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Let it in
I recently finished playing through EarthBound again and, as always, I'm struck at just how amazing a game it truly is. Which is odd because, by all accounts, as a "game" it's far from perfect. The actual gameplay is fairly straightforward (albeit with a certain amount of complexity), the graphics are nothing too outstanding for the system, some elements are so nonsensical that they defy description and there are so many weird and obscure things you need to do to advance the plot that your brain just might rocket out your right nostril.

But despite all of that, it also has one of the most simple yet profound stories ever told in a video game. You, the hero Ness, are called upon by a messenger from the future to save the universe from complete destruction at the hands of an Eldritch Abomination known only as Giygas. Along the way you meet a ton of quirky characters who either have something important to say that advances the plot, or nothing of any real importance beyond giving you a chuckle, a belly-laugh or maybe even a lump in your throat or a tear in your eye. You also meet three other youngsters who combine their abilities with Ness to face the terror and save the universe, all the while being accompanied by one of the best and most diverse soundtracks ever to come out of a SNES cartridge.

I really don't know what more there is to say about this game that hasn't already been said better by people like the Happy Video Game Nerd or Roo from Clan of the Gray Wolf, but what I do have to say is this: Let it in. Even if you find it unbearable going up against the repetitive turn-based combat or get frustrated at the insane amount of Event Flags that the plot railroads you through, keep playing because EarthBound is a gaming experience like no other. If you're a fan of a good RPG or just video games in general, you owe it to yourself to find a copy of this game in some form and play through it, if only once. It isn't perfect and it might not look like much on the surface, but let it in and you'll find that there's far more than you could ever have imagined. Put simply, EarthBound is a masterpiece and unlike anything else you will ever play.

Fuzzy pickles ^_^b
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Oh, yes, Earth Bound!
Where to start? Earth Bound is an amazing game, through and through. In danger of angering its cult following, however, I believe the start of Earth Bound is.. slow, to say the least. The battles and interface are simple, but they don't really take shape until later in the game. This game is about single-player strategy and teamwork, not just bashing through enemies left and right. In my opinion, the game does not truly begin until you get your first partner, Paula, and level her up a bit. Then the fun starts. By then, you have a good set of PSI (basically magic spells) abilities and plenty of options.

While its a great game after you get your partner, Earth Bound REALLY hits its stride after you have all four heroes. In my playthrough, in a battle against a gigantic rat in a sewer, I had Paula freeze the rat while Ness went to work on raising everyones shields and defenses. Jeff hit the rat with a bottle rocket, and after some more of this amazing show of strategy and teamwork, we defeated it. Simply amazing.

Did I mention this game is hilarious? To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, there are many running gags and jokes in the game. For example, I didn't catch this at first, but most managers of buildings have food related names (Mr Poochyfud, Mr Fork, Mr Spoon..). Characters are incredibly quirky while still developing as people (If you're anything like me, you'll enjoy watching the complication of Ness and Paulas relationship through the game).

The storytelling is great, too, but a thorough understanding of the canon isn't really needed. You can just have a blast fighting and battling through the game without knowing why you're doing it. If you do pay attention, though, you'll be amazed. Tons of blood, sweat, tears, love, and detailing was put into this game, and oh boy does it show.

Earth Bound has a notorious ending, for good and for bad. I'm not going to ruin it for any to-be players, but let me just say that the final fight is surprising and actually kind of creepy for an old school nintendo game. The music is great, too - I found myself humming battle themes well after completing the game.

In a nutshell, Earth Bound may start slow, but quirky characters, hilarious moments, an awesome soundtrack and a thrilling ending make it worth it. Don't pass this game up no matter what you do!

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