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YMMV / EarthBound Beginnings

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  • Accidental Innuendo: "Just like your Mom, you never want to stop."
  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Is George an awful man who stole knowledge man wasn't meant to know from Aliens and abandoned his wife? Was he a bold hero who stood up to forces that threatened to destroy him, his world, and the love of his life, whom he never wanted to leave behind? Is what eventually becomes of the Earth his fault, or is it Giygas' or even Porky's?
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    • Is Giygas an Knight Templar or a Well-Intentioned Extremist? This ties in with the above, due to how ambiguous the situation is surrounding George and Giygas' relationship. Giygas could be interpreted as a Hero of Another Story, as we do only see the Mother series from the human perspective, which could serve as a form of unreliable narration. If the roles were reversed, with aliens taking human knowledge that could damage their race and the universe, humans might do the same, plotting invasion to right the wrong done.
    • Similarly, is Giygas really a heartless monster destined to destroy the universe like EarthBound claims he is, or is he just as much a victim of circumstance as most people are in this story? It's clear being betrayed by one of his surrogate parents really messed him up later on in life even before he became Giygas proper and even when he tries to invade the Earth, being reminded of his surrogate Mother and the love he still has for her makes him call off the invasion. It's ultimately not that hard to feel bad for Giygas despite him being hellbent on getting revenge; especially when you know what his ultimate fate is.
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    • Another one for Giygas, considering how willingly he was to pull off the attack once he was reminded of how much his adopted Mother loved him, some interpret it as Giygas being forced to spearhead the invasion against Earth by his species (possibly in retaliation for the aggressor behind it being his adopted father), and that Giygas's cold and aggressive demeanor in-game is him trying to convince himself that he doesn't care for humans or the people who raised him.
  • Awesome Music: Plenty, but see The Power of Rock for more…
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The ruins in Yucca Desert that are inhabited by monkeys that tell lies to Ninten and his party. It has no relevance to the plot whatsoever, there is no previous mention of it being full of monkeys, and is never talked about ever again.
  • Broken Base:
    • While the game has always been polarizing in the Mother fandom, and people are excited since it means high hopes for Mother 3, Nintendo's decision to release this game in America before Mother 3 has gotten them quite a bit of flack from people who aren't fans of Beginnings, and to a lesser extent, people wanting a Video Game Remake compilation that updated Beginnings' battle mechanics to that of later entries of the series. On the other hand, many people tell the other side of the base to be glad another EarthBound/MOTHER game is being released overseas, and that they thought the first game was always going to be localized first due to being already translated.
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    • Which translation is better, the official localization or Fan Translation? The Bowdlerization of the official localization isn't as criticized as you may think; the main complaints are the town Dub Name Changes, that the script is "dry" and doesn't have that witty EarthBound or Mother 3 humor, and that due to only one member of the localization team returning for EarthBound, there are more than a few inconsistencies, including the Big Bad being called Giegue instead of Giygasnote . The fan translation imitates EarthBound's writing style and mends these inconsistencies, so it's all a matter of whether a fan prefers "official" or "polished". The Virtual Console version uses the official localization, so while it was unrealistic to expect a fan translation being used, it has brought up the debate again. There are also those who prefer the 'quirks' of the official translation because they find it hilarious.
      • Nothing has sparked more arguments when it comes to localization though as the crow enemy in the beginning of the game. In the Japanese original, it was showed to be smoking in its sprite. The main reason is because when the game got rereleased in Japan, the change was kept at Itoi's word himself, a major factor being he himself had quit smoking around the same time. Purist of the original feel it should be kept to keep the original vision of the game, while there are others who feel the change should be kept, even in more accurate fan translations, out of respect for Itoi's decision on the subject.
      • The town names are a further point of contention in the translation community. A good part of the community prefers the original Theme Naming of the towns, while another good part of the community agrees with the official translations reasoning that naming the towns after holidays sounds incredibly dumb, and prefer the official translations for the town names.
    • A few fans wanted the game to be on the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console instead of or in addition to just the Wii U, either due to lack of a Wii U, desire for portability, or otherwise. Other fans once again tell them to be glad another EarthBound/MOTHER game is being released overseas in the first place. They also pointed out that since Mother 3 is a GBA game, if it was localized and released on Virtual Console in the near future, it would have likely be on Wii U, which would conveniently have made all three games playable on the same console, the Wii U; this was made moot when the Switch was released and Nintendo shortly stopped any first party work on the Wii U.
    • After the Virtual Console release was revealed to be called "EarthBound Beginnings", what is the "true" English title of this game? The big contenders are MOTHER and EarthBound Beginnings, with the official title of the first English prototype, Earth Bound, being ruled out as being too similar to the almost universally accepted English title of the second game, EarthBound and thus would cause confusion. EarthBound Zero is also eliminated, being an obligatory Fan Nickname to solve said problem. Supporters of the EarthBound Beginnings title do so because it's official and makes more sense next to EarthBound. Supporters of the MOTHER title argue that MOTHER is just as official an English title, citing Super Smash Bros., and also support it because it was Itoi's original and intended titlenote  and it's what they were used to for years. This wiki and EarthBound Wiki have settled for EarthBound Beginnings, but The Other Wiki and WikiBound, another EarthBound/MOTHER wiki, decided to leave it at MOTHER until discussion comes to a consensus.
  • Cult Classic: Like the rest of its series, although much less so than its sequels, due to Sequel Displacement. It does have its fans, though.
  • Demonic Spiders: Nearly everything on Mt. Itoi, especially the grizzly bears and their combos and One-Hit Kill "last blows".
    • The suits of armor in the Rosemary's Mansion in Spookane hit like a freight train compared to the other enemies found there, and take far longer to kill due to their high Defense and good HP and their immunity to PK Beam.
    • The Bombers found in Duncan's Factory have an explosion attack that deals heavy damage to your entire party. Pray that either they waste their turn or do their other pathetic attack that only deals 1 HP of damage, and hope you didn't forget to level Lloyd up before going there.
  • Disappointing Last Level: Mt. Itoi falls into this. The developers forewent any sort of playtesting for the area, and the only feasible ways to get to the final boss are to either grind for hours until your team is strong enough to stand a chance against the enemies there, or just run away from everything you encounter. If you choose to go the latter route, you'll want to bring several PSI Stones along to keep Ninten's PP high enough for 4th-D Slip, or else the trek becomes a Luck-Based Mission once his PP runs out and you start having to rely on successfully escaping enemy encounters the normal way.
  • Epileptic Trees: Like its successors, a magnet for these, especially concerning Giygas. The backstory is more implied than spelled out, leaving plenty of room for interpretation. Same thing with most of the setting, like Duncan's Factory.
  • Faux Symbolism: Queen Mary, the ruler of a kingdom that appears to be a Fluffy Cloud Heaven. Plus she's the great-grandmother of the game's hero, Ninten.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • PSI Freeze γ, thanks to being an HP to 1 attack that instantly weakens enemies down to where the party can easily pick them off, and Ana learning it fairly early on too. Good thing too, considering a lot of the enemies late game are Nintendo Hard.
    • Pippi and Teddy have the highest physical attack growth in the game. The former gives you an easy way to level grind near the Podunk Zoo and the latter can easily one shot a lot of late game enemies, especially when he gets the Katana. Naturally, they both get Put on a Bus shortly after they join you, but they both make leveling up the main party members a lot easier.
    • PK Fire Ω, thanks to being an Instant Death Attack that actually works frequently on all enemies in a battle. Granted, you have to do some serious grinding to get it, but it makes the likes of Mt. Itoi much more bearable. Similarly, there's PK Beam γ, which is also an Instant Death Attack that actually works on enemies, and Ana learns far earlier than PK Fire Ω. A bit less gamebreaking since it only targets one enemy, but still helps immensely.
    • 4th-D Slip, thanks to being a guaranteed way to run from battles. You don't get any EXP from using it, but it's a good panic button should you find yourself in a sticky situation, and is a God send for getting through Mt. Itoi without serious grinding.
    • Power Shield. For a cost of a measly 9 PP, all attacks get completely blocked and reflected for the duration of the battle. For 27 total PP, you can cast it on all 3 characters and and effectively become invincible for the rest of a battle. And both Ninten and Ana learn this.
  • Goddamned Bats: Plenty of these, too, especially since you can't skip low-level encounters like you can in the sequels.
  • Good Bad Translation: While there is some criticism from purists, quite a few people like the official translation because of how off it can get at times.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Lloyd is a bullied kid who stole explosives from a factory. Back in the eighties, you were supposed to view him as The Woobie who just so happens to like fireworks. In this day and age, though, where there have been a number of terrorist attacks on schools carried out by students using real weaponry…
    • As mentioned under Scrappy Mechanic, you can get a cold by talking to people. This is a harsh bit of realism that got especially harsh in the COVID-19 pandemic, in which social distancing required to contain the spread of the disease forced many people to give up many face-to-face social interactions that they'd taken for granted.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: Shigesato Itoi was known to smoke a lot. The Crow smoked in the original release, but after the unreleased English version Bowdlerized that, the change was also in MOTHER 1+2. Near the time MOTHER 1+2 was released, Itoi quit smoking.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • It Was His Sled: If you're not Japanese and have heard of this game, you probably know that Giygas is the main villain. In the actual game, this isn't revealed at all until you get the final Plot Coupon near the end of the Very Definitely Final Dungeon, and most of the plot is just you going around the world to learn a song for an ailing queen who you met after a bunch of weird stuff started happening in your hometown. Even the game guides have no information on Giygas, and he has no official art.
  • It's Hard, So It Sucks!: The heavy grinding and less forgiving dungeon design common to early RPG's is the main thing that tends to turn even hardcore MOTHER fans off from playing it. The situation was such that when Tomato finished his Fan Translation of the game, he hacked in the Easy Ring which increases experience gained and decreases enemy encounter rates, and made it literally the first item available in the game in order to help new players. Similarly, the "Mother 25th Anniversary" fan hack also touts lowered encounter rates and increased experience yields as one of its features.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Giygas loved Maria very much, so much that he feels conflicted about his invading Earth to take back the secrets George stole, but that doesn't exactly excuse either of his invasions of Earth and all that they entailed.
  • Memetic Badass: Pippi. Considering who she's based on, it's not really surprising.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Just like your mom, you never want to stop." Explanation 
  • Narm Charm: The official licensed English album is well-composed and produced, especially for its time. The lyrics however, can be seen as cheesy and overly peppy, particularly the rendition of "Pollyanna". Performing at the age of 14, Catherine Warwick's delivery is rendered slightly incomprehensible by the production with a noticeable accent. And yet, she sings with utter conviction and sincerity, capturing the childlike innocence like nothing else could have, and is precisely why it's considered the definitive theme of the series.
  • Player Punch: Giygas begs you repeatedly to stop when you fight him and start singing the lullaby.
  • Polished Port: The MOTHER 1 part of MOTHER 1+2 is much more accurate of a port (and even received some updates) than the lower-quality MOTHER 2 side of it was. Despite this, it was MOTHER 2 that was the focus of the game's commercials.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Some consider George to be the ultimate villain of the entire franchise, as him stealing PSI from Giygas's racenote  is what unwittingly leads to nearly every bad event in the entirety of the Mother series.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • Even people who don't mind the rather standard RPG battle system can't stand the "But [enemy] was already gone" gimmick, where if an enemy dies while a character is still targeting them for an attack, instead of switching to the next enemy, it'll just display this message and have the character waste their turn as a result (and also waste some PP should have Ninten or Ana used their PSI).
    • The fact that random NPCs can give Ninten a cold, which acts like poison and can only be gotten rid of by a trip to the doctor (and pray that there is a hospital nearby or that you have enough money to afford it) or some Mouthwash (which you can't buy until you reach Snowman.) This is especially bad in a game like Mother where the NPCs usually have funny/interesting things to say. The potential of getting a cold discourages doing so.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Beginnings suffers from a major problem that everything unique it did, EarthBound and Mother 3 would go on to do better.
    • The combat is largely bog-standard for RPGs of its era, with nothing unique to make it stand out from other offerings at the time, largely relying on Dragon Quest as a design template.note  This, however, was an intentional choice, as the juxtaposition of classic RPG combat in a 'modern' setting was supposed to contribute to the general weirdness of the series and put a subtle unsettlingness to certain combat encounters. However, with games like Persona, Pokémon and even certain Final Fantasy games setting themselves in 'modern' times with RPG combat, or at least having strong Urban Fantasy elements, it can be hard to see why a modern setting for an RPG could be considered weird to begin with.
    • Beginnings has the distinction of being one of the earliest games to use psychic powers over magic as the 'spells' of the game. While it gave a unique charm at the time, it was largely just flavor as there was really nothing that made it any different from standard magic spells in JRPGs at the time. Not only have psychic powers become the secondary norm to magic when it comes to 'spells' in JRPGs; often with the two types appearing in the same game as different damage types, but later JRPGs such as Golden Sun would incorporate psychic powers in a way that would make them feel like proper psychic abilities.
    • Although it was the earliest example of an Urban Fantasy JRPG, a setting that's still comparatively rare in the genre, the limitations of the NES makes it hard for it to really take advantage of it, with most towns largely resembling one another without too many distinct features to make them standard in comparison to later examples of the genre. The fact that it takes place in The '80s ends up feeling like an Informed Attribute as a result, with the game feeling more like it takes place in rural 1800s America.
    • The game is rather notable for having a large, expansive overworld that's all loaded on the NES without any need to transitions during outdoor areas. While still incredibly impressive that they were able to get it onto the NES with zero lag, these days large, expansive overworlds have long become the norm for JRPGs. Combined with the game often not guiding the player where to go next and expecting them to find it by exploring, this can result in the large overworld feeling more like a hindrance rather than anything exciting.
    • The Final Boss being a case of Sheathe Your Sword was a major surprise at the time. Back during those days, having encounters in RPGs where you don't attack the enemy, let alone for the final boss, was nigh-unheard of back then. Not just that, the game managed to do something not many games back then did, RPG or not; it makes you actually care for the main villain. Even though Giygas is a case of Giant Space Flea from Nowhere, from what little the game manages to show through dialogue, you can tell how conflicted he really is about invading Earth. Not only does he still clearly love his adopted mother despite wanting revenge for what his father did, as you constantly remind him of that through his mother's lullaby, he goes from threatening you to flat-out begging for the player to stop reminding him of her. At the time, a villain being anything BUT a Card-Carrying Villain in RPGs was almost like bigfoot; practically non-existent. So having a villain that manages to get any emotion out of the player was a monumental task back in the day. However, as hardware improved and writing in games became more nuanced, Giygas can feel like a generic Giant Space Flea from Nowhere by comparison to sympathetic villains from later game; especially when stacked against Mother 3's final boss; which is a similar scenario, but manages to be even more emotionally charged.
  • Slow-Paced Beginning: Like its two successors, the start of the game is subjected to Early Game Hell and a lot of Level Grinding is pretty much mandatory if you want to even make it past the first few dungeons. However, once you make it to Magicant, the amount of EXP enemies start giving out is far better balanced and scaled to the levels you'll likely be at. Similarly, once you get Lloyd and Ana, battles become a lot less "spam attack / auto until someone needs heal, then spam attack / auto again" and take on a more strategic element to them. The game's difficulty, while by no means easy, is also fairly better balanced than the beginning, and there's a lot more to the overworld once you open up the Paradise Line. While it's still a matter of taste due to being rather different from its successors, once you get to this point, it becomes a rather good NES Era RPG.
  • That One Boss: The Dragon in Magicant stands out for his powerful normal attacks and devastating PSI. Even with a PSI-Block from Ana, it's still a very challenging fight. Unless you've actively gone out of your way to grind for PK Freeze γ, you're in for a wild ride.
  • That One Level:
    • Duncan's Factory is particularly annoying due to its massive size and high enemy encounter rate. Worse is having to backtrack to the entrance. It gets especially annoying due to the fact that you have to keep Lloyd alive until you reach the room with the rocket in order to progress in the game, and most enemies can take him down in two hits. Also, there are no reviving items at this point in the game, so good luck on keeping Lloyd alive and avoid having to go all the way back to a hospital to revive him.
    • Mt. Itoi has a nasty Difficulty Spike thanks to the fact that part of the game got rushed to meet the release date. Enemies on it hit like a freight train and eat a lot of damage in return before going down. There are also two Hopeless Boss Fights that require waiting out a heavy hitter in order for a cutscene to take place. Teddy also ends up getting sidelined for Lloyd do to suffering a heavy injury from the first Hopeless Boss Fight, nerfing you on the damage output. Grinding also isn't that much of an option, since the enemies don't give you nearly enough EXP to match their levels and damage output. It's telling when the only effective strategy for getting through it is to abuse Ninten's 4thD-Slip in order to avoid every battle.
  • Woolseyism:
    • Many of the (Itoi-approved) changes Nintendo of America made in the unreleased American version, including the run button and an epilogue, were added to the game in MOTHER 1+2, a GBA port of this game and EarthBound. The change of Halloween to Spookane deserves special mention - since it not only keeps the "Halloween"-theme intact, but also sounds like an actual city in the US.
    • Lloyd's name in Japanese is "Roid", which is a pun on the word "Round" that is referring to his glasses. In English, however, it carries completely different connotations, however "Lloyd" is an actual English name and rhymes with "Roid". R and L also just so happen to be interchangeable as well in Japanese, making Lloyd a perfect fit.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: All That I Needed (Was You) from the soundtrack is a pretty generic-but-catchy pop song, though the fact that it was sung by a choirboy (Jeremy Budd) makes it sound more than a little jarring.


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