[ This blog is *Plot Spoiler Free* but contains info regarding game play mechanics ]
I would say I am by far a 'mostly' RPG player, with many of the old school console RPGs sitting on my 'to do' list. This due in part to the fact that I spent most of my earlier years on either a C-64 or a PC when it came to gaming. In regards to consoles, I was raised on an Atari (I'm 37 years old). I didn't even buy a SNES until it was available with Zelda for $99, and almost off the shelves for good. Suffice it to say I sometimes feel like I fell through the cracks when it comes to the Nintendo craze. A couple of my favorite classic RPGs include Pool of Radiance (C-64), The Bards Tale (C-64), and Baldur's Gate (PC).
It's been a LONG time since I have started a game with it being my sole focus start to finish. It's also been a long time since I haven't used a Game FAQ at some point to hurry along a game to get back to the good parts. And then I started playing Earthbound...
I remember seeing things here and there about the game when it came out, along with many other games at the time. What recently piqued my interest to actually try it was an article I read in Play magazine about Mother 3 (Earthbound is 'Mother 2' in Japan). The article stated how emotional the game was, and how deeply involved the writer had become while playing. I think that is something that has certainly been missing from my recent game choices, so I started digging around to see if Mother 3 would be released in the US. To my dismay, I of course found out that there are no current plans to release it here (but I did find out that fans are cranking away at a conversion to English - YES!). My next option was to check out Earthbound.
I loved everything about this game. It really drops you into part of the story by allowing you to name the characters, specify your favorite food and favorite thing (which is incorporated in a cool way), as well as name your own dog! The pacing of the game was very nice, and the story line progressed nicely to keep me continually satisfied with my progress, and always wanting to see and do more. It was definitely a lot more clear in where to go and what to do next (some might see this as being linear), but never much more so than a Zelda game. You could spend a lot of time experiencing all the little extras in conversations, etc - or just plug away at the main plot. I was able to complete the entire game without having to look up hints or tips. There were a few sections where it took me a bit of time to figure out what trick I needed to perform to progress, but each time I either figured it out (and thoroughly enjoyed the achievement), or stumbled upon it by mistake and was pleasantly surprised at the ingenuity (i.e. something towards the end that was truly incredible).
I'm looking forward to the promised Earthbound episode of RFGO, especially since I have finished the game. I HIGHLY recommend Earthbound to anyone who is remotely interested in RPGs and might be looking for something a little different. You will not be disappointed.
Now if I can just finish up Earthbound 0 (fan translation of Mother 1) before Mother 3 is translated...