Earthbound (Wii U): COMPLETED!

tumblr_n4nk6botmw1svmpf2o1_1280It took around 30 hours, and there was a break of about eight months between the first six and remaining 24 hours, but finally, Giygas has been defeated, Ness has saved the universe, and everything is perfect and wonderful again.

Which is lovely, and the game was utterly superb, but there’s a darkness there. Behind all the sunshine and happy box of Crayola, I realised that this Giygas wasn’t just the end of game boss. He wasn’t only the terror from the past set to destroy everyone and everything. There was something more. Spoilers follow.

tumblr_n474mqtdhw1svmpf2o1_1280The main task in Earthbound is to reach eight “Your Sanctuary” locations across the game world. Most are at the end of some sort of dungeon, and can only be accessed by defeating a boss at the end of each dungeon. When entering each Sanctuary, as well as your party getting healed and having their PP fully restored, Ness records a sound from the Sanctuary with his sound stone. This triggers vague memories for him too, from when he was a young boy, a baby, and even before then. This is quite sweet, until you make the connection to Giygas that I did.

The_boy_in_the_striped_pajamasIt is hinted multiple times that Giygas only exists because of Ness. In fact, it could well be interpreted that Giygas is Ness, or more likely, the evil part of his psyche manifest as a world destroying demon who lives in the past. From the Sanctuary memories, things that Pokey (who starts off as your bullying neighbour but ends up as Giygas’ powerful henchman) says, and the spoilers given to you when you drink the dodgy coffee provided by Mr Saturn and the little green thingies all reveal a little about how Giygas came to be. Ness’ mum says some pretty odd things too.

Then there’s the point where you reach Giygas itself. Some more exposition from Pokey, and your face appearing in Giygas’s “eye”. The way the final path to the end boss seems to be inside a living being.

This all points to one explanation, which I can scarcely believe I’m writing.

Ness’ mother is also Giygas’ mother, and Ness has travelled back in time to go inside his own mother’s womb to destroy Giygas.

It sounds horrific, and bonkers, but if you’ve played the game and paid attention, it all makes perfect sense. I’m less convinced about some of the specifics about exactly who or what Giygas is, whether Ness’ evil twin, a manifestation of his evil side as I’ve mentioned, or something else – Ness from another dimension, perhaps. It isn’t clear.

Pokey says something about how he was friends with Giygas, and in another conversation it is mentioned that even though Pokey bullied Ness, perhaps it was only so that Ness played with him. Perhaps this is why – because Giygas is the friend Ness could not, or would not be, but was still Ness in a way.

Even one of Giygas’ forms resembles a foetus. I told you it was dark.

What__earthboundBut that’s the story. “Just” the story, if you like. It’s not the game. 99% of the time spent playing it had little bearing on this dark side of things, and in a way that only makes the dark darker.  Thankfully, the rest was all very enjoyable. The fights were mostly fun and not frustrating. Unlike many JRPGs (which this is, no matter what your eyes tell you), especially those from this era, there’s no grinding. Defeating feeble enemies is done instantly without even entering a battle, and dungeons (not that most of them look like dungeons) aren’t huge complicated mazes where you need a pencil and a stolen school maths exercise book to get through as unscathed as possible.

tumblr_n4nk3tjxte1svmpf2o1_1280Everything is done to please the player, streamlining where possible (for example, you’re told who can use new weapons and armour, and if its better than the current kit, before you buy, and you can equip it when you purchase and instantly sell what it replaces), and introducing a teleport power that allows you to warp to pretty much anywhere in the entire world instead of tedious backtracking.

It was a pleasure to play from start to finish, but it was only a few hours after it has finished that I realised the real tale behind the game. If you’ve played it and come to the same, or different, realisation as I did, I’d love to know.

Things I’ve been playing recently

FUZZY_PICKLESEarthbound (Wii U)

Progressing well through this now. Well, at least I was until I entered Moonside where everythings is… wrong. The map is like Fourside only upside down, and all in neon. And there are invisible walls. And some people you talk to warp you all over the place but not to anywhere useful. And “yes” and “no” are reversed, except when saving your game. It’s very odd.

Oh yeah, and Paula got kidnapped by a green squidalienghost in the department store, which means some of the fights now are pretty hard as I had been relying on her Freeze “magic” (although it isn’t called magic – what is it? PP? What?) a lot.

They_see_me_rollin_._They_hatin_.__cos_cubes_don_t_roll.Edge (Wii U)

I still have some eShop credit and this was reduced last week to just £1.79 or something, so I picked it up. It’s a nice puzzle game where you roll a cube around picking up smaller cubes and hitting switches which make the platforms appear, move, or transform. Seems good so far, but I’m only about 20 (short) levels in. The controls are a bit of a pain though – it’s too easy to allow the cube to keep rolling even after you stop pressing the direction pad, which is odd as it’s a cube, not a ball.

tumblr_n3krwn7ttt1svmpf2o1_400Animal Crossing (3DS)

Still playing this every day! Big news this week though – I finally managed to get a lighthouse! That space I’ve been saving on the clifftop for almost EIGHT MONTHS has now been filled with a lovely shiny lighthouse. Awesome!

I’ve also been trying to get more special tree stumps. I’d visited someone else’s village and they had at least two special stump designs that I didn’t, so I chopped down half my trees in the hope I’d find them in my own village. I didn’t. So a lot of time has been spent planting new trees.

Skylanders Giants (360)

Late to the party with this, as Skylanders Swapforce has been out about six months now, but someone was selling Giants (and ten Skylanders we didn’t have) for a bargain price, so I snapped them up. I’ve been playing it with my daughter, and although we’re only about four levels in, and it does seems like more of the same (only without the right-stick “waggle” events to open chests and locks and things), it’s just as fun as the original. Having a pile of new Skylanders to try is nice too. We’ve 27 overall now.

tumblr_n3ebuzyrew1svmpf2o1_1280Steel Diver (3DS)

This was one of the “three for a tenner” games I bought a while back, along with Tetris 3DS and Heroes of Ruin. I can see why people complained at the price when it was £30, but for what I paid it’s a perfectly good title. You control a submarine and have to navigate through areas by moving depth and velocity sliders on the touch screen, rather than with the d-pad. Torpedo firing controls are all “buttons” on the touch screen too, as is the attitude “wheel”.

There are three different subs to choose, from a nimble but weak tiny one, to a strong but difficult to manoeuvre underwater tank. You actually have to play all of the levels with all three subs to unlock the later levels, and I’m currently struggling to pass Level 5, where there’s a massive ship you have to destroy, only I can’t. Boo!

Playing_dress_up._Or__since_I_have_no_other_clothes__dress_down.Megami Paradise (PC Engine)

I have no idea what is happening. I intended to play this for Game Over, Yeah!! but couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do, so didn’t get to any areas where it was possible to die, so had to abort it. It appears to be an RPG where you control a girl at a convent school (it’s full of nuns). I managed to find some other girls who were stuck in chests or surrounded by frogs, and then found a dressing room where I could strip to my bra and knickers (but it wouldn’t let me leave the room until I’d put my clothes back on). Pretty standard Japanese fare, then. See:

Earthbound (Wii U)

tumblr_n2uujodry91svmpf2o1_1280Even though I was all over this several months ago, I stopped playing. Not because I was bored with it, but I got stuck. I couldn’t get much further than the pencil bit – the enemies were just too hard, and I died $hlmun times.

But, with Backlog Fighter still in full effect, I returned to it a week or so ago and did that bit on my first go with no difficulty whatsoever. The game was back on. Woo!

The_whonowAcross that area was Paula, who I needed to rescue. We then returned to Twoson where I was given $10,000, which I couldn’t spend on myself, so gave it to popular beat combo Runaway Five so they could be released from their contract and drive to Fourside, dropping me off in Threed on the way. Threed that was full of zombies.

Great._That_ll_come_in_handy.Zombies who caught me, and I had to take control of Jeff instead, who came to the rescue. With three members of my party, I took down the zombie menace (actually, I put some paper on the floor and they all stuck to it). Oh, and killed a sentient circus tent. No, really.

Whatever_it_is__I_don_t_want_it.Now I’m on my way somewhere else, presumably Fourside via a non-direct route, and I’ve ended up in Saturn Valley. This place is populated with strange scrotum people who are all called Mr Saturn. And they speak in a very difficult to read font. And have telephones up ladders. And say Zoom a lot. I’m scared they might do… something… while I sleep.

Earthbound (Wii U)

earthboundI’ve never played Earthbound before. That’s not really surprising, as it never came out in the UK, and I wasn’t that much of a SNES gamer anyway – certainly not to the point of wanting to import US games.

I didn’t really know that much about the game either, apart from that it was an RPG, set in roughly the modern day, in a relatively “normal” setting, and was absurd. And had Ness from Super Smash Bros in it. Or the other way round. Or something.

Naturally, given all this I knew about Earthbound, I bought it the very second I could, despite the (apparently, according to some) horrendous overpricing. How very dare Nintendo try to charge a ludicrous SEVEN POUNDS for a SNES game that never came out in this country and costs just £200 on eBay? *rolls eyes*

Enough of that. More of the game. Oh the game! Oh, the silly pervy nonsensical game! The game I’m utterly lost in and have no idea what to do next and it just doesn’t matter.

I’ve been sent out on adventure, in the middle of the night by my mother (who doesn’t seem especially concerned for me), whilst my seemingly absent father sends me money on an hourly basis to my bank account to fund my endeavour. My little sister has set up a delivery company, and one of my neighbours invited me into the hole he’d dug under his house to she his “secret”, but I had to come alone. Uh huh.

My dog can talk. Other dogs can also talk. The police are obsessed with roadblocks. I went to the first town, Onett, and had to fight the local street punks and their leader (and his robot) so that the police (whom I then had to fight) would let me explore an area of the map populated with homeless cabaret performers, so that I could reach a cave and finally make it to a giant footprint in the ground which I then recorded the sound of in a stone.

Then I went to Twoson (the second town – can you see the naming scheme?) fighting possessed Retro Hippies and Salary-men before ending up with a mushroom growing out of my head that kept flipping the direction controls around which the doctor couldn’t help me with but a creepy old guy who hangs around the hospital waiting room was happy to give me $50 to buy said fungus. And I bought a mouse.

Then the bike shop man gave me a free bike, and I went to the market which was run by a criminal who wants me to find a lost girl from the local nursery for him, while other characters in town variously say I should meet her and/or she’s been kidnapped. The two roads out of Twoson were impassable, one because the tunnel was full of ghosts which carry you out once you’re halfway through, and the other because a giant pencil was blocking the path (as the game says) “for some reason”. Naturally, a smelly fat boy called Apple Kid and who is one of two inventors in the town, is able to help by conveniently inventing a pencil eraser for $200 and some food.

This allowed me past the pencil, and into an area full of UFOs and sentient trees (that explode) and robots and other baddies. Some of which cause me to catch a cold because lasers. I had to run away after a while because my health and PP (like magic points) were low, and the magic butterflies that appear randomly to replenish PP by “relaxing you” (uh huh) didn’t appear frequently enough to rely upon them.

And I then bought a for sale sign, which I’m unable to sell. And a man stops me every now and then to take pictures of me, asking me to say Fuzzy Pickles. Frankly, I’m concerned there’s no Operation Yewtree in Earthbound, as it bloody needs it. Every other person is a pervert.

All this is how far I’ve got. I’m guessing there are at least another six areas to get to, judging from one of the items I’ve collected, so there’s miles to go yet. And I’ve nobody else in my party either, aside from my dog and the boy next door who left ten minutes into the game.

Earthbound reminds me a lot of Contact (for the DS), which is no bad thing. It’s certainly a lot of fun, and I’m loving the completely nuts story. Definitely going to get me my seven quid’s worth.