EarthBound is a twist on the standard RPG setting for the SNES that follows the story of Ness, a seemingly normal boy who lives in Eagleland. Late one night, a meteorite landing outside town awakens Ness. The meteorite brings with it a bee (or not) from the future, who tells Ness of its devastation at the hands of an indestructible being called Giygas — a being Ness is destined to defeat. Ness's journey to stop Giygas will take him through time and space to meet the remainder of the Chosen Four (Paula, Jeff, and Poo) and collect the Eight Melodies for his Sound Stone to unite the power of Earth as his own.
EarthBound is the second of a series of Japanese role playing games known as MOTHER, an experiment in storytelling in a different medium by Japanese essayist Shigesato Itoi. MOTHER 2: Gyiyg no Gyakushū (or Gyiyg Strikes Back, as it's called in Japanese) serves as a loose sequel to MOTHER, since the two games share the same essential setting (an affectionate homage to idealized America). Of the three games in the MOTHER series, only EarthBound ever received a physical release in North America (as Nintendo has eventually digitally released the unproduced localization of the first game and has not currently released an official English translation of MOTHER 3).
Gameplay has changed somewhat from the first game. For starters, party count has been upped from three to four characters, and the ability to pick and choose who joins you has been cut, with each party member joining in a linear order. That being said, all four characters have their own strengths and weaknesses: Ness is a tank that uses support spells to help his friends, Paula is a devastating Black Mage and Glass Cannon, Jeff is a Mechanically Unusual Fighter who lacks PSI but can help out by making extremely strong mechanical inventions using Joke Items, and Poo uses both PSI and physical attacks to do a variety of different things. This game also introduces the "rolling counter" system for battles, wherein using a PSI move or being hit causes your PP and HP meters respectively to begin rolling down rather than dropping immediately. This allows characters to survive fatal hits if they can be healed before hitting zero, turning the game into a pseudo-real-time RPG.
On the 19th of July 2013, Nintendo finally re-released the game via Virtual Console (in both Europe and the US) at the far-lower-than-eBay-auctions price point of $9.99; to round out the package, it also digitized the original Player's Guide that it bundled with the SNES release and offered it up for free (so that gamers could read the guide in a browser, including using the Wii U's browser on the GamePad). Nintendo also re-released the game on the New Nintendo 3DS and the New Nintendo 3DS XL handheld systems as a part of their Super Nintendo Virtual Console in early March 2016 note . It was also included on the Super NES Classic Edition in 2017.