You’re on an adventure to save the world Ninten, will you miss your mom while you’re away?
Earthbound Beginnings (originally Mother in Japan) is a NES game that came to the WiiU in the middle of June 2015. It was the first Mother game created by Shigesato Itoi and Ape Inc in 1989. Due to copyright laws in America, the series was heavily censored and the renamed sequel Mother 2 (known as Earthbound) for Super Nintendo was the first game that North American received. After the success of the first 2 Mother games, Ape Inc. reformed into Creatures Inc. known for creating the popular Pokemon series. For many Mother fans, this has been a long time coming. Finally everyone is able to enjoy the JRPG that many have heard of, and even more have not played.
Plot: The opening credits are an explanation about an American couple named George and Maria being abducted by aliens in the early 1900’s. During their abduction they raise an infant alien named Giegue as their own. The game starts 80 years later with the hero, Ninten waking up to discover the objects within his home have come alive and are attacking his family. After the defeat of the possessed objects, Ninten receives a call from his Dad explaining that he is the Grandson to George and Maria. George had studied his foster son Giegue’s Psychic (PSI) abilities while abducted and Ninten shows signs of having the same PSI abilities. The knowledge that George stole from the aliens was sought after by them leading to an invasion of Earth. Ninten is thrown into an investigation of the strange occurrences happening across America, to find the mysterious 8 melodies and to save the world.
Gameplay: This RPG has a different approach to travel and uses a simple turn based battle system. Battles are in first person, similar to the Dragon Warrior games that were released around the same time for Nintendo. Getting through the game also requires level grinding with the party and having enough funds to purchase better equipment. The random encounter system used in the game generates battles frequently for the party. This creates a time commitment necessity for leveling up the party and receiving money, without it the team ends up dying often. Having team member pass away requires a hospital trip to revive said fallen character and cost money. The travel is unique for this game in that there is no overworld travel and no world map. Ninten and his gang travel between towns using outside areas that are covered with enemies and requires walking through each. Traveling between towns, random battles and collecting the 8 melodies take up a majority of this game.
Difficulty: Earthbound Beginnings is a hard game to sit down and play. The game’s random encounters make it seen like Ninten and his team are getting attacked every 4-5 steps which adds considerable time and frustration to the game time. The enemies within game are hard, even the party being leveled up doesn’t seem to be enough against certain opponents. In addition each encounter provides little money, making saving up and purchasing new equipment a challenge. The travel time commitment becomes frustrating with how much the hero encounters enemies and generally how slow Ninten moves. Collecting the 8 melodies required to finish the game is fun, challenging and progresses the story line but otherwise the amount of time needed for leveling up or collecting money gives the game a major set back.
Music: The soundtrack for Earthbound Beginnings was composed by Keiichi Suzuki and Hirokazu Tanaka, It was sold on CD and cassette in 1989. All games in the Mother series were accompanied by soundtracks released simultaneously with the games releases. The soundtrack created for Earthbound Beginnings would set tone for the music made for the following games in the series. The funky songs add a bit of fun to Earthbound Beginnings along with making the game quirky. The soundtrack contains uplifting songs like the single “Pollyanna” sung by Catherine Warwick that makes this game unique in its own regard. The soundtrack overall adds to the uniqueness of the Mother series and is loved by many cult fans.
Summary: The Mother series has a strong cult following and finally being able to purchase this game was great. I remember having to play an English patched ROM of this on an emulator when I was very young. As A 10-year-old I spent an incredibly long time beating this game and getting mad at how long it took to do everything. The series itself always stood out to me, Earthbound for SNES in particular is my favorite game and brings a lot of nostalgia to me. Earthbound Beginnings was still was hard as I remember it being and required a lot of time to beat it. The biggest setback was how frequently you were attacked, it almost seemed unreasonable. Putting that aside, the game does provide an incredible amount of joy for me and I would recommend Earthbound beginnings to any fan of classic Nintendo RPG’s.