The Quarterly JRPG Club - Q1 2017 - Earthbound!

Original Quarterly JRPG Thread here:

It's that time again, apples and oranges! Time for the new Quarterly JRPG - this quarter's is the classic favorite:


According to HowLongToBeat, here's what we have in store:



Here's a tentative timeline:

January: Onett through Milky Well
February: Milky Well through Dalaam Palace
March: Dalaam Palace to completion

I'm in!

Might work best to split it up by town?

That's what I was thinking. I just placed some info above.


I'll see if I can surface it, but used to (not sure if they still do) an annual community playthrough which broke the game down into chunks so you could pull it off in about a month. That might be helpful for scheduling.

(I probably won't be joining even though this is one of my favorite games, so it's not really something I need to replay at the moment)

EDIT: Found it. Wow, I'd forgotten how late in the game Dungeon Man is. I'd probably start March with Moonside or post-Moonside to end of game. Milky Well or just getting to Threed definitely seems like a good goal for the first month though.

If my snes will start I will try to join in.

shoptroll - updated the month estimates a bit. Hopefully that's better.

That definitely looks a bit more even now!

So I was tossing about the idea of doing a front-page series called JRPDiary that would have me doing weekly updates of my progress through classic JRPG's as I played them, a sort of old style Let's Playish thing but more focused on observations of design decisions and reminiscing. EarthBound was one of the games I was planning on doing as a first attempt.

I think I'll use you forum folk as test subjects and see if it's something of interest before pursuing on the front page.

I'm part way into this on my N3DS, so this will be a good opportunity to finally finish it.

Same here. I think I'm currently in Happy-Happy Valley. The main reason I had the game as one of my votes is that I needed a reason to go back to it. I like it OK so far.

Edit: mushroom status sucks big time.

bobbywatson wrote:

Edit: mushroom status sucks big time.

Fortunately, it's much less a problem later on

Hm. Maybe I should get this on 3DS

Stele wrote:

Hm. Maybe I should get this on 3DS

I was thinking the same. I have some Nintendo Dollars from the Festive Season, and I was tossing up wether to buy this on the 3DS or the WiiU.

The internet has some chatter about the 3DS version being darkened. Anyone else noticed this, or care to comment on its impact on the game?

I must admit, I am more likely to hit the targets if this is a "portable" option, rather than a "sit down in front of a TV" one.

I might get on this, will see how I go for gaming time.

FWIW, I have both the Wii U and 3DS versions, and I think the 3DS option looks better but that both platforms fine.

Thanks Clock.

I find it interesting that all of the "other" SNES titles on N3DS are $10.40, but Earthbound is sitting at $13.00

Is there a similar discrepancy in the US store, or are we "just lucky" down here?

I also get the feeling that when I start playing this, I'm going to want to pick up my Citizens of Earth partial play through again.

Yes, $10 on the US store, so $2 premium. And repeating what's been said but anyone buying it should absolutely first check their My Nintendo page and see if they have 30 Gold points spare. That will get you 30% off either the WiiU or 3DS versions.

Might fire this up for the first time tonight. Playing on 3ds.

Mr GT Chris wrote:

Yes, $10 on the US store, so $2 premium. And repeating what's been said but anyone buying it should absolutely first check their My Nintendo page and see if they have 30 Gold points spare. That will get you 30% off either the WiiU or 3DS versions.

Not in the EU/AU store

US store is always the way to go where possible :(.

I'll play too! First RPG quarterly, so let's hope I can manage.... playing on wii u

Bought this weekend thanks to the discount mentioned. I'll be on 3DS.

Also bought Super Metroid again because it's pretty much my favorite thing ever. So I have to finish one run of it first then I'll start.

Pixel perfect mode is glorious. Looking forward to that for earthbound too

JohnKillo wrote:

If my snes will start I will try to join in.

Note that you can run the game on a PC with emulation software. The best at the moment is definitely 'higan', which is amazingly accurate. You need a really fast PC to turn on all the options, but it's super low-latency, and just about as good as an emulator could reasonably be.

He had to go to a slightly unusual format for ROMs, though; he collects a ROM, other settings, and the battery-backed RAM files into a unique directory per game. He provides a utility to copy ROMs into the Higan library in the correct structure, so you don't have to actually know much about it, just that you have to import a standard ROM before loading it.

I'm playing this now. What a odd game.

Stele wrote:

Pixel perfect mode is glorious. Looking forward to that for earthbound too

Earthbound pixel perfect = really nice, so crisp.

About an hour in. Playing on the sofa, mono setting and one ear plugged in (so not totally blanking tother half while she's binging on West Wing). Stand out at the moment is the sound... Getting a fairly strong Twin Peaks vibe from the music and some of the sounds effects quite ominous.

Malor wrote:
JohnKillo wrote:

If my snes will start I will try to join in.

Note that you can run the game on a PC with emulation software.

The game's been emulatable for quite a while actually. Not sure how accurate though.

I will add that just because your SNES is functional, the EEPROM battery in the cartridge might be dead at this point. I haven't checked my cartridge in a while, but I know my Yoshi's Island cartridge stopped saving about 4-5 years ago

Beat that bum Frank last night! I remember playing this as a teen and just getting slaughtered by those punks!!
Who's laughing now?!

As I had stated earlier, I'm hoping to use you guys as guinea pigs for my front-page feature idea of JRPDiary. If enough of you have interest I'll talk with wordsmythe to see if we can get it going every Friday or something. But I didn't want to do it unless I knew people would be interested or would be able to provide feedback.

To save you all the scrolling, I'll include the would-be-posts behind spoiler tags.

Calling Home: Introduction


EarthBound doesn't begin with a burning village or an amnesiac hero. There are no goblins or slimes to slay outside of a hillside hamlet. It instead begins with a meteor crashing outside of a young suburban boy's home, the soundtrack a mixture of crickets, police sirens, and the percussion of tom-toms. Rather than an old mentor granting you a training blade with which to jab and stab giant spiders, your mother reminds you to change out of your pajamas and arm yourself with your sister's cracked tee-ball bat to fend off spiteful crows and runaway dogs.

EarthBound was not the only game to be taking place in a modern or sci-fi setting, but it certainly took a jarring approach to the genre. Compared to the straight-faced Final Fantasy and Breath of Fire series, EarthBound seemed an unusual entry into a genre that otherwise fancied itself quite sophisticated and mature. Or perhaps that was just me? I was, after all, quite the arrogant little sh*t.

Many today write about its absurd and unusual humor as a captivating charm, but upon release it really just came off as weird to many. And it is! It is weird, and it revels in that weirdness, because it is a game pointing out the absurdities of both video games and reality. Frank Cifaldi has also documented the games press response from 1995, most of which balked at the game's art style (thanks to ClockworkHouse for pointing out the blog!). As the blog notes, the SEGA Saturn and Sony Playstation were around the corner. Nintendo also released Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest that very same year, a game that used 3D character renderings to create 2D sprites with smooth animation. Next to that, the childlike drawings of EarthBound seemed quaint at best and an ugly mess at worst.

As a result, EarthBound became a cult classic. The reverential attitude of the fanbase turns the game into some underlooked treasure, as if several wealthy estates kept passing the Holy Grail from hand to hand without realizing what it is they truly had. As I've gotten older I've found that this even holds true with younger gaming enthusiasts. In 2013, I met a 19 year-old at PAX East wishing upon all of Mario's stars that Nintendo would just release Mother 3 on Virtual Console. This past year I met an 18 year-old at Minefaire singing the praises of EarthBound and [i]EarthBound Zero[/url]. An 18 year-old that wasn't even born yet when the game first released.

I myself grew up with EarthBound as a defining game in my childhood. I was roughly ten years old at the time, placing me at roughly the age of the protagonists. In some ways, EarthBound is the RPG I had been sketching out in my notebooks. Alien invasion? Check. Me and my friends trawling around the suburbs using supernatural and sci-fi abilities to take out impossible beasts and terrifying tyrants? Also check. It was essentially the game I had spent my entire second and third grade years dreaming I could make.

As such, I'd like to go back and really dig deep into what makes this game tick. What allowed it to resonate so strongly? Is it simply a case of rooting for the underdog? Or is there some special, unrecognized magic to the game even today? What causes it to still resonate with young players? Did this game really need to include a strategy guide? Or does it, as the marketing campaign implied, stink?

Next Week: The ten year old legend

Side tracked with Super Metroid replay on 3DS. Should head into Tourain tonight. Start on Earthbound this weekend.

I like the sound of a JRPDiary, if only because I want to hear Elysium shake his head at the section of the community each week

Did this game really need to include a strategy guide?

It's interesting that when Nintendo of America was trying like hell to get Dragon Quest to take off they ended up shipping a free player's guide with the promotional copy that was sent to every Nintendo Power subscriber in the late 80's/early '90s.

What's especially weird about the Earthbound instance is that the game already has an in-game help system, so the Player's Guide wasn't even a necessity. So it seems to me that NOA seemed to have this idea that JRPGs in general were somewhat impenetrable to most gamers (which I think everyone did since Square USA was still including mini-strategy guides in their manuals up through Final Fantasy VII) so the natural solution was to throw a free hint book in to make them less intimidating and hopefully juice sales a bit.

Which reminds me, the You Are Now Earthbound kickstarter rewards arrived from Fangamer a couple weeks ago. Haven't really cracked it open fully yet but the Legends of Localization volume and the new EB Handbook are pretty hefty items.

I've made a running start through this game three times now, and I've found the strategy guide to be necessary every time. I don't have the patience I used to to wander around and talk to everybody hoping for a hint of where to go next.