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  • Nerd: Jeff, with his suit and bowtie, his glasses, and penchant for making advanced gadgetry.
  • Nerd Glasses: On Jeff the Gadgeteer Genius: the classic thick square frames, no less.
  • Nerf Arm: Several of the earlier weapons are based on not-at-all dangerous toys. Examples include the tee-ball bat (which are typically made of thin plastic and hollow) and the yo-yo.
  • 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!
    • Similar to the previous example, An Insane Cultist finds a kid friendly way to tell Ness to "go to Hell":
      You strange unmasked fellow. Don't 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.
  • 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.
  • Nonindicative Name: There's actually six members of The Runaway Five. Handwaved, as it's implied that the keyboardist was just hired by the house to play backup, and isn't an actual member.
  • "No" Means "Yes": In Moonside, switching yes and no - one of the ways to make the area harder and to emphasize its weirdness.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Bubble Monkey to Jeff for a time in Winters, taking part in any battles Jeff fights during that time.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: No one "dies" in Earthbound. Instead, they:
    • "get hurt and collapse" (player characters)
    • "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.
    • Poo only learns PSI Starstorm after temporarily leaving the party to train with the Star Master.
  • 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 Atomic Power Robots 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.
  • The Numbered Things: The Eigh Melodies (not the same as the ones in the first game).
  • 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!
  • Opaque Nerd Glasses: Jeff, on both his clay model and in-game sprite.
  • 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: Notably for a 90s RPG, averted entirely. The player view outside of combat is always the same, and much of the world is directly linked by roads, like the real world. This contributes to the world feeling larger than in many genre contemporaries, which almost always used an overworld map to travel between towns and dungeons.
  • 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").
  • Patience Plot: You have to wait 3 minutes at the waterfall in Grapefruit Falls before you can enter Master Belch's factory.
  • 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.
  • Playing with Fire: The PK Fire series.
  • 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.
  • Power Nullifier: Jeff's Counter PSI unit, which when used leaves an enemy unable to use PSI for the rest of the battle. His Neutralizer nullifies all status buffs and shields (for both ally and enemy), while his Shield Killer nullifies an enemy's shield.
  • 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: "In this bizarre dimension, you four are the only force fighting for justice... 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.
    • Psi Blast: There are multiple psychic attacks to use, most of them are element based. However some of the more powerful attacks manifest as a colossal explosion of energy.
  • 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.
  • Sampling: The soundtrack for Earthbound features a large variety of sampling throughout its soundtrack, with many clever and creative uses:
    • "Say Your Name, Please," the character naming screen, includes a distorted sample of the theme song to Monty Python's Flying Circus (which itself is John Philip Souza's "The Liberty Bell.")
    • The backing track of the Sound Stone music is John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance", pitched down to a mud-like consistency.
    • The bar (or cafe) in Fourside samples the theme song to Our Gang (which in turn is Leroy Shield's "Good Old Days"), and also contains a MIDI patch playing a portion of "The Star-Spangled Banner", the national anthem of the United States.
    • "Moonside Swing" is made entriely from the intro to Ric Ocasek's "Keep On Laughin'" layered on top of itself in a form of proto-Vaporwave.
    • Dungeon Man's "Megaton Walk" samples the opening drums from The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)."
    • The Cave of the Past music consists of a sample of the trumpet intro to The Beatles' "All You Need Is Love"; once the party travels to the distant past, the music is made out of a sample of "Deirdre" by The Beach Boys.
    • Their are other distinct samples, such as a riot on the title screen, and sounds heard in the final battle, that have not yet been identified. Several of these samples were tailor-made by the game's composers, Keiichi Suzuki, Hirokazu Tanaka, Hiroshi Kanazu and Toshiyuki Ueno, out of their own (heavily processed) voices or instruments. The famous "I miss you" during the game credits' final moments is Suzuki's own voice.
    • The limitations of the SNES sound processing architecture and of the music tracker software used in video games at this time meant that the composers had to get very creative to actually fit all of these samples into the game's score, let alone getting the more than 100 pieces into the limited memory of the cartridge itself. Any effects, like a note bending its pitch, vibratonote  or any oscillations like the dubstep-like low-pass filtering of the Kraken and robot fights, had to be planned out mathematically: each split-second of the note had to be pitched and sampled individually and then painstakingly entered into the tracker as text, line by line, to create the effect of one note changing. If it sounds pretty complex, The Nerdwriter made a short video explaining how David Wise's most famous songs for the Donkey Kong Country series were made in this exact same way.
  • 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.
  • Scolded for Not Buying: A few of the shopkeepers are like this:
    Twoson department store tool shop: Are you here just to say hi? What a loser!
    Summers shop: This place isn't for looky loos. If you're not buying, get out!
    Scaraba shop: Why don't you buy something? I've got a family to feed!
  • School Setting Simulation: The game has Snow Wood Boarding House, where Jeff resides. You have to go around the school and collect items from the rooms.
  • 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 be your 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.
  • The Shangri-La: Dalaam, a far-eastern country located at the top of a high mountain (or floating continent).
  • 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"?
  • Shock and Awe: The PK Thunder series.
  • 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.
    • The eighth Your Sanctuary boss' second form, Diamond Dog, is likely a reference to the David Bowie album Diamond Dogs.
    • The Lost Underworld level features a massive underground cavern full of dinosaurs, no doubt a reference to Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth
  • 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 EarthBound Beginnings).
    • 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).
    • Downplayed with four of the Sanctuary Guardians: Mondo Mole, Trillionage Sprout, Plauge Rat of Doom, and Thunder and Storm. They and their dungeons are balanced for when you can first fight them, but can be ignored for most of the game. Once the Tenda overcome their shyness, you'll gain access to the seventh Sanctuary and the area containing the last one, and the plot will come to a halt as you're expected to gather all of the melodies. If you've skipped any of these four, you'll have to go back and take care of it, but you'll probably be very overleveled and take them down quickly.
  • Skewed Priorities: The miners in the desert go mining for gold. They instead find an incredibly-valuable diamond, ...which they instead give to you as thanks and because it wasn't gold, which they resume their search for.
  • 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.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Paula is the only female character of the main party.
  • 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.
  • Snowy Sleigh Bells: Jingle bells ring through the theme music for Winters, where Jeff and his father reside.
  • Soft Reboot: While ostensibly a sequel to EarthBound Beginnings, this game feels more like a re-imagining of that game, as three of the four party members and much of the game's overworld resemble that of Beginnings, but direct references to the plot of Beginnings are next-to-nonexistent, and even Giygas, the single returning character from Beginnings, might as well be a completely different character and even gets no reference to his backstory.
  • 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 pretty clever, 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 EarthBound Beginnings, 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.
  • 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. Though, you can actually get Paula to gain Normal Levels of HP to make up for her weakness, through the use of the Rock Candy Glitch.
  • 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: Giygas isn't the only one with an origin story.
  • Status Buff: The Offense Up and Defense Up PSI, which temporarily raise the party's physical attack and defense, respectively. Jeff's Defense Spray temporarily raises defense for one party member, while his Defense Shower raises defense for the entire party.
  • Status-Buff Dispel: Jeff's Neutralizer targets all buffs active in battle, both ally and enemy.
  • 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 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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