Game of the Month March, 2005:

System: Super NES Developer: Nintendo/APE/Halken
I really wanted to feature EarthBound as "Game of the Month", seeing as how it's one of my favorite games. However, after two reviews and a three-part Oddities feature, there's not much else I can really say about it. But since I had so much fun writing those character essays for Arc the Lad 4, Transformers, and Urusei Yatsura 2, I thought I may as well do the same for the heroes of EarthBound. Consider this "Game of the Month" feature a tribute to the characters of EarthBound.

Use the crosswalk!

Ness: Ness is the young hero of EarthBound. He's a boy of about 13 years old, with a love of baseball and homemade cooking. But unlike most boys his age, Ness has special psychic powers, and it is because of these powers that the hero Buzz Buzz believes he is the one the Apple of Enlightenment predicted to defeat Giygas. Buzz Buzz comes from 10 years in the future, riding on a meteor that awakens Ness when it lands nearby his house one night. Buzz Buzz explains to Ness that 10 years from now, the alien invader Giygas has destroyed everything, and if he is to be stopped, he must destroyed in the present time before his destructive power has grown too strong. Thus begins Ness's monstrous adventure to unite his psychic abilities with the Earth's own power and defeat Giygas. Ness is quick to take up the challenge, but his long and winding path is blocked by the most ridiculous of obstacles, such as an iron pencil statue that can only be removed with a pencil erasing machine, a crazy cult that wants to paint the whole world blue, and policemen who set up roadbloacks just because they're proud of how good they are at it. Ness is a "mute hero", meaning he has no dialogue (perhaps it's one of those situations where his personality is supposed to be that of the player's), but there are some surprising scenes where we actually do get to see what's going on in his mind. Ness, like any real kid probably would, has doubts and fears about his mission (even evident from how often he gets homesick and has to call his mother). In one jarring scene, his thoughts are spelled out on the wall in front of him. In another, Ness visits a strange dream world created from his own thoughts and memories, and ultimately battles a nightmare to win out over his fears.

Paula: Paula is the first of three other friends that Ness encounters who will join his quest to defeat Giygas, and a potential love interest, though nothing much ever comes of that. (Perhaps these kids are just too young for romance, yet.) Paula is about the same age as Ness, and just like him, she also has strong psychic powers. In fact, Paula's powers seem like they could be even stronger than Ness's. She can communicate telepathically with others, even across great distances, and her psionic battle skills are highly destructive (though unlike Ness, she has no healing powers at all). Perhaps Ness's powers have the potential to become stronger than Paula's, but Paula is better at using hers right now because she's been more aware of them and thus training and using them. Paula is also quite mature for a girl her age, keeping her cool even in situations where she's kidnapped by aliens or a strange cult, or when trapped underground in a seemingly inescapable grave. When not saving the world, Paula helps run the Polestar Preschool in Twoson with her parents. Her weapon of choice is a frying pan, and she's been known to carry a stuffed teddy bear around with her.

Jeff: Jeff is the second friend that Ness meets, and he is a real genius. A bespectacled, well-dressed young lad, he goes to a special boarding school for really intelligent students. Jeff uses his scientific knowledge to make all kinds of neat gadgets, weapons, and contraptions from broken objects that help out during the battles. In fact, Jeff's strange talents are almost as questionable as those of Maru in Arc the Lad 4. You could give the guy a broken toilet seat, and within a few nights, he'll turn it into a nuclear warhead. Paula contacts Jef telepathically after she and Ness are trapped in an underground dungeon. Jeff jumps out of bed and heeds the call, leaving the school, trudging through the snowbound wilderness, riding a dinosaur across a lake, braving several monster-infested dungeons, and ultimately flying across the world in an unstable UFO all by his lonesome to come to the rescue of someone he's never even met before! That's either incredible courage or complete insanity, I'm not sure which. Pound-for-pound, Jeff is my favorite character in this game because of things like that. I think the writers wanted you to think of him as the stereotypical shy "nerd" character, but he really doesn't come across that way. For one thing, it's not like he ever needs to call home to mommy. And it's hard not to like a guy who uses (illegal) bottle rockets for weapons and pulls heavy bazookas out of his ass. Jeff carries on against the odds, even though he has no psychic powers and relatively weak fighting skills.

Poo: Poo is the last friend that join's Ness's quest. Aside from being this cool zen-master of martial arts, Poo is kinda just...there. He basically serves as an extra set of psychic points in battle, which is useful for healing, or for his devastating PSI Starstorm attack. In one of the game's more bizarre moments, Ness eats some magic cake, and has what seems like a drug-induced dream sequence in which he sees Poo complete his martial arts training in a floating, far-away kingdom. But the dream turns out to be real, as Poo's master has sensed the approaching destruction at the hands of Giygas and instructs Poo to join Ness on his quest. Poo then teleports to Ness's side and the party is complete (though he'll leave occasionally to further train his Starstorm powers). Poo is a super-serious, but dependable character. He does not use any weapons in battle, except for one - the Sword of Kings - which is an extremely difficult item to find.

And thus concludes my feature on the characters of EarthBound. If you have any interest in playing this game, then check out the links below.

EarthBound Links

  • My EarthBound Review - I think this is one of the best reviews I've ever written. I'm particularly proud of how I discussed Shigesato Itoi's involvement in this game's creation, since I've met a surprising number of people who knew nothing about that.
  • My Old EarthBound Review - This one is nowhere near as good as my newer one. I sound like a hyperactive fanboy, but it does give a good description of how the game plays.
  • Oddities 20: EarthBound Insanity - My three-part Oddities feature on the little funny and unusual bits in this game.


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