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Video Game / EarthBound Beginnings

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Take a melody
Simple as can be
Give it some words and
Sweet harmony
Raise your voices
All day long now, love grows strong now,
Sing a melody of
Love, oh love

In the late 1980s, Shigesato Itoi got a hold of Dragon Quest, the first video game he ever played. Though he definitely enjoyed the game, as a former famous copywriternote , he couldn't help but be intrigued about the game's use of the unconventional medium to tell a story and say to himself, "I could do better." Several meetings with people from Nintendo and a John Lennon-inspired name later, that's exactly what he did.

The game is a 1989 Famicom Eastern RPG, the first installment of the Mother trilogy, and the predecessor to the significantly more famous (outside of Japan, at least) EarthBound and Mother 3. Set in the year 1988 (or "198X" in the eShop description), the story follows Ninten, a normal American boy. He's got a workaholic dad, a loving mom, twin kid sisters, and a pet dog. Everything is pretty normal and everyone is happy, up until the day his desk lamp suddenly attacks him, another lamp attacks one of his sisters and a doll starts attacking his other sister. Calling his dad after settling this, Ninten learns that psychic powers run in the family, and to learn more about it, he has to get his great-grandfather's diary and discover what happened many years ago, including what happened to his great-grandmother Maria. Meanwhile, other strange phenomena are happening across the country, and it soon becomes apparent that an alien force is at work. Just what connection does Ninten's family have with the alien invasion?

While always known as Mother in Japanese, the English version had a troubled history. It was initially planned to be released in North America as Earth Bound, but Nintendo of America scrapped release plans after finishing work on the English localization (the Super Nintendo had already launched, making it Nintendo's major focus). A copy of the localized cartridge surfaced years later in the hands of a collector, the ROM of which was subsequently leaked on the Internet and became known as Earthbound Zero after modifying it to run on the widely used NES emulator of the day, as well as adding "Zero" to the title screen to distinguish it from its sequel. On April 29th, 2011, a polished fan-retranslation intended for Mother 1+2 was finished; however, on June 14th, 2015, the unaltered Earth Bound localization was finally released as EarthBound Beginnings for the Wii U Virtual Console in North America and Europe. This localization was also released in Nintendo Switch Online in February 9, 2022. This long, winding road from relatively obscure, Japan-only Mother to official English release EarthBound Beginnings is chronicled in great detail in the 2019 documentary, Mother to Earth.

Compared to the original Famicom release of Mother, EarthBound Beginnings contains a mix of technical enhancements, bowdlerization, modified maps to reduce difficulty, some altered graphics, and a significant lengthening of the rather abrupt ending. Several other pre-production cartridges have also turned up on eBay; four legitimate ones are known to exist, with at least one more theorized to be archived at Nintendo of America's headquarters. In the lead-up to the long-awaited release of Mother 3, this game was re-released in 2003 along with its immediate sequel as Mother 1+2 for the Game Boy Advance; it contained almost all of the modifications of what is now known as EarthBound Beginnings, confirming then that it was indeed the real deal and that not all the work had gone to waste. This port was only released in Japan, though word has it that it was almost released internationally. When the game was released for the Wii U Virtual Console in Japan (alongside its international debut), many of the GBA changes have been retained.

This game has examples of:

  • 12-Bar Blues: The Hippie battle theme uses this chord progression.
  • 20 Minutes into the Past: The original Famicom version came out in 1989 and is set in 1988; the English localization swaps this out for an Ambiguous Time Period, placed at a non-specific point in the '80s.
  • The '80s: Produced, released, and set in this decade. Interestingly, while the original release is explicitly set in 1988, the actual setting feels closer to 1980 (if only because of the NES's graphical limitations and the fact that most of the game is set in rural and suburban areas).
  • Absurdly High Level Cap: The max level cap is 99, but you're likely to be around the early thirties when you beat the game, possibly early forties with Ninten if you deliberately level grinded for Ana's PK Fire Ω. It's possible to beat the games in mid-to-low-twenties if you know what you're doing.
  • Action Bomb:
    • The BigWoodoh enemies from Magicant and the SuperEnergy enemies from Mt. Itoi explode when defeated, dealing damage to the whole party. And there's no scrolling HP to help you here.
    • Near the end of the game, on Mt. Itoi, EVE explodes after she's defeated by R7038XX, but she manages a Taking You with Me against it in doing so.
  • Action Girl:
    • Ana, from her Frying Pan of Doom to her Psychic Powers.
    • Pippi has the same level-up stat distribution as Teddy, and far outranks Ninten in terms of physical offense and defense if you keep her around long enough to level her up some.
  • Affectionate Parody: As noted above, the game was inspired by Dragon Quest. Thing is, it's set in a (then-)modern "Eagleland" as opposed to a generic fantasy setting. Instead of magic, you have Psychic Powers. Instead of swords and bows, you have bats and slingshots. Monsters are not killed but instead regain their senses, and said monsters include things like dogs and hippies. The juxtaposition of classical Eastern RPG mechanics and tropes with the modern setting contributes to the surreal quality of the game.
    • Shigesato Itoi has accredited Peanuts as a key inspiration for the Mother series. But for the sake of legality, two NPCs in this game had to be altered because they looked too similar to Marcie and Pigpen.
  • A.I. Roulette: Many enemies have different attacks with varying effects, or even moves that do nothing at all, chosen at random. A Sky Yddet, for example, can attack normally, "strike with its last blow," or just "grin and bear it."
  • Alien Abduction: Twice. One instance is the reason why, in the Back Story, Ninten's grandmother and grandfather, George and Maria, disappeared for years.note  The second is with most of the adults of Youngtown, turning it into a Never Land populated almost entirely by children.
  • Alien Invasion: Big Bad Giygas and his forces are in the early stages of one, but it's thwarted by the end of the game by Ninten and company.
  • Aliens Speaking English: An alien, Giygas, talks directly to Ninten's party when he appears. In all likelihood, the alien and humans are speaking telepathically. There's also the possibility that, because Giygas was raised by Maria, a human woman, and because the faction he's a part of is implied to have been studying humans for some time, there are any number of ways he could've picked up the language.
  • The All-American Boy: Ninten is a good-natured, popular and brave kid from a quaint American town with a strong love of baseball and his mother's home cooking.
  • All in a Row: Started the series tradition of having additional party members follow behind the main character as opposed to disappearing into the leader's sprite.
  • All There in the Manual: Very little about the characters' backstories and personalities is stated in-game, but the supplementary guidebook Encyclopedia MOTHER contains a good deal of additional information about Ninten, Lloyd, Ana, and Teddy that you could never find out just by playing the game. Naturally, the book itself is only available in Japanese, but was translated into English by a fan, who made it available to read here. It's notable that because of this guidebook, the main characters of this game are rather more fleshed out than the main characters of the rest of the series, even some of Mother 3's main cast.
    • There's also the game's actual manual, which reveals the name of Ninten's mother (Carol), as well as the fact that the game's "Force" stat is supposed to represent a character's attunement to the Force. As in, from Star Wars.
  • Ambiguously Absent Parent:
    • Ninten's Dad doesn't appear until the ending (and only in the English version and the Compilation Re-release).
    • Lloyd's parents are essentially handwaved. His father shows up in/as a trashcan at a remote location in a swamp nowhere near where Lloyd goes to school, and all he does is ask the player's name - no story exposition of even a minor variety. However, in the novel adaption, his father is said to be in the swamp because he is looking for a special plant to cure a fatal illness Lloyd's mother has, and that appears to be another reason Lloyd joins Ninten.
  • Anachronism Stew: The game supposedly takes place in 1988, and while there is some stuff that is relevant for the time such as pay phones, ATMs, and transit trains, a lot of the setting is notably far more rural in many areas and certain house designs look very old, to the point it somehow feels more like a mishmash between The '80s and The Gay '90s. This made it somewhat easy for later versions to set the game at an ambiguous point in the 1980s rather than a specific year, influencing the Ambiguous Time Period direction of its sequels.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Ninten's father calls him at the end of the game about an unspecified important matter that has come up; presumably, something that would warrant his son's attention.
  • Animated Armor: There is an enemy that appears in Rosemary Manor that is an animated suit of armor, called, well, Armor.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Your journey starts off with you being attacked by one of two moving lamps. Then you fight your first boss, a possessed doll, to get your first Plot Coupon. The things you fight along the way just get stranger from here.
  • Anti Poop-Socking: Whenever you save your game, your dad will urge you to turn off the game and go to sleep. If you play for two hours in one sitting, he'll call you out of nowhere on some sort of telepathic phone to pester you about it some more. He will also allow you the opportunity to save and quit wherever you happen to be when he calls you this way.
  • Artwork and Game Graphics Segregation:
    • Ninten's clay model depicts him in a striped blue and yellow shirt. However, his in-game sprite only features a single black stripe, changed to peach in the international version.
    • Queen Mary's official art depicts her in a small gold tiara and an elaborate pink dress. Due to graphical limitations, her in-game sprite depicts her in a simplistic pink gown with a matching large pink crown.
    • Teddy's in-battle sprite depicts him with a small tattoo on his left bicep, which is absent from his clay model.
    • Official illustrations of the Flying Men showcase them wearing red overalls; their in-game sprites, meanwhile, wear pink overalls, despite the fact that their hair and beaks are still red. Their sprites in EarthBound, for comparison, correctly depict their overalls as red.
  • Ash Face: Fail to use Teleport, and after an explosion noise, the party will be covered in soot from head to toe for a moment. It's something else that carried over to the sequel.
  • Asthma Peril: Ninten suffers from asthma, and it becomes a health-draining status effect if he's hit by truck smog. An inhaler is a purchasable item to help remedy this.
  • Attack Reflector: The PowerShield PSI power reflects enemy attacks back at them.
  • Award-Bait Song:
  • Badass Adorable: Let's just sum up the three main characters as this. Admittedly, in Lloyd's case, it took a while for it to shine through, but still.
  • Badass Normal: Lloyd and Teddy lack PSI, but make up for it with gadgets and swords, respectively.
  • Barrier Warrior: Ninten's PSI Shield, which halves all incoming damage—even from non-PSI attacks!—and Power Shield, which reflects enemies' attacks back at them.
  • Batter Up!: Ninten's most powerful weapons are bats, which would carry on to his successor in the EarthBound.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Bear enemies are pretty consistently
    • The real-world bear enemy and its polar and grizzly variations. The latter variant can hit you multiple times in a row and can sacrifice itself to knock you out in one hit with its "last blow."
    • The Sky Yddet, known in the Japanese version as Sky Bear. It's often summoned by the Raeb Yddet and has the "last blow" attack that, at the time it's first encountered, is a sure One-Hit Kill.
  • Beef Gate:
    • You're required to recruit Lloyd to activate the rocket in Duncan's Factory, but you can technically still go there as soon as you get to Merrysville. The problem is that Ninten will face quite a few nasty enemies by himself, most notably the Mad Cars/Trucks and co. Not only does their exhaust attack hit decently hard, they also send Ninten into an asthma attack that leaves him unable to do anything but use his asthma spray. The extra detour you have to make to recruit Lloyd (who doesn't have asthma) will typically ensure you've grinded enough to make these enemies a non-issue.
    • Once you unblock the railroad leading to Union Station, it's possible to go anywhere in the Overworld at that point. Heck, it's even possible to reach places before unblocking it by traveling the train tunnels. However, while this is possible, it's a very, very unwise thing to do. Doesn't stop people from Sequence Breaking to get Ana earlier than they're supposed to.
    • There's also a big difference between when you can wake the dragon in Magicant and when you should wake it. Experienced players may wait until they have Teddy for his raw damage output before fighting it. Alternatively, leveling Ana to Level 21, when she learns PK Freeze γ, followed up with even just a normal physical attack from anyone can take out the dragon in two hits, Teddy or no Teddy.
  • Big Bad: Giygas. The leader of the alien forces attacking the planet. Of course, there's zero exposition hinting at his existence until all the melodies have been collected.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: South Cemetery which does have a few ghosts, but is primarily populated by zombies, who have kidnapped Pippi and hid her in a casket. A more straight example is Rosemary's House outside of Spookane, which is a classic house full of both zombies and ghosts.
  • Big Damn Heroes: After R7038 nearly defeats the party (and severely injures Teddy), Lloyd shows up and destroys it with a tank.
  • Big Foot: He appears as an enemy encounter in Snowman, who can also use PK Freeze.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Outside the Famicom original and Japanese Virtual Console versions, the strange happenings in the world are put to an immediate cease, things quickly return to normal, and Teddy becomes a singer. However, Magicant vanishes, along with Maria, who never gets a chance to reconcile with her adopted son. Not to mention that Giygas is still out there somewhere, plotting to return one day.
  • Book Ends: The game begins and ends with Ninten getting a literal Call to Adventure from his father.
  • Bowdlerise: The English translation got quite a few changes as a result of Nintendo's censorship policies at the time. Infamously, blood was edited out of sprites, and cigarettes were removed from the battle sprites of the Crow and Bla-Bla Gang (originally called the Black Blood Gang) as well as the knife Teddy was holding, the nipples on the Fembots' breasts were replaced with smooth shines, and crosses and religious text were also removed. Other changes were made to avoid lawsuits, such as some overworld characters lessening a resemblance to Peanuts and a mention of Dragon Quest III and Dragon Quest IV was changed to Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario Bros. 7. Some stuff got past the radar, like the strip club in Merrysville (originally called Thanksgiving, as all the town and city names were holidays) and the Merrysville doctor, Old Sawbones Benny, saying "Fine, die all on your own. I'll phone a mortician." if you refuse his services. All of these changes were also in Mother 1+2 and the Japanese Wii U Virtual Console release, with the strip club entirely removed and the Dragon Quest reference was further changed to "that one game" as opposed to a fictional Mario title, with no reference to another title in the series. In addition, the riddle of "Who has lost his tail?" in Ninten's grandfather's diary is "Where is God's tail?" in the Japanese version. Itoi was quite involved in the localization of this game and every Bowdlerization and Woolseyism that occurred had to have his approval. This may also explain their use in Mother 1+2.
  • Boy of My Dreams: In EarthBound Beginnings, Ana says that she fell in love with Ninten as soon as she started seeing him in her dreams. This line doesn't exist in Mother and Mother 1+2, however.
  • Brain in a Jar: The Cerebrum enemy, found at the caves of Mt. Itoi, has a lot of PSI attacks and huge defense, but, if you manage to block its PSI, it'll be an easy fight, although tedious.
  • Brats with Slingshots: An obtainable (and very weak) weapon early in the game. The only character who's likely to get much use out of it is Pippi, since it's the only weapon in the entire game that she can equip.note 
  • Bubblegloop Swamp: The Swamp connecting Youngtown to Ellay. While it is supposed to be a swamp, complete with an enemy population to match, it looks more like a marshland or a large pond in-game, due to tileset limitations.
  • Butt-Monkey: Lloyd. Everyone in his school either points out how much he's been picked on or how much of a weenie he is and Teddy kicks him out the moment he joins your team. Even the descriptions for some of his items don't have nice things to say about him.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": Psychic Points, or PP, take the place of standard MP to match with PSI being the series' equivalent of standard RPG magic. Also, critical hits are called "SMAAAASH!!" hits instead.
  • CamelCase: The first part of the official release English title: EarthBound. Averted with the original title of the unreleased prototype: Earth Bound.
  • Character Name Limits: In the English version, just like in many older video games. There's the deleted spaces in enemy and object names, and in many instances letters were removed ("SuprHealing" instead of "Super Healing," for example).
  • Chekhov's Gun: There's a war veteran with a tank in Yucca Desert. If you get enough ticket stubs from him, you get to ride it, and he warns you to be careful with it because it's his most prized possession. Inevitably, it breaks, and when you get to Ellay you have to pay him to replace it. Also, in an optional subplot that you can do later, Lloyd gets a Big Damn Heroes moment with a tank. What other tank could he possibly get access to? If you do both those events in order, it's Chekhov's Boomerang.
  • Cherubic Choir: The vocal version of The Eight Melodies. Also used in the 1989 Japanese commercial.
  • Chest Monster: Checking certain objects will get you drawn into a battle.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Giygas is defeated by singing Queen Mary's Lullaby to him, similar to how he's finally defeated in EarthBound.
  • Combat Medic: Ninten and Ana. Ninten is unique in that he learns no offensive PSI at all and can only physically attack, while only Ana can learn the ultimate level of LifeUp, LifeUp Ω.
  • Cool Sword: Teddy's strongest weapons are swords, and of course Katanas Are Just Better.
  • Creepy Doll: The possessed doll in your sister's room.
  • Critical Hit: "SMAAAASH!!" attacks ignore the target's physical defenses, dealing a lot more damage than normal hits. However, enemies can also perform these "SMAAAASH!!" hits, with roughly the same odds as your own party members. Since your party is generally much better defended than them, and you have to fight a lot of them, the chance of a defense-piercing hit becomes bad news for you.
  • Crutch Character: The enemies on Mt. Itoi are so dangerous that EVE the robot is the only character that's strong enough to take them out quickly. Unfortunately, EVE doesn't remain in your party for long.
  • Curtain Call: Done at the end of the game, all the characters and NPCs running along the bottom of the screen and looking towards the player before running back off.
  • Cute Bruiser: Pippi may not have the typical personality of this trope, at least as far as can be discerned, but she has the same level growths as Teddy. Shame you can't keep her for long.
  • Damsel in Distress: Probably the only RPG in existence in which you have to rescue Pippi Longstocking from zombie gangsters.
  • Dance of Romance: An optional scene with Ninten and Ana alone inside the bedroom of a healer's house.
  • Dark Reprise: A slow, melancholic version of Pollyanna plays in the room where Teddy is recuperating after R7038's attack, as well as when George speaks to Ninten through the black crystal before his grave atop Mt. Itoi.
  • Dead All Along: Queen Mary, or rather, Ninten's grandmother Maria. Magicant is the result of her lingering consciousness, and after Ninten helps her remember the melody to stop Giygas, she can rest at last, and she and Magicant disappear.
  • Death Mountain: Mt. Itoi is this, as well as the Definitely Final Dungeon due to its difficulty and the fact that Giygas is confronted at the top. It is also where the team meets EVE and gets the seventh melody.
  • Death Ray: PK Beam γ is always a One-Hit Kill, as long as the target isn't wearing a Franklin Badge, Animated Armor, or a giant robot.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Though the fight ends before there's actually a winner, you can get Teddy to join this way.
  • Delinquent: Teddy is the leader of a gang that hangs around the streets of Ellay, has a smoking habit, and during the game gets into a knife fight with 12-year-old Ninten right before he's recruited.
  • Developer's Foresight: You cannot name anyone Nancy, Kelly, or Juana (or any of those enemies' Japanese names in Mother). For that matter, you can't use the names of any named NPCs for your party members, either, nor the Big Bad's name. EarthBound Beginnings will not let you violate the One-Steve Limit.
  • Didn't Think This Through: The clerk of the Spookane Hotel is actually a Starman in disguise, who will attack you after luring you into staying. Unfortunately for him, he waited until after you've gotten the benefits of resting at a hotel (full HP and PP), which can turn the fight into a Curb-Stomp Battle in your favor.
  • Dr. Jerk: Old Sawbones Benny, a sleazy doctor who always charges you exactly half the money you have on hand (rounded down) for his services.
    Old Sawbones Benny (if you don't pay for his services): Fine, die all on your own. I'll phone a mortician.
  • Dub Name Change: EarthBound Beginnings changed the names of many things, including most of the major locations: Mother's Day to Podunk, Choucream Zoo to City Zoo, Thanksgiving to Merrysville, Tinkle to Twinkle Elementary School, Santa Claus Station to Union Station, Halloween to Spookane, Advent Desert to Yucca Desert, Easter to Youngtown, Valentine to Ellay, and Holy Loly/Rolly Mountain to Mt./Mount Itoi. The reason for the holiday theme being removed was due to the game's lead localizer, Phil Sandhop, seeing the original naming scheme as childish—and therefore potentially offputting to older players—rather than welcoming. Some other changes were made to enemies, items, and weapons due to space constraints, censorship issues, or just plain preference. Since the sequel only had one returning translator in the localization team, most of these changes (like Giegue in favor of Gyiyg/Giygas) were dropped, but a few others (like Starman Junior over the Japanese original Starman's Son) were retained.
  • Duel Boss: When you reach Ellay, you can do a dance show if you have a team of three (which you should by this point normally). Teddy will come onstage and demand to know who is beating up his gang, taking Ninten into a one-on-one fight with no PSI. It ends fairly quickly, after which Teddy sends Lloyd off and joins your team.
  • Dungeon Crawling: Duncan's Factory is an annoying large version of this that you are required to go in to continue the plot, although if you're persistent (or lucky) enough to find the right rooms, you can find a second Franklin Badge. The factory also contains the Super Spray, an unlimited-use item that can be used to One-Hit Kill all bug-like enemies in battle without fail. It's more helpful than it sounds, considering the game's arthropod foes tend to be Demonic (sometimes literal) Spiders.
  • Dungeon Town: Spookane, unlike other towns where enemy encounters stop upon entering, they can still happen even after entering the town limits.
  • Dynamic Akimbo: The Starmen enemies always stand with both of their tentacle-like "arms" on their hips.
  • Eagleland: Much like its Trope Naming follow up, though unlike EarthBound, it explicitly takes place in America.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: EarthBound Beginnings is noticeably different from its successors in a number of ways:
    • Firstly, since the NES wasn't powerful enough for it at the time, the Pre-existing Encounters found in EarthBound and Mother 3 weren't introduced yet; the game uses the genre staple of Random Encounters instead.
    • Similarly, once again because of limitations, the HP odometer system and Amazing Technicolor Battlefield that EarthBound and Mother 3 had are also absent.
    • Unlike its successors, the world is very open and nonlinear, which can lead to fans who are used to the more linear and guided progression of the latter two games becoming lost due to a comparative (and, admittedly, somewhat objective) lack of direction. Many scenes and even entire party members that would be mandated in order to complete most other RPGs are actually completely optional; Ana and Teddy, who together account for a full half of the four main characters named at the start of the game, don't even need to be encountered in order to complete it. To note, the possible endgame party configurations are...
      • Ninten, Ana, Lloyd note 
      • Ninten, Ana, Teddy note 
      • Ninten, Lloyd note 
      • Ninten, Ana note 
      • Ninten note 
      • Ninten, Ana, Lloyd, EVE (Japanese Famicom version only) note 
      • Ninten, Lloyd, EVE (Japanese Famicom version only) note 
    • PSI in EarthBound Beginnings is rather strange compared to the latter two games. For starters, it has the highest count of PSI moves unique to it in the entire series (Telepathy, 4th-D Slip, Super Healing, Quick Up, PSI-Block, Darkness, Power Shield, and Shield-Off). The Healing series each cure a single specific status ailment, rather than curing all status ailments from a progressively-larger list. There are also some PSI moves with different names from their appearances in later games; Brain Cyclone is better known to most fans of the series as Brainshock Ω, and generally-speaking, PSI abilities that have only two power levels are ranked as α and β, rather than α and Ω as in later games. The PK Thunder series in general had having the tightest damage range as its distinguishing feature instead of attacking multiple times randomly with a good chance of missing. There's also the fact that Offense PSI moves did not have a constant effect sans power level across all their stages; PK Freeze γ reduces the target to critical HP, PK Beam γ and PK Fire Ω attempt to instantly annihilate one enemy or all enemies, respectively, and PK Freeze Ω, PK Beam Ω, and PK Thunder γ all target all enemies instead of one. Oh, and PK Thunder Ω just doesn't exist at all.
    • Rather than the PSI moves being sorted into three smaller menus by effect category and then arrayed in a column, with the power level selected from a row, EarthBound Beginnings lists each level of each PSI move as its own entry in a single standard RPG skill menu.
    • Unlike following games, which rely on an Ambiguous Time Period setting, the Famicom release of Beginnings is explicitly set in the year 1988. The English localization and later Japanese releases would change this to an unspecified point in the 80's, and the eShop description would use "198X" to keep in line with EarthBound's "199X" setting.
    • Perhaps the biggest difficulty fans of the latter two games encounter when playing EarthBound Beginnings, however, is the fact that the game is significantly harder—with a much steeper difficulty curve—compared to EarthBound and Mother 3. While it was likely balanced for a player who would be figuring things out for themselves —and thus would gain a lot of levels simply exploring the world—, those following a walkthrough will likely have to spend a lot of time Level Grinding.
    • While EarthBound Beginnings does still have its share of outright whimsical enemies, its bestiary is comprised predominantly of enemies that are more down-to-earth and sensible for the setting and story; lots of violent wild animals, rowdy citizens, and alien soldiers, and fewer wacky, out-of-nowhere enemies like the Worthless Protoplasm of EarthBound or the Negative Man of Mother 3.
    • EarthBound Beginnings is also devoid of Mr. Saturns, the strange, helpful little critters who would go on to become the series' mascots following their introduction in EarthBound.
  • Easter Egg: In Yuuca Desert, a single mine was left in the desert. If you find it and step on it, you'll get a message from Shigesato Itoi.
  • Energy Weapon: The PK Beam series, which notably didn't reappear in either of the subsequent games. Beams are also a favorite weapon of the Starman enemies, and two of Lloyd's tools are laser guns.
  • Epic Fail: It is actually possible to get a game over from someone sneezing on you and not having any means to treat the "Cold" status condition before your HP runs out.
  • Equipment Spoiler: Teddy's Butter Knife and Sword weapons can be obtained well before reaching Ellay, where he's encountered. Of course, it's a good deal less spoilery than most examples, considering you see Teddy's sprite and enter his name at the beginning of the game, but even so.
  • Escape Battle Technique: Ninten's signature 4th-D Slip, which allows a guaranteed escape from battle. Considering how brutal the late game enemies are, it's very helpful at times.
  • Escaped Animal Rampage: Happens early in the game, orchestrated by the alien invaders. Fighting through escaped crocodiles, tigers, and elephants to investigate the cause of the recent disturbances around Podunk serves as the finale to the first arc of the game's story.
  • Escape Rope: The Bread Crumbs are used as this. You use Bread wherever you want to get back to, roam into a dungeon or elsewhere, then when you want to leave you follow the breadcrumbs all the way back where you placed them.
  • Eternal Engine: Sweet's Little Factory is visited fairly early on, but is relatively small and doesn't really have any threatening enemies. Later on the group visits Duncan's Factory, a more proper dungeon, where bottle rockets are made.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: It's Giygas's memories of his adoptive human mother, Maria, that end up defeating him.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: The Podunk Graveyard features two kinds of zombie enemies as random encounters, while stronger forms of those same enemies appear in Rosemary Manor. Additionally, there are a couple of NPCs near the south end of Podunk who will reveal themselves to be zombies and attack Ninten when interacted with.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Your first enemies are two desk lamps and a baby doll. It just gets wilder from there.
  • Expy: Pippi is a clear one of the title character of the Pippi Longstocking books, sharing a name and a very similar design, as well as being abnormally strong.note  The Encyclopedia also reveals that her mother is named Lindgren, just like Pippi Longstocking's "mother".
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: The main trio of offensive PSI: PK Fire, PK Freeze, and PK Thunder.
  • First Town: The town of Podunk. Ninten is a resident of Podunk and lives on the town's outskirts.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: The land of Magicant appears as a kingdom resting on a group of puffy pink clouds in the sky.
  • Forced Level-Grinding: The grindiest game in the whole series. You even have to grind at the very start of the game to avoid getting annihilated by enemies right outside your house.
  • Free-Range Children: Nobody seems to mind that Ninten, Ana and Lloyd travel across America completely unattended by adults.note 
  • A Friend in Need: Ninten finds Lloyd cowering in a garbage can from some bullies, who then tells him that all he really would like is to fire a rocket. Ninten then goes and gets him one, and they are buddies from then on.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Ana's most powerful weapons are frying pans. Like with Ninten and Ness, it would carry over to Paula in EarthBound.
  • Galactic Conqueror: Giygas.
  • Gangbangers: The Bla-Bla Gang members of Ellay, with Teddy as their leader. The Gang Zombies are the reanimated, malevolent corpses of these.
  • Gardening-Variety Weapon: Wally, one of the first enemies you find in the game; his sprite includes a farmer pitchfork.
  • Ghost Town: The town Spookane after it became infested with monsters and ghosts.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Ana and Pippi have these.
  • Glass Cannon: Ana, who by the time she gets some good levels on her can dish out One-Hit Kill moves like nothing…as long as her abysmal HP and defense don't get her obliterated by an enemy first.
  • Global Currency: Dollars, with the game mostly taking place entirely in America. They're also good in Magicant, as the shopkeepers there are all from the real world, just like Ninten and friends. Magicant being the Mental World of Maria, a Rural American woman, means that dollars would probably be a valid currency even between those native to Magicant.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Pippi, EVE, and, optionally, the Flying Men. Teddy is a bit of a downplayed example, as the player is intended to fight R7038—and lose Teddy in the process—before completing the game, but the fight is technically optional if you know how to skip it, in which case it's possible to make Lloyd the Guest-Star Party Member instead.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • The game, when compared to its successors, is exceptionally open-ended and nonlinear. As a result, there is no exact direction to how to progress and getting any set objective will require some deep exploration throughout the tremendously large overworld and/or talking to NPCs you might not think are important (it doesn't help that, due to graphical limitations, the character sprites are sometimes indistinguishable from others). Ironically, using a guide can actually make the game harder since players were encouraged to explore and thus level grind in the process.
    • The effects of PSI attacks. The game itself doesn't give you any clues on what most of them do. This becomes crucial when you need to figure out which "Healing" skill to use, because unlike in its successors, each level cures only a specific ailment. Plus, Healing γ doesn't revive unconscious party members; rather, it cures petrification.
    • It's also fairly easy to miss several parts of the Eight Melodies if you don't pay attention to the environment. Most notable is the second melody—obtainable even before rescuing Pippi—which requires you bring a baby canary to Canary Village. However you only get told where Canary Village is once, by an NPC, and the directions they give you are vague at best. Even if you did get the baby canary, you may end up lugging it around for half the game and not realize that it's the key to the second melody.
  • Handicapped Badass: Ninten is asthmatic, but it doesn't stop him from being a badass for the most part, although the vehicular enemies can cause him to have asthma attacks that prevent him from acting. The condition can be alleviated with the purchasable asthma spray.
  • Haunted House: The old Rosemary Manor near Spookane is chock full of a variety of ghosts, animated armors, and pianos that mysteriously play by themselves.
  • Hell Hotel: The hotel at the abandoned Ghost Town, Spookane. The clerk at the hotel is actually a Starman in disguise, who, after charging a much cheaper than normal lodging fee, attacks you immediately the next morning.
  • Heroic Mime: Ninten is never seen speaking in-text dialogue, setting a tradition that would be followed by the other two protagonists of the series.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: The three giant robots. The first two can be destroyed only by a tank (and, with a tank, the first one is hopeless for R7037). However, R7038 attacks the party when they don't have any heavy artillery to defend themselves. While there's no way to avoid it decimating the heroes—and gravely wounding Teddy in the process, hospitalizing him for the remainder of the game—Lloyd shows up in the nick of time to destroy it with a tank. When you fight R7038XX, even your new giant robot buddy deals only about 50 points of damage per hit, and only when she explodes does R7038XX die. Fortunately, it doesn't try to attack you, it only attacks EVE. So, you win, but for EVE, it was hopeless.
  • HP to One: If PK Freeze γ connects, it always reduces the target to critical status, regardless of any defensive stats.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Implied to be how Giygas sees humans, and his reason for invading Earth and abducting people. His adoptive father and Ninten's biological great-grandfather, George, had stolen information that could be used against Giygas's people. It is not directly stated what exactly this information is, but it is suggested that it could be related to PSI or to the technology used to construct EVE, or perhaps both.
  • Humongous Mecha: The three aforementioned giant robot bosses, as well as EVE.
  • An Ice Person: The PK Freeze series of PSI involves psychically conjuring ice to attack enemies.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Similar to the sequel, almost nobody uses a real weapon. Teddy, a leader of a gang, is an exception: he can use a knife, a sword, and eventually a katana!
  • Inconsistent Spelling:
    • Roid/Loid/Lloyd. The first was the official romanization in Japanese, the international fanbase used the second for quite a while, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl and the EarthBound Beginnings trailer use the third. While the middle spelling has been used the longest in the fanbase and is still the preference in certain circles, the last spelling is more likely since the term roido comes from silent film star Harold Lloyd (after his usual round glasses).
    • Ana/Anna. Despite the name being closer in katakana spelling and pronunciation to the former, the latter was preferred in Japanese merchandise. However, Super Smash Bros. Brawl uses the former.
    • Also shown by the main villain - his name is written ギーグ (giigu) in katakana, written as "Giegue" in the localization, and is finally shown to actually be "Gyiyg" in the sequel. Eventually, Nintendo just made up a new English name for him ("Giygas"). But before that, his name was apparently going to be localized as "The Geek".
  • Infinity -1 Sword:
    • The Boomerang. Not only can anyone equip it, outside of Teddy, it's three quarters of the party's second strongest weapon. It's a bit pricey, costing $1100, but once you have one for everyone, it becomes an effective Disc-One Nuke.
    • Teddy's Infinity -1 Sword, however, is the Sword. You can pick up in Magicant long before you'll ever encounter Teddy.
  • Inn Security: In Spookane. $18 for a single night is very inexpensive! And then the party is jumped by Starman the next morning.
  • Instakill Mook: Two kinds appear throughout the game.
    • Certain enemies know PK Beam γ, an attack that instantly KO's its target if it hits. It can be reflected by a Franklin Badge, but given how there are only two in the game and three party members, there'll always be one character in your party left vulnerable. Additionally, these kinds of enemies appear even before the second party member joins, so if you neglect to get the Franklin Badge (which isn’t obvious), you could be in trouble.
    • A few enemies are capable of casting Petrification, which counts as an instant KO and can only be healed via Healing γ and Healers. A petrified party member will drag behind the rest of the party as a static sprite.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Mecha!: EVE, a gigantic Humongous Mecha that George created to assist Ninten and company. The three giant robot bosses also count, for villainous examples.
  • Interface Spoiler: After Lloyd and Ana join you, you'll notice that your status window during a battle will be barely touching the feet of the enemy sprites. The first and only hint that all four main characters can't be together at the same time.
  • Interspecies Romance: One of the monkeys in the Monkey Cave flirts with Ana.
  • Irrelevant Importance: That some items can't be discarded is alleviated by the fact you can leave stuff at home, freeing up the 8 slots per party member. But you'd need to go all the way there, until you get teleport.
  • It's All Upstairs From Here: The final battle is at the peak of Mt. Itoi.
  • Joke Item:
    • The Swear Words and Words O' Love, both of which require a small sidequest, only display the words "I hate you!" and "I love you!" respectively, when used in battle. The Last Weapon tells you how to reset the game. Much like the Last Weapon, the Real Rocket is available to buy for a steep price in the Twinkle laboratory. From the name of it, it seems like it would be quite a cut above the Bottle Rocket item. But if you buy it… it never even makes it into your inventory.
    Scientist: "Oops! It's gone into orbit. A success… sort of."
    • The Time Machine was an item in the original Family Computer version that did something similar when you bought it, but it was removed from later versions.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: The Katana is Teddy's Infinity +1 Sword. It's better than the presumably European-style Sword found in Magicant.
  • Kid Hero: Ninten and Ana are 12, while Lloyd is 11. Doesn't stop them from saving America from an Alien Invasion.
  • Lazy Dragon: The sixth melody is known by a dragon sleeping in Crystal Cavern. However, the dragon is asleep, and won't awaken until Ninten's strong enough for it to sense his presence. (Level 25)
  • Left Hanging: The original Famicom version ended like this. You beat the Final Boss, the boss flees, and the credits roll right then and there. And that's it, that's the entire ending.
  • Level Grinding: The player is forced to do this after recruiting Lloyd and Ana. They come at a low level, and so one naturally goes to Magicant to train them.
  • Lost in Translation: After Lloyd has his Big Damn Heroes moment in the tank while Ninten, Ana and Teddy were getting their butts handed to them by R•7038. However, due to how his speech was translated, it seems as if Lloyd accidentally shot Teddy, and that it's actually his fault that Teddy is critically injured. Turns out that, as shown in the Mother 1+2 Fan Translation, Lloyd was supposed to instead say that he was too late. Of course, there are more moments than this, but this is one of the most notable.
    Lloyd (EarthBound Beginnings): "Shoot! I missed!"
    Lloyd (Fan Translation): "Oh no! I'm too late!"
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Queen Mary is actually Ninten's great-grandmother, Maria, whose consciousness lingered within Magicant after her death.
  • Mad Bomber: The Bomber enemy at Duncan's Factory, and its more powerful variant, the Star Miner, found at Mt. Itoi; both attack by throwing bombs that damage your entire party.
  • Mad Scientist: The Dr. Distorto enemy, found at Duncan's factory.
  • Magical Mystery Doors: The Rosemary's house dungeon is a maze of doors, stairs, and rooms, complete with lots of dead ends.
  • Magic by Any Other Name: PSI is the game's stand-in for magical powers, just like in its successors.
  • Magic Is Rare, Health Is Cheap: Notably, the only Mother game to invert this trope: there is only one PP-restoring item in the game, the Psi Stone, which heals 20 PP, and while it cannot be bought in any store, it can be reused multiple times, found around in the game world and is dropped by various enemies, including the relatively common Starmen. By contrast, the HP-restoring item you will be using the most is the Magic Herb, which heals 30-HP and will eventually become obsolete once Ninten and his party grow a bigger health pool. Most other items that restore HP heals as much or less than the Magic Herb, and the few ones that heal more (The Hambuger heals 50, the Sport Drink heals 100 and the Life Up Cream fully heals you) are incredibly rare to find and/or expensive to buy. You do eventually meet someone that gives away an infinite supply of Life Up Cream, but only once you are at the base of Mt. Itoi.
  • Mana Drain: PSI Magnet drains an amount of the target's PP to add to the user's reserves, depending on the level.
  • Marathon Level: Duncan's Factory is really huge; even bigger than the entirety of Magicant. If you know where you're going, it's not too bad, but the place is designed like a maze with multiple paths, and the overall aesthetics are very samey, so it's very easy to get disoriented and turned around, even with a map of the place.
  • Mating Dance: Although you need the specific party lineup of Ninten, Ana, and Teddy in order to see the scene, there is a house on Mt. Itoi where Teddy will leave Ninten and Ana alone to be together in a room with two beds, in which Ana will ask if Ninten likes her and they will engage in a very intimate dance. Teddy returns after and asks why they're blushing.
  • The Maze: There are a quite few. Duncan Factory, the Swamp, Mt. Itoi caves…
  • Mental World: Magicant turns out to be a figment of Maria's consciousness lingering after her death.
  • Memory-Restoring Melody: Queen Mary is glum because she can’t remember her song. She asks Ninten to find the Eight Melodies. Once they’re all found, Queen Mary remembers that she’s Ninten’s missing great-grandmother Maria and that she would sing the song to Giygas (called Giegue here) during his infancy.
  • Metal Slime: Red Snakes, which are pretty uncommon and frequently run away from battle. If you manage to defeat them, though, they give a hefty chunk of experience, and may drop Magic Coins.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: The boxart is just the logo over a plain red background.
  • Missing Secret: The game has four main Offense PSI series; PK Freeze, PK Fire, PK Thunder, and PK Beam. All of these have four power levels, going through α, β, γ, and ending on Ω… Except PK Thunder, which ends at γ for some reason, having only three power levels.
  • Moment Killer: Right after Ninten and Ana confess their feelings (maybe), Teddy barges in the room and asks the pair why they are blushing. To be fair he does apologize for interrupting, but did so because he was hearing odd noises outside, and then a giant robot attacks them, critically wounding Teddy. Real moodkiller there.
  • Mrs. Robinson: The Rosemary mother. Somehow this stayed in EarthBound Beginnings.
  • Muggles Do It Better: In both instances where you're forced to fight the giant, alien-made R7030-series robots, they're Hopeless Boss Fights if you attempt to take them on normally… However, they're surprisingly weak to tanks.
  • Mutually Exclusive Party Members: Teddy and Lloyd are functionally this; though over the course of normal gameplay it's meant as a Guest-Star Party Member situation, with some Sequence Breaking (and a willingness to hold off on recruiting him) you can keep Teddy to the end of the game.
  • Nerd Glasses: Lloyd wears the round-rimmed version of these.
  • Never Land: Youngtown is populated almost entirely by children, due to Alien Abduction of all of the adults.
  • Never Say "Die":
    • Similar to the sequel, enemies "become quiet", "don't move anymore", etc. Justified because you're not using real weapons (for the most part) and you're fighting possessed animals and humans, as well as supernatural beings. You're not beating them to death, you're beating them until they stop attacking you. The implication is that you're only reacting in defense against these enemies.
    • Another example is in the Bowdlerisation with the Plasma Beam, the UltraBarbot and ManiacTruck enemies; in the Japanese version, they're known as the Death Beam, Death Barbot and Death Truck, respectively.
    • During the Final Boss when Ninten refuses to join Giygas on the mothership, in the Japanese version, Giygas tells Ninten in his companions to perish with the rest of the humans. In the American version, he tells them to "fall into a long sleep".
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The Japanese TV spot had Ninten and Ana defeat R•7037 or one of its upgraded model robots. This is impossible to do in-game, where all of those enemies need heavy weaponry to defeat.
  • Nintendo Hard: Lots and lots of Random Encounters, oft-unbalanced enemies, a huge proliferation of One-Hit Kill moves, and too much Forced Level-Grinding make this the hardest game in the whole series. Itoi even admitted to completely skipping over balancing out the later sections of the game because, by the end, the whole development team was so tired.
  • No Ending: The original release ended with Giygas, defeated, leaving in his spaceship, the party solemnly looking back at the player one by one, and the credits playing in the black sky. It didn't explicitly tie up any loose ends and left some Fridge Horror / No Endor Holocaust. EarthBound Beginnings and Mother 1+2 significantly extended the ending, although it automatically assumes that the player recruited all characters. Given the game's non-linear structure, this is in some respects more of a mixed bag than it would seem.
  • Non-Standard Skill Learning: New PSI moves have a 25% chance of being learned after each battle if Ninten or Ana is at or above the required level, but Teleport is only learned from the Garrickson baby in Youngtown.
  • No-Sell: During the final battle against Giygas, no regular attacks or PSI will affect him at all. While attacking abilities still display damage numbers, his HP is effectively bottomless. No offensive actions are effective against him except for singing the Eight Melodies.
  • No Smoking: The Crow and B.B. Gang enemies are depicted with cigarettes in the Japanese Famicom version, but lost them in the English version and the subsequent Japanese releases. Notably, this Bowdlerisation was one of the changes Itoi himself approved of, as he had quit smoking around the time of Mother 1+2 and wanted to reflect it in the game.
  • Nostalgic Musicbox: The ending tune starts and ends with a music box rendition of the Eight Melodies.
  • Not Drawn to Scale: If the surrounding panorama is to be believed, the rooftop of the Twinkle School is several hundred stories off the ground —then again, maybe that's just what it looks like to Ninten…
  • Novelization: It calls Ninten "Ken," for starters, and explains the deal with Lloyd's father randomly being in the swamp.
  • NPC Amnesia: Often just for fun but there are some particularly complex trees that must be solved through trial and error in order to proceed.
  • The Numbered Things: The Eight Melodies.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: Power Shield, a PSI technique that indefinitely redirects all incoming damage back at the attacker, cannot be used in scripted boss battles to prevent the player from breaking those scripts or otherwise cheesing the fight.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: The first of the Eight Melodies is a music box hidden in Ninten's sister's formerly possessed naked doll.
  • One-Steve Limit: The player cannot give the party members the names of important NPCs in the story. The game will force the player to use a different name if they try.
  • Opening Narration:
    In the early 1900's, a dark shadow covered a small country town in rural America. At that time, a young married couple vanished mysteriously from their home.

    The man's name was George, the woman's name was Maria.

    Two years later, as suddenly as he left, George returned. He never told anyone where he had been or what he had done. But, he began an odd study, all by himself.

    As for Maria, his wife… She never returned.

    80 years have passed since then.
  • Optional Party Member: Lloyd is the only other major party member required to beat the game, and even he's optional to keep after reaching Ellay. Ana can be completely ignored, and Teddy can't join unless you have Ana.
  • One-Hit Kill:
    • PK Beam γ, a favorite PK attack of Starmen. Fortunately, the Franklin Badge just reflects the attack back at the attacker. Unfortunately, there's only two in the entire game, meaning that one party member will be vulnerable at all times. On the plus side, Ana's own PK Beam γ works frequently on late game enemies, although mechanical enemies are immune to PK Beam γ; both their own Beams reflected back at them and Ana's.
    • PK Fire Ω destroys all enemies instantly.
  • Only Fatal to Adults: All the parents of Youngtown are gone, due to their being abducted by aliens, leaving their children to fend off the other aliens by themselves.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: The many ghost enemies encountered in the game. One variety, the Alarm Ghost, can summon other, more dangerous enemies to the fight.
  • Outside-the-Box Tactic: Necessary or possible at a few points throughout the game:
    • R7037 in the Yucca Desert can't be defeated through normal combat. Instead, you need to get a Tank from the old war veteran camping out in the desert.
    • Unintentionally, in the original Japanese Famicom version only, the R7030-series robots were vulnerable to Fleas, which render them harmless, allowing the player to easily (if tediously) wait out the 256-turn limit on the battle and "defeat" them that way, instead.
    • In a convention to be continued throughout the series, the Final Boss Giygas cannot be defeated by ordinary methods. You must sing Queen Mary's song eight times after he stops talking to subdue him.
  • The Overworld:
    • Almost uniquely among NES RPGs, it doesn't really have an overworld as such. Everything outside of combat takes place in the same localized view, and for its day, its world was freaking massive; unlike The Legend of Zelda, it wasn't divided into separate squares, and unlike Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and other RPGs, there was no world view between towns and dungeons. One could even argue it's bigger than EarthBound and Mother 3's world maps! It's pretty easy to get lost in it, but overall falls into somewhere around scale four and five of openness. In a minor violation of The Law of Conservation of Detail, entire chunks of the map are largely irrelevant to anything at all and exist for no purpose other than for you to wander around the edge of town in.
    • The world's size is noteworthy in that, aside from Magicant, Snowman and Mt. Itoi, nearly everything is part of a single map that can be explored from end to end without even a transition screen. EarthBound is many smaller maps connected by doorways, by comparison.
  • "Pachelbel's Canon" Progression: The first half of the Eight Melodies is built on a slight variation of this progression.
  • Palette Swap: As an early RPG, nearly everywhere. Some palette swaps at least slightly modify the sprites by overlaying new graphics to make them seem different, such as adding a collar to the Wolf to make it a Stray Dog, or adding defects in the Old Robo to make it a Scrapper. The sprite changes actually are not present when the enemies fade in and fade out at the beginning and end of battle respectively, so you can see what changes were made and what the sprites originally looked like before they added the extra details.
  • Patchwork Map: This game is allegedly set in America, yet the desert is in the north and the arctic town is in the south — the opposite of the real country's geography. The desert is also right next to the ocean, with nothing separating the two.
    • The games' logo implies that, relative to the real world, the world of the series is flipped upside-down, explaining the climate shift. This doesn't explain the second point, though. While coastal deserts do exist, there's none of these in (the United States of) America, no matter how you rotate it.
  • Parental Substitute: Ninten's grandmother, Maria, raised Giygas from infancy. The Eight Melodies combine to form the lullaby that she used to sing him, and it's what ultimately repels his Alien Invasion.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: Early on when you get Pippi, there's a small area just above and beyond the police guarding the route to the next city that allows you to encounter enemies you're normally not suppose to until you actually make it to the town. Once you have Pippi leveled up enough to where she can one shot most of them, note  it becomes a good spot to grind Ninten up so he can reasonably take on the Podunk Zoo by himself.
    • Magicant, with its abundance of free healing and decently tough enemies, is another one. Not only can you level up Ninten there to be able to take on the outside world, but you can teleport back there everytime someone joins your party.
  • Permadeath: The Flying Men. If one of them runs out of HP and faints, unlike your other party members, he cannot be revived at all.
  • Physical, Mystical, Technological: Ninten's three nameable companions are differentiated this way, with Ninten himself being more of a Jack of All Stats. Teddy is Physical, Ana is Mystical, and Lloyd is Technological.
  • Playing with Fire: The PK Fire series involves psychically-conjured fire, which hits multiple enemies.
  • Plot Coupon: The Eight Melodies.
  • Plotline Death: Eve. For players of the original Family Computer version, Teddy remains bedridden and silent after/if Lloyd returns, so the general assumption is that he didn't survive. However, in later versions of the game, it's made clear that Teddy survived his injuries.
  • Poltergeist: At the start of the game one of these attacks your house…or so the characters think. Turns out it's actually the same psychic influence from Giygas and his race that's bringing other inanimate objects to life, such as vehicles and suits of armor, and making people and animals hostile.
  • Power Nullifier: PSI Block prevents a PSI user from using any of their Psychic Powers for the remainder of the battle.
  • The Power of Friendship: Like every game in the series.
  • The Power of Love: Singing Maria's lullaby to Giygas is the only way to defeat him.
  • The Power of Rock: Singing that lullaby is the only thing that's effective against Giygas at all.
  • Psychic Powers: Started the series-long tradition of using PSI as the series' equivalent of magic.
  • Psychic Teleportation: Only one level of it, unlike in the EarthBound. It allows the player to revisit towns they've already been to.
  • Random Encounters: There's a lot of them. The world of EarthBound Beginnings is massive and would be quite fun to explore if it weren't for these. Although you can't really blame it because it's a Family Computer game, so technical limitations at the time made Pre-existing Encounters impossible. This gets less aggravating once you get access to Magicant, and more importantly, Repel Rings which prevent fights against weaker enemies.
  • Ray Gun: The purchasable guns that Lloyd can use, the Laser Beam and the Plasma Beam. Strangely, they're used as items rather than being equipped as weapons.
  • Recurring Riff: Several, including "Pollyanna (I Believe In You)", the battle theme for the Hippie, and "Eight Melodies (Queen Mary's Lullaby)", occur frequently and are used in the later games.
  • Red Sky, Take Warning: The Peak of Mt. Itoi is shown being enveloped by an ominous dark cloud. The original Japanese advertisement also provides a glimpse of Giygas' ship.
  • Required Party Member: When you reach Mt. Itoi, Lloyd is required to find the 7th melody, as he's the only one who can fix the boat at the lake, and gain access to the underwater lab where they can find EVE.
  • Retronym: The English NES release was going to be titled Earth Bound, as shown in an nearly-complete leaked ROM. When the official English release came out years later on Wii U Virtual Console, this would've clashed with the sequel that did get localized, so the title was changed to EarthBound Beginnings — though the in-game title screen was left untouched.
  • Revised Ending: The 1989 version's ending featured Giygas flying off, the player's party turning to face them, and the credits rolling behind them. This left many plot threads unresolved and made for a rather abrupt ending, so during production of the 1990 localization, Nintendo of America understandably replaced the fourth wall-breaking credits sequence with a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue that resolves all of these subplots. Though despite the game's non-linear nature, it makes the assumption that the player went along what is commonly considered the default/canon route. This new ending also features a cast roll call, a new credits sequence with a remix of the airplane theme and a little bit of Youngtown's at the end (the original song plays during the epilogue & roll call), and a Sequel Hook courtesy of Ninten's dad.
  • Save Point: You can only save your game by calling Ninten's dad and recounting your adventure. This means you can only save at phones... usually. If you've been playing for a very long time, Ninten's dad will call you, asking if you need to take a rest, and offering to let you save and quit wherever you are.
  • Schizophrenic Difficulty: An interview with Shigesato Itoi confirmed that the last parts of the game, specifically Mt. Itoi, had not been tested sufficiently for balance issues.
  • School Setting Simulation: Early on in the game, you have to go to Twinkle Elementary School in Merrysville to recruit Lloyd. The nurse at the school heals you to maximum HP. You have to talk to the janitor to get the key to the rooftop, where you talk to Lloyd who is hiding in a trash can. Then, you go to the science lab, where you blow up the room, and you can visit it later anytime to buy joke items from a teacher.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: In the official localization, the Raeb Yddet (and by extension, the Sky Yddet) in Magicant.
  • Sequel Hook: In EarthBound Beginnings and Mother 1+2, there is a Post-Credits Scene of Ninten's Dad calling him, saying that 'something new has come up'. It's an unusual example in that obviously there were sequels, but neither actually followed up on this, at least not in any overt or obvious way.
  • Sequence Breaking:
    • Besides generally grinding to do things out of order, you can completely skip the whole thing with Teddy if you don't really think about trying to meet him, and are just looking for the melodies without using the ticket. You can carry this out to such an extreme that you never even hear his name. The same goes for Ana.
    • Alternatively, you can recruit him and leave Lloyd in the dust for the rest of the game with further sequence breaking, if you so choose, provided you've already acquired EVE's melody.
    • Via an exploit involving Bread Crumbs, it's shown that Pippi is the only mandatory recruit in the game (despite having a temporary slot); you don't even need Lloyd if you carefully glitch your way into Magicant's farewell scene and open the final area with the Sing command, although he is necessary in normal gameplay to progress the story.
    • On the side of things that doesn't include skipping party members, most people who unlock the Paradise Line immediately go to Snowman to get Ana in their party, despite the fact that a lot of the enemies there can easily kill the party at that point. note 
  • Shady Scalper: To get inside the Live House in Ellay, the player needs to get a ticket. Just outside, there's a man selling tickets for $1200, claiming they're sold out. However, the player can go to the city's department store and buy one for only $350 instead.
  • Sheathe Your Sword: While it's not necessary to defeating them, the Groucho enemies in Magicant reward the use of this tactic with a hefty sum of experience to a random party member when they say "Hello!" and just walk away. At the very end of the game, it is necessary to defeat Giygas.
  • Shifting Sand Land: The Yucca Desert. Ninten has to walk through here on foot because upon his first trip via train, he finds the tracks are broken. A singing cactus that knows one of the Eight Melodies lives within the desert.
  • Shock and Awe: The PK Thunder line of skills involves shocking enemies with psychically-conjured electricity.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Ninten fights a Kewpie doll in the beginning of the game.
    • Two of the towns (Merrysville and Spookane) are named after cities in Washington State, where Nintendo of America is located (Marysville and Spokane, respectively.) There's also Ellay, a pun on L.A. (a.k.a. Los Angeles).
    • The character designs, setting and overall aesthetics seem to borrow a good deal from Peanuts, so much so that two character sprites were altered by Phil Sandhop for the translation as he believed they were too close to existing Peanuts characters, risking a potential lawsuit. Similar influences can also be seen in EarthBound.
    • Pippi is an obvious one to the Pippi Longstocking books, being an Expy of the title character herself.
    • If you use the Check command on the regular-world Bear enemies, you'll notice the localization team took a few pages from Goldilocks.
    • The "Groucho" enemies in Magicant occasionally end battle with the player by simply saying "Hello" and leaving. This is a subtle reference to "Hello, I Must Be Going", sung by Groucho Marx.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The wintry town of Snowman, from which Ana hails.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Ana is the only female character of the main party.
  • Snowy Sleigh Bells: The beautiful theme played in the wintry Snowman has sleigh bells playing through the track.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • Ninten and Ana have a dance near the end of the game, to relax (and to show them growing fond of each other). The tune that plays, "Fallin' Love", is extremely melancholy.
    • The 8-bit version of the song is, but the soundtrack version has a typical romantic adult contemporary feel to it, but with no lyrics.
  • Spell Levels: The tiers for PSI powers are given by the Greek letters α, β, γ, and Ω. Notably, this is the only game in the Mother series that features π as a level.
  • Spinning Out of Here: The Teleportation spell is executed by having the character move around while accelerating rapidly before zooming off; because colliding with anything stops the teleport, the better the player is at moving in a small circle, the more places he or she can teleport from.
  • Status Buff: The PSI powers OffenseUp and DefenseUp temporarily raise physical attack and defense, respectively, as well as QuickUp, which temporarily raises speed.
  • Status Effects:
    • Ninten has asthma and the exhaust from truck enemies can render him unable to act unless he uses an inhaler.
    • All of the standard effects are here, from "Blindness" making attacks less accurate to "Sleeping" and "Petrification" rendering a character unable to act. Notably, the standard "Poison" effect (losing an amount of HP a turn) is flavored as the character having a cold and sneezing each turn... alongside an effect actually called "Poison" that does the exact same thing.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: One of the first things that Lloyd does after joining your party is blow up the science lab.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: It's strongly implied that Giygas and his kind are this. While only one member of the race is ever actually seen in the entire series, they are implied to be immensely powerful, capable of wielding PSI powers beyond what humans are able to comprehend, and if the various mechanical enemies the player encounters throughout the game, as well as the alien laboratory and mothership found on Mt. Itoi, are any indication, their technological prowess is nothing to sneeze at, either.
  • Sugar Apocalypse: Once you show all eight melodies to Maria in Magicant, she disappears, taking the entirety of Magicant with her.
  • Support Party Member: Ninten, to an extent. He has no offensive PSI at all, instead being focused around buffing the party's physical strength, defense and speed and creating barriers against both physical damage and PSI attacks, and he possesses the only Escape Battle Technique in the game.
  • Suspicious Video-Game Generosity: At the base of Mt. Itoi there is a doctor who will let you sleep there for free and gives you the best healing item in the game also for free. Naturally, Mt. Itoi is a rather nasty spike compared to what came before it.
  • Taking You with Me: EVE is no match for R7038XX, but she explodes when defeated, instantly destroying the foe and leaving behind a Plot Coupon.
  • Tank Goodness: A rental. Lloyd shows up in another tank to defeat the second giant robot.
  • A Taste of Power: The game does this twice, both at the end of the game. Once with Teddy, who can actually defeat the Demonic Spiders on Mt. Itoi without much Level Grinding, and who goes away if you activate a certain cutscene. The second time is with Eve, who joins you in the middle of The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, is insanely powerful, and can defeat any of the Random Encounters in one blow. But if you backtrack, or go forward past a certain point, you are forced to fight a robot that Eve sacrifices itself to defeat.
  • Telepathy: One of Ninten's and Ana's PSI powers; it's used a few times in the game to read the minds of important NPCs in order to progress.
  • Temple of Doom: The ruins in the Yucca Desert. However, they're being guarded by an enormous robot that can only be defeated using a tank. The ruins were first built about one thousand years before the game's events, and were destroyed for unknown reasons.
  • Terrible Ticking: The animals at Poduck Zoo are driven mad by the sound of the Starman Jr.'s ship at the nearby building.
  • Theme Naming: Pretty much every location is named after a holiday in the Japanese release. In EarthBound Beginnings, these names were changed because the translator thought they sounded juvenile and would be offputting to older players. When Tomato was doing the fan translation of the Mother 1+2 version, he agreed with the sentiment, but kept the holiday-themed names anyway.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Ninten's little sisters are named Minnie and Mimmie.
  • Thriving Ghost Town: Averted. This game's towns are the biggest in the whole series, and seem to extend past the cluster of houses into the vast rural areas. Most of the houses' doors are locked, however, preventing the Kleptomaniac Hero (or a thief) from getting in.
  • Tin-Can Robot: The Old Robot and Scrapper enemies at Duncan's factory; the latter is a Palette Swap of the former.
  • Took a Level in Badass: You first find Lloyd in a trash can hiding from bullies. Later, he shows up in a tank to destroy a giant robot that your party could not hope to defeat otherwise.
  • Touched by Vorlons: The details are left vague, but something definitely like this happened between George and the aliens, possibly opening the door to humankind getting technology and/or PSI. And he did it completely without the aliens' permission.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Ninten's is prime ribs by default, but the player can enter a food of their choice at the beginning of the game that Ninten's mother will cook for him whenever he returns to rest at home.
  • Trail of Bread Crumbs: You can eat the Bread item to recover some HP. However, if you Use it instead, you get Crumbs, and by using Crumbs, you return to the spot you were at when you used the bread.
  • Two-Part Trilogy: Aside from PSI and Giygas, there is barely any evidence that the world of this game is the same world as EarthBound. This game was hit especially hard, as despite the rerelease, it only really had any notable publicity back in its day. The Compilation Re-release's commercials focused mainly on the second game, showing only a very brief clip of this one, which, while this game got a significant update, the only thing that was changed from the second game, besides the inevitable quality drop in porting from Super NES to Game Boy Advance, was a few bug fixes and an incredibly minor rewrite. At the same time, because Giygas does not appear in Mother 3 and Porky does not appear in this game, the Mother Trilogy is easy to break up into two different parts - Giygas and Porky.
  • Unique Enemy: The Fish. Only a single variant is fought once and never appears again for the duration of the game.
  • Updated Re-release/Compilation Re-release: This game and its sequel have been compiled into a single cartridge and rereleased for the Game Boy Advance under the title Mother 1+2 (only in Japan, of course).
  • Useless Useful Spell: Averted with PK Beam γ, which one-shots the majority of the game's organic enemies, and PK Fire Ω, which instantly nukes every single random encounter in the entire game. You have to do a considerable amount of grinding for the latter, however.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Mt. Itoi, the highest point in the overworld, with its peak surrounded by an ominous cloud. It's also by far the most difficult area of the game and where the Big Bad arrives on Earth.
  • Victory by Endurance: An unintended alternative method to defeat the final boss. Seeing as it requires surviving for 255 turns, though, it's much harder than just doing things normally.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • The Flying Men. Seeing the graves next to their former home is just heartbreaking when you realize that if you hadn't come along they would still be alive.
    • Also, using the Bullhorn on Giygas, especially in the fan-translated versions.
      Ninten used the Bullhorn! "You're a disgrace to your mother!"
  • Violation of Common Sense: You actually get more experience letting Grouchos say hello and leave the battle instead of beating them.
  • Wackyland: Former Trope Namer, though the sequel's Magicant is most likely what was envisioned when it was named. They're not the same place; in this game it was a manifestation of Maria's mind trying to regain her memories, while the one in EarthBound was a representation of Ness's mind after completing the Sound Stone's melody.
  • Weapons-Grade Vocabulary: Enemies can "attack" with Threatening Words and Swear Words, both of which decrease someone's Fight stat. Your party can get some words of their own to "attack" with, but they do nothing.
  • We Can Rule Together: Giygas gives Ninten alone a chance to board his mothership, although the game never gives you any choice as to how to respond, and Giygas's next lines indicate that Ninten refused.
  • We Named the Monkey "Jack": Mrs. Rosemary renames her son Buggerror after Ninten. Evidently she likes his namesake better than her own son.
  • Westminster Chimes: The basis for the background music of Twinkle Elementary School.
  • We Will Meet Again: Giygas promises to meet Ninten again before he leaves.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: While the Magicant merchants of EarthBound Beginnings explain that their shops work similarly to the outside world, the Fan Translation instead has them claiming that they are from the real world. This is especially concerning once you realize that they end up vanishing without a trace along with Magicant.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Accepting a drink from a woman in the Live House will cause a cop to show up, chastise Ninten for drinking under age, and arrest him and his friends. The cop also confiscates his weapon and you need to buy it back.
  • When Trees Attack: The Woodoh and BigWoodoh enemies of Magicant are animated trees with faces. And the latter go boom upon defeat.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The game's ending explains what happened to the heroes after they defeat Giygas. This ending wasn't present in the original Famicom version, where the game abruptly ends with Ninten and his friends simply turning to face the player one-by-one after a defeated Giygas flees back into space, and the credits roll in the background.
  • White Magic: The LifeUp series of PSI, the Healing and SuperHealing PSI, and the series of offensive and defensive buffs are the game's equivalent to this.
  • A Winner Is You: The original Famicom version ended with Ninten and his friends turning to the screen and the credits rolling after they defeat Giygas. The American version adds a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue and the now series-standard cast roll before the credits, which carried over to the Japan-only GBA port.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Exaggerated with the Garrickson baby of Youngtown, who is limited to speaking meaningless baby talk, but whose thoughts are in complete, understandable sentences. There's also the fact that it has Psychic Powers and telepathically teaches Ninten and company Teleport.
  • Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Talking to certain NPCs will get you drawn into a battle.
    • There are also NPCs that will sneeze on you if you talk to them which results in the "Cold" status condition.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Giygas, now that you know his backstory.
  • Year X: Averted with the Japanese version (both the Famicom release and the Game Boy Advance port in Mother 1+2), which explicitly states that the game takes place in 1988. Played straight in the English eShop release, which gives the year as "198X." The in-game text in the English version, meanwhile, states that it's set 80 years after "the early 1900s," which would imply that the game takes place between 1980 and 1983.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: As true of Giygas's attacks in this one as in the sequel, though at least he has a physical body here.
    EarthBound Beginnings: "The form of Giegue's attack was inexplicable!"
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: You can't stop EVE being destroyed by the R7038XX. It appears in a predetermined spot in a tight corridor if she is with you, and only through her destruction can you obtain the penultimate melody to learn Maria's song, which you need to have in order to even face Giygas.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: In the GBA remake, when Teddy, Ninten and Ana hear a robot monster approaching, Teddy says, "You've got to be kidding me!", and a Hopeless Boss Fight ensues.
  • Zero-Effort Boss: Before entering Duncan Factory, you must defeat its guardian: a Stray Dog, one of the weakest enemies in the game. Particularly ironic because Duncan Factory is one of the hardest dungeons of the game.

'Cause I still believe in miracles; I swear I've seen a few
And the time will surely come when you can see my point of view
I believe in second chances, and that's why I believe in you!


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Mother 1, Earthbound Zero


Duncan's Factory's Guard Dog

A Stray Dog, one of the weakest enemies this game has to offer, is the obstacle that must be defeated in order to access Duncan's Factory. Its attitude and strenght prove that the proverb is true: "Barking dogs seldom bite".

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / ZeroEffortBoss

Media sources: