Dragon Quest I & II (SNES)

Pub: Enix | Dev: ChunSoft | December 1993 | 8 MEGS
Pub: Enix | Dev: ChunSoft | December 1993 | 16 MEGS

Earlier today (August 10), Square Enix released Dragon Quest and Dragon Quest II on the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo 3DS. These digital releases in Japan were made to capitalize on the latest entry, Dragon Quest XI, which was released in Japan on July 29, 2017 (and is confirmed to receive a North American release at a future date TBD). This isn’t the first time Dragon Quest and its sequel have been re-released. In late 2000, a Game Boy Color version of the two games was made. But even before all of that, you had the Super Famicom version which came out on December 18, 1993. It featured both games on one cart and the graphics were improved. While the visuals didn’t take full advantage of the SNES capabilities, it was still a decent step up from the NES graphics. Unfortunately, Dragon Quest I & II never made its way to American soil. However, a fan translated English patch has long since been put out, allowing SNES gamers to fully enjoy Dragon Quest I & II on their Super Nintendo. With these two games being re-released (again) today in Japan, there’s no better time to take a look back than now.

And you thought Street Fighter refused to die!
And you thought Street Fighter refused to die!
Dragon Quest XI. The series keeps on ticking
Dragon Quest XI – the series keeps on ticking!


This left a lasting impression on a generation
This left a lasting impression on a generation

Dragon Quest was released on the Famicom on May 27, 1986. It was later released to the North American market as Dragon Warrior in August of 1989. Wow. This month marks the 28th anniversary since Dragon Warrior left its mark on an entire generation of NES playing kids. Many people consider Dragon Quest to be the granddaddy of the RPG genre. It inspired other companies to try their own hand, giving birth to classic franchises like Phantasy Star and Final Fantasy. In terms of influence, one could even argue that Dragon Quest is to RPGs as Super Mario Bros. is to platformers.








Immediately you can see that the SNES version enjoyed a visual boost. I’m not a graphics whore but it’s hard to go back to the NES original after seeing and playing the SNES version.







Select your game of choice. If you’re brand new to the series, definitely start with the first one. It’s harder to appreciate the original if you play Dragon Quest II first.


Lets call this brave handsome hero... Steve ;)
Lets call this brave handsome hero… Steve ;)







“Demons all over the world were taken out by Roto and this powerful Ball of Light. But then, the evil King Dragon appeared. He stole the Ball of Light and sealed it in darkness. If he is not stopped soon, it will be the end of the world as we know it. It’s up to you to stop him and bring back the Ball of Light by any means necessary!”







Another massive improvement: now you can talk to someone or search something without having to go through the cumbersome “action” menu. Do this by pressing either X, L or R. Of course, you still have the option to use the action menu but you’d be crazy to. This definitely makes the game a smoother playing experience. It’s a big reason why many prefer this version over the original.







Princesses and demons…








Thanks to the more functional control scheme, searching for hidden items is no longer as tedious or annoying. Once you’re stocked, it’s time to venture out. I like how the final castle looms in the distance and you can see it right away. It’s an effective tease!







Outside, the random battles begin. There’s no animation from the enemies to speak of, but it’s Dragon Quest. You’re not here for mind-blowing graphics. For what it is, it works.







Health running low? Retreat back to town to rest at the Inn. You can also head to the vault and either deposit or withdraw items. Since your inventory has a limited number of slots, wise management is crucial.







Exploring towns and villages is a must. You never know what helpful items you may uncover. That wise old man is the one to see when cursed.







Entering certain buildings lead to such quirky transitions.







Beating random enemies and leveling up is all part of the grind [HA HA -Ed.]. You’ll even learn some magic spells as you level up.







Discovering a new town or village for the first time is always a welcomed sight, especially for weary warriors. Even if it means, and I say this with the utmost affection, dealing with some of the village yahoos… :P







You’re going to need the torch here to light the way. At the end you come to a tombstone with a special message directed to you from the legendary Roto himself.







Wounded in battle but far away from town? Toss the Wing of the Chimera up in the air to take you back to the nearest town. Then you can rest at the local inn. Be sure to always carry at least one Chimera Wing with you. You don’t want to be caught in the middle of nowhere with no medical herbs or magic points to heal yourself.







Having a tough time with the latest batch of enemies? Then be sure to upgrade your weapons and armor. I like how the game shows you the difference. Believe it or not, not every RPG following Dragon Quest did this. That’s my biggest pet peeve with certain RPGs other than excessive random battles. Show me the difference, damnit! Ahem. Oh, and don’t forget to sell obsolete items [Yessssss, DELETE! -Broken Matt Hardy]







Typically, it’s just a matter of leveling up a bit and/or upgrading your weapons and armor. That’s been the RPG way ever since.







Ooooh, ahhh. Check out the brand new tree shadows in the village of Kol! This is perhaps the coolest visual tweak as the NES original did not feature this. It’s a small detail but goes a long way to add that extra punch.







These sultry ladies sure are friendly. This dialogue was removed from the US version of Dragon Warrior for obvious reasons.







Whoever this wise old man is, he sure gets around! Obviously, they just recycle the sprite. Hey, you had to use your imagination a bit back in the day.

Leveling up always perks me up
Leveling up always perks me up
Enemies get progressively tougher
Enemies get progressively tougher
Someone's been hustling in the streets
Someone’s been hustling in the streets
Check your status screen every so often
Check your status screen every so often
Um... uh... do we have to do this in front of your dad?
Um… uh… do we have to do this in front of your dad?
Crossing borders usually meant new enemies
Crossing borders usually meant new enemies
The final battle is nearly at hand
The final battle is nearly at hand
Feel my power, Dark Dragon!
My final stats
I get that a lot [ONLY in video games -Ed.]
I get that a lot [ONLY in video games -Ed.]


[Dont even tell me. His name is... Steve -Ed.]
[Don’t even tell me. His name is… Steve -Ed.]






Together, this young man and his bride left on a journey and built several new countries. These countries were ruled by the children of that young couple, and were handed down to the following generation.







“DAMN that Hargon! We cannot surrender. Summon the soldiers at once!”







Sadly, as the guard went to carry out the King’s order, a demon swooped in for the kill. Strickened with fear and panic, the King urged his daughter to take cover and not to worry about whatever may happen to him.







Courageous to the bitter end, the King gave the demons all he had. His daughter, Maria, stood by watching and praying for the best.







Unfortunately, the demons called for backup and swarmed the King. He stood no chance, and Princess Maria had no choice but to honor her father’s last request: HIDE. And so she did. What became of her is a mystery that will be solved later…







Luckily, one brave soldier was able to escape the ruckus. He immediately limped all the way to the nearest castle to inform the King there before passing out. It was his valiant effort that set forth a tremendous domino effect. History honors his name.







Unlike the first Dragon Quest, this time two fellow allies will accompany you and assist in the great war. They also share the blood of Roto.







Another new aspect: now you square off with multiple enemies at a time rather than just one. Once in a while you’ll even land a lucky strike that hits with more power than your regular attack. It’s signaled by the words “Terrific move!”







However, this system had a slight flaw. Say you have two Big Slugs and they’re grouped together. Well, you can’t select which specific slug you want to hit. You just pick the group and the rest is up to the game. You can see how this affects strategy once the other two members join the party. Thankfully though, the game is pretty good with allocating your attacks properly. It’s not always perfect, but it gets it right most of the time. Still, I would have preferred being given the choice since that would leave no room for error.







Speak with all the villagers. Some will pass along pertinent information to aid you in your quest. Others, however, are used for comic relief. But nothing wrong with that! Seeing what random kooky thing some Regular Joe NPC might say is all part of the charm.







Rummage around — you never know what you might find. Although it is a pretty low thing to be stealing lottery tickets. But only in video games, right? Some of the locals, by the way, aren’t so friendly. You can already tell that girl is going to be the one wearing the pants in the relationship :P

Even if religion isn't your thing, it pays in video games
Even if religion isn’t your thing, it pays in video games







Speaking of the Prince, how about we go find him?







Where have I heard that name Kain before? No matter, the Spring of Bravery, you say? I’m so there! A nearby guard clues you in as to where this Spring is located.







Before taking off, a guard upstairs doesn’t hesitate to throw a little bit of shade at the Prince. Chuckling to yourself, you head off to find the Spring of Bravery.







Seeing a treasure chest lying in the open is always a great feeling. They just jump off the screen with their red and gold design. Once deep inside, you find a wise elder who soaks your body in the purifying water. Instant heals are the best in RPGs.







You’re joking, right? Oh you’re being serious. I see. Damnit. You know what, no biggie. It’s all good. After all, I got some exercise, fresh air and leveled up a bit. I’ll just go to Laurasia Castle now to find that little cheeky nomad.







*HALF A DAY’S JOURNEY LATER* WHAT?! Are you kidding me?! Alright, off to Sumaltria it is, then. Kain’s ass best be there.







Alright, THIS IS BULLSHIT. Where the hell are ya, Kain? You got me on some chicken egg hunt here. This ain’t scavenger hunt! *You even begin to wonder if this is some rib and that Kain is in another RPG…*







FINALLY. You’ve been searching for me? Oh boy, HAVE I BEEN SEARCHING FOR YOU.







Despite some, ahem, trouble meeting up, once you do you’re glad to have Kain along for the ride. He makes for some passable conversation and unlike you he can use magic on the bad guys. After coming to this strange strip of land tucked away in a far corner of the map, an old hermit tips you off to your next location.







Approaching the mouth of the enormous cave, a knot starts forming in the pit of your belly. You nervously joke with Kain about accepting his sister’s offer to help out. Kain reminds you she’s useless and you shake it of. Get a grip, you tell yourself quietly. You were born for this moment. “FREEEEEEDOM!!!” Hey, whatever it takes to psych yourself up.







Another feature added into the Super Famicom version was the inclusion of seeds (or acorns). This was not available in the NES original. When seeds are acquired, it’s best to use them right away. They randomly increase a certain skill level by 1-4 points. It sucks when you get a 1, but it’s a high when you land a 3 or a 4.







Prince Kain is definitely a welcomed addition to the team. While weak physically, his magic packs some potency.







Explore! Or else you may miss out on valuable treasure chests tucked away in obscure corners. Ah, the Silver Key! What was it again that the prisoner told you?







*FLASHBACK* Ohhhh yeah…







Travel back to all previous towns and start opening shit up! The Silver Key has unlimited usage so open without discretion.







Remember that lottery ticket you jacked earlier on? You felt bad at the time for doing so, but any feelings of remorse went straight out the window the second you scored the Prayer Ring…







Scattered throughout the land is the lottery man. He’s even nice enough to give you a free ticket sometimes if you match two out of three.







Hmmm, I wonder where this leads…







Sorry, but I don’t care to hear what your safe word is. Freak.







Sometimes, discretion is the better part of valor. But be careful, an attempt to flee from battle ISN’T always successful. And if it isn’t, the computer gets first crack. It’s definitely a roll of the dice…







Management of your health and magic points is key. Don’t enter a battle ill-equipped and most likely you won’t have to worry about fleeing. Of course, some luck never hurts as well (i.e. “terrific” strikes, catching the opposition dozing, etc.)







Moonbrook appears to be in shambles. You and Kain brave the pain of the hazardous moat to see if anyone is still alive, including Princess Maria…







Careful, the enemies start to get tough here and can come in waves of five. Make it to the flame at the end and try speaking to it. It turns out to be the spirit of the deceased King, who informs you that his daughter has been cursed and turned into a dog. Hey, wait a second here, where have I seen a dog before…







Having obtained the Mirror of Ra (thanks to the guard for the tip — may he now rest peacefully), you recall to yourself where you had seen that mutt before. OK, here goes nothing, you think to yourself as you raise the Mirror of Ra high above your head. You can’t help but feel a little silly in doing so, but when the fate of the world hangs in the balance, you’re willing to do just about anything…







HOLY SMOKES — it actually worked! I mean, I knew it would all along. Of course you did…







Avengers assemble! Not quite, but your rag tag group of three is now complete and ready to kick some demon ass. By the way, remember the Metal Slime? Of course you do. The bastard often runs away but if you manage to kill him, a HEAP of experience points is your reward.







Princess Maria isn’t much of a physical attacker, but her spells come in handy. Especially the sleep spell, which can subdue an entire group and save you from being pummeled.







Where will this adventure take you and your friends next? Many unusual lands lie ahead. Enjoy the journey!







Caught in the act! I KNEW THERE WERE TWO KAINS! One from Dragon Quest II and one from Final Fantasy II! I’ll be damned…

Really? Thank you for your very helpful assistance
Really? Now I see why they call you Wise Old Man…
You again? Let's see how wise you truly are...
You again? Let’s see how wise you truly are…
Yep, he's wise. Only a fool passes up on a Benjamin...
Yep, he’s wise. Only a fool passes up on a Benjamin…
Enemies get crazier as you go along
Enemies get crazier looking as you progress
And scarier looking
And scarier looking
See what I mean?
See what I mean?
Save as often as you can. Trust me...
Save at every opportunity you can. Trust me
Uhh.... excuse me?
Uhh… excuse me?
Search often! You could see some Seeds
Search often! You could find some Seeds
I always get a stupid grin whenever I level up
I always get a stupid grin whenever I level up
HALLELUJAH! This gives me a REALLY fat stupid grin
Like I said, search the f*ck everywhere
Like I said, search the f*ck everywhere
I'll take the '80s myself, but that's just me
I’ll take the late ’80s to mid ’90s myself but that’s just me
Adventure, redemption and friendship. What else ya need?
Adventure, redemption and friendship. What else ya need?
[Like I said before, ONLY in gawd damn video games -Ed.]
[Like I said before, ONLY in gawd damn video games -Ed.]


Credit to Did You Know Gaming
Credit to Did You Know Gaming
Yuji Horii explains why he's all about that grind life
Yuji Horii explains why he’s all about that grind life



Dragon Quest has earned an outstanding reputation within the gaming community and rightfully so. It gave birth to so many other great RPGs. It paved the way for future classics. As such, it will always be highly regarded. The first game has definitely aged. It features a single party member and you always fight only one enemy at a time. It’s super basic but what did you expect for 1986? You can’t really compare it to other RPGs at the time when this Super Famicom version came out in late 1993. You have to look at it through the proper lens to truly appreciate it. The sequel obviously ups the ante by including team allies as well as the number of monsters you fight at a time. Even then, you have to keep in mind Dragon Quest II originally came out on January 27, 1987. That’s more than 30 years ago. RPGs have come a long way since 1987, so it’d be foolish to go into it expecting a ton of bells and whistles. For what these games are, they get the job done.


Thank you Yuji Horii, Koichi Sugiyama and Akira Toriyama
The RPG series that more or less started it all!

Dragon Quest is a quintessential video game. If you consider yourself an RPG fan or even just a video game historian of sorts, Dragon Quest belongs on that list of games you must play through at least once before you die. It’s a time capsule — a look back in time when RPGs didn’t saturate the market. If you enter this with the right mindset, you’re sure to enjoy the experience. ChunSoft could have mailed it in, but they made some significant improvements over the NES original. Visuals, of course. But little things such as adding in seeds, extra shops, reduced grinding and the like speak to the care that they put into this lovely two for one package.

Adventure awaits! What are you waiting for?
Adventure awaits! What are you waiting for?

Dragon Quest II ups the ante by being bigger and better. It took me 11 hours to beat the first game while the second quest took me approximately 30 hours. It’s not that long but I took my sweet time. It plays a lot more like the RPGs we came to know and love in the ’90s by having a party of playable characters and whatnot. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the brilliance of the music. Each tune fits the moment to a tee, ranging from whimsical to foreboding. Both games were classics for their time and if you take them for what they were when they originally came out, then you’ll most likely appreciate and enjoy it. If you’re looking for something on a grand and epic scale along the lines of a Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy III, however, you might end up being a little disappointed. Dragon Quest I & II is straight forward — what you see is what you get. It serves as an excellent history lesson as well. If you have been curious about these games but never got to try them, then this SNES remake is definitely the way to go. Playing Dragon Quest I & II lets you see more or less how JRPGs came to be. If nothing else, these games are worth going through at least once just for that reason alone.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 8
Longevity: 7

AwardsOverall: 8.0
Silver Award

EarthBound (SNES)

Pub: Nintendo | Dev: Ape | June '95 | 24 MEGS
Pub: Nintendo | Dev: Ape | June ’95 | 24 MEGS

One of the most notorious games from the vast Super Nintendo library is without a doubt EarthBound. Released 21 years ago, it stood out in the crowd of RPGs by having a contemporary setting, a zany sense of humor, and a very unique style. And as the years passed, the game grew in demand, popularity and reverence. So much that some people would even tell you that the game has been overhyped beyond belief. In 2012, I finally got to play through EarthBound. It was an adventure the likes of which I’ll remember FOREVER.


The SNES market has skyrocketed in recent years
The SNES market has skyrocketed in recent years

When I got back into the Super Nintendo scene 10 years ago in early 2006, the games were still quite cheap. I picked up titles like Ninja Gaiden Trilogy, Castlevania: Dracula X, Aero Fighters, Mega Man X³, and EarthBound each for $40 or less. No such luck doing that today! It boggles the mind how crazy expensive these old games are now. Back in 2006, EarthBound didn’t carry the mainstream reputation it would later gain in recent years. It was just another game I’d never played back in the day but was now interested in doing so. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that the game would become the monster that it is today. It makes me wonder how much these games will command 5 to 10 years from now. All I know for sure — I’m glad I got in when I did and got out before the market went sky high. Life is truly about timing, and a little lady luck never hurts too!



Ah, back when life was carefree and innocent
Nelly and I had our own version of Friday Night Lights

As a kid UFOs fascinated me. Alien beings that lived far above us in the outer reaches of space. The idea that intelligent (and possibly menacing) creatures living above us is mystifying. Growing up, I would scan the skies late at night with my binoculars hoping to see something, yet at the same time dreading the possibility that something might see me back. My best friend Nelson and I became obsessed; we even had the odd “sky stakeout” here and there. While it may sound a bit sad, there are worse ways to spend an evening than to hang out with your best friend shooting the breeze and scanning the skies while sharing a pepperoni pizza. We never saw anything, not even once, but I think Nelson and I both silently understood that we used it as an excuse to veg out on a Friday night after a long school week. About once a month we’d bust out the lawn chairs, set our piping hot Totino’s pizza on the little table outside, kick back and talk about our crushes on Jenny and Elaine, video games and anything monster-related while staring out at the beautiful early evening sky. Munching on cheesy carbs and sipping on fizzy soda, Nelly and I would gaze up at the sky talking the night away. We’d stay outside so late that his mom would flip the back porch light on. Those “stakeout” Friday evenings have stuck with me all these years later. Time marches on, but I still recall those lazy nights vividly.

They're out there...
They’re out there…

The best thing about UFOs for me was the idea that they could be anywhere. The Loch Ness Monster was confined to Scotland, Bigfoot could only lurk in the woods, but aliens could be anywhere. The idea that they could be watching you at any time was all part of the fun of believing in them as a kid. And the fact that aliens could be whatever you wanted them to be. Maybe friendly and precocious like E.T., or deadly and malicious, or just advanced and neutral. They were whatever you made them out to be. EarthBound is awesome for a myriad of reasons. One being they took a lot of my childhood interests and crammed them into one epic RPG. Nessie, Bigfoot, aliens, dinosaurs, zombies — EarthBound strikes a certain childhood chord with me no other video game ever has.

Goonies meets Peanuts meets The Wonder Years
GooniesPeanuts + The Wonder Years + Dragon Quest



An all-American kid living in an all-American town, Ness is proof that there lies a hero deep inside each one of us. He’s the kid next door, with a loving mom, a plucky sister and a workaholic but extremely generous dad. One minute Ness is living a basic ordinary life, but when the meteorite crashes, everything changes. An alien believes Ness to be the chosen one with the power to alter cosmic events. A nice all-around character with a good balance of speed, IQ, offensive power and psychic ability. His weapon of choice is a baseball bat. This journey will drain and test Ness at every step of the way. He enters it as a kid, but one way or another, he’s going to leave it a man.


Remember your Winnie Cooper growing up? You know, your biggest childhood crush? That’s kinda the role one might initially think Paula plays, but there’s so much more to her. Try incredible psychic powers and one mean frying pan. Paula loves to scramble eggs, if you get my drift. She doesn’t mind rolling up her sleeves and getting her hands dirty. Hailing from Twoson, her mother runs the Polestar Preschool. Paula’s the first one to join you on your epic quest, and you must rescue her from the clutches of an evil cult called the Happy Happy Village, led by Mr. Carpainter. Being one in touch with her spiritual side, Paula can pray in a pinch. I renamed her as Jenny, based on my own Winnie Cooper growing up.


No healthy childhood would be complete without the aid and presence of a best friend. While Jeff is not touted as Ness’ best pal, I like to think of him as such. The mechanical genius of the team, Jeff is son to a famous scientist. It shows, as he can use machines and gadgets that no one else on the team can. He also has a knack for repairing broken devices, which proves to be invaluable. While he doesn’t possess any psychic ability, Jeff makes up for it with his tremendous knowledge of being able to fashion great weapons out of broken items. He might be a little weak offensively, but his IQ is critical to the group’s success. I renamed him Nelly, in honor of my childhood best friend, Nelson.


The mysterious prince from the East (Dalaam to be precise) is the third and final friend to join you in your quest. Being the oldest member of the group, plus possessing that ever so mysterious charm of being from somewhere far, far away, Poo has great physical, mental and spiritual strength. One of his best talents is the magic ability to assume the shape of an enemy attacker (known as Mirror). Trained in ancient martial arts, this mystical fighter is a much welcomed addition when he finally enters the fray a decent way into the game. He is a bit of a ladies’ man, too, which gives his character an interesting layer to say the least. I renamed Poo to be Sushi-X, in honor of a family friend growing up who, much like Poo, was older than I was and had sort of a mythical aura about him. Everyone in my gaming group called him Sushi-X because he loved EGM and Street Fighter II.





Sunday, 2 PM, the first day of summer
Sunday, 2 PM, the first day of summer

It’s another idyllic sunny day in the small, sleepy town of Onett. Turning off your Super Nintendo, you grab your bike and head off for your weekly paper route. You’ve been working hard to save up enough to buy that new Super Nintendo RPG EarthBound. Hell, you’re so ambitious you even ride out as far as Twoson. You certainly don’t mind it, as there’s nothing like riding your 10 speed bicycle, the wind whipping against your face, that open road ahead. For that small window of time, you’re a free man. Riding out to Twoson was always a bit of an adventure. You could almost feel the whiskers kicking in. Times have changed now. Kids aren’t allowed to go out alone anymore… but back then… this was our life. Besides, it was in Twoson where your crush, Jenny, resides. You’ve stalked, uhhh, I mean, seen her working around the preschool whenever you passed by. You never had any houses on that block of town, but that never did stop you from willingly and happily taking the scenic route.


Having hand-delivered the odd paper or two to Orange Kid, you’ve developed a bit of a relationship with him. He is Twoson’s infamous inventor, well, one of the two. The other is Apple Kid but no one likes him. Orange Kid on the other hand is a chick magnet. After all, ya can’t compare apples to oranges… [har har -Ed.]. Being that you’re Steve, and NOT such a ladies’ man, you decide to stop by today for a bit of advice on how to win hearts and be more than just another sappy shoulder to cry on. Normally busy, Orange Kid is in a very giving mood today — he spends the better part of an hour divulging some insider tips that’s sure to make even Steve a certified G and a bonafide stud. Rejuvenated, you spend the next couple hours over at the flea market in Burglin Park and Twoson’s pride, MACH PIZZA. Sure, Onett’s Burger Barn is 5-star quality according to their 275 Yelp reviews and counting, but Onett’s not exactly known for its pizza. It’s just another reason why you never complain when it’s time to ride over to Twoson. But you never share this with Orange Kid, fearing that he just might laugh at you if he ever knew the real reason.

Seven hours later...
Seven hours later…

BLINK BLINK. Your eyes open slowly as you realize you fell asleep in Burglin Park. The once inviting sunshine has withered, giving way to a cold, bleak darkness. Mom’s probably worried but this is the mid ’90s when kids could get away with such things. Your bicycle still safely beside you, you hop on and bound homeward.

A cool breeze flows through your hair
A cool breeze flows through your hair

Good old home. It’s your haven. Even though your dad isn’t around, you have almost everything you could want. Sure, you got annoying neighbors, but hey nothing’s perfect. As you head out of Twoson and back to Onett, you beam ear to ear having learned some of Orange Kid’s secrets of the trade. There’s no way Jenny can resist you now.

On THIS night, something incredible is about to happen...
On THIS night, something incredible is about to happen…

By now the sleepy town of Onett has been entirely devoured by darkness. An eerie stillness settles over the suburb, sending a chill up your spine. What once stood as an assuring sight during the day has turned into something sinister in the night. But crime has always been so low that no one really pays mind to anything bad happening in this quaint quiet town. Of course, we all know that’s how it usually starts out…

Jenny I got your number! 867-5309...
Jenny I got your number! 867-5309…

Being an invincible kid ripe off acquiring the fortified knowledge of the players’ handbook, you’ve got not a single care in the world as you come bounding down the all too familiar sight of the suburbs. Closing your eyes and dreaming of your beloved crush, Jenny, you have no idea that a terrible terror is about to overtake your quiet, sleepy town. And thrust you toward a hellacious voyage that will see you ultimately fulfilling your God-given destiny…

They're here...
They’re here…

Meanwhile, somewhere in Onett, a woman wakes up in a pool of her own sweat. A loud bang outside her bedroom sends shivers down her spine. It’s coming from the den. Frightened, she clutches the blanket to her chest while listening in the darkness… silence. Then suddenly, RAP RAP RAP. Someone or SOMETHING wants in. Cautiously tip-toeing her way to the bedroom door, a dark, shadowy and twisty figure appears from behind her…









Time to do some investigating...
Time to do some investigating…
"Yes sir, going home pronto..."
“Yes sir, going home pronto…”
"What the hell!"
“What the hell!”

After “going home pronto” (AKA sneaking about), you find your annoying neighbor, Pokey, poking around in police business. Whatever’s happening here tonight has to be huge, and you’re not gonna miss it for the world.

OPD is clearly top of the line
OPD — clearly top of the line officers

“Officer, sir, if you don’t mind just letting me slip through here. I have a friend I need to check up on.”

“Sorry kiddo, no can do. I’ve been given strict orders from the chief not to let anyone pass through, and that especially includes punk kids such as yourself.”

“Okaaaay… how about this nice glazed donut, then?”

“GAH! Alright kid, you’ve got five minutes but ONLY five, you hear?!”


“Hey, who let this punk kid through?”

“Steve! Boy am I glad to see you. Something strange is going on…”

“Alright, enough! You bastards get on out of here!”

Atop the hill, as the police drag you away like a rag doll, you catch a glimpse of a fallen meteor. Rubbing your eyes in disbelief, you wonder if it’s just a dream.

Stagger to bed like Otis Campbell on a Saturday night
Stagger to bed like Otis Campbell on a Saturday night

Mom knows best. One look at your kisser and nothing else needs to be said. Still shaking, you saunter to your bedroom. But before you can replay the night’s events in your mind, your head hits the soft, cool pillow and you fall into a deep sleep…



Well I'll be damned. Or rather, oh my land!
Well I’ll be damned. Or rather, oh my land!






The boys set off…

“There’s my bro, Picky! Quick, Steve, save him! Or else my parents are gonna let me have it!”

“Wait, why am I helping you again?”

“Because you’re Steve, an all around good guy!”

“Oh, of course. Damn, it’s a curse to be this kindhearted and good looking.”

Buddy: Master, I don’t think Pokey said good looking but whatever


Upon arriving at the top they come within 15 feet of the meteor. The air is hot and humid; you can still see steam coming from its core…

“Umm, you go on ahead and grab him, Steve.”

“What! He’s your brother. You go fetch him.”

“No, I think I’m good. I’m with Buddy. Right here is good for me.”

“Fine. You pansy.”


A mysterious and booming voice suddenly fills the hot night air
A mysterious voice suddenly fills the hot night air
It’s the voice! “If you build it, he will come”

On their trek home, the boys are stopped dead in their tracks when Star Man Jr., one of Giygas’ nefarious henchmen, appears out of nowhere to confront the 3 boys. Luckily, Buzz Buzz, the source of the voice, is by your side. Protecting the crew with his psychic shield, our hero is able to defeat Star Man Jr. After which, Buzz Buzz warns them the worst is yet to come but he has faith. Legend has it 3 boys and a girl are destined to save the universe. Buzz Buzz believes you are one of those 3 brave, young warriors.





In his dying breath, Buzz Buzz gives our hero the Sound Stone. “To defeat Giygas, your own power must unite with that of earth.” Our hero sets off to visit 8 sanctuaries to record the sound of each with the Sacred Stone. First stop? The infamous Giant Step!

During the pilgrimage you will run across many interesting cats
During the quest you’ll meet many interesting cats
Growing up and a loss of innocence is one of the central themes
Growing up and lost innocence is a central theme
With its unique look and zany humor, it's one of a kind
With its unique look and zany humor, it’s one of a kind

It truly is. Combining a modern setting with your typical suburban town in Anytown USA, any kid who ever grew up in a sleepy suburb in America can instantly relate. From the moment the game began, I knew right away I was in for one magical, epic journey.

There’s been some major hate dumped on the crude visuals of the game… but I personally love the look. They are INTENTIONALLY retro-fied. I like to think of it as 12-bit… it’s not quite 8-bit NES yet it’s not quite 16-bit. It’s just EarthBound.

Right?! Brings back a fond childhood memory or two
Right?! Brings back a fond childhood memory or two
Wait a second, I've seen this somewhere in a movie...
Wait a second, I’ve seen this somewhere in a movie…
The Purge. Here's Fat Frank after DDP Yoga
The Purge. Here’s Fat Frank after DDP Yoga
And his creepy robot. Purge makers EarthBound fans?
And his creepy robot. Purge makers EarthBound fans?



While whimsical, it also carries some dark mature themes
While whimsical, it also carries some mature themes
[It's FUZZY PICKLES, damnit -Ed.]
[It’s FUZZY PICKLES, damnit -Ed.]
NPCs made exploring the various towns plenty of fun
NPCs made exploring the various towns very fun
Alright, let's see if they got the latest Goosebumps...
OK let’s see if they got the latest Goosebumps



“I’D BUY THAT FOR A DOLLAR!” -Bixby Snyder

EarthBound was meta before meta became chic
EarthBound was meta before meta became chic
[Someone say Street Sharks? JAWESOME -Ed.]
[Someone say Street Sharks? JAWESOME -Ed.]
It draws you in, like a good book or movie!
It draws you in, like a good book or movie!
You must beat TITANIC ANT to get the first Sound Stone
Beat Titantic Ant to get the first Sound Stone
Then record the first of 8 melodies with the Sound Stone
Then use it to record the first of 8 melodies


Breaking the 4th wall again :D
Breaking the 4th wall… again :-D
"Oh. did he have a mohawk?"  "Uh NO. But he wore a red hat"
“He had a mohawk?” “Uh NO. But he wore a red hat”


By the time I grab my books,
And I give myself a look,
I’m at the corner just in time to see the bus fly by!
It’s alright ’cause I’m saved by the bell!
If the teacher pops a test,
I know I’m in a mess,
And my dog ate all my homework last night,
Ridin’ low in my chair,
She won’t know that I’m there,
If I can hand it in tomorrow, it’ll be all right!
It’s alright, ’cause I’m saved by the bell!




It's refreshing to play an RPG so bonkers
It’s refreshing to play an RPG so bonkers

[On my favorite RPGs list I rank this at... #2... -Ed.]
[On my favorite RPGs list I rank this at… #2… -Ed.]


Evokes memories of Peanuts...
“Damn Google put me out of business!”  *grumbles*


Wait, who is Mr. X?!
A badass prince (and ladies' man) from a mountain village
More on Mr. X in a bit…
If your humor is offbeat, you'll be right at home
If your humor is offbeat, you’ll be right at home
It made the surroundings feel more intimate
It made the surroundings feel more intimate


Aliens, ghosts, zombies, Nessie AND dinosaurs?!  Yes
It appeals to the 10-year-old inside each of us



The "Cat Sewer Eyes" haunted my childhood...
The “Cat Sewer Eyes” haunted my childhood…

When we were kids, my parents used to drive me and my bro to the Gaming Crew’s neck of the woods. About an hour into the drive we would pass by these sewers covered by giant “cat masks.” It was big enough that my bro and I could spot it clearly even from the freeway hundreds of feet away. I’d always wondered what the hell they were doing there. The cats became a trademark sight that my bro and I would always point to anytime our parents drove us by. This part of EarthBound brought back buried memories of those bizarre giant sewer cat masks…





From suburbia to the far east we go thanks to some Magic Cake!
Magic Cake takes ya from suburbia to the far east
Poo completes your party, adding a certain mystique to the group
Poo adds a certain mystique to the group

You are introduced to the 4th and final player of your party, Poo, or in this case, Mr. X. He’s a smooth cat prince living in the palatial mountain village of Dalaam. Take X on a life-altering quest to gain the power of wisdom, valor and patience as you karate chop and decimate all obstacles blocking you from enlightenment. After all, you simply can’t beat a hideous alien force without the pivotal aid of a badass martial artist who hails from a far away land, can you? Well, maybe, but it sure as hell wouldn’t be nearly as fun.

I love the aesthetics of Dalaam
I love the aesthetics of Dalaam
Sushi-X was, purportedly, a ladies' man. Key word is purportedly
Sushi-X was, purportedly, a ladies’ man. Purportedly

Sushi-X was a cat that ran in my gaming group back in the day. He was older than most of us and he always walked around with this certain aura of mystique. In many ways I looked up to him as a kid growing up. We affectionately nicknamed him Sushi-X for his affection of EGM and Street Fighter II, just like the infamous Sushi-X persona on the old EGM review crew. Unfortunately the game didn’t allow me to fit in “Sushi-X” so I went for the next best thing: “Mr. X.”

Remember how satisfying it was gliding down these ropes?
It felt so satisfying gliding down these ropes!



Read "Summer of Imports" for more on Nelly
Read “Summer of Imports” for more on Nelly
Story of my life...
Story of my life…
No '80s child can ever forget LITE-BRITE
No ’80s child could ever forget LITE-BRITE
“LITE BRITE, LITE BRITE. Make a face to glow at night!”
All good things must come to a bittersweet end
All good things must come to a bittersweet end


Oh, of course. Steve is a gentleman of great probity [Riiight -Ed.]
Of course. Steve, a man of great probity [Riiight -Ed.]
We all had one major childhood crush...
We all had one major childhood crush…

Jennifer and Elaine were the two hottest girls in the 5th grade. Nothing could beat being in the same class with your best friend as well as the two cutest girls in school. Nelson favored Elaine while I preferred Jennifer. Sadly, my family moved in the middle of 7th grade and that was the last I saw of Jennifer… until 7 years later. One day during my sophomore year in college I was walking down this long hallway when a young beautiful lady walked right by. Instantly I got a huge whiff of 1994 and was suddenly transported back to my childhood. Could it be, was it — yes, it was Jennifer. Too paralyzed to say anything, I could only watch in silence as we went in opposite directions until she disappeared around the corner. I kicked myself for not saying hi, hoping that we’d bump into each other again. As fate would have it, not long after that, we did. I asked her if she remembered me from elementary school. She smiled warmly and said “Of course. I remember you suddenly left one day in junior high and that was that.” I nodded, the both of us soaking in the moment. Life was different back in the ’90s. We didn’t have Facebook or email to stay in touch. 7 years is a long time not to see or speak to someone but she remembered me. It meant a lot.

A long time ago I used to wonder what might have happened between me and Jennifer had I never moved. My imagination wandered to an alternate future where we’re happily married with two kids, a dog and a white picket fence. She’s now married with a kid. The last time I saw her was about five years ago. I was acting in a musical and she came out to support me. We exchanged pleasantries and hugs after the show in the lobby. And that was the last I ever saw of Jennifer — my childhood Winnie Cooper.

Well, are you, Jenny?
Hey now! What the hell...
Hey now! What the hell…
Wish the game had a drive-in theatre
A drive-in is the only thing EarthBound is missing


Mr. T hates how Mother was disrespected
Mr. T hates how Mother was disrespected

As many of you know by now, EarthBound is the 16-bit sequel to the 8-bit Famicom game MotherMother was released in Japan July 1989, and was set to come out in the US September 1990. But with the impending launch of the SNES, Mother was never released. There’s a pretty fascinating history behind this, and you can find out all the sordid details by way of a quick Google search. There are also some great YouTube history videos on this subject matter. The game has since been fan translated, and is known now as EarthBound ZeroEarthBound on the SNES is known as Mother 2 over in Japan. There was also a Mother 3 released in 2006 for the GBA, but it never left the land of the rising sun. EarthBound is the only Mother game ever to see an official US release. A crime if you think about it.

What would Ness do? Call his mama!
Mother 3 on the Game Boy Advance (2006)

Mother 3 has since been fan translated. To date, this has been the final game in the beloved Mother series. It’s sad that two of the games never left Japan. It’s a bit sad also that many gamers know of Ness via Super Smash Bros and not EarthBound, although his Smash outings have definitely stirred interest from people who came in knowing nothing about the Mother series. I guess that’s not a bad thing at least.


I was lucky to buy these two just months before Timewalk folded
Wacky Japanese high school + the weird west…

There are 2 SNES games I would highly recommend to EarthBound fanatics. Both of them are Super Famicom exclusives with English fan translations available. The first title is called Gunman’s Proof which is actually an action RPG along the lines of a Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. It’s got tons of charm and quirkiness and is simply a load of fun. Think Zelda meets the wild wild west with a dash of EarthBound thrown in for good measure. It’s one of the most criminally underrated SNES games out there. It’s on the short side but I can’t recommend it enough. The second is Adventures of Hourai High. Wacky and zany describes it best. It is like EarthBound meets Final Fantasy V. Taking place in a Japanese high school setting, you can join a wide variety of clubs — this is how you gain different skills. Its sense of offbeat humor is extremely reminiscent of EarthBound, and while it has its fair share of flaws, Hourai High is worth a visit.

Gunman's Proof is one of the best SNES titles that few talk about
One of the best SNES titles that few talk about

Gunman’s Proof is one of my personal favorites. I love the game’s humor, style, atmosphere and fun fast-paced gun slinging action. It’s too damn short (similar to The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang) but it’s a blast, pardon the pun, while it lasts. If you haven’t played it before, I highly suggest rectifying that.

It even apes Earthbound's font. A nice touch indeed
It even apes EarthBound‘s font. A nice touch indeed

Adventures of Hourai High is a unique RPG. You can play as a boy or girl. The dialogue is hilarious and almost as entertaining as EarthBound. Sadly, a few key flaws hamper Hourai High from being a notably nice game. The encounter rate is way too high, and there was a major screw-up: weapons and armor equipped do not change your stats. Somehow, the programmers botched this and so you only increase in stats by leveling up. In essence, you never have to buy new weapons or armor. I still recommend it to diehard EarthBound fans however, despite its glaring flaws.

Earthbound fans will appreciate Hourai High's humor
EarthBound fans will appreciate Hourai High‘s humor


"I am. Traded in my bat for a gun and my cap for a 10 gallon hat"
“I am. Traded in my bat and cap for a 10 gallon hat”


Super Play Magazine loved it
Super Play Magazine loved it

EarthBound is one of those interesting and fascinating cases of a game that got its fair share of love when it came out originally. But really it wasn’t until years later that it exploded in popularity. Curiously, EGM never did review it. GameFan did, however. They gave it scores of 85, 90 and 92%. Super Play Magazine scored it 88%. In a recent poll I asked the public to rate EarthBound on a scale of 1-10. One voter gave it a 1. Another gave it a 7. A few rated it an 8, but the majority of readers voted 9. Of course, there was a healthy smattering of fans who gave it the perfect 10 out of 10 score. Pretty much what I expected — lots of 9s and 10s with one vocal minority who gave it the lowest rating possible. Oh Earthbound, truly the polarizing RPG of our time.

Few RPGs divided gamers as much as this one
Few RPGs divided opinions as much as this one
Nintendo Power ranked it 60th best game of all time
Nintendo Power ranked it #60 on its top 100 list


EarthBound's awesome contemporary setting helps set it apart
I’ll always stop for pizza. Damn straight, son

I didn’t play EarthBound back in the day. When I started it up in November of 2012 it was an entirely fresh experience. Therefore, zero nostalgia goggles here. Two weeks and 30 hours later, I knew I’d just played one of the most engrossing and captivating games ever. From the refreshing and comforting sights of suburbia in the early stages of the game to the more exotic locales found later on, it took me on an incredible journey of youth, bravery, loyalty and adventure. I felt like I was playing an RPG that combined Goonies, The Wonder Years, Peanuts and Dragon Quest. Not a bad little recipe! If you love RPGs and you still haven’t played this, STOP whatever you’re doing. And go rectify this matter. Now.

It takes you back to your youth
It takes you back to your youth

EarthBound perfectly captures the sheer awe of childhood, combined with a longing desire to push one’s suburban limits to the very brink. Playing the game made me feel like a kid again. Like I was back in my old hometown haunts hanging out at the arcade, going around town to the local pizza joint and flipping through the latest Goosebumps book at the library. And that’s just the beginning of the game. Soon it all transforms into something much more, as you meet new friends and unlikely allies all in the name of stopping an implacable force known only as Giygas. The game opens with our hero in bed in his striped pajamas. It seems like any other ordinary night in the ol’ neighborhood of suburbia. You are then awoken — it’s great subtle symbolism because for the first time in your young prepubescent life, you’re truly awake. The many wacky, perilous and funny events to unfold all shape this tremendous coming-of-age adventure. You leave home and like any other epic story ever told, you embark on a journey that changes you from a boy to a young man. You’ll conquer many obstacles — both external and internal. Playing EarthBound was like being in a never-ending state of reverie, and I loved every damn second of it.

Few games have left such an memorable imprint
Few games left such an imprint

There’s a certain timeless, nostalgic quality about this game. It stirs the feeling of being a kid in Anytown USA who leaves home to voyage on the adventure of a lifetime. From your local 3-story mall to far away lands exotic, mysterious and menacing, EarthBound tugs on all the right notes to create an experience like no other. The music’s an eclectic mix that’s among the best you’ll hear on the SNES. The gameplay is fairly standard, but there are some nice ideas here like instant wins and a rolling health meter. But EarthBound is so much more than this. EarthBound is, quite simply, a quintessential tale of growing up and overcoming trials in a not so perfect world. It’s light-hearted yet serious when it needs to be. The many diverse locales are great and I find the visuals to be a bit underrated. Many like to dismiss it, but I love the style and can’t imagine the game any other way. There’s a reason why EarthBound has so many fervent fans. It was a work of art that resonated with our inner child, leaving us with a lasting and memorable impression. Indeed, the tale of Ness and his friends is one that has stood the test of time. And one that I believe will continue to do so for generations to come.

Graphics: 7.5
Sound: 10
Gameplay: 9
Longevity: 9

Overall: 10