to fifteen year old boy) and seems to think nothing of it; his mother is never mentioned. Poo's parents are nowhere in sight—affairs of state, perhaps? Paula is the only one of the four protagonists to have parents that are both alive and present.
  • Parental Bonus: Oh God. Too many to list. A yellow submarine, the Runaway Five, the New Age Retro Hippie's battle music...
  • The Password is Always "Swordfish":
    • The one password was not of the "easily guessed" type, but was ridiculous nonetheless: It consisted of waiting three minutes. Who would guess that?
    • This is later subverted by another character asking for the password. As the Player Character does not answer, he (or it) attacks ("someone so quiet is either extremely shy, or extremely dangerous").
  • Penultimate Weapon: The Legendary Bat for Ness.
  • Photo Montage: The ending credits show off all the photos the photographer takes of you at points in the game.
  • Place of Power: "Your Sanctuary" locations. Each restores your life to full, and getting them all give Ness a huge power boost.
  • Place Worse Than Death: Apparently, if you remain in Moonside for too long, you'll "end up frying your brain."
    "Yes, you will. No, you will... not. Yes no, you will won't."
  • Playable Epilogue: After the final battle, you are free to roam the entire world as you please, with no enemies in your way, until you decide to visit Ness's Mom. (Actually, if you ignore the Shattered Men in the Summers museum, they'll still be fightable in the epilogue, which if you purposely die crashes the game. And may trigger other glitches.)
  • The Player Is the Most Important Resource: In the final battle, your faith in the characters is what defeats Giygas.
  • Police Are Useless: Not only do the police not seem to be able to handle things like kidnappings and teenage gangs, they actively get in your way by setting up pointless roadblocks.
  • Police Brutality: When Onett's police force is asked by an adolescent/teenage boy to remove a roadblock and help him get to the next town, they decide it'd be fun to take him to the back room of the station and beat him up. They quickly learn challenging Ness to a fight is a bad idea if you don't want your butt kicked.
  • Port Town: The Town of Toto located right east of Summers is a port town. The player has to visit the town to board a boat to Scaraba.
  • Powerful but Inaccurate: The Casey Bat has the maximum possible attack power, but also the lowest hit rate, actually giving it lower average damage than other bats available at the same stage of the game.
  • The Power of Friendship: How Giygas is defeated. In some way or another, isn't this trope the lesson learned in every MOTHER game?
  • The Power of Hate: Porky during the final battle.
    Porky: "And here you stand, waiting to be burned up with all the rest of the garbage of this universe... Haaaaah! That's so sad. I can't help but shed a tear."
  • Power-Up Food: Ramen noodles bring back the dead.
  • Prehistoria: The Lost Underworld is an area barely touched by time. It is full of dinosaur species and also the Tenda.
  • Premiseville: Onett, Twoson, Threed, and Fourside.
  • Pronoun Trouble: Due to certain lines of battle text being used by more than one enemy, we sometimes get lines like this. Similarly, having Paula use the Ruler or Protractor will cause the game to refer to her as "he".
  • Psychic Powers: Used throughout the game, both as a replacement for traditional RPG magic and as a plot point. The menu includes:
    • Telepathy: Paula is particularly adept at it, calling out to Ness and later Jeff. Poo uses it as well.
    • Clairvoyance: Occasionally invoked, again most often by Paula, to justify knowing what to do next.
    • Telekinesis: Several subtypes show up in combat, including pyrokinesis (PSI Fire), cryokinesis (PSI Freeze), fulgurkinesis (PSI Thunder), and psychic healing, as well as less easily defined attacks such as Ness's signature attack or PSI Starstorm.
    • Psychic Barriers: Can be used to deflect or even reflect both physical and psychic attacks.
    • Teleportation: Used by both Ness and Poo to travel the world without a plane ticket.
  • Pumpkin Person: The Trick or Trick Kid, an humanoid enemy wearing a pumpkin who appears in Threed during the Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Punny Name: By the bushel.
    • The first four towns are called Onett, Twoson, Threed, and Fourside.
    • And what are those numbers added up? NinTendo! Although that might not have been intentional.
    • And then there's Summers and Tenda (possibly also a pun on "tender"). Think about that for a while.
    • The main character, named after the NES. Alternately, the main character's name is an anagram of the system he first appeared on (SNES).
    • The bicycle shop in Twoson is called "Punk-Sure".
    • One removed from the American version: the third town was originally named Threek, combining both the numerical theme along with a scream of surprise and alarm. Perfect for a haunted town. Nintendo had it changed to "Threed" out of fears that it could be read as a reference to the KKK.
    Q 
    R 
    S 
  • Say My Name: One of Giygas's attacks has him saying the hero's name over and over. Which can lead to a hilarious or disturbing results if one abused the Hello, [Insert Name Here] feature.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When Ness has to fight five police officers before he can get pass a blockade, the fifth decides to flee after the fourth is beaten.
  • See You in Hell: Amusingly subverted where a villain starts to say this trope, then admits that the heroes will probably go to Heaven after he kills them:
    Dept. Store Spook: "This department store is gonna beyour grave! Gwaaagh. You will be gone, and you'll be burning in... Well, you'll go to heaven!"
    • One Happy Happy cultist specifically tells you not to go to Heaven. According to Clyde Mandelin the line was identical in the Japanese script.
  • Shall I Repeat That?: Brutally parodied with Buzz Buzz, who does this with his last words, and will not die until you tell him to.
  • Shave and a Haircut:
    • When banging incessantly on Ness's door doesn't work, Porky tries this, although it is mixed with various other random knocks. Your dog remarks on how annoying it is.
    • Picky also does this in the Playable Epilogue after the end credits.
  • Shifting Sand Land: The Dusty Dunes Desert located between Threed and Fourside midway through the game and is by far the biggest area seen yet. Later on the groups visits Scaraba, an arid desert town with an Egyptian feel.
  • Ship Tease: Numerous NPCs ship Ness and Paula. Also, what was Paula going to say to Ness that she "forgot"?
  • Shoplift and Die: In Happy Happy Village you can choose to pay whatever you want, if you pick $0 a nearby man will attack you. Though you can attack the storekeeper as a Ballistic Discount.
  • Shouldn't We Be in School Right Now?:
    • Averted when Ness's sister Tracy says that she got his homework covered.
    • Also one conversation with Ness's Mom on the phone she says "Your teacher came by looking for you, I covered for you"
    • A girl in Fourside's Department Store asks if Ness is skipping school too.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Many, a good majority of them to The Beatles.
    • The Hint booth looks unmistakably similar to Lucy's psychiatry booth.
    • The game guide packaged with the English language release of the game adds in a few that aren't in the game itself, such as saying the Onett arcade has Killer Instinct.
    • A potentially subtle one to Terminator that some might miss- the Phase Distorter 3 can only send back inorganic objects to the past, a reversal of Terminator's time travel only being able to send back organic life.
    • The two lead members of the Runaway Five are basically Jake & Elwood Blues- they actually wear black suits in Japan, it's suspected the American colored suits were to make them different enough to avoid legal hassles.
  • Single-Palette Town: The Happy Happy Village, everything is blue, blue...
  • Sinister Geometry:
    • Giygas's robots appear in the overworld as blue octahedrons (presumably they're inside; there's an unused capsule sprite that might have been originally used, same as the Starman capsules from MOTHER 1).
    • Giygas's stronghold, the Cave of the Past, is a chrome wasteland of of geometric cliffs.
  • Skippable Boss:
    • Many players don't even realize they can just not fight Everdred.
    • With some chicanery, even Starman Jr can be avoided (lure an enemy into view before visiting the meteor, then fight it and die intentionally to spawn back at home and bypass him).
  • Skyscraper City: Fourside. You have to find your way to the top of the biggest one in the city too.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The town of Winters which is Jeff's hometown is stuck in a perpetual winter since it is located far to the north.
  • Snowy Screen of Death: Right when you start up the game, a bloody red static screen is shown, displaying "The War Against Giygas!" As soon as you defeat Giygas, the same effect is displayed, ending the battle.
  • Song Style Shift: The first form of the final battle's theme between Giygas and Porky starts out as an 8 bit tune and then shifts into prog-death metal after around a minute.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Mostly played straight, but for a moment at the beginning when Giygas, in a moment of being Dangerously Genre Savvy, decides to just kill the last hope by sending Starman Junior at the start of the game. Thankfully, Buzz Buzz was able to defeat his attempted assassin and live long enough to pass along his message and the Sound Stone.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Some of the (great) music in this game is so out there, it is hard to tell what kind of mood the composer is trying to evoke.
  • Spell Levels: The tiers for PSI powers are given by the Greek letters alpha, beta, gamma, and omega (with sigma used for a few targets-all spells)
  • Spiders Are Scary: Lampshaded. The Arachnid! and Arachnid!!! are two of the only enemies to have exclamation marks in their names.
  • Spikes of Villainy: The Starman Deluxe and the Final Starman are respectively stronger versions of the Starman and the Starman Super WITH SPIKES!
  • Spinning out of Here: Like in MOTHER, teleporting requires rapid, uninterrupted acceleration before zooming off to the destination, so areas with limited space to build speed require moving in circles to avoid crashing. One teleport ability requires the player to turn manually, the other one automatically makes the party move in a tight spiral.
  • Spoiled Brat: Porky.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Paula. She is famous and her dad totally babies her, but she is very serious about saving the world no matter what it takes.
  • Squishy Wizard: Again, Paula. Her PK Freeze spells rip enemies into shreds, but her HP is so low that even two hits of PK Thunder obliterate her. Hell, often her HP during the endgame can be maxed out by Lifeup β.
  • Standard Status Effects: As well as many non-standard ones. Characters can be affected by sickness, heat stroke, ghostly possession, homesickness (in Ness's case — this happens at random, and it's cured by calling Mom), mushroom growth, the common cold, uncontrollable crying...
  • Start of Darkness: The game also reveals exactly how and why Porky went from a major nuisance to an outright sociopath.
  • Stock Ness Monster: Tessie, a friendly monster who resides within Lake Tess in Winters.
  • Stylistic Suck: The music that plays while exploring Dungeon Man is a (rather catchy) mess of high-pitched violin screeches and a man trying to sing along. Dungeon Man claims to have written it himself.
  • Surprise Creepy: Most of the game is a gloriously strange and funny romp through childhood, and then you enter Giygas's lair.


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