Review by skcin7

Reviewed: 02/22/05

Thank you, Neo Demiforce, for this console-based RPG gem.

Mother, or Earthbound as it's known by American gamers, was released on July 27, 1989 in Japan. Although it was completely translated to English and was scheduled to be released in North America, the North American version of the game was scrapped at the last minute for reasons unknown. The most common belief why Mother was never released in North America is because it would have been released when the NES was dying, and sales wouldn't have been good, but this has not been confirmed.

At A Glance: Mother, or Earthbound, is a console style RPG, extremely similar to Final Fantasy when it comes to game play, but takes place in a more recent atmosphere. Swords have been replaced with baseball bats, and shields have been replaced with clothing. It's a classic console style RPG, and it was done very well at that, but it doesn't take place centuries in the past.

Game Plot: The game starts off normally. You are in your room doing nothing out of the ordinary. However, suddenly your lamp will start to attack you. You defeat the lamp, and investigate the matter, and soon find that this whole event has to do with a poltergeist. You talk to your Dad on the phone about the matter, and learn that you must go on a journey. Learning magical powers as "PK Power" on your journey, you meet friends and companions that will help you on your way. You soon discover a hidden land called Magicant, where strange occurrences are quite ordinary, and you must scale Mt. Itoi to save the land in which you live!

Control: The control of the game is decent for an NES game, but nothing exceptional. Thankfully, if you hold B, you can run, which is always a good thing for an RPG style game. You have to remember that this is an NES game, and you're using a square controller with two buttons on it. It's not like a complex X-Box game where all the buttons have to be at your fingertips. It's an NES game. The control is fine, and that's all it needs to be.

Game Play: For an NES game, this game is HUGE. The land in which you must travel is absolutely gigantic, and is has to be for a successful RPG. It surprises me that an NES game can hold this much data. There are plenty of towns filled with people that all say different things, filled with buildings you can enter, and littered with problems you must solve before you can advance farther into the game. As you walk around the map, as long as you are not in a town, you will encounter wild enemies, which will yield you into a battle arena, much like a traditional RPG. The game play of the battle mode has been done very well, in my opinion. Something that I really like about the battle mode is an "auto" feature that you can turn on, which functions much like an autopilot on an airplane. Just turn on the "auto" mode, and the computer will take over your controller, and fight the enemy for you, and heal yourself when you are low in health. Of course, you can turn the "auto" off after turning it on. All the other features of the battle mode are pretty much ordinary, like an ordinary RPG. For example, the "fight", "magic", "item", "run" options are always available, just like in any RPG.

Graphics: The graphics have been done pretty well for an NES game. However, the character you control, Ninten, is very small; only two tiles wide, and he kind of looks like Charlie Brown. There are over 100 enemies in this game, and each enemy has different graphics for them, including a robot "boss", which is animated. All in all, the graphics have been done very well. However, the graphics don't mean crap when it comes to a game. The real thing that makes a game good or bad is the game play.

Sound: The sound in this game is extraordinary. I actually liked the introduction song so much that I looked up the sheet music and learned how to play it on piano. In addition to the songs being composed very well, there is also a wide variety of them. There are different songs in the battle mode, depending on which enemy you are fighting. For example, if you are fighting a Hippie (yes, this is one of the enemies), then there is an upbeat blues type rock n' roll song in the background. Rather, if you are fighting a Snake, then the background music will be more suitable for the Snake. All in all, the sound in Mother is much better than the sound in pretty much any NES game.

Enemies: While roaming the gigantic world of Mother, there are many enemies that will randomly appear and you'll have to fight them, just like in any console-style RPG. Like in most RPGs, at the beginning of the game, you fight the easier enemies so that you can gain Experience Points to gain levels. Once your character levels up and progresses in the game, you will start to fight more difficult enemies. There are TONS of enemies in this game; an extremely wide variety, over 100 unique foes. Each enemy has unique attacks, taunts, and checks, which all affect you differently. It's good that this game has a wide variety of enemies, because if there were only a few, then it'd get boring and repetitive to kill them. The one thing that I do not like about the enemies, however, is the frequency in which they appear. Shigesato Itoi should have made the enemies a little bit more scarce; it can get aggravating when you spend more time in the battle mode rather than in the adventure mode.

Graphics: 6
Game play: 9
Sound: 10
Story: 7
Fun: 8
Overall: 9/10

Final Thought: This really is a fantastic game, and it's a shame that it was never released in North America. I'm not really a fan of RPGs, I never even got into the Final Fantasy games. This is one of the few RPGs that I've ever enjoyed enough to play all the way through. Personally, I find this game MUCH more entertaining than the Final Fantasy games. Any fan of console-based RPGs should definitely give this game a test drive.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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